HERE WE ARE! Our computer crashed a month or two ago and with it went the ability to update our website...but have no fear, we are still plugging along. We had a WONDERFUL book signing in PHX on October 28th at Barnes & Noble by the MetroCenter Mall to celebrate the release of FINDING GHOSTS IN PHOENIX! If you don't already have your copy, what ARE you waiting for? http://www.schifferbooks.com/
On December 11th we'll be back in PHX to do a book signing/lecture at Evermore Nevermore...details coming soon!
A recent visitor to http://www.wailingbansidhe.com/ contacted us and told us that her house is haunted AND she has a photo with a ghost in it and can I please take a look at it. This is what she sent to me and below that is my response: (I deliberately covered her daughters' face...)
Being a professional photographer (published and award-winning) I have a simple explanation for the "anomaly" in your photo. Behind your daughter is a person who is moving. The on-camera flash wasn't used, so the shutter stayed open slightly longer than when the flash is used, creating motion blur. Sorry, no ghost this time. :-)
A bit direct? Sure, but why beat around the bush? I would be remiss in my duties as a photographer to NOT educate people about their photos. I'm not one of those people who is like, "Oh, great capture!" What is and always has been Wailing Bansidhe's motto? PUTTING NORMAL BACK IN PARANORMAL SINCE 2003!
THAT is the name of my new show on PARAXVISION, BITCHES!!! Awwww, yeah, you bettah reckanize!!!
Okay, so check it. If you are reading this blog, you must have some interest in the paranormal, or - at the very least - an interest in mocking those who have such an interest, and that is OKAY. But the drama is totally out of control.
I think the scientific ratio of actual paranormal activity in the world of paranormal drama is 1% ghosts and 99% "Oh my GOD you guys are stupid and if you think ghosts are real then you are, like, so stupid, and I hate you, and your mom is a TWAT, and I am TOTALLY reporting you to FACEBOOK!" That is an actual scientific FACT.
It's really time for those haters to buy a new dress...seriously.
So, in the spirit of unification, and bringing about an example that we, as in paranormal authors, investigators, ghost-hunters, et al., are people, too, I am going to just give you a brief rundown of my group...a little "behind the scenes," if you will.
I'll start with ME. Before I was a published author several times over (yeah, that's right, and now a host of my own SHOW, thank you very much), I worked in call center after call center, selling my soul to "the man," for a marginal paycheck and a huge portion of my soul. My world revolves around Mikal and our children. I am a terrible cook, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE going to yard sales and thrift stores. There is a gold mine of discarded fabulousness just waiting to be flipped on ebay...seriously. I was also security backstage at a Debbie Gibson concert once. I spent much of my pre-Mikal life surrounded by people who doubted me, mocked me, and, at times BEAT ME because I was such a burden to them, and they didn't like me waking them up because I needed to go to work. I still knew, though, that if I just waited it out, I was going to be able to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, and I would "find my tribe." I finally have, and no amount of hate and loathing is going to do anything for me except fuel my fire.
Next up, Mikal. Mikal had a hard life and a checkered past. I'll stop there. We found each other, and knew almost instantly that we were absolute soulmates. He is an awesome photographer, has a pitch-perfect singing voice, and makes the BEST Mexican rice. He never minds when I make him listen to the Wicked soundtrack for the millionth time, and he calls me "darling." If you think that makes him stupid and hateful, then I think YOU are stupid and hateful.
Patrick...my co-author Patrick loves sushi and karaoke, but hates it when people misspell his name. People always misspell his name. Well, that's when they manage to include it. It's kind of a fun little game at this point. Patrick is also ridiculously smart, and politically passionate, and has managed to survive twice being married to insane, insufferable bitches. In spite of those disruptions, he is an accomplished artist and is also a first-degree black belt. If you think that makes him some dumbass who is stupid enough to like ghosts, go right ahead, but I probably wouldn't say that to his FACE.
