05/15/14

      12:59:00 pm, by Sue   , 598 words  
    Categories: Paranormal - Raves, Ghosts & Hauntings, Things To Do In Toronto

    Doors Open Toronto 2014 You've Come A Long Way Baby

    It has been a long time since I've written anything for this blog. Its not that I'm suffering a paranormal burn-out so to speak, but more to do with life getting in the way of hobby. I hope to change that in the coming weeks, and contribute more to both this blog and Toronto Ghosts. Part of what has gotten me fired up for all things ghostly again is Doors Open Toronto. This is always a great event, and one we are happy to support through attending every year, but this year's theme makes it just that much more special for us.

    Image Source

    This year's theme for Doors Open Toronto is Secrets and Spirits… Exploring the Mysteries Behind the Door. Close to 80 locations will feature secret spaces, stories of spirit sightings and unexplained mysteries. Honestly, how cool is that! 

    Oddly enough while doing some backdoor work on this blog the other night I came across this blog entry entitled Doors Open - Minds Closed which was posted almost exactly 8 years ago to the day. Matthew was writing about our support of this great city-wide event, but how we wished the city would embrace some of its darker history and of course our ghosts. In the original article Matthew describes how a good ghost story can actually be a great way to help teach history.

     Matthew writes:

    "If you take a group of school kids and sit them in a room of a historic place and start telling them the tales of "daring-do" that happened in that room, you'll gain a few more listeners... but many will be comparing the stories they're hearing to Batman Returns... and probably you should have the puppies and pillows on hand again.

    Now...

    Tell them that the room or even the building is reportedly haunted... and they'll hang off every word. It doesn't even have to be a "scary" story and you can even let them know (and yes, statistically speaking, unless you're in the early 1800's in a farm in Tennessee, it's going to be the truth,) that the ghost(s) are harmless.

    People need to remember that the BEST "true ghost stories" END with the words, "...and to this day, his/her ghost is seen..."

    In other words, the story is told, THEN the "ghost" is introduced.

    In doing this, the story is put across, retention is better, and people enjoy themselves more.

    Now, I'm REALLY a historian first in many ways... and I love the darker side of history and, of course, it's ghosts... and I've seen first hand the attention that the history of a site is taken in when wrapped in a ghost story."

    This is of course as true today as it was when it was written in 2006, and we are delighted to see that Toronto is indeed finally embracing its ghosts, and hauntings, and mysteries on such a large scale. This is a free event and we highly recommend taking the ghost tours if you can. Space is limited, and you need to pre-register for those through the Doors Open webpage.

    Please do let us know if you go, and of course if you believe you've had a ghostly encounter in the City of Toronto we want to hear about it. We have a few buildings in mind that we have on our must visit list including the Alumnae Theatre at 70 Berkeley St. Not only will staff be on hand to discuss the ghostly history of this amazing building they will also be putting on a short 10 minute play based on one of the resident ghosts!

    Enjoy!

    Sue

    05/11/14

      09:24:00 am, by Admin   , 478 words  
    Categories: Off Topic Posts

    Happy Mother's Day!

    I built this image for the PSICAN Facebook group, but figured I should share it here as well...

    Happy Mother's Day!

    ...and once we put it together, I realised something...

    SOMEWHERE, out there, reading this RIGHT NOW... someone who calls themselves a sceptic (who really isn't because, again, scepticism means doubt... and they have NO doubt it's all nonsense,) is saying, "Look! The woo-woos are acknowledging that their beliefs are all the equivalent of a child's nightmares!"

    To that person(s), I put this to you...

    We DO recognise as children we had occasional unfounded fears. If you didn't, wow. What a miserable and odd childhood you had devoid of imagination and dreams. Many of us did have a 'mommy', 'mum', or 'mother' we went to for help... to snuggle into when the shadows became too much who allayed our fears and helped us understand that the fears were unfounded.  Again, I am sorry for you if your mom, instead of helping and explaining, just called you a half-wit and slammed the door in your face proclaiming you to be too stupid to deal with then laughed at you with her friends.

    That said, I was terrified of the dentist as a kid... and in my late forties, I still don't relish the visits to have me dental health looked after... and now, with the fear of pain and discomfort (which I just gut out) I have the added worries of fiscal concerns. My mom used to help me not be afraid of the dentist, and that was a good thing... but did her calming words and help make it FAR less concerning or real today... or just a different type of concern?

    When 'we' (those of us who had imaginations that got ahead of us,) had concerns about monsters in the night, mothers often helped to get us to sleep and calm us... so I guess there's no monsters of any sort any where... or even monstrous things or people to be worried about as adults, right?

