This article was completed as part of the requirements for the Rhine Education Center’s Theories of Psi course. It provides a brief historical background for the parapsychological phenomenon of psychokinesis (PK), explores the current theoretical and mechanical components of PK, discusses measurement and observational techniques used by parapsychologists, and suggests areas in which further study is required.

Keywords: parapsychology, psychokinesis, micro-psychokinesis, macro-psychokinesis, bio-psychokinesis, recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis, poltergeist

A Brief Review of the Parapsychological Phenomenon of Psychokinesis

Historical Background

The social science discipline of parapsychology consists of the study of extrasensory perception (ESP), mind-matter interaction, and survival after bodily death. This paper focuses on the phenomenon known as psychokinesis (PK) which is classified as a mind-matter interaction component of psi.

PK originated from the “Greek word psyche, “mind, soul,” and kinesis, “a moving, disturbance,” derived from kinein, “to set in motion” and is classified as psi-kappa or paranormal action (Parapsychological Association, 2015). Simply stated, PK is the ability of consciousness to affect the physical environment (Wahbeh, 2021, p. 1).

PK is sub-categorized into marco-pk, micro-pk, and bio-pk. Macro-pk is when the action of consciousness on the physical environment can be detected by one or more of our five senses, whereas micro-pk can only be detected through statistical means. Bio-pk, also referred to as psychokinesis on living targets (pk-lt), and direct mental influence on living systems (DMILS), is the effect that consciousness can have on biological systems (Wahbeh, 2021, p. 1; Parapsychological Association, 2015).

Theoretical Mechanism of Psychokinesis

The concept of PK, that human consciousness can directly influence the physical environment, dates back to ancient times (Jahn & Dunne, 1986, p. 722). The term itself was coined by Henry Holt in 1914 and later endorsed by parapsychologist Joseph Banks Rhine (Parapsychological Association, 2015).

Disappointingly, after a century of study, parapsychologists remain divided on the theoretic and mechanism of PK. Physicist John Taylor concluded that PK contains no possible physical mechanism and is a complete contradiction to established science (Taylor, 1980, pp. 27-30). Although PK does not follow any known form of physical energy presently known, it does result in some form of energy. The human mind or consciousness transfers energy of thought, into the goal of one’s intention. PK that occurs in a living human being is the result of energy in the form of thought transference and mind-moving matter (Brucker, 2001, p. 102).

One issue according to Irwin and Watt (2007), is the difficulty in discerning between normal operations of cause and effect, and the factor of chance involving PK events, which requires a strictly controlled observational environment (p. 98).

PK has been theorized to be “a displaced expression of extrasensorially acquired information” (Irwin & Watt, 2007, p. 97). Otherwise stated, subconscious psychological tension is released from a person resulting in PK effects on the environment. The theory stipulates that one or more individuals, referred to as living agents, are causing the PK activity as a way of relieving one’s stress through the physical expression of unconscious feelings. The activity usually ceases if the living agent(s) are not present. This type of PK activity is commonly seen in cases of recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK), generally accepted amongst parapsychologists to be the root cause of poltergeist activity.

Poltergeist cases seemingly tend to produce macro-pk effects. This can include levitation, materialization and dematerialization, and the movement of objects with an unusual trajectory. The St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada poltergeist incident is a case in point. On February 7, 1970 the Niagara Regional Police attended 237 Church Street in response to a disturbance. Upon attendance, one of the police officers had witnessed a bed levitating approximately two feet off of the floor. Bewildered, he left the room momentarily to get his partner, and upon return two chairs had materialized in the room which were now seemingly supporting the bed. There was no known trickery or witness credibility issues of any kind in this case. However, even if one excludes the materialization of the chairs as potential trickery perpetuated by the two occupants present in the residence at the time of the incident, it still does not explain the police officer’s initial observation of levitation (Van Dusen, 2020, p. 39).