Mo...Well, MAUREEN. She didn't start going by "MO" until after she left home and was trying to be all badass with her feathered hair and eyeliner back in like 1988, or something. Most assuredly one of the funniest people I know, she never backs down from an argument, and is sure to win. She is logical and sarcastic and outspoken. She also tends to stare at people with unabashed disregard for social courtesy. Mostly people who are dressed terribly, or if she is straining to eavesdrop on a conversation. She also has exactly zero tolerance for stupidity. She is excelling in her RN studies while managing to keep her 4 teenage sons in line. Like the rest of us, she is pulling herself up by her bootstraps to make a better life, and she enjoys paranormal investigating. Again, if you think that makes her some dumb bitch because she believes in ghosts, then get James Randi on the phone so she can make him cry like a bitch and then thank her for being so understanding. OH, and she'll TAKE HIS SHOES, TOO!
CLINT!!!! Clint is crazy like a fox. Also putting himself through school, he is probably the most tattooed and pierced member of this (or any other) investigation group. Before we saved him from another local group of rambling idiots (what, did I just say something para-dramatic?), Clint had spent a number of years as a DJ in Amsterdam, provided security to a number of high-profile celebrities visiting the Seattle area, appeared on several episodes of Little House on the Prairie, and even dated the fellow who played "Crater Face" in Grease. Yeah, I said he dated a guy...get over it. Clint has an amazing voice for storytelling, and says the most wonderfully inappropriate things. We love him, even though he made us watch Showgirls. Just typing that last sentence made me throw up a little in my mouth.
Paige is crazy. Paige is flying below the radar right now, leaping flaming hoops through her own ass to graduate in a month, but she did manage to find the time recently to roll her car down an embankment while carrying a large amount of plaster of paris (sp?) and a gorilla suit. She also carries a machete with her at all times, and always likes to keep the border patrol on their toes by always carrying a bizarre collection of material non-sequitors in the back seat of her car.
Mario is intense. He also hates sock puppets with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.
How could we not have these "kats" in the group?
Anyway, the point is this: Every group is made up of members that have equally beautiful "crazy quilt" lives. Instead of tearing each other down, lets just have a silly, crazy fun time between investigations, and not be so shitty to each other...what a revolutionary concept! Now, I'm not saying there aren't assholes out there, because there are, and I'm not saying there aren't shit-stirrers out there, because there are. I'm just saying this, "Why the hell do the rest of us even give a crap?" Trust me, I used to be the biggest hater of them all, but then it occurred to me one day that they are just people. That's it.
And that's just what I am going to prove on my show...I promise you will learn stuff you never even thought you wanted to know, about people who you never thought would ever do anything crazy!!! If I can just get one person to piss themselves laughing, then I will have done my job well...
So when I started this article I meant to write about how important goals are to paranormal investigating but along the way I started to get sidetracked. So I decided to push back the goals piece and do this other thing. I mention it only because it still ties in with goals a bit so consider this a sort of tangential foreshadowing of things to come. Once I deal with this I will be able to focus better.
I have three main goals as an investigator. The first is that I want to help people who are scared and confused by strange things going on in their homes understand and cope with what is going on. I have found that often times these people just want someone to listen to them without feeling like they are being judged as crazy. Even if it turns out to be a loose water main making that spooky ghost noise, they are usually happy that it turned out to be nothing and that someone actually listened to them and took them seriously. I think this is important. My second goal and third goal are similar and connected. I want to help people starting out by giving them the focus, direction and tools to perform casual investigations on their own and to document and share my experiences and best practices with others. This last one is the springboard into what I really want to talk about: Skeptics.
You’ll notice that none of my goals include convincing people who do not believe in the paranormal that they should. Beyond the fact that I really don’t care what they think as long as they dismiss me out of hand and roll their eyes at anything I have to say, I find that the whole exercise of trying to convince someone of something they think is patently ridiculous to be as fruitless as it is aggravating. It is really not worth my time and does nothing to address my goals and desires as far as the paranormal is concerned. There are several reasons why this is but before I get to that I need to define what I mean by skeptic.