    To that dear pseudo-sceptic out there who laughed and laughs... and maybe found that idea with the image I posited at the opening here... there's two lessons to learn.

    The first is although Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees may not have been in our closets waiting to pounce on the off chance a Dalek attack didn't get us first as the evil phantom under our bed reached up and pinned us helplessly down... there are scary things in the world that do exist and, although thankfully most folkloric nightmares really aren't that terrible or much to be concerned about,  they can still be things that adults take note of as well as children.

    ...and the second, and most important today...

    There are few things mothers can't make better at any age or time.

    So, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY from Sue, Myself, and everyone at PSICAN!

    This is the end my friend

    03/16/14

      05:19:00 pm, by Matthew   , 2783 words  
    Categories: Paranormal - Rants, How We Do The Things We Do

    Cropping the Burnt Bagel

    NOT BURNT.... yet.

    In early 1999, a person sent us a photograph that they were sure was proof-positive of the paranormal.

    It showed a pleasant looking woman with a cup of coffee in front of her in a kitchen... but near her was a mysterious "mist" hovering around...

    This, of course, was at the height of the orb (which are most likely nothing more than airborne particles near the lens caught in the flash as a rule), vortex (usually a thread, dust web, hair, or strap close the lens of the camera causing it to either slightly blur or emphasises the patterns on the surface of the object), and - obviously here - mist photos.

    Between 1997 and 2003 the internet was FILLED with such photos displayed as "proof positive" of the paranormal. One website, charging membership fees to view all their orbs, mists, and vortexes, even managed to pay for a luxury motor home (caravan for our Brit readers) for the webmasters and owners of the site...

    Rare, few, and far between were the dissenting voices... those people saying, "Whoa! Stop! Let's look at these pictures critically!"

    Investigation by something more than proclamation!

    I shan't lie... many people who PROUDLY stood by their orb. mist, and vortex image at that time now (of course) proclaim that they knew ALL ALONG that these were likely "normal" elements rather than "paranormal"... without ever owning up to their own mistakes... and it does make many of us chuckle...

    That said, this mist came in and critical thinking and I answered the image's e-mail honestly...

    The image was in a kitchen where there is likely to be smoke and mist from steam about... and to top everything off, there was a VERY visible burnt bagel (fairly blackened) not a few feet from the woman.

    I pointed these out, but also gently pointed out something else I still do when people send me these types of photos...

    "Although the image is explainable by several natural means, without being present when the image was taken, it's impossible for me to say which of the natural elements caused the mist/smoke to appear... and for all I know, it very well could be paranormal in origin. Sadly, however, as a photo submission, I cannot say for certain it's a genuine paranormal photograph, and for us, it would not be considered good evidence as such.

    This said, if there was something more than this photograph that's happened to lead you to believe it should/must be paranormal, please tell us if you can or wish to! Just because the photo's explicable doesn't mean other things around you are... and we would love to hear about those if you can!"

    Simple, true, and still valid!

    Yeah! One right for us!

    So, the gentlemen who sent it thanked me for my time and honesty, sent me the other stories from his home, and we e-mailed back and forth about what was causing things in his house!

    No... wait... that's a lie...

    Okay...

    The gentleman who sent the image said that no, the image was the only thing he has had happen that was weird, and thanked me for my time and honesty!

    Nope... that's a half lie...

    Let's try this one more time...

    The gentleman wrote a rather nasty e-mail. In it, he used language that would not be fit for younger readers. He did explain that the photo was "it" in terms of weird things happening in his home, (though he did mention a recent passing in his family... which I'm sure we were supposed to connect to any odd thing in this photo,) but my feedback was (of course) wrong. NOTHING had been cooked in that kitchen and there was NO smoke as there was NO fire and NO candles...

    Uck-fey Ou-yay!

    I wrote back...

    "Hot Coffee = Boiled Water = Potential Steam"

    (What I wrote was lengthier and far more apologetic than the above, but what I've put here gets the point across and scores points on brevity.)

    ...and even if that had gone cold, was hot water being used in this kitchen to wash dishes?

    Of course, most damning of all was... the burnt bagel.

    Not the actual bagel

    Not the actual bagel... I can't reproduce that image even now...

    I didn't hear back from the fellow until a while later when he had PROOF of how wrong I was... as a FAR MORE RESPECTABLE organisation had accepted his photo as absolutely an authentic ghostly image...

    Remember that orb site I mentioned that, through fees, had bought a couple their luxury motor home?

    Yup, them.

    Better yet... as the title of this blog says, guess what had happened to the image displayed on their website?

