Tomorrow I head up to Pittsburgh, PA for the annual MAPACA (Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association) Conference. This year I am presenting my paper titled: “Travel Channel: Singlehandedly Delegitimizing the Paranormal Field.” My show is an early Thursday event scheduled at 1:45 PM. Upon my return, I will post excerpts of it. I’m looking forward to returning to Pitt–it has been many decades since I visited.
Biodiversity Study of Loch Ness Announcement Set for September
Professor Neil Gemmell, University of Otago (New Zealand), and his team spent 2018 collecting water samples from Loch Ness in Scotland. Minuscule pieces of urine, feces, skin, scale, and fur were contained in the samples. Gemmell’s team researched and catalogued their findings. Ultimately, the team hoped to compare the results to 4 popular Nessie theories. The announcement on findings has been postponed twice. Now Gemmell is shooting for September.
Cataloguing the results slowed the process. In addition, Gemmell was in negotiations for a documentary to be filmed in tandem. Parties failed to reach an agreement; therefore, there will not be a documentary on the process.
Early reports claim that the team has identified 15 species of fish and 3,000 species of bacteria within the loch. As for Nessie? Three of the theories has reportedly been eliminated. However, one expert not associated with the study predicts that the Nessie myth will endure…no matter the announcement.
In addition to my appearance at this year’s DragonCon, Labor Day Weekend in Atlanta, I will be speaking at two academic conferences. These are fantastic conferences on everything related to Pop Culture.
- “Using the Paranormal Phenomenon of Mothman to Teach Research.” Pop Culture Association in the South & American Culture Association in the South (PCAS/ACAS), New Orleans, LA, October 4-6, 2018.
- “Exorcists Needed: Filling the Gap.” 2018 Annual Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association, Baltimore, MD, November 8-10, 2018.
If you’re attending, look me up. For more information, please visit the organization websites at http://pcasacas.org/dir/2018-pcasacas-new-orleans-conference/ and https://mapaca.net/.
Importance of Research
The Haunted Librarian joins Heather Dobson and Jordan T. Duncan of Paranormal Georgia Investigations (https://paranormalgeorgia.com/) and author Larry Flaxman (http://larryflaxman.com/) at Dragon Con 2017 as they discuss the importance of conducting research before, during, and after a paranormal investigation.
Tentatively scheduled for Sunday, September 3rd at 4 PM. Purchase tickets online at http://www.dragoncon.org/.
Evidence Ghosts Exist
Last week, I tweeted this link, http://whatculture.com/science/10-compelling-pieces-evidence-prove-ghosts-real.php. I previewed the slideshow and was fascinated by what I read. Contributor Tom Baker assembled a lot of compelling evidence. The topics ran the gamut: how haunted real estate affects prices, the Stone Tape Theory, the prevalence of ghosts in popular culture, the vast number of ghost sightings, and a fake photograph with a couple that make you pause. There are 10 slides, each offering a separate reason why ghosts may really, really be real.
I would love to expand on the reasons; however, I would do the article an injustice. You should scroll through them on your own. If I had to pick one reason I would write about how scientists, ones who have advanced college degrees, have studied and are still studying paranormal activity. This is encouraging! More paranormal investigators should participate. Remember: Amateur astronomers have discovered planets. Think of what you can contribute.
This article lists 13 colleges and universities that studied paranormal activity, http://mentalfloss.com/article/54450/13-university-sanctioned-paranormal-research-projects.
Article discussing what happened to parapsychology research, http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/whatever-happened-to-parasychology-130624.htm.
Research continues at the University of Virginia, http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/02/there-is-a-paranormal-activity-lab-at-the-university-of-virginia/283584/.
4 Must Use Sources for Researching Super-Secret Location
It’s been a drought. December and January are slow investigation months. Combined with Georgia’s unpredictable weather, holidays, and travel, Archer Paranormal Investigations (API) takes a break. But we’re back. In a huge way! We’ve got a super-secret investigation scheduled for next week that truly shows how truth is stranger than fiction.
Although I cannot disclose more details, I can share how I found the exact location and some titillating facts about the case.
As a researcher, I love the hunt. The hunt for information, records, names, addresses, stories. I search everywhere: databases, websites, newspaper articles, etc. Often I’m asked: How did you find it? Well, let me tell you.
Google: Love Google. First place I start looking. Type in as much information and let the spiders do the work. If you get too many results, limit your search by removing words. Usually, people don’t add enough words in the search field. If you know a specific detail, use it. Use proper names. Use variations. Always add the town. That alone should reduce the hits.
Property Databases: Most counties, at least in Georgia, have an online portal where you may search by name and/or address. Type “cobb county property appraiser” into the Google search field to get the URL for the Cobb County Property Appraiser’s database.
Newspapers: Invaluable! This one may require some legwork. Visit your local library and peruse the archived issues. Smaller newspapers will be archived on microfilm, if at all. Do not be afraid to use the readers. Ask for help. There is no need to pay an online service unless you absolutely need to. Your local public library main branch should have past issues.
Ancestry.Com: Don’t underestimate the power of this database. I set up family trees for clients and await the results—growing leaves. I can search birth, marriage, and death records with ease. The number of cases your team handles will decide whether this subscription service fits your budget and needs.
Try these resources and see if you uncover more stories explaining the phenomena you investigate.
Ghosts Wear Clothing—So Should You
It’s a pet peeve. I don’t want to see shirtless middle-aged men mowing their yards—especially in my neighborhood. It’s disgusting. It’s the beacon: Middle Age Crisis Alert. Dude, you don’t look cool, sexy, or attractive. You look desperate. Put a shirt on!
This train of thought was spontaneously followed by the revelation: Ghosts wear clothing. Consider that for a minute. They do. And for good reason. I’ve never read an account where the ghost was naked. That’s because no one wants to see that.