It is not necessarily bad to be a skeptic. Indeed, the best mindset for a paranormal investigator to be in is that of the ‘Open-minded Skeptic.’ This is a person who believes in possibilities but understands that most reported activity is of mundane and earthly origins. This is a person who looks at the evidence and draws conclusions from said evidence instead of shoe-horning that evidence to fit whatever it is that the investigator wants the conclusion to be. Everyone in the field should strive to be this way. This is not the sort of skepticism I am talking about. The skeptic that I am on about is the person who absolutely doesn’t believe there is any possibility at all that there is survival of consciousness or any sort of paranormal whatsoever and what’s more if you do then you are a deluded fool with an IQ in the low 60s.
So the first reason I don’t worry about proving the existence of ghosts and the paranormal is that I am not a scientist doing science and therefore have no legs to stand on with a hardcore skeptic. There is nothing I have to offer them and any conversation we might have wouldn’t even be in the same language. The skeptic and I are not on the same page at all. I have had many experiences which have lead me to conclude that the paranormal is real. Those experiences, and there are a lot of them, have no currency with the skeptic for the simple fact that they are my experiences. There is no common ground to be had in the experience because my anecdotal evidence is only as good as the value of my word and the skeptic has not had any experience to lead him or her to place any value in that word. I can tell them what I have experienced until I am blue in the face but they will merely dismiss those experiences as nothing more than delusional fantasy or decide I am lying. Either way, no matter how real it was to me I am never going to be able to convince them of anything. So why bother?
The second reason is related to the first in that even if I were a scientist doing the best science ever seen and managed to find proof, the skeptic is typically so dogmatic that they will dismiss it out of hand as bad data or insist there was fudging or fakery. I have read dozens of arguments online where the True Believer attempts to counter the ‘prove it’ position with saying ‘ you can’t disprove it’ only to be thoroughly repelled with the ‘the burden of proof falls to the claimant’ maneuver. This is true enough but what I find disingenuous about this exchange is that, while many claim that they would be swayed by proper evidence, they are never going to accept a photo or a recording or anything of the sort because it threatens their world view in which apparently science is out of things to discover and just because it has not been discovered yet it never will be. I have a very hard time with this and find myself irritated when skeptics counter this notion by saying that if it were going to be proven it would have been but there is not one shred of compelling evidence in its favor. I disagree strongly about that but it doesn’t matter. Because they think it is silly, then it is absolutely impossible that it could ever be real.
This limiting of what can be is a problem for me. I understand that there are laws of physics like gravity and the laws of thermodynamics, but there was a time when each of those were not known or accepted. Throughout history discoveries have been made to invalidate a previous way of thinking. The sun revolving around the earth or that the earth is flat, or that Full House was a good show, all of these things were widely held beliefs at one time and all have been disproven. Discovery and investigation into the unknown is obviously the only way to make it known unless you are content to slap yourself on the back for the cell phone or space travel and assume that because we have flat screen TVs and airplanes we know all there is to know about the universe. That seems very arrogant to me and also very wrong headed. Sure, it is possible that no one has proved the existence of the paranormal because it isn’t real but it is also possible that the right technique or tool has not been invented yet. I am not asking for people to believe out of hand but to at least accept there are possibilities beyond our current knowledge and understanding. The hardcore skeptic refuses to do this and therefore meaningful dialogue is difficult.
The third reason is that I don’t care for taking abuse from people and being called an idiot because I feel differently about something than they do. I have yet to see a civil debate take place between skeptics and believers. This door swings both ways as some of us have a tendency to invite criticism given false claims of science and lacking evidence, but the arrogance and dismissive attitudes I have seen from many skeptics makes me not want to talk to them at all. My writing partner Katie, you may have heard of her, wrote an article about the Ghost Hunters a while back and for over a year it generated, and still generates, an active comments section that has featured all sorts of people. Many have been cool but just as many have been profane, antagonistic and vile. I mean really vile. So vile I am not going to include a link. Nothing is ever going to be accomplished in that sort of climate. No minds will be changed that way. This flavor of skeptic is not interested at all in changing minds or having meaningful dialogue but rather is only interested in proving their own intellectual superiority in order to make themselves feel better about whatever it is in their lives that is lacking. I feel sorry for the sort of person who’s life is so empty that trolling internet comment sections to call people you don’t know idiots because you disagree with them on something that you then proceed to demonstrate no knowledge of any kind and regurgitate the Randi challenge or some other thing you read about on Wikipedia. Sure, I am not being particularly kind towards them myself but there are some very nasty people out there who would seem to be solely preoccupied with making sure that strangers know just how much smarter they are and how bad said strangers should feel that they are not up to snuff. That they spew such invectives with spelling and grammar that would barely allow them to pass grade three makes it a tiny bit funnier if not at all less depressing.
