Tuesday, May 2, 2017

HGB Ep. 200 - The History of Ghost Hunting

Moment in Oddity - The Big Chicken
Suggested by Brianne Barre

Marietta, Georgia has one of the most unique roadside attractions in the United States and it happens to be attached to a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. The large monstrosity is known affectionately as “The Big Chicken.” The KFC is located at Cobb Parkway and Roswell Road. The chicken was not built for the KFC though. Originally, the Big Chicken was built for Stanley R. "Tubby" Davis and his Johnny Reb's Chick-Chuck-N-Shake restaurant. The Big Chicken rises to seven stories, is steel-sided and has a moving beak and eyes. A few years after it was completed, Davis sold Johnny Reb’s to his brother who turned it into a franchise of KFC. The landmark was almost razed in 1993, but the public convinced KFC to restore the structure to its former glory. A Big Chicken roadside landmark, certainly is odd!

This Month in History- Francis Gary Powers Shot Down Over the USSR

In the month of May, on the 1st, in 1960 an American U-2 spy plane flying at 60,000 feet was shot down over central Russia on the eve of an American/Soviet Summit. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was supposed to meet with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, but the summit was quickly cancelled after the event and heightened Cold War tensions. The pilot of the plane was a CIA agent named Francis Gary Powers. He survived the crash and was captured by Soviet agents. Powers was tried and convicted for spying and was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Russian court. America captured a Soviet spy and arranged an exchange for Powers after he had been in prison for two years. The American public was hostile to him upon his return because they thought he should not have allowed himself to be captured. He later died in a helicopter crash in 1977.

The History of Ghost Hunting (Suggested by: Sylvia Mason and Aimee Sandoval)

Supernatural activity has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of mankind. Our fascination and for some, reverence of this activity has lasted into our modern era. The desire to understand where this phenomenon originates and to somehow prove its existence via scientific means has come to be known as paranormal investigation or simply, ghost hunting. While we encourage people to not tempt the spirits, we are just as fascinated with the paranormal and it would seem only natural for us to explore the history of ghost hunting in our more recent history. On this episode, we will delve into the history of ghost hunting, explore the different techniques and equipment employed and discuss tactics that can be used to protect yourself from spiritual attachment and attack.

As we discussed in our Spiritualism episode (no. 191), modern day ghost hunting originated within the Spiritualism Movement of the 1800s. One of the first famous reports of ghost hunting dates back to 1834. Major Edward Moor was a British soldier who had written the book, "The Hindu Pantheon." He moved into the Bealings House in Great Bealings in Suffolk, England when he retired. This house was reputedly haunted with various phenomenon that started with the ringing of the servants' bells all on their own. For a two month period, the bells in the dining room and kitchen would ring erratically. Moor watched them and tried to recreate the experience by various means. He studied the system for flaws as well. He never found a rational explanation. After investigating the activity, he reported his experiences and findings in his 1841 book, "Bealings Bells."

A pamphlet titled “Authentic Account of a Visit to the Haunted House at Willington near Newcastle-Upon-Tyne” features a reported haunting at a house in the village of Willington in the mid-1800s. The story featured the experiences of Dr. Edward Drury as he conducted an overnight ghost hunt at the home. The haunting became famous and the story was reprinted by William Howitt in the May 22, 1847 issue of Howitt’s Journal of Literature and Popular Progress. Drury was a novice ghost hunter. He surveyed the entire house before he spent the evening inside it in July of 1840. Drury wrote, "I sat down on the third story landing, fully expecting to account for any noises that I might hear, in a philosophical manner. This was about eleven o’clock p.m. About ten minutes to twelve we both heard a noise, as if a number of people were pattering with their feet upon the bare floor, and yet so singular was the noise that I could not minutely determine from whence it proceeded. A few minutes afterwards we heard a noise as if some one was knocking with his knuckles among our feet; this was followed by a hollow cough from the very room from whence the apparition proceeded. The only noise after this was as if a person was rustling against the wall in coming upstairs...In taking my eyes from the watch, they became riveted upon a closet door, which I distinctly saw open, and saw also the figure of a female attired in grayish garments, with the head inclining downwards, and one hand pressed upon the chest, as if in pain...the right hand—extended towards the floor, with the index finger pointing downwards. It advanced with an apparently cautious step across the floor towards me; immediately as it approached my friend, who was slumbering, its right hand was extended towards him; I then rushed at it, giving, as Mr. Procter states, a most awful yell; but instead of grasping it, I fell upon my friend, and I recollected nothing distinctly for nearly three hours afterwards. I have since learnt that I was carried down stairs in an agony of fear and terror." The Spiritual Magazine later called Drury a “ghost detector” in 1860.