Ghosts appear in the fashion of their time. That provides a valuable key to the observer in attempting to solve the mystery. Without clothing, the ghosts cannot visually represent their story. And paranormal investigators need all of the clues we can get. Clothing is a freebie. I love it when a client can discern specific pieces of apparel. The lace floor-length nightgown is indicative to a time past. The high collars. The wide hoop skirt. Given that most of our investigations involve Civil War era hauntings, the color and type of uniform helps.
Pay attention and ask about the clothing. You will be surprised how easy it is to research and to narrow your focus. Plus, it’s fun searching the Internet for period clothing and learning the history. Remember: Historical research is critical in all investigations.
Duke University. What happened?
With Mercer’s Cinderella performance against Duke University in college basketball, I wondered: What happened? March Madness aside, I’m still curious. How did one of the most prestigious parapsychology laboratories lose favor? However, public interest still grows.
Starting in the 1930s, major colleges and universities in the United States and Great Britain opened research laboratories focusing on different aspects of parapsychology. One of the most well-known was the facility housed at Duke. In 1935, J.B. Rhine and William McDougall started the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory. For the next three decades the lab received substantial private funding and enjoyed the support of the university. However, by the early sixties, funding sources dried up and academic scrutiny displaced the lab and it moved off of the college campus. Seems the heyday of parapsychological research ended. But had it really?
According to Glen McDonald’s article “Whatever Happened to Parapsychology?” (http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/whatever-happened-to-parasychology-1306241.htm) public interest remains high. Further, research continues. The Rhine Research Center (current name of the former lab) continues Dr. Rhine’s mission but works with substantially less staff, funding, and academic support. The skeptics are incredibly vocal and better work the media than the parapsychology academics. And academic skeptics are particularly pesky. They claim that since experiments cannot be consistently repeated in controlled conditions, ESP and the like cannot exist. It’s plain tomfoolery to them.
Dr. Rhine died in 1980 without any breakthrough in research. This week news outlets reported that scientists had established “mind reading.” Brain scanners were used to recreate images that participants were thinking. Gee, that sure sounds closely related to ESP.
Duke University made a mistake pushing Rhine and his research off the college grounds. Had the school rode the 60s wave and ignored the naysayers, parapsychological research would be further along. As it is, fewer institutes are making strides in the field. Yet, some of cable television’s highest rated shows have some paranormal or parapsychological aspect. The public craves more. We shouldn’t leave it up to “reality tv” to advance the field.
Side note: Stacy Horn has penned a wonderfully dense book about the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory titled Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory (HarperCollins, 2009). It’s not beach reading; however, it effectively captures the essence of lab’s history and parapsychology’s place in modern science. Worth the read!
For those seeking the “quick” version, see Horn’s blog http://www.echonyc.com/~horn/unbelievable/. It is chalked full of information and pictures.
The Importance of Being Credible, Part 2
In a former life, I taught English Composition. During the course I stressed the importance of being credible. To cite sources. To present the information truthfully and to proffer the alternative view. College students struggled with the concepts. Rightfully so. They practice what they read; therefore, they question the need to cite. The Internet is ripe with “information,” but little of it is actually credited to reliable sources.
Properly citing sources is critical in developing credibility in the paranormal field. It is very easy to do. Follow this discussion about the Paranormal Field:
American universities have had strong ties with paranormal research. They were housed at some of the most prestigious colleges in the US: Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford. The Rhine Research Center (formerly at Duke University) was one of the most well-known university-based facilities researching the topic.  Although the Rhine is not directly affiliated with Duke University anymore, it continues to be the leader in paranormal research. Presently, the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies is the only university-based facility operating in the US. 
There are several popular citation formats. I prefer to use the MLA; however, APA is preferable in the academic setting.
So, why this discussion? Well, I wanted to share this information with people interested in the paranormal. Further, I sprinkle my blog entries with citations and wanted to provide readers with a heads-up as to what they are and why they’re there. Finally, I realize that Wikipedia is the place people look for information on the Internet. It should not, however, be the last. Follow the citations within the articles and see where they lead. Be aware that if an article lacks citations there is a reason—probably a very good reason. Don’t trust everything you read on the Web.
 Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
 Stuart Gordon. (1993). The Paranormal: An Illustrated Encyclopedia.
 Jill Hanson. “13 University-Sanctioned Paranormal Research Projects.” Mental Floss.
I’m a Believer
Recently I was interviewed on Paranormal I-Con (weekly radio show on www.liveparanormal.com) and was asked about my belief system. Short answer: I’m a believer. Now for the long answer.
I’ve always believed in the paranormal and supernatural. Further, I’ve never doubted the existence of a God. For me the two go hand-in-hand. “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.” (Nicene Creed). I truly mean it and I’m not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, 92% of Americans believe in God. That’s 9 out of 10 adults, an impressive number even though that number is slowly declining from the 98% from 1953-1967. Specifically, 78% of adults in the United States identify themselves as “Christian.” I’m included in this number. Although raised Catholic, I identify myself as an Episcopalian. During the 1950s, nearly every American identified themselves with some form of organized religion (Gallup Poll, 2011). That number has dramatically shifted. Now 1 in 10, 10%, of those polled are not affiliated with an organized religious group.
Now for the ghosts: Almost half of all adult Americans believe in ghosts (CBS News Study 2009). More women (56%) believe than men (48%). While the skeptics rise up and proclaim the need for evidence, most believers have not had a paranormal experience (77%). They just believe, as do I. Even though researchers speculate the reasons for why people blindly believe (most notably as a calming mechanism in a chaotic world), my reason is simple: Why would God place people only on earth? And if there is a Heaven, why can’t spirits travel between the veils? I don’t require proof to believe. I believe in order to search for proof.