Another theory of mechanism for PK is the belief that it can affect the radioactive decay of materials. This theory stems from the use of electronic laboratory devices such as random event generators (REGs) in which an individual can impose their will upon the REG causing a signal to emit a particle (assisted by PK), from the radioactive source ultimately ceasing the spinning of the indicator on the counter (Irwin & Watt, 2007, p. 100). Metal or spoon bending has been associated to the vibration of molecules caused by one’s mind which in turn generates heat, which is a form of energy, that causes the metal to lose its structure (Brucker, 2001, p. 103). Hasted (1981), Randall, and Davis (1982) noted that certain PK subjects were able to destroy a type of wire known as nitinol, which contains shape memory and is designed to return to its original shape when bent by normal physical means (Irwin & Watt, 2007, p. 120). Metallurgical analysis of items exposed to PK have “suggested that macro-pk produces changes in the crystalline structure of the metal in many respects unlike that associated with deformation by normal means” (Irwin & Watt, 2007, p. 120).

Bio-pk, is also referred to as bio-energy therapy, Reiki, qigong therapy, laying-on-of-hands, spiritual healing and psychic healing. With respect to bio-pk, its physical mechanism remains unknown (Kokubo et al., 2012, p. 1). There are too many variables that exist when trying to rule out alternative explanations for the spontaneous healing and recovery from illnesses (Iwrin & Watt, 2007, p. 113). 

Measurement and Observation of the Phenomenon

Micro-pk is only observable through statistical methodology. In 1627, Sir Francis Bacon conceived the idea of PK effecting the casting of dice, but it wasn’t until 1935 during the J. B. Rhine era, that dice and dice rolling machines were utilized to test micro-pk (Kauffman & Radin, 2021, p. 12). The application of REGs in parapsychological studies have improved the methodology of testing PK significantly by eliminating human error and documenting runs automatically, although contemporary REG-PK studies still produce very weak results (Irwin & Watt, 2007, pp. 101-102). Random number generators (RNGs) are also “used to evaluate micro-pk or our ability to affect the physical world with our consciousness” (Wahbeh, 2021, p. 1). Alpha and theta brain waves have also been examined in human participants during PK experiments. Their brain waves were shown to have “more energy, broader awareness and focus abilities” (Brucker, 2001, p. 102).

In 2018, Etzel Cardeña conducted a meta-analysis of 1,700 psi experiments conducted at 40 universities on an international level. The meta-analysis involved cases of PK in which she divided into anomalous perturbation (micro-pk with unobservable events measured through statistical means) and anomalous force (marco-pk events with observable measures) (Cardeña, 2018, n.p.). She concluded that “The evidence provides cumulative support for the reality of psi, which cannot be readily explained away by the quality of the studies, fraud, selective reporting, experimental or analytical incompetence, or other frequent criticisms” (Kauffman & Radin, 2021, p. 6). Cardeña’s statistical meta-analysis produced significant results for all reported forms of psi, however, the significance was lower with anomalous perturbation when compared to ESP experiments.

The latest technology used to measure PK in parapsychological laboratories involves the use of optical double-slit interferometers. Participants are given instructions to “focus their attention toward or away from the double-slit apparatus to try to mentally gain information about the photons’ path (which cannot be seen with the naked eye), or alternatively, to intentionally alter their paths” (Kauffman & Radin, 2021, p. 15). There have been 28 PK studies using this technology with 11 experiments reporting statistically significant results (Kauffman & Radin, 2021, p. 15).

Macro-pk is much more difficult to observe because it tends to be more spontaneous in nature (Irwin & Watt, 2007, p. 98). Fortunately, some individuals experiencing macro-pk will contact reputable investigators who can properly document the incident. The late neuroscientist and parapsychologist Dr. Michael Persinger had a female student who possessed the ability to move a pen with her mind in front of him. Dr. Persinger believed that psi phenomena occurs, however, he believed it was the result of physical mechanisms explained through modern science and not paranormal means (Walsh, 2005).

A well-documented case of macro-pk was the 1977 poltergeist investigation involving Society for Psychical Research investigators Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair. During their investigation, they recorded a video of a slipper being thrown by an unknown force at Grosse’s head. Even more compelling, they recorded the knocking sounds on walls and furniture believed to be originating from poltergeist activity.