The fourth reason is just that I would rather spend time doing something I enjoy than something I don’t. Given the aforementioned futility of it all and the added hostility, there is nothing on the offing that makes trying to argue with the skeptics a worthwhile use of my time. I would much rather investigate and write books about it and then have a discussion with someone like minded. A skeptic may then point to this as being a dodge maneuver betraying my failure to prove anything and further prove that there is nothing to the paranormal but it means nothing of the sort. My disinterest in a pointless argument with someone insulting me has nothing to do with my beliefs having a soft foundation and has everything to do with a real desire not to waste my time.
The fifth reason follows from four in that I am not a spokesman for the entire field. Beating me in an argument or, more accurately, listing off points I’ve made and dismissing them by suggesting that I am a word which rhymes with 'bunt' is not proving to the world that the paranormal is false. If I say that I believe in ghosts because my house was haunted and I have subsequently had many, many paranormal experiences and encounters and you say ‘liar liar pants on fire’ you have not struck a blow against the field. You have not proven the people doing real scientific work in the field wrong because you don’t believe I saw some guy who wasn’t there go into my parents’ bedroom for years. Also, if I say upfront I don’t want to debate and I am just relating stories of mine based on my own personal experiences don’t ask for proof or taunt me that I have no proof. I have already said right up front that I don’t have any proof. I am not concerned with proof. Why? Experiences.
Maybe at the end of the day I am crazy and wrong and there is nothing else out there but based on the experiences I have had and the experiences many other people have had it is a subject worth studying and discussing in whatever capacity you are comfortable with. If you want to attack it scientifically and you are willing to put in the time, training and discipline to do that then that is great but if you want to do it in a more casual way that is great too. The skeptics will always be there waiting to try to discourage and discount but I think it is high time for those of us uninterested in fighting with these people to ignore them and go about our business. If you are interested in getting into the fray then please be armed with something of substance otherwise it will perpetuate the cycle. I look at many of these antagonists like school yard bullies. If they don’t get the attention they want they will go troll somewhere else. If they can find no one in our community to pick on then they will go bitch about Avatar or argue about which video game system is the best or something like that. When we engage them, my friends, then the trolls truly have won.
I am fascinated by the Titanic. Not just the boat itself, but the entire story, and the stories of those that lived through and died during this horrendous disaster. In all fairness, I think my sister might actually have cornered the market on anything "seafaring," but still - there is just something especially haunting about the Titanic.
I recently (and FINALLY) got the chance to visit the Titanic exhibit at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas (again, my sister beat me to it by a full year, but that was to be expected) and my anticipation of this visit was so great that I did not want to miss the opportunity to create a casual experiment with sensory replication...more specifically with the Ovilus. Technically speaking, it was the iOvilus application that my son downloaded onto his iPod, but the idea was the same. If there were ever a collection of artifacts that might have a message to deliver, I would have to lay odds on it being this one.
Smuggling our contraband into the exhibit was fairly easy, since nobody is going to question a 15-year-old with an iPod. He and I took turns listening and taking notes while simultaneously taking in every last artifact and storyboard.
Before I get to the part about what the iOvilus said, I just want to talk about the display itself. I have a feeling that paranormal enthusiasts and ghost hunters have a particular interest in any and all history. Not just the generic descriptions of the history that you read about in textbooks, but the REAL history. We don't want to hear a tour guide tell us some canned series of stories about who built a building or who's picture now hangs in a foyer. History for us is very tactile and three dimensional. When we run our hand along a centuries-old bannister, we want to know who else ascended and descended the staircase. We want to know their individual stories. We want to hear history from their perspective, and we do everything we can to be a receiver of that information.