Sir William Crookes was a British physicist and chemist who invented the Crookes Tube. The Tube was used to discover the properties of the cathode rays, which led to those rays being called electrons. Crookes was fascinated with Spiritualism and psychical phenomenon. In 1870, he began experiments to help facillitate his study of paranormal phenomena. His fellow scientists thought he was crazy, but Crookes believed that if something really was going on, it was the duty of science to study it and perhaps prove that it was real. He spent much of his life trying to find what he called "an outside intelligence." He began his experiments with no preconceptions, but when he died, he firmly believed in the paranormal. He set the conditions for testing mediums. They had to come to his house and he chose the appartus he used for testing. He studied several well known mediums like Daniel Dunglas Home, Florence Cook and Kate Fox, of the Fox Sisters. One of the things that Daniel Home was known for was levitation. It was said that he once floated out of a window and then back in another window on the third floor of a home. Crookes witnessed rappings, levitation, luminous objects and apparitions. He then published a report of his findings in 1874. The science community outright rejected his report.

Another key point in ghost hunting history is the formation of The Ghost Club in 1862 in London, England. It began as a social discussion group at Cambridge University in 1855. Fellows at Trinity College decided to discuss paranormal phenomenon, which was reaching popularity through Spiritualism. The Club was formally launched in London in 1862. It seemed to dissolve in the 1870s, but relaunched in 1882 when the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) began. A.A. Watts helped to revive the club with a medium named the Reverend Stainton Moses. The Ghost Club differed from the SPR because members believed in the paranormal, whereas the SPR was more devoted to conducting scientific research. Attendance at meetings was obligatory and membership remained small for the next 54 years with only 82 members. The names of members alive and dead were recited every November 2nd, the Feast of All Souls. There were those who claimed that deceased members made their presence known during the recitations.

The organization served as a place of refuge for some controversial figures. Attendance fell starting in the 1930s and Harry Price, Bligh Bond and a handful of surviving members agreed to wind up the Club in 1936 after 485 meetings. Within eighteen months, the Ghost Club was opened again. The club's membership has gone up and down and there was political turmoil in the 1990s. After this, the Club was opened to the public. Before, it had been invite only. Studies into other paranormal phenomenon like cryptozoology also began at this time. Today, the Ghost Club is the oldest organization in the world associated with psychical research. The Club moved from just discussing the supernatural to studying it via ghost hunting. Overnight investigations have been conducted at hundreds of sites for decades. They merely study and do not perform clearings or exorcisms. They are very serious about their work and have an elite list of former members including Charles Dickens, W.B. Yeats, Harry Price, Donald Campbell, Peter Cushing, Peter Underwood, Maurice Grosse, Sir Shane Leslie, Eric Maple and the aforementioned William Cookes.

The Society for Psychical Research, SPR, was founded in London in 1882 by Henry Sidgwick, Frederic Myers, and Edmund Gurney. The SPR went forward with the purpose of "investigating mesmeric, psychical and ‘spiritualist’ phenomena in a purely scientific spirit." Leaders of the group created a framework with which to go forward with study and they started a scholarly journal for reporting their research. Most members were prominent figures in science and philosophy. Coming from this scientific basis, the group became adept at spotting fake mediums and were not misled by tricks. Investigations were conducted into all varieties of psychical phenomenon from hypnotism to mental telepathy to apparitions to haunting activities. The first volume written on this research, "Phantasms of the Living,"  was published in 1886. Seven hundred personal experiences were cataloged in the book and Edmund Gurney concluded that most were a form of telepathically-generated hallucination caused by life-threatening situations.

The Census of Hallucinations was the next project tackled by the SPR and today is still the largest survey of its kind ever to have been attempted. This research delved into whether the crisis apparitions discussed in the Phantasms book could just be a matter of coincidence. Their equations ruled out coincidence. Nearly every physical medium that the group studied was found to be a fraud. One of those declared a fake was Helena Blavasky who founded Theosophy and inspired Aleister Crowley. Mental mediums fared better and they regarded as trustworthy, Leonora Piper of Boston, Gladys Leonard and Winifred Coombe Tennant (‘Mrs Willett’) of London. Three years after the SPR was founded, they would have an American counterpart.