In 2010, Dr. Barrie Colvin converted the original Enfield poltergeist recordings from a reel-to-reel tape recorder to a wav sound file and analyzed it with Adobe Audition software (Colvin, 2010, pp. 17-18). Upon analyzation, he discovered that the poltergeist raps provided a different low frequency sound wave pattern and abnormal acoustic properties when compared to normal man-made raps recorded under scientific conditions (Smith, 2010, n.p.). With the advancement of science and technology, the future analyzation of spontaneous macro-pk evidence collected by professional parapsychological investigators may help demystify the PK phenomenon.

Bio-pk experiments have successfully used devices to record the electrodermal activity of recipients during studies in which the sender makes “direct willful attempts to induce momentary change in a labile autonomic physiological process” (Krippner et al., 2021, p. 21; Braud & Schlitz, 1983, p. 95). During another particular study, participants that were believed to possess laying-on-of-hands healing powers were asked to focus their energy on healing a cucumber which had been purposely given a cut. The bio-pk effects were successfully detected through fluorescence measurement of wavelengths, especially during the Spring season (Kokubo et al., 2012, p. 7).


Although the vast majority of modern parapsychological literature argues that there is weak to no scientific evidence of PK, the studies highlighted in this paper subtly indicate otherwise. Parapsychologists can no longer accept criticism that “Each and every claim made by psi researchers violates fundamental principles of science, and, hence, can have no ontological status” (as cited in Krippner, et al., 2021, p. 16). As technology advances, parapsychologists will perhaps find other ways of scientifically recording evidence of the PK phenomenon in their laboratories. PK experimentation has advanced from the manual dice throwing days of J. B. Rhine to the contemporary use of optical double-slit interferometers.

Parapsychology is not the only science struggling to find evidence of a theorized phenomenon. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration currently has three theories pertaining to dark energy, none of which have yet to be proven. “We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the universe’s expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery” (Nagaraja, 2021).

The same argument can be made for PK. We know that PK exists, but it is still shrouded in theoretical and mechanical mystery which requires future exploration in order to disrobe its scientific secrets.

For Further Study

Irwin and Watt (2007) highlight the fact that very few parapsychologists have studied macro-pk events such as metal bending in their laboratories which limits the parapsychological literature on the phenomenon (p. 120). Clearly this requires further study. As previously discussed, spontaneous macro-pk events can be difficult to scientifically examine, especially where it occurs outside of a laboratory setting. Although the stringent conditions and control methods of a laboratory will be lacking, it may still be advantageous for parapsychologists to develop an easily portable technological kit to take with them while on scene with individuals who are experiencing spontaneous macro-pk events.

With respect to micro-pk experiments, Wahbeh (2021) discusses other models of explanation when utilizing RNGs, rather than PK, which require further evaluation such as; “goal-oriented effects of the investigation, methodological errors or leaks which bias the formal replications; conventional perturbations of RNG due to ambient electromagnetic fields; a fortuitous selection of events and parameters through experimenter intuition and retroactive information” (p. 4).

Kokubo et al. (2012) suggest further study around the use of gas and the 562nm band length which could have the potential to detect bio-pk year round, but experimentation during the summer months is needed (p. 7).

Lastly,  Kauffman and Radin (2021) discussed the need for further experimentation in order to determine whether PK has a genetic component which would contribute to the debate about the evolution of one’s mind and what the role it plays in the modern world (p. 17).


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Parapsychological Research 10. Jefferson: North Carolina. McFarland & Company, Inc.

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(Executive Producer), Shadow Hunter. Ocean Entertainment Ltd.

‘Maybe death isn’t the end’: can a TV series prove the existence of an afterlife?