The exhibit is set up to showcase the artifacts, as well as give you a sense of what it was like to be on the Titanic. Not just while it was going down, but just what it might have been like to be a passenger. There are exact replicas of state rooms, the upper deck, and - of course - the grand staircase. The artifacts are kept securely under glass, of course, with the temperature and lighting being carefully controlled. It is nearly impossible to give proper inflection to the overwhelming emotional montage that you feel walking through each part of the exhibit and seeing the personal effects of so many that were recovered from two-and-a-half miles beneath the surface of the ocean. Carefully chosen bits of glassware packed as souvenirs for family awaiting their return. Rings and necklaces meant to adorn and compliment their owners, separated from them as they made their final descent to a watery grave. Spectacles, pocketwatches, dishes, a pair of mens socks...any number of things that under any other circumstances would be unremarkable, but in this setting become something to be silently revered. The exhibit reaches its fulcrum with a 15-ton section of the hull, roughly the size of a movie screen, with its broken windows and twisted metal. There are no words to describe it, so I won't even try. I just stood there in the thick silence of the room, using every bit of fortitude to keep from openly sobbing. I am getting misty just writing about it. It is truly amazing.
So, if you aren't familiar with the Ovilus (of course you are, but I will give a brief rundown anyway), it is a device made by Digital Dowsing which uses some sort of algorithm to convert EMF into meaningful words and phrases. It's black box technology and it expressly states that it is for entertainment purposes only, however most people that have used one have been left scratching their heads at how it comes up with such specific and meaningful phrases. We were not using an Ovilus proper, but the iPod application. Not being too technically savvy, I assume that this version really operates more like a random word generator since it lacks the specific components of the original Ovilus, so if it works at all, it would have to be based on intention. That being said, we were still left scratching our heads.
Now, with all due deference to the fact that none of this can be mathematically or scientifically significant, it made my son and I stop and look at each other wide-eyed more than once, and it even got a gasp or two. Here is the list of words that it said that we felt were applicable:
1,000 Stranded (this one made us gasp a little)
Angel (perhaps a spiritual reference, but there was also an angel statue)
Star (could indicate the starry night, or perhaps the White Star Line?)
Again, I am not suggesting this indicates anything scientifically meaningful, but at the same time...HOLY CRAP. It was a great time, and I am glad that we did it because I am not sure anyone else has. The iOvilus application is only two dollars, and it's a LOT of fun, for sure.
If you're going to Vegas, don't miss this. You have until 2018, so you have plenty of time and NO excuses.
I would imagine that, by now, everyone has seen the link to the post written by a fellow named Bill Stone – the one that lists all the steps to make a really bad ghost hunting group. John Zaffis posted it in a note, so if you haven’t read it, you can probably just go look on his page. It’s also been reposted a few times. Anyway…
I don’t even really know where to start with this one. I had been planning on writing a blog about defining motivation as a way to clear up some of the mud in the paranormal community, but then this started circulating and I realized, “Okay, now I KNOW I have to say something.”
Clearly, it’s time to call a spade a spade.
Here’s the deal. On the surface, we have what appears to be a very tongue-in-cheek look at what is believed to be the root problem of a lack of cohesiveness in the paranormal community. Groups of stupid people, with stupid websites, doing stupid things that make everyone look bad, right? Well, part of this may be true. In any area of interest, you are always going to have a bunch of @$$holes making things more difficult for the legitimate folks. Hell, I had the misfortune of having a project I was working on be completely cannibalized by another local group whom I had invited to participate. They were shady and disingenuous and they totally sabotaged the true intention of the project. Some of those fences have been mended, but others were burned beyond recognition or repair. The point is, yeah, some people lie and cheat and steal to gain a little bit of notoriety.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone with a website and an EMF detector is a fraud. A few of the points he makes include:
“Since the spawn of the television shows mentioned above, there have been a million new websites created, and just as many new ghost hunting teams have been born to emulate them.”
This is interesting considering that his website – thebeyond.info – has a copyright date a full year after Ghost Hunters went on the air. Is he being ironic and self-effacing? I am not sure. I found what I believe is a lot of contradiction between what he writes in this piece, and what is contained within his website.