The American Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1885 by Harvard psychologist William James. Early members of the club included Sigmund Freud and Carl G. Jung. The American society worked closely with their European counterpart and both groups worked with other scientists that were not members, but they coordinated methodology together. These scientists included French Professor Charles Richet and American Botanist J.B. Rhine, who founded a parapsychology lab at Duke University in the 1930s. These two men developed test criteria in controlled environments for psychic testing. One of the most fascinating conclusions to some out of much of this research came through a series of automatic writings done by mediums that featured allusions to Greek and Latin literature. The key here was that the mediums had not studied these languages, but the researchers had and they understood what the references were about. This left the scientists with the impression that there was an organized intelligence that they could not see. Even further, they began to become aware that founding members Gurney and Sidgwick, who had passed by this time, were probably responsible for the writings and were trying to provide proof of survival after death. These correspondences continued for thirty years and are still debated to this day.

Harry Price was born in London on January 17, 1881. He would become the real father of ghost hunting. He was a writer who became a psychical researcher and he for this reason, he documented much of his work in books and articles. One of his first interests was magic and he himself became an amateur conjurer, joining the Magic Circle in 1922. This would help him to identify fraud in mediums. Price joined SPR in 1920. He spent most of his life investigating hauntings and psychical phenomenon. Many of his cases are still famous to this day, including Gef the Talking Mongoose and the haunting at Borley Rectory. He also investigated other mundane things like fire-walking. He was controversial not only for his work, but he also championed legislation to regulate psychic practitioners. One of his greatest contributions to ghost hunting was his development of a ghost hunting kit.

One of the first cases he took on was in regards to the spirit photography of William Hope. The way that Price unmasked Hope as a fraud was very simple. He secretly marked Hope's photographic plates with the logo of the Imperial Dry Plate Co. Ltd. Hope's photos would then be marked with this logo. The photographer was unaware that the plates had been altered and he went forward with taking photographs as part of his SPR testing. Hope later handed over his photos to the SPR and they contained spirits in the pictures. Price knew that Hope was a fraud after this because none of those pictures had the logo on them. It was clear that Hope had exchanged the materials provided by Price with his own prepared materials containing the fake spirit images. Price wrote in his SPR report "William Hope has been found guilty of deliberately substituting his own plates for those of a sitter ... It implies that the medium brings to the sitting a duplicate slide and faked plates for fraudulent purposes."

It would be the haunting at Borley Rectory in Essex that would capture his lifelong obsession. He first visited the location in 1929 after hearing about the phantom of a nun appearing in the garden at the house. Other reports included disembodied footsteps, various apparitions, including the man who built the rectory, and ghost lights. He asked a local for directions and the man said, "Oh, you mean the most haunted house in England?" Price would name his first volume about Borley Rectory just that, "The Most Haunted House in England," which was published in 1940. He lived at the rectory for a year in the late 1930s. Many believe that the wife of Rev. Lionel Foyster, who lived at the rectory from 1930 to 1935, had faked the paranormal activity that Price was following up on and members of SPR claimed that Price faked phenomenon while he lived at the house. Their later studies came to the conclusion that any weirdness was caused by natural things like rats. But before one writes off the haunting at Borley Rectory, consider that Price came to know the nun spirit as Marie and she told him that one day the rectory would burn and that proof of the fact that she was murdered would be found. The house did indeed suffer a fire that gutted it and when Price excavated the basement, female bones were found.

One of the next famous ghost hunters would be Austrian born Hans Holzer. He emigrated to America in 1938 with his family when he was eighteen. His paranormal investigations took him all over the world and he eventually wrote more than 140 books on the paranormal. Some claim that Holzer came up with the term "ghost hunter," but H. Addington Bruce wrote a book in 1908 titled “Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters.” One of Holzer's most famous cases was the Amityville Horror house. For those who don't know, this home was the scene of a horrific murder. Nearly the entire Defeo family was slaughtered and the eldest son, Ronald Jr., was charged with the crime. He claimed that the Devil made him to do it. It was in January of 1977 that Holzer first entered the house in Amityville, New York. He took with him a psychic he trusted, medium Ethel Meyers. Meyers told him the house was built on a Native American burial ground and that spirits of the dead had taken over Ronald's body. There never was any proof of the burial ground and the historical society denied the claim. Holzer believed that something was going on at the house and he was a true believer. The SPR thought Holzer's claims were dubious and they disliked his use of psychics. But he is still considered an authority even today, nearly ten years after his death.