    They had indeed, "Cropped the Burnt Bagel".

    There! Now it's perfect!

    Same photo as used above, but now it's PERFECT!

    Now, is it possible this website, which was not well known for their honesty, did the photo edit? Sure...

    ...but...

    There is an equal chance that the gentleman, when I pointed out the "damning evidence" did it himself, considering his desire to have a bone-fide, genuine, valid, authenticated, certified ghost photo.

    And there he had it!  He even took the time to send us the link to his now certified ghost photo on the ghost group... meaning he felt, in some way, vindicated.

    (I should note, I didn't bother to respond to this last mail.)

    The question this should pose, however, is not the "how", "who", or "what"... but "Why?"

    Why?

    The reason I'm bringing this up right now is that over the last three weeks, I've received no less than four photo submissions... all orbs and mists... all easily explicable via natural means... some even as obvious as the old burnt bagel.

    Yet, when a similar response to the burnt bagel is sent to the submitter... that the photos are explicable, but it's impossible for anyone to say "yay" or "nay" without being intimately involved with the photo process, and how one image that is explainable does not forfeit the idea that other things in the same area are happening...

    ...like photographing a mouse running across a room that's reported to have an apparition of a woman in white only means you photographed a mouse... it does not remove the hypothetical apparition of the woman in white... unless the mouse was over five-foot tall and wearing a disguise...

    ...with these people, like the burnt bagel person, the response was less, "Thanks to answering this!" or even "Thanks for your opinion, I disagree, but I'm glad to have the feedback!"... I usually receive the e-mail version of "HOW DARE YOU QUESTION ME!!!!"

    Not so happy, this one...

    I should point out that since the "burnt bagel", I also recommend that submitter "Google" another site or group and get a second opinion... in three of the four times, this didn't matter, I was still in for the digital version of an all-caps tongue lashing.

    ...but why?

    Right now, one could argue, much like the motor home couple, it's for financial gain... and with all the reality-ish television shows, people do think this... more often than most would think.  People mistakenly assuming that ghosts and hauntings equal cash-money-millions... it doesn't... the reality shows rarely pay anyone outside their "stars", and the list of places and people that have become insolvent or bankrupt hoping that the paranormal would pay the rent is a long one. Still, it's a possibility of why some people fight to have their images "validated"...

    ...but what about the fellow in 1999?

    Some shows were out, but the majority of the paracelebrities at that time were still trying to find fame and fortune through other means.

    The burnt bagel's website made the couple who ran it slightly wealthier for a brief moment, but they didn't pay people for submissions.

    Also, in terms of financial gains, too our knowledge, precious few (if any) ghost experients, photographers, or recorders of any sort make an attempt at the "plastic-spoon to dig through a thick brick wall" known as Randi's Million Dollar Challenge.

    ....so why so adamant?

    That's the "Why?" you need to consider...

    Still Asking!

    To be 100% honest, there's only three likely reasons I can think of...

    Now, before this brief listing, allow me to state... this is about an experient forcing people to acknowledge, with no questions asked, that their photo or recording is a ghost... not a ghost group, a wanna-be paracelebrity, or someone otherwise assuming a quasi-professional interest in the paranormal... this is, as far as I can make out based on my own experience since 1997, why "Joe" or "Jane Average" must have a genuine article of paranormal evidence...

    Spacer

    #1: The Need to be Special.

    People often wish to feel privileged... special... in touch... extraordinary. The thrill or moment of assuming they have evidence that they are indeed special (or have captured something special) is one that they honestly cherish. Having something to kibbitz about with family and friends that's weird and unusual is something many people do value highly. How many times have you been regaled with tales of people bumping into a movie star or other celebrity? What do people do with those moments if they can? Heck, it's a scenario which in many ways gave birth to "The Selfie". For many, the ghost (or UFO or Bigfoot) photo they have is that special... like having evidence that they met/were around/were involved with something unusual or extraordinary. It genuinely hurts when someone points out that there's a more logical reason for this seemingly logic-defying image, it angers them because it removes their "special-ness". Like getting a selfie with themselves and some famous actor only to find that it was actually just someone who resembled the celebrity... the air comes out of their sails... and they don't like it. This said, and as shown, with a photo of something "unknown", they can and usually will find someone who will tell them what they want to hear (that it *is* special) instead of being critical and giving an honest examination of the image.

    Spacer

    #2: The Need for Reenforcement of Events Being Actual.

