Salem, MA – GhoStock 7 Reports – 2009

ghostock7-smIn 2009, I was one of the featured speakers at GhoStock, hosted by Patrick Burns.

Here’s my preliminary report:

What a great event!  All of the panels, workshops and lectures were fascinating.

I especially enjoyed the talks by two demonologists: the late Father Andrew Calder, and John Zaffis (from the “Haunted Collector” TV series), since they delve into realms that I generally avoid.

I presented information about my research into paranormal patterns, including my discovery of the Salem “Judges’ Line.”

U.K. psychic/entertainer Gavin Cromwell and I talked about fact and fiction in ghost hunting. We offered opinions on how legends and preconceived ideas affects our results — and our reputations — as paranormal investigators. Then, we took questions from the audience.

Since Gavin is involved in entertainment and I’m from the research side of paranormal studies, we were able to share different (but sometimes complementary) views on ghosts and haunted places.


saleminn2-illusOn Friday night, Gavin and I led a team of investigators as we explored the magnificent Salem Inn.  Not only is it a great place to stay, it has some colorful ghost stories… and it’s very active.

It’s also on the “Judges’ Line” that I’m researching.

(Note: We checked with the staff and the Inn’s ghosts do not disturb the guests.  So, if you want a good night’s sleep, you can stay at the Salem Inn with confidence. We feel that, since we were eager to contact the ghosts, they responded to us as researchers.)

In Room 17, we encountered measurable activity with the K-II meter as well as the Ovilus.

This was my first chance to use the Ovilus. I was very impressed when it said my full name, plus the full name of another researcher.

Later, it said the full name of someone who —  according to my later research — had lived in the house in the 19th century.  (That early Ovilus was not programmed with names, just random words.)

Note: We were confused — and amused — by how frequently the Ovilus seemed to shout, “Dick!”

Following just a few outbursts, this became embarrassing. After the investigation, we learned that the Salem Inn’s owners are Diane and Dick (Richard) Pabich.

While the Ovilus’ performance somewhat overshadowed the use of the K-II meter, both tools work well together to comfirm results.

When we were joined by members of Mass. Paranormal, we saw that the K-II meter readings spiked each time, just a split-second before the Ovilus “talked” to us.

(Yes, they checked the K-II with the Ovilus next to it, to debunk any interactions.  The EMF surges were not from the Ovilus’ activity.)

It was a great investigation during a fun event weekend.

Science of Ghosts?

emf-ghostmeterIs there a ‘science’ of ghosts and ghost hunting?  A 2009 event in the UK, Hauntings: The Science of Ghosts seems to suggest that.

But really… can science prove anything about ghosts and haunted places?  For many people, it’s laughable to use the words ‘science’ and ‘ghosts’ in the same sentence.

Let’s be honest about our studies.

Something odd is going on at many locations.  We find unexplained EMF surges and drops, odd voices in our recordings, strange temperature variations, and photos with baffling images.  (You can learn more about these phenomena at this website.)

PROOF?  NOT YET… and, really, not ever.

Something strange is occurring.  That’s usually labeled ‘paranormal’ , especially when supporting evidence, history or folklore suggest ghosts.

However, while we may have evidence that something odd is going on, we can’t prove to anyone that it’s a ghost. (If we could, the controversy would cease.)

And — for the record — when we use the word “proof,” we’re not talking in scientific terms, anyway.  In science, there is no “proof.”  We can only talk in terms of credibility and evidence.

That’s why science is such an important element in our studies.

question-75The real explanations could be anything from pranks to an overactive imagination, from underground streams to quantum realities, and from environmentally-induce hallucinations to actual ghosts.

Until we have more documented facts, we can only guess from the preponderance of reasonably credible evidence.  (‘Credible’ being in the eye of the beholder.)


To support (or refute) the reality of ghosts — as it says on the Wikipedia scientific method page — ‘experimental and theoretical results must be reproduced by others within the science community.’

For this reason, we must find ways to reproduce our results, at least within the paranormal research community.

That means

  • improving our work
  • expanding the scope of it
  • tracking relevant scientific discoveries, and
  • sharing our findings.

It’s fine to talk about the ‘science’ of ghosts, but it’s more important to actually approach our research scientifically.   Let’s not reduce our investigations to ‘entertainment’ or some variation of scary stories around the campfire.

Sure, we all love to share ‘ghost stories’.  Almost everyone loves to talk about his or her field of study.

That’s different from conducting research just to have a story to tell.

Paranormal research is a developing science.   No matter which scientific tools we’re using, we must first achieve professional-level skills.

For example, my EMF findings at a paranormal site aren’t ‘scientific’ unless I’m also a competent EMF researcher in normal locations.  (This goes far beyond casual baseline studies.)

Whether I’m using a hiking compass, a Cell Sensor, or a KII meter, I need to know why my tools work, what’s normal for them,  and how to recognize a genuine anomaly.

To talk about a science of ghosts, we need to be as educated about science as we are about ghosts.

The best approach may combine personal and academic studies, field research, and tips shared with other researchers at meetings and conferences, and at online forums.