In the Netflix docuseries Surviving Death, a ‘non-believer’ film-maker explores the possibility that something else might be waiting for us at the endRadheyan SimonpillaiThu 7 Jan 2021 07.10 GMT

  • The Netflix docuseries Surviving Death has no shortage of paranormal activity. Mediums call on the dead. Seances try to manifest them. People claim to be reincarnated actors, pilots or murder victims while others describe feeling a heavenly embrace during near-death experiences. Over six hour-long episodes, the series pores over signs and evidence that there is something to experience beyond our last breath.
A still from Surviving Death. Stern’s series builds a provocative case that our consciousness can and does continue beyond life as we know it.

Surviving Death’s director, Ricki Stern, is ready for your skepticism. Her show practically invites it.‘It’s not a question of belief’: the film examining government UFO recordsRead more

“I would call myself a sort of non-believer, but someone who was open to it,” Stern told the Guardian from her New York City apartment.

Stern, whose recent docuseries work includes Reversing Roe and Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, doesn’t shy away from cross-examining the mediums and witnesses who appear on-camera saying they speak to or have seen apparitions. The show never dismisses the possibility that a seance can use lighting tricks to conjure a ghost or a medium can dig up information on Facebook and pass it off as info from the great beyond.

But Stern’s series also builds a convincing and provocative case that our consciousness can and does continue beyond life as we know it. The director explained that she wanted to explore the possibilities of a great beyond through legitimate analysis.

To do that Stern followed the lead from journalist Leslie Kean’s book, Surviving Death, which the series is based on. Kean, who also appears in the series, brought a research-heavy scientific approach to discussing an afterlife, which can be a bit like using a stethoscope on a ghost. When the scientific world loves physical evidence, how do you build a persuasive argument for the metaphysical? Kean told the Guardian she enjoyed the inherent challenges of bringing investigative practices to find “truths that you can probably never get to”.

She also pointed out that she is simply following a distinguished lineage of people who have gone down this path for hundreds of years before her. Philosopher and psychologist William James, Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr Ian Stevenson, who founded the division of perceptual studies at the University of Virginia in 1967, are some of the people who produced papers and manuscripts on paranormal investigations.

“They’re not necessarily believers,” Kean said. “But they’re people that take it seriously enough to want to study it.”

Doyle’s popular Victorian-era creation, Sherlock Holmes, was a skeptical, scientific mind. In novels like The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes would pull back the curtain and disprove theories involving the supernatural and paranormal. But Doyle was surprisingly more open to the possibility that there are people who could communicate with the dead, and even manifest them.

Surviving Death tries to find the tricky balance between that Sherlock skepticism and Doyle’s openness to spiritualism. The series also addresses how finding evidence of an afterlife almost always requires an open mind. You have to be willing to accept that a visit from a persistent cardinal or flickering lights can be signs from the dead. But Stern admitted that such openness is also grounds for dismissal: “You could just say, people are who are looking for signs will see signs.”

“Everybody has to decide for themselves whether something has that meaning for them or not,” Kean added. “With signs, it’s not really objective.”

Leslie Kean
Leslie Kean. Photograph: Netflix

When investigating life after death, objectivity isn’t really in the cards. With this particular subject, absolutely everyone is personally invested. Journalists and academics, like Kean and Conan Doyle, who explored the subject scientifically can’t help but be affected. Conan Doyle was nudged towards spiritualism following his son’s death. While researching for her book, a close friend to Kean died, bringing her work closer to home.

“If you have these profound experiences in the process of [investigating], then you’re sort of joining your journalism with your personal experience,” Kean said. “But that’s really the only way to study it at the same time. It’s hard sometimes to separate the two.”

Stern’s series departs from Kean’s book by focusing on personal stories about encountering the afterlife. More often than not, the subjects in the series are motivated by a personal loss to find signs of an afterlife.

Mike Anthony is a particularly fascinating character in Surviving Death. After losing his father some years ago, he became a hobbyist of sorts, visiting different mediums who claim to be communicating with his father. These visits have two purposes. Anthony is continuing a relationship with his father. But he’s also vetting and rating these mediums on their abilities, with a willingness to admit that some are probably hustling and taking advantage of his trust. He puts himself through a heavy rinse-and-repeat cycle of emotions between skeptic and believer and back.