    Experients CAN be a lonely lot. Often they hear people say they're crazy, hallucinating, or at best, naive when they encounter something odd by those who usually claim to be "sceptics". (Again, as always I point out, sceptics doubt and do not deny... and anyone with an IQ over that of a Labrador Retriever should be able to question an witness about potential alternative thoughts as to what caused their experience without proclaiming it to be the answer with no supporting data,) Again, MANY of us at work or in our social scene have people that quite happily poo-poo any experience that seems to fall outside their own world view... so imagine some folks happiness when they snap a photo and voila! Proof!!! ...only to be told it does not stand up to critical examination. Often the images have already been announced to the doubting Thomases as the end of all their arguments... so to find out that they may not be is not a happy event.

    Spacer

    #3: The Need for Reenforcement of Beliefs

    Very much like the "Need to be Special" lot above, people have strong beliefs in things considered paranormal and they need that belief substantiated. (Think of this in terms of the idea that they NEED to hear that is WAS a famous celebrity in that selfie...) Unlike the people directly above, however, its not about substantiation to prove what they have happening is happening.... it's because the orb is a dearly departed relative that's watching over them... or the mist is the demonic entity which is causing all sorts of grief in their life. The vortex proves that the sensation they are not alone is valid as a vortex is a portal for spirits. I loath bringing religion into these topics personally, but think of those "pilgrims" who travel to a spot where a "miracle" is happening... like a weeping statue of a deity or the image of a sacred person appearing in an unusual location... and then some spoil-sport points out the leak in the pipe or roof above the statue... or that the image is a random pattern that is not all that miraculous. (Who amongst us has not seen something like a photo of a crunchy cheese snack that someone claims is a look-alike to Jesus, only to think to ourselves quietly that it more looks like a badly formed cheesey.) Some of those "pilgrims" can become VERY irate over the dissenting view of their lord and saviour, the Cheeto. The reaction from these people that I've read about and seen on news programs is extremely similar to how the paranormal photo people behave when they are told the same thing. They need to have their faith justified, they feel this is a tangible bit of evidence, and how dare anyone question that.

    Spacer

    Any or all of the reasons above are reasons not only for people vehemently protesting when someone deploys critical analysis of data of an image that doesn't pass full scrutiny, but this marvellous denial also is why many people still run out buying EM meters, "ghost boxes", and a host of other gadgets. They assume they work (because people have told them they do,) and they don't want to look at the actual controlled tests or reviews that may show the gadgets are not all that perfect, and when the machine that goes ping goes "Ping!", it's obviously a sign that the paranormal is all about them and how dare anyone suggest otherwise.

    It would be wonderful if everyone from proclaimed paranormal investigators to experients could put aside these desires and wishes and look critically at evidence... and understand people like me are pretty much honour-bound to be honest in our evaluation.

    Linked right off the main PSICAN website, in the "What does PSICAN do?" bit... it says this...

    ...we do not validate or authenticate evidence (unless we were directly involved with its collection,)...

    ...and now you may know why.

    Someone recently (and angrily) said that this means no evidence we've collected passes our criteria as proof of paranormality. I could have been slightly rude and pointed out that this is why there are no images currently or that have ever have been posted on the PSICAN website in the past that have been labeled as absolute proof of paranormality. I do, however, admit some cheekiness in responding though... The person said "we" (PSICAN) were recommended as a place to send their "evidence" by The University of Toronto... I pointed out that if we had perfect evidence of anything paranormal, we wouldn't be recommended by The University of Toronto, we'd be working for and at The University of Toronto.

    Generic Smarty-pant Prof

    I do believe 100% that people experience things we consider "paranormal". I don't doubt that at all. I even will risk the wrath of possibly the same folks at U of T that recommended us by saying I have experienced weird things that, at the moment, defy explanation myself...

    ...but I have always tried to "think critically"... and be my own worst critic... because I want people to trust me when/if I say, "I think I have evidence or proof of something paranormal in nature." and that this claim when/if it comes will not be laughed at, mocked, or otherwise tossed in the dust-bin as being the usual un-challenged, un-examined, un-qualified images or sounds that are often deployed by so many other folks.

    In essence, if you wish to have something critically analysed, time willing, I'll give it a go PROVIDED you realise I'll probably never be able to say that your submission is 100% certified, guaranteed, double-stamped it with no take-backs paranormal in nature, then send away... the best you might get is, "Wow! That sure seems like it's unexplainable to me!"

    ...but if you're hoping *we* (all of us at PSICAN) will just parrot back what you want or perhaps feel you need to hear, think twice... save yourself the aggravation... and your keyboard the added stress of your angry typing.

    Don't type grumpy...

    As it says in our "Rules of Governance"...

    PSICAN will never make a proclamation of fact without empirical evidence to substantiate a claim that is made.