Here’s another one:
“The truth is, people will see or hear anything that you tell them to. They do this because they’re morons. Don’t get me wrong. Morons are good. You need morons. Otherwise we’ll have people running around in the community with no direction at all, or even worse, thinking for themselves. No, it’s best to just tell them what you want them to believe, and watch them fall in line.”
Morons? All of them? Maybe they just need direction and guidance and proper instruction. I disagree with across-the-board name calling. If you are outspoken in the paranormal community, you need to be careful not to insult people that might have otherwise looked up to you. In other words, don’t sh!t where you eat.
This one makes a great segue into my next topic:
”This is an important aspect of the field that many of us forget to do. You have to connect yourself with those that have already made a name for themselves in the field, good or bad. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. Tell people that your friends with members of TAPS, Lorraine Warren, or some other famous investigator. By association, you will immediately be respected, and seen as someone that is already in the ‘inner circle’ of paranormal experts. Everyone will KNOW that you possess knowledge that goes beyond this physical realm, and far into the beyond. You’ve finally made it.”
You mean like writing an inflammatory albeit marginally humorous article and sending it to a very well known member of the paranormal community, hoping to curry favor and approval, and then feeling very pleased with yourself when the very people you set out to insult leave comment after comment about how funny and right you are? Well played.
I do think it’s interesting and appropriate to refer to an “inner circle” of paranormal researchers (I refuse to call anyone an expert). Let’s get out our spades now…
Here’s what I want to know. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about the Good Ol’ Boy Network? We all know it’s there, and we all know who they are, but nobody wants to say, “Hey, how come YOU GUYS get to make all the rules?” Everyone loves to sh!t all over an orb photo, all the while cramming terms like “demonology” and “angelology” down our throats. I can show you a picture of an orb, but can you show me your degree in demonology? Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Why doesn’t anyone ever refer to The Rhine Research Center or Loyd Auerbach or Charles Tart? These are people that have actually done true, scientific paranormal research. Not the stuff that is fun to watch on TV or the dubious ghostly tales that translate into big moneymaking film ventures, but real research.
If we really want to move towards a cohesive community, this is the bullsh!t that needs to stop. If everyone works with integrity and truthfulness, the wheat will separate from the chaff. If you think a group or an individual is a big fat liar, stop talking about them, stop talking TO them, and they will just go away. If it brings someone joy to have a flashy website with skulls and music, what is the harm?
I got a message last night from another author who told me "you have to read this," and copied me on a different message posted on someone's Facebook page (or similar)...a someone who shall remain nameless, but by all accounts has become marginally famous in the glamorous world of paranormal research by doing absolutely nothing but running off at the mouth. I won't even quote the message directly, but it was exactly the kind of magnanimous, self-congratulatory bullsh*t that makes me want to punch myself in the face.
Evidently this person wrote a book. Yeah, get in line, sister...I'm on book four.
Also evidently, this person touts herself as an "expert" in numerous areas of paranormal research. Really? Well, I suppose it's easy to be an expert in a field that science still hasn't been able to specifically pinpoint...that way you can make up the rules that suit you as you go along.
It just so happens that this is a fairly gigantic pet peeve of mine...people claiming to be "experts" when it comes to ghost hunting. Unless you have Dr. in front of your name, or an entire alphabet of credentials behind it, you are NOT an expert. I can make a grilled cheese sandwich, but that certainly doesn't make me a chef.
Truthfully, the only thing you can claim expertise on is your own experience. Anyone can absorb and regurgitate information that they have read or heard elsewhere, but that doesn't make the information YOURS. It's what you do WITH that information to try and move the conversation forward that matters. That's where you begin to build your own credibility. You can't just make stuff up, slap a cool name on it, and call it legitimate research. While it may entertain, it does not inform.
So, while I am wholeheartedly willing to drink the "drama-free paranormal" koolaid, I stand pat on the need to vet out the people that bring nothing BUT drama to the table.
Am I just pissing in the wind on this one, or can I get a witness to testify?