“It is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for him,” said Stern, who described Anthony as an audience surrogate. To discover the truth, he repeatedly made himself vulnerable to believing and often met with disappointment as a result.

Stern agreed that such emotional vulnerability is exactly what we “protect ourselves” from when we stay skeptical. Some of us are cynical about the possibility of an afterlife because we don’t want to set ourselves up for the most crushing disappointment.

 Photograph: Netflix

The other side of that equation is hope.

“I just hope the series is going to help people open up their minds and question the nature of consciousness,” said Kean.

Her book is the perfect litmus test for the response that can be expected for the series, which, given its universal subject matter, has undeniable appeal for a wide audience. Readers reached out to Kean to express how they or someone they know found solace in the book while dealing with grief. Others reached out to talk about how they too experienced possible signs that they were never able to speak openly about before, because there’s a stigma around rational minds believing in an afterlife.

“I think the book opens a door for people to feel more comfortable talking about all this,” Kean explained. “I’m framing it in a way that’s extremely credible and research oriented.”

“We can’t answer the questions,” Kean added. “We don’t try to do that in the series. But it’s about [the possibility that] there is something that happens after we die. Maybe death isn’t the end.”

  • Surviving Death is now available on Netflix

Biases Continue to Haunt Parapsychological Research

By Elliott K. Van Dusen

December 26, 2020

A recent study published in the November-December 2020 issue of Explore (Volume 16, Issue 6) highlights one of the many contemporary challenges faced by parapsychological researchers. Dr. Bethany Butzer’s study “Bias in the evaluation of psychology studies: A comparison of parapsychology versus neuroscience”, explores how confirmation bias can easily undermine and discredit parapsychological research. Confirmation bias is the “tendency to seek and pay special attention to information that supports one’s beliefs, while ignoring information that contradicts a belief” (as cited in Goodwin & Goodwin, 2017, p. 6).

In her experiment, 100 participants with a background in psychology were presented with two virtually identical abstracts and asked to read and evaluate the article. 50 participants were provided with an abstract which discussed findings from a parapsychological aspect, whereas the other 50 participants were presented with abstract findings from a neuroscience aspect. Not surprisingly, participants came to the determination that the neuroscience abstract had stronger findings and were more valid and reliable compared to the parapsychological abstract. 

Dr. Butzer discovered a correlation between belief in transcendentalism and the rating of the abstracts. Those who had a higher belief or experience in parapsychology, consciousness, and reality, provided a more favourable rating toward the parapsychological abstract.

Although parapsychology research remains to be haunted by the misconception that it is a pseudo-science, this is simply not true. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has recognized parapsychology as a social science since 1969. There are many great examples of respectable scientists conducting and contributing valuable work in the field of parapsychology. A Canadian example is demonstrated through the work of the late Laurentian University neuroscientist, Dr. Michael Persinger. His research led to the discovery of the impact Earth’s geomagnetic activity can have on precognitive experiences. 

Dr. Butzer’s study is important because it remains a stark reminder to all that well educated and respectable researchers can consciously or unconsciously impose potential biases during their review and evaluation of parapsychological research based on personal belief and experiences. 

Anyone researching or investigating paranormal phenomena must strive to maintain an open and unbiased mind. After all, the very area you are working in appears to transcend the laws of nature as we presently understand them and operate outside the realm of human capability.


Butzer, B. (2019). Bias in the evaluation of psychology studies: A comparison of parapsychology versus neuroscience. Explore, 16(6). doi:10.1016/j.explore.2019.12.010

Goodwin, K. A., & Goodwin, C. J. (2017). Research in psychology: Methods and designs (8th ed.) Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Ghost Project Canada: The Value of Phenomenological Research Design Projects

By Elliott K. Van Dusen


Ghost Project Canada is a phenomenological research design project managed by parapsychologists Dr. Darryll Walsh and Dr. Elliott Van Dusen. Ghost Project Canada is mandated to collect encounters of the supernatural and other mysterious phenomena. Geographical and statistical analysis will be conducted including the extrapolation of trends, hotspots and classification of phenomena. Explication of the lived human experience surrounding the phenomena will also be examined from a psychosocial and cultural perspective. The results will be published and made available to the general public and submitted to Federal and Provincial Archives.