    Empirical defines as being "based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory".

    In essence, if we see a critical flaw, we will point it out.

    So, in "fancy language", empirical evidence to the contrary of someone's hypothesis makes the hypothesis questionable and as such, said hypothesis cannot be claimed as perfect fact or even a perfectly valid theory.

    In plainer language, if there's reasonable doubt, any"facts" that someone states about the evidence become "maybes"... and no one should say that a "maybe" is perfect and honestly valid in terms of absolute evidence.

    ...and cropping the burnt bagel doesn't change this situation one little bit.

    This is the end my only friend

      03:59:00 pm, by Matthew   , 745 words  
    Categories: Paranormal - Rants

    Don't be sending out an "SoS" to our Facebook...

    Don't Send Me Out an SoS!

    Congratulations to many Facebook paranormal groups! You made me spend time and money on this rant!

    http://www.antisos.com/

    What is that above???

    Well, maybe you know... maybe you don't know... but many (read TONNES) of paranormal groups of all stripes have this thing where they build a Facebook presence (usually not a whole lot of information... almost never anything even barely usable as even a bad reference,) and then slam into our Facebook stuff leaving a link (always) and a post saying something eminently useful to the understanding of the paranormal such as "Showing our support!" (hence "SoS") or "Love you work, hope you stop by and like us!" or something equally as pointless.

    I understand that, especially amongst the more new-age side of things - the 'Love and Light'ers - that affirmations are nice and appreciated... but in all honesty, for many of us, unnecessary... and it's a bit painful when someone says they're showing support or like our work... and then clearly demonstrate by not adding to anything to our pages or groups that they DON'T know us from a hole in the ground.

    It gets worse for us, really, as on our Facebook, we post a link to a websitem saying what we hope for, which includes these words...

    http://psican.org/facebook/

       'Things posted to the group will most likely be challenged - questions asked, doubt exercised. This is not because we doubt witnesses or "do not believe", this is because as people genuinely interested in making things deemed paranormal something more than a fringe study, we try to eliminate arguments and contradictions that an experient or believer might face in academia. To some, this can seem unfriendly, and we apologise... but as we are looking into these subjects in terms of better understanding them, we cannot take on the sole position of support group or facilitators anymore than we would take on the sole position of deniers and non-believers.'

    That's the FIRST thing it says.

    Can someone explain how a single advertising spam-like hit-and-run post with the words "Showing our Support" or the like do anything like the above?

    At least there was a MESSAGE in their bottle!

    At least there was a MESSAGE in their bottle!

    If you click on the picture of the ghost in the life ring above, it does suggest to people what they COULD do instead...

    ...but those recommendations are for people who can read...

    ...and comprehend.

    Sadly, most of these folks simply give the false impression of being curious and seeking information when they're just preaching or otherwise courting sycophantic "friends" to nod in abject agreement while they either lord over their flock their leadership, special qualities, or their bravery in the face of thrill seeking.

    Realistically, "Showing our Support" is little more than a spammed link with hopes of hits based on nonsense in an attempt to recruit the unquestioning to their cause.

    Harsh? Well...

    I give (some self-proclaimed) sceptics crap because they're not sceptical... they're non-believers... and scepticism means to doubt, not deny and decry. It's only fair I turn around and point out that many in the "love and light" crowd of people lurking about the paranormal tend to actually be the harshest judges of others... usually because they expect everyone to live to a philosophy that they rarely can and as such, it must be everyone else's fault... and indeed, an enormous quantity of those saying they are studying the paranormal are not using academics, discussion, or debate... but only allowing people that are in lock-step with their own beliefs, hopes, faith, and dreams.

    Really, is there anything more laughably sad than a group that claims to be "open minded" and/or "investigating" that openly says if you disagree with them on their hypothesis of what causes the paranormal, they'll kick you out? Don't even CONSIDER playing devil's advocate lest ye be considered the un-civil rabble that shun!

    ...or those groups that offer little then YouTube regurgitations of reality-ish television garbage that resolves nothing save their desire to look famous or thrill seek.

    ...or groups that offer seemingly nothing save graphics and "likes" on Facebook.

    Basically, want to show your support?

    TALK TO US without spamming.
    ADD to the conversation.
    BE HONESTLY OPEN to debate so we all can learn... maybe even you!

    ...maybe you'll teach us something...

    ...but a slap-dash pointless link advertisement is not the way to do it!

    WE DON'T CRAVE FALSE FACEBOOK LIKES and just 'cuz you do doesn't mean we have to take it!

    We are... PROUDLY ANTI-SOS!

    ...and fast on the delete key!