Probably the most famous couple in ghost hunting is Lorraine and Ed Warren. The paranormal investigators have received a resurgence into popular culture with the success of recent horror films like Annabelle, the Conjuring and the Conjuring 2 that feature cases with which the Warrens are connected. The Warrens are also a very controversial couple. Ed is no longer alive, but Lorraine is and she lives in New England where she had run the couple's Occult Museum featuring haunted items like the Annabelle doll. Ed was a demonologist and Lorraine is a trance medium. For fifty years they investigated all manners of hauntings and generally held to the belief that paranormal activity was demonic in nature. The couple began investigating early in their relationship. Ed had grown up in a haunted house and he was fascinated by what he experienced as a child. Any time he heard that a house was haunted, he dragged Lorraine along to check it out.

Their most famous cases were the Amityville House, Annabelle the haunted doll (which we covered in our haunted dolls episode), the Perron Home, which is what the Conjuring is about and the Enfield Poltergeist, which is featured in the Conjuring 2. The couple began the New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952. They claimed to have done 10,000 investigations. What makes them controversial are their claims of hauntings in places that seem to have been invented, possibly for money. It is thought by most today that the Amityville Horror was an entirely made-up event. Those who worked directly with the Enfield Poltergeist claim the Warrens spent one day at the house and had no real involvement, while the Conjuring 2 movie makes it seem as though this was entirely their case. For us, the jury is still out. They seem to have found some real evidence in their time and they seem to have helped some people with problematic spirits. They definitely were pioneers in the field of ghost hunting.

Our modern era has witnessed a saturation of paranormal investigative shows. Before these was "In Search Of" hosted by Leonard Nemoy in the 1970s. "Unsolved Mysteries" followed in the late 1980s and then there was "Sightings" in the 1990s. But it has been the paranormal reality TV that began in the early 2000s that really made popular the idea that the average person on the street could be an amateur ghost hunter. Since then, hundreds have formed or joined their own teams, made the t-shirts and conducted their own investigations.

TV Shows:

Ghost Hunters (TAPS)
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Lab
Haunted Collector
Ghost Mine
Fact or Faked
Destination Truth
Paranormal Witness
Celebrity Ghost Stories
Ghost Asylum
My Ghost Story
Ghost Brothers
Kindred Spirits
Dead Files
Most Haunted
Haunted Highway
Paranormal State
Paranormal Lockdown

Equipment:

EMF Meters (K2) - These meters measure the rate of change of the surrounding magnetic field, so they are sensitive to changing magnetic fields. Those fields have frequency above 0 hertz. EMF Meters are designed to measure many frequency ranges, which you will hear as ELF, visible light and X-Rays. Most meters read frequencies of about 30 - 10,000 hertz. It is believed that ghosts use electrical activity for energy and so they will cause spikes in EMF detectors. Most EMFs that you have seen have color zones ranging from green to orange to red,with a red spike indicating a spirit nearby.

EDI Meters - An all in one device (EDDY). This has an EMF Meter, a temperature gauge, humidity gauge and geophone vibration detection. A geophone converts ground movement into voltage. These vibrations are caused by seismic waves.

EVP Recorder - This is a digital recorder like a Zoom H1 or various version thereof like a Sony or Olympus. Somehow, a spirits vocal cues are picked up by the digital recording and can only be heard during playback. There is a version of recorder that provides Real-Time recording meaning that it rewinds and plays back as you go, so that you can listen while investigating. The EVPs have three rankings: Class A voices are very clear and easily understandable, Class B voices are fairly loud and clear and are sometimes audible without headphones and Class C voices are very soft and often indecipherable.

Ghost Boxes or Shack Hacks - At a basic level, a ghost box is a broken AM/FM radio. It is modified so that it continuously scans the radio bands and when a spirit uses this to communicate, words can be heard, sometimes even a full sentence. The theory is that the white noise is manipulated by spirits to form words.