Parapsychological phenomenological studies are not a modern revelation. Eleanor Sidgwick of the Society for Psychical Research began conducting phenomenological studies involving apparitions as early as 1882. Sidgwick analyzed hundreds of ghost reports and through statistical analysis, was able to determine that apparitions could be seen inside, outside, in daylight, artificial light, at dawn, at dusk, and in various parts of a residence or structure. Conducting such studies helps enlighten one’s understanding of parapsychological phenomena and dispel fallacies. For instance, due to Sidgewick’s phenomenological study, we have known for almost 140 years that darkness does not draw out apparitions. Investigating ghosts with the lights turned out has absolutely nil advantage, except to increase the dramatic effect for television viewers.

Although parapsychological phenomenological studies are not unique, the objectives of Ghost Project Canada’s mandate is believed to be the first of its kind in Canada. Other Canadian academics have participated in separate and unique parapsychological phenomenological studies. The field of parapsychology is eagerly awaiting the final report of Simon Fraser University associate professor of human geography, Dr. Paul Kingsbury. Dr. Kingsbury conducted a four-year-long study which examined why people pursue the paranormal. The growth of paranormal investigation cultures were examined through a study of the lived spaces of field work, conferences, and community events. His research focuses on those who investigate ghosts, those who study the UFO phenomena and those who partake in the search for cryptozoological animals. The project was funded throughtheSocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant and was in its final phase of research in late 2019.

If you are interested in contributing stories to Ghost Project Canada, please visit our website at, or you can e-mail Confidentiality is assured. Ghost Project Canada is not a paranormal investigative agency. You can however, visit Paranormal Phenomena Research & Investigation at or e-mail and an investigator will contact you seeking for further information.

Scientific Exploration of Anomalous Aerospace Phenomena. (2019). Dr. Paul Kingsbury.

Simon Fraser University. (2020). Paul Kingsbury – Department of geography.

Van Dusen, E. (2019). Evil in Exeter. La Vergne: TN. Ingram Content Group LLC.

Will Covid-19 finally kill off the non-reality realty ghost show?

Prior to mid March there was an overabundance of supposedly true or real ghost hunting shows, which encouraged amateurs, (not the ones on TV; regular people), to go around imitating the ridiculous antics of the supposed ‘experts’ which populated each show.  The fact that prior to their being on tv most were plumbers, cooks, truck drivers, etc., none of whom were/are in any way trained as proper investigators as demonstrated in their antics in the overpopulated locations they are supposedly investigating.  Dozens of people are often crammed into tight spaces, usually damp basements or crumbling buildings which serve as proper background visuals for the show.  This is a perfect way to spread the disease.

Social Distancing is not possible in the way these shows are designed.  The host has to be in tight places in order to interact with the crew, other investigators or the ‘ghosts’, usually by yelling at them to speak to him.  The ghosts, not the humans, though in outtakes not shown there is a fair number incidents where the more exciting ‘happenings’ occur accompanied by prima donna shouting, shoving and the usual negative and over emotional reactions to technical matters that may be interfering in the smooth running of the show.

The only way the shows could proceed is by remote viewing and recording any incidents in the house, asylum, jail, etc. from a remote location. The house or institution would be wired for sound and visuals.  This is actually closer to the proper scientific method that should be applied, but it is also the most boring and tedious method for the medium of TV.  Also, the location where the various feed comes in from the location will have to be specially designed and sanitized so the hosts can be safely filmed being bored out of their mind  while trying to enlarge some natural occurrence like a creak or static sounds into voices and the movements of the spirits.  It would be a thorough boring show that accidentally shows how tedious the real job of parapsychologists is. This however, is death to ratings and hopefully many of the ghost shows will not survive the pandemic and those who are specially trained to actually do the investigations will be left in peace and perhaps regain some of the respect they once had before Reality TV came calling.

Is Covid-19 Leading to more ghosts?