    This is the end my only friend

    01/12/14

      01:15:00 pm, by Matthew   , 2668 words  
    Categories: Paranormal - Rants

    It's hard to soar with eagles when you're surrounded with turkeys.

    Arrgh!

    Early in December of 2013, I walked into a large "chain" bookstore to grab some stocking stuffers for Sue... er, I mean, to find suggestions for Santa to put in Sue's stocking, of course!  I shan't hide where, as the bookstore in question is reportedly haunted, although sadly, I found out the space will no longer be used for books, but a major drug store (chemist for our British friends) will be moving in instead...

    ...anyway, back to my sojourn into the shop.

    I entered and bee-lined to the area where books on our studies are usually found.  The meagre offerings usually marked "New Age" or "Occult" and often uncomfortably wedged between "Psychology/Self Help" and "Religion" and included with books on cryptozoology, ufology, and ghosts are horoscopes, spiritual help, and power crystal information.  Some bookstores keep these topics separate, as they should be... NOT because there's no merit in the topics, but because they are as different to many of us as placing a pictorial book on modern airliners in the same shelf, side-by-side as a physics book which MIGHT contain basic information on basic drag in terms of aerodynamics... but as a rule, major chain stores throw anything someone deems as "fringe" or "weird" into the same shelf.  This bookstore, in particular, has seen some guerrilla scepticism as we noted some books on ufology and ghosts moved into the "Children's Fiction" area.

    Organised Scepticism


    This day, however, the books were where they should be... in that uncomfortable location smashed together with Sydney Omarr's horoscope books and things like a book about how to cast witch's spells complete with a spooky black cover featuring a moon and a black cat.

    I went through the books...

    There were precious few on UFOs which were either "Time/Life" quality rip-offs, books Sue already owns, or of a highly questionable pedigree.  (I'm not sure if a book about how good the sex was between a lounge singer and a reptilian alien is an appropriate Christmas gift for one's spouse.)

    Only two on cryptozoology... and they weren't bad... but were also kind of overviews of the topics and no real meat to them.

    There was two kind-of coverall books... one we already own and another that was about ley lines and paranormal phenomena found around them... but read like a travelogue rather than a text.

    Then there were a number of ghost books.

    Boo!


    Ah, the ghost books... there were a smattering from trusted friends I recognised (like John Robert Colombo as a prime example,) and the others... the others... oh dear god, the others.

    One of the things we (Sue and myself) often do when we see a book we don't know about or haven't read is flip to see who is referenced... often, in Canadian books, we are which is nice, but some times seeing the name of a person we know is a human train wreck will make you physically drop a book as if it was on fire... and had a legion of red ants crawling out of the flames... which, before attempting to bite you, were all loudly shrieking obscenities... mostly about your bodily odours... that everyone in the store could hear.

    To see a "non-fiction book" which is citing someone you know would destroy a lie detector if put on it with a massive overload... or those who loudly and fundamentally preach their own belief and hypotheses as absolute fact that everyone MUST believe and HOW DARE YOU ARGUE makes one... most unhappy.

    Well, it makes one not wish to purchase the book.

    The new member to the field are books "written" (maybe... maybe not...) by the reality-ish television ghost hunters.  Most of them are re-counts of their exploits (in case you missed them on television,) gossip, and the obligatory "HOW TO" sections... if not the entire book selling itself as a standard text by which YOU TOO can be a ghost hunter.

    Forced to read


    If you're reading this, I guarantee you're a calibre above the audience/customer of this drivel... and I'm pretty sure if I made you read them, (and I would probably have to force you to read them,) you would not be happy... You'd probably be at the very least, agitated about their ideas.

    "Why would you do THAT!?!?"
    "What good would THAT do!?!?"
    "How do you know THAT'S true!?!?"

    I would remind my dear readers of something my mother used to ALWAYS tell me when I was young and would see something that just didn't make sense in a movie or television show... it's that way because, "It's in the script."

    Reality-ish television shows are not real.  Sorry.  The participants have agendas, are often coached, and sometimes even scripted... it's never real.

    The people involved with them are not paid millions. Usually, according to a CBC interview I heard a while back, they get paid about $40,000 to $60,000 a season... It's merchandising and off-shoot products and appearances that make money for them.

    Keep this in mind when you buy those books, that t-shirt, or attend that event. THIS is their paycheque...

    ...and for legitimate paranormal investigators, it would (and is) hard to get people interested in coming to hear or see what we're up to.  To be honest, the REAL work is often boring and it does not pay well at all in any sense.

    (Oh, if you're wondering then why we're here, click this link... it explains it.)