FLIR Thermal Cams - FLIR is the name of the company that makes these thermal cams. They call themselves the world's sixth sense. Their cameras detect infrared light and thermal patterns. Our vision detects a very small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Thermal energy has a much longer wavelength than visible light, which makes it impossible for us to see it. Thermal imaging allows us to see thermal energy emitted from an object. In the infrared world, everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits heat. It works with light or dark.

MEL Meter - Gary Galka created the MEL Meter after his daughter passed away as something to communicate with his daughter's spirit. It is named for her. These meters are handheld and show EMF and ambient temperature.

REM-Pod - The REM circuit was originally developed to be part of the Mel Meter Series. The REM-Pod uses a mini telescopic antenna to radiate its own independent Magnetic Field around the device. When something electrical gets close to the device, it gives off an alarm and LED lights flash on. It also can detect vibrations.

Full Spectrum Video Camera - Our eyes can't see ultraviolet or infrared light. A Full Spectrum camera detects all of these levels of light. The theory is that ghosts show themselves in UV or IR light ranges. These cameras are the best to use because they give you the most light possible.

Laser Grid - Green is the most visible color of laser, so generally that is the color grid chosen. This is a device that you face towards a wall or open area like a small room and hallway. When on, it throws a grid pattern up like small squares or dots of light. What hunters watch for are shadows to pass through the grid.

Flashlights - The best flashlight to use are the kind that twist. You twist until it just goes off and then set it alone. Ask the spirit to respond by clicking the light on and off.

Ovilus - An Ovilus reminds me of a Speak & Spell. This device converts environmental readings into words. It was created by Bill Chappell and he devised a synthesizer chip that modulates energy changes into audible speech. The device has seven modes of operation. Dictionary mode contains 512 stored words. Phonetic mode sounds out words by syllable. A combination mode puts those both together. There is a “yes” or “no” mode. An electromagnetic field (EMF) mode that verbally outputs EMF levels in milligauss. A level mode that graphically displays EMF levels. Finally there is a dowsing mode that simulates virtual dowsing rods.

Dowsing Rods - They are also known as divining rods and were used in the past to detect water beneath the ground. They also can detect gemstones and metals. Basically, they are moved by energy. Ghost hunters use them to get responses from spirits by asking yes and no question and then if the rods cross, it indicates an answer to a question.

Protection against attachment and hauntings:

-First and foremost, we are Christians, so when people ask us what to do for protection, our go-to is prayer and for us, specifically calling on the name of Jesus.
-Positivity. Negative entities will be attracted to negative thoughts. If feeling depressed, tired or sick, you should stay away from anything that is reputed to be haunted.
-Be of sober mind. It's not just a Biblical recommendation. When high or drunk, the human mind is susceptible to attack because your defenses are down.
-Speak authoritatively directly to the spirit. Take control of the situation and tell them to leave, leave you alone or quit doing whatever they doing.
-Salt is a very powerful weapon and it comes up in the Bible more than people might think. It was a symbol of friendship and integrity when shared between people. The Disciples were called to be the Salt of the Earth. That means not bland, but most importantly, not contaminated. Also, we believe that demons are without a body and out in the desert if you will. They seek bodies so that they can have water again. The human body is mostly water. What does excessive salt do to water. It dehydrates. A thirsty spirit wants nothing to do with salt. Salt on window sills and doorways is thought to keep evil from passing through. We have also heard that you should do this at the four corners of your home.
-White Sage for Smudging. Dried sage can be found at metaphysical stores and can be used as a repellent to spirits. The most common practice is to light the sage so that it smokes. Crack a window in each room of the house and start at the furthest point from the window, waving the smoke from the sage in all the corners and sweeping it across the room towards the window. The thought is that if a spirit is in a room, the sage will cause it to flee out the window.
-Blessed water and oil. Some believe you need a priest to bless the water or oil, but we believe you can bless the water yourself in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Putting these in the four corners of the house is said to be effective as well as the thresholds of a home and on a person, the forehead is usually where the mark is made in the sign of the cross.
-Burning lavender incense
-Covering mirrors at death
-Exorcism in extreme cases.
-Most important, don't tempt the spirits.

After decades of scientific research and probably what amounts to millions of paranormal investigations, we really have no substantive proof that there are ghosts or what ghosts may be and perhaps that is what keeps us all so passionate about the subject. Perhaps it would actually be a sad day if we ever found all the answers.And that is why we always end our episodes with the question about whether a place is truly and leave it to the listener to decide. Do ghosts exist? That is for you to decide!

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