We should perhaps take this with a grain of salt since the ‘paranormal investigator’ is associated with a show called ‘Ghost Stalkers‘, and reality shows are anything but real and designed to be artificial, planned and as a form of entertainment not a source of real information about ghosts, hauntings, parapsychology, true investigations, etc. This article from the CBC News site is covered under the “Fair Use” principle since the subject matter and statements therein are being critiqued and analyzed for their social/cultural importance. Should CBC disagree or requires a different disclaimer please contact us at

Haunted house reports on the rise during pandemic, says paranormal researcher

John E.L. Tenney says more people are at home and taking notice of their environment

Reports of haunted houses are on the rise while more people are stuck at home during the pandemic, says a paranormal researcher. (Julie/


The new normal is bringing out the paranormal, says John E.L. Tenney.

Tenney, a paranormal researcher and former host of TV’s Ghost Stalkers, says he used to receive two to five calls a month from people convinced their homes are haunted.

But since the COVID-19 restrictions started, he says he gets five to 10 calls a week.

The New York Times also noticed the uptick. The newspaper interviewed Tenney this week for a feature about the many people around the U.S. who are stuck at home with what they believe are roommates from beyond the grave.

“There is no scientific evidence for the existence of ghosts,” the newspaper helpfully notes.

Tenney spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about what’s got people so spooked. Here is part of their conversation.

What kind of stories are you getting?

Everything from typical knocks and footsteps in the hallway, to some very new, strange occurrences, like people hearing whispered voices through their television sets or getting text messages from long deceased friends and relatives.  (Highly unlikely that these phenomena, if real, are suddenly exploding into our consciousness)

And what do you make of this?

If we’re going to allow or believe that ghosts exist, then people are seeing an uptick of ghosts.

They’re in a heightened emotional state. They’ve been sequestered. They’re spending time in their house, which they normally don’t do at certain hours.

Most people are gone at work and so they’re not used to hearing the pops and creaks in their house normally. But if there are ghosts, perhaps they’ve had a ghost in their house all along and they’ve just never noticed that.

Perhaps the ghosts are getting bored too.

Is it possible that the ghosts themselves are getting more active, given that these people are at home all day long?

If ghosts are the way that we traditionally think about them, which is, you know, were once people, then perhaps the ghosts are getting bored too, and they’re making themselves a little more known to the people that they’re not commonly used to seeing at all hours of the day and night. (Bored ghosts? It is a stretch and very unscientific to assign emotions to an ethereal entity, should it even exist, sine they possibly occupy a location in time and space we know little about.  I’m sure if they were bored they could easily move on to somewhere else on their plane of existence or leave us altogether.)

Maybe they don’t want that company. I mean, some of the reports that I was seeing in this New York Times article, this sounds quite annoying — like little petty things of doors slamming and towels on the floor and rattling the shades and things. I mean, maybe it’s a message that they just want to be left alone in these houses.

It’s possible. (But unlikely. Doors slamming and towels on the floor are common everyday occurrences and not directly correlated to hauntings/ghosts.)

As human beings, we have difficulty communicating and discerning the motives of other living human beings that are right in front of us. So for us to try and divine what the intention is of an ethereal, invisible being that we can’t really see?  (Psychological studies have show we are very good at ‘determining’ the motives of other humans and we bitch about them everyday in our coffee houses or at the pub over a cold beer.  He is right in that determining motives, if there are any , which is highly unlikely, is an impossible task in this modern age.  In the history of ghostly lore over thousands of years ghosts had a purpose and were not shy in expressing it. Since today we have trouble determining any motivation, this could mean that: (a) ghosts are less communicative for reasons we do not understand, (b) reality TV shows are incompetent in locating true hauntings, (c), ghosts are a social construct which has changed over time, and (d), we are not looking for them in the right way.)

They might just be trying to get attention, and they’re doing it the only way they know how, which is slamming a door or pulling a window shade or slamming a window.