Admit it. Every ghost hunting group in the world wants to be BADASS. More specifically, we want to LOOK badass, based - of course - on what each of our individual definitions of badassery entail. Some groups that lean towards psychics and mediums and crystals and sage-smudging might want to appear earthy, flowy, approachable, and all about the love. Some groups with all the fancy gadgets that beep and flash may want to pose in their combat gear in front of their paranormal unimog, just to make sure everyone knows to be scared.
Some of us are happy if we appear to have only a single chin and not shaped roughly like the Tasmanian Devil.
This is all part of posturing. This is what everyone will see and know and remember from the very first glance. It's important. So, since we here at Wailing Bansidhe have an unusually high concentration of "newbies," we have been bemoaning and vascillating about the impending "group photo." You've all seen the one that's posted now. I look like I just climbed out of the back of a dumptruck, Paige looks like she has gigantism, and the rest of us look somewhere in between. Well, except for Clint (or "Cling" if you are typing too fast) who always looks fierce and mighty.
Given the dilemma, I did what any good leader would do, I opened the topic for dialogue on exactly where and how we should be photographed. I instantly regretted it.
"Hey, we should do COSTUMES!!! I used to have a Gorilla suit in my car, until it was ejected onto the highway when I rolled down the embankment."
"Yes, yes...PARANORMAL MASQUERADE!!! We could be pirates! ARGH!"
"No, no...seriously, though...any ideas?"
"We aren't wearing powdered wigs."
"It's my turn to wear the mango capris!"
Before the brainstorming session (completely SOBER, I might add) was over, we had entertained such ideas as velcro jumpsuits, homemade re-purposed t-shirts, a large multi-armed stick onto which we would place our instrumentation, all while simultaneously carrying a sign as we parade past the Tombstone webcam.
Somehow, I feel we will need to revisit this topic again. For now, I have to slip into my sequined tube top, yarmulke, and drywall stilts for this round of photos.
Okay, so (mmmm...queso) I was hanging around Facebook today, and I bumped into a little drama taking place between two other ghost peeps regarding the veracity of a photo that was presented as possibly paranormal. Now, since I don't have a dog in this fight, I am not going to be specific in my description, but I will say that the photo was clearly NOT in ANY WAY paranormal, nor could anyone reasonably suggest so. That brings me to my topic:
Intentional fakery in paranormal investigation.
I realize that this is a broad topic, and not every questionable photo has been intentionally faked, but I am beginning to think that erring on the side of fantastic is becoming tiresome and overdone. As someone who has been on numerous investigations, I have certainly seen my share of photos that might be paranormal in nature, and I post them on the website for everyone's amusement. Looking back, I can also say that I have been taken in occasionally by an errant hair or camera strap. It's an imperfect world.
What really has my hackles up are the folks that post photos that show nothing...not one thing...but the "nothing" in question is circled as if to make it more real. Also, slow shutter speed does not equal paranormal activity. If you have those LONG streaks of light coming from every light source in your photo, and you get a lot of those all the time, you need to adjust the settings on your camera. I have a ton of photos like that taken in dim lighting. Total no-brainer.
I will take an orb photo ANY day of the week over a plain old bad photo.
Alright, you are probably thinking, "but that doesn't mean that people are intentionally faking photos!" No, it doesn't, but they are out there, and they know who they are. I mean, I can tell the difference between a REAL ghost and someone in a fedora standing at the end of a hallway.
The trouble is this: when you have people buying in to outright fakery, it raises the stakes and makes people feel like, "if I am not getting a fabulous photo, then I am not legitimately investigating." That could not be further from accurate. The fact that you AREN'T getting a ton of "ghost photos" means that you are probably doing more RIGHT than wrong. We can take 200 photos and MAYBE we'll get one worthy of consideration, and that's OKAY.
Oh well. If nothing else, it gives me fodder for mockery. I'm just keepin' it real.
The event at the Arizona Museum of Natural History on October 31st was awesome! There were about 50 people that showed up and the response was overwhelmingly postive! 10 lucky raffle winners went with us on an investigation after the presentation and Alice from the museum got very positive feedback. It was a great fundraising opportunity for the museum and I'm so glad that we had the chance to help out.
Participating was Me(Mikal), Katie, Patrick, Clint, Maureen, and from Tucson Paranormal Research: Mark Boccuzzi.