    Books!


    Anyway, back to those books which are also very obviously the slightly aggrandised versions of a book-level paracelebrity special issue of Tigerbeat or any of those teeny-bopper mags which focus alarmingly more on the reality-ish celeb's personalities and their images rather than the actual topic... but then again, of course they do.  The average "fan" is just that... a "fan" of the show and the people on it.  The subject in which these personalities attempt to wallow is often secondary to the actual people themselves.

    So, to sum up...

    In the bookstore, I could either re-purchase things we already had, buy books that had no basis in reality or honesty, or purchase an overblown fanzine of which most of the ideas and information would often be contradicted in the same said book within a chapter or two... but boy, the people involved sure looked great and spooky!

    {For the record, this is why I prefer used bookstores near universities... You find a higher class of books there as a rule.}

    Dejected, I rolled home... chatted with Sue, ate dinner, and relaxed and popped open the ol' computer...

    E-mail!


    First, my e-mail...

    On that day, I had four reports!  Two of them were very vague, had little or no details, and were years gone by so follow ups were difficult if not impossible... so I sent a usual "Thank You!" e-mail (Which is sincere! All data helps!) and moved to the next two... which were...

    Okay, in about seventeen plus places on our websites, it announces to people that we're not "ghost hunters".  We are not "demonologists".  We don't "clear homes".  We don't offer "psychical services" or the like... we're only archivists, data collectors, and effectively documentarians...

    That day, like this day that I'm writing, two people asked us to help them clear their homes of demonic entities.

    Both, like today, will receive a thought-out, lengthy response about how we really can't help them, how they shouldn't worry as statically, they are more likely to win a big lottery than be even harmed by a ghost and require a doctor, how they are FAR and AWAY more likely to be hurt physically by an exorcist and fiscally by a potentially fraudulent psychic/medium/etc. and how if they wished to go that route, The Spiritualist Church of Canada will help (key word, HELP) them for free (save perhaps requesting expenses for gas if they're not local,)  AND if that wasn't enough, how over the years have collected ideas, put them on a webpage,  and how these ideas DO have a tremendous amount of success and can all be done for free by the experient themselves!

    Back then, as today, I expect one in the three will not read the mail, e-mail me back about how it's my duty and so important I come over and get rid of this demon for them... as if I'm some sort of 24x7 emergency paranormal exterminator and they have a disastrous ghostly bed-bug infestation.

    Ghost Kill-Spray Extra

    I will be honest with you, my good reader... This person will get one gentle and nice re-iteration of the original mail with an emphasis on the fact we DON'T do that sort of thing and a secondary boldening of what they can do for help that won't (shouldn't) harm them fiscally or physically.

    If they, as they almost always do, ignore that (and at this point, they usually are very aggressive and angry that they aren't being taken seriously,) then I usually have to put my foot down and really boldly point out that we can't help them, we told them who could. Asking us again, regardless of tone, will not change this.

    At that point, if they continue (which is rare but happens,) I send a "warning" that we will be filtering any further communications from them and yup, I put in a server-side filter which deletes their e-mail and sends them a message re-explaining the situation and why they can't e-mail us any longer with the stronger suggestion of who might help them.

    Either way, it eats time and energy and is quite taxing...

    After fun e-mail, I go to Facebook as a rule.

    No I do not! (Well, most of them!)

    You ever cruise the paranormal groups on Facebook?

    Oh, absolutely there's a handful of really good resources there... we're there, sure, but so is The Society for Psychical Research, The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena, Paranthropology, UFO UpDates, and a host of good sites...

    ...then there's the majority...

    Basically, there's seemingly (probably) millions of Facebook paranormal groups that are usually little more than echo chambers for reality-ish television crap if you're lucky... new age "love and light" with little else other than self-affirmations if you're not so lucky... a conduit for crap YouTube offerings and many posts that are little more than tags ("Showing our support!") offering no information from other groups and even themselves... those groups are the most frequent find in Facebook.

    The whole point of this post so far?

    WHERE'S MY INSPIRATION!?!

    Arrgh!


    To be quite frank, thanks to some really awful local ghost groups, many of Toronto's museums and historic sites have all but dried up thanks to the tactless and heavy-handed antics of these turdwits who have come off as demanding to gain entry or access. In one case, a group (really, one person) was so overtly unethical and corrupt as to almost shut down all discussion of things paranormal at all museums and historic locations in perpetuity within an entire major city in the Southern Ontario region!

    Thanks to vandals (probably NOT ghost hunters or the like, just idiots,) a lot of my more favoured sites are loath to allow people around after hours or on days off due to security concerns and, quietly mentioned, due to the worry that promoting "ghosts" will promote thrill seekers who are often destructive in their stupidity... which is sadly very true...

    So, "on sites" are pretty slender now... granted, my own health concerns keep me from being able to commit too much to these things anyway.

    Bookstores, (and yes, this is outside of books online through good sources, but going to those places where I should be able to hedonistically pick up a new tome immediately and immerse myself,) are pretty awful right now for me.

    Online?  Some good VASTLY outnumbered by really, really, really awful.

    Actually, outnumbered by really, really, really, angry awful and god help the person that questions them!  Discussion is not allowed unless it toes the line of fandom of their favoured show or nods in agreement with all their pet beliefs and hypothesis.

    I has a sad


    Wanna know WHY I haven't written that much lately?  This is a BIG reason.

    As stated on the last post, there have been "real job" considerations and a few health issues, but overall, I often find myself in those literal minutes of "spare time" actively avoiding my supposedly favoured topic...

    ...not because I "know it all"...

    ...not because I've actually given up...

    ...but because there's so little enjoyment in pursuing it through the (simpler) channels at hand.

    ...because I'm tired of people being angry and telling me I'm wrong without evidence to support themselves, only a deep-seated belief and/or fandom.

    ...because I'm tried of people who demand things from us that we've never said we'd deliver, but due to their "understanding", we MUST deliver.

    ...because there's so damned little inspiration.

    THIS IS NOT a blog post about my "retirement" or about how I give up to the crap... actually, not at all...

    It's more a promise to myself I'm making out loud to you... and perhaps, for some people reading this, something they may wish to take on for themselves.

    Maybe...


    It will get better.  Inspiration will come.

    Seriously, after all this downer stuff, I'm aware of this.

    It will get better.  Inspiration will come.

    Eventually, the groups that are and have caused all our headaches will move on... especially with the lack of attention being paid to reality-ish paracelebrity shows.  This will in turn help heal the wounds with the sites and museums in terms of their overall view of our studies which will, in turn, re-open doors.  We're already trying very hard to help this process along.

    The crap books at the chain stores?  They'll remain... but I must look towards the online stores and libraries from trusted sources.  They exist, and sure, they often require money, but it's worth it to re-start the ol' noggin!

    The e-mails and reports?  Again, as the gloss lifts from paranormal shows, we will get back to less glorified, sexed-up, self-diagnosed horrors... and with our world getting a bit better, we are re-making connections that will assist in collections from first-hand witnesses that otherwise may not have gone to the websites or Facebook...

    ...but for the immediate now, it's really, really hard to get all excited and want to spend hours into the late night reading, chatting, collaborating, and just considering things about ghosts for me... and that's thanks to the dreck...

    ...that said...

    I did notice that the amount of crap books is down.  Sadly, the amount of books is down in general on those uncomfortable shelves in the chain store, but the crap was a little less this year...

    I do see less e-mails that make me wonder if people read, or just Google, find a site, find the first e-mail contact, and blast away with what they "know" we do... They're still there, sure, but about three years ago, as opposed to two per day, it was often closer to five or six per day...

    After almost seventeen years of doing this publicly, I know that crap groups with horrid people involved tend to burn out... go the way of the dodo as a rule. 

    Any damage done by morons at museums and historic sites can be discussed and the differences between "us" and "them" pointed out and talked about.  We're already doing this on several fronts... and as for the more "normal" (as opposed to "paranormal") concerns about generic vandalism, that's a sad fact of humanity which has been around long before Rome built the Colosseum... it too shall wane and concerns pass with time.

    Basically, I guess I'm just saying it is so easy to be utterly discouraged with these studies... and I admit, I am... have been for about three years or more...

    ...but I believe this will change.

    Whenever anyone I know who has a legitimate interest in these things tells me they're done with it, I always tell them, "Yup. Until something drags you right back in!"

    Sometimes, I should remember my own advice...

    ...especially when visiting big chain bookstores!

    This is the end

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    The entries found on this blog are based on the thoughts and discussions of Sue Demeter-St Clair and Matthew James Didier....two paranormal investigators/researchers based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The blog is now archived, but will remain online for those interested in reading it. Please have a look for us via these websites:

    The Ghosts and Hauntings Research Societies, Paranormal Studies & Investigations Canada - PSICAN, and Pararesearchers of Ontario We are also members and supporters of The Society of Psychical Research, and the Institute of Noetic Sciences

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    Thank you to all of our regular blog readers for your support throughout the last eight years! We appreciate it And while comments will now be closed on the individual posts, feel free to contact us through our continuing websites as listed above.

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