Is it possible … that people, being confined and seeing no one, are just going a little nuts?  (GPC Ed: We would not use the word nuts to explain this, but the question is certainly valid and boredom and imagination combined with stress, which is the main ingredient in any haunting, is the probably reason for the alleged uptick in reports. We are trying to validate his claims.)

I tell people to kind of take copious notes, journal about it, keep track of when it happens, because the majority of cases that I investigated over the past 30 years have had a natural solution to them. (Almost all.)

There might be something happening in your house, whether it be your furnace turning on or a truck driving down the street every day at the same time, that you never noticed before. But once you start to take notes, you’ll notice that it’s a repeating pattern or something that’s very familiar.

How often do you actually … find something that’s there?

I’ve investigated thousands of cases and there are probably maybe less than a hundred where something really unique and strange is happening.

What was the strangest?

I’ve been in a situation where I was in a room with 13 people and we had the lights off and this room was allegedly haunted. And so we were sitting in the dark and everybody was saying their name, kind of introducing themselves to the ghost, for lack of a better word. ( A very unscientific way to investigate ghosts)

And one woman in the corner refused to say her name. And that’s fine, but when I asked if she could say where she was from, she didn’t respond.

So I turned the light on, and that’s when everybody in the room realized that that woman that we had all thought was with us had never been there. There was an empty spot where we thought she had been sitting. (Since true  ghosts appear as solid, three-dimensional entities indistinguishable from real people, this could be a true case of a ghost since human sight is the only way to locate them, ie, all the equipment int the world is useless in locating them. Assuming this is true as related to the reporter of course.)

I have had, you know, situations where I’ve seen strange coloured mist floating around a room or through a cemetery.

But sometimes it’s almost so typical that it’s hard to believe you’re looking at something that’s cloaked with a skeleton-like face. Your mind just says, “Oh, that’s gotta be something from a movie. It’s got to be something I’m imagining. (Ah, no. Didn’t happen)

When you have an experience where someone says, “Oh, I’m seeing a very spooky movie-like ghost” … you have to wonder how much their mind is playing into how they perceive their reality.

So that brings us back to this quarantine thing. I haven’t heard anyone say that they’ve experienced something paranormal, but lots of people saying that since they’ve been locked in lockdown, they’re having a lot of … strange dreams. So [is] a lot of this in the imagination, do you think?

I saw a spike like this before, right at the Y2K in 1999. There was another minor spike around 9/11.

Times of stress really do something to human psychology, and so you see people having deeper, stranger dreams. You have people reporting a higher amount of ghosts in their house or haunted houses. (Very true!)

I have even had an increase in UFO reports since the quarantine. And that might just be because people, you know, go outside and look up at the sky and have time to reflect. (Also very true)

It doesn’t mean so much that they’re going crazy, but perhaps they’re just becoming a little more introverted and perhaps getting to know themselves a little better.

Would you tell people to be receptive to these experiences?

I would. I think that our world is so strange, you should have as many weird experiences as possible. I also think that once you open yourself up to a weird experience, you start to have more of them. (That is something we call the Kitchen Sink Phenomena. When a paranormal even occurs, normal events, as well as unusual but innocent events are suddenly being classified as supernatural and often falsely related to the original event when they are not.  Or the person begins to believe that the supernatural follows them around and becomes paranoid or accepts the false believe and treats it as almost a religious revelation and ‘honours’ this ability accordingly. It is not acceptable parapsychological practice to encourage this. )

The majority of cases that I’ve ever investigated, people don’t get hurt. It’s not scary. It’s startling, but it’s not scary. If someone does get hurt, it’s because they are startled and fall off of a ladder or run down the steps and trip on their own feet. (Correct)

But I think that if ghosts are here, they’re a part of our environment and we should get to know them. (And thus the reason for the scientific work of Ghost Project Canada)


Ghost Project Canada Mission Statement

Parapsychologists Elliott Van Dusen and Darryll Walsh, through the offices of the Centre For Parapsychological Studies in Canada, (CPSC), and the Paranormal Phenomena Research and Investigation, (PPRI), are dedicated to the collection, analysis, and distribution of all supernatural events in Canada. Geographical and well as statistical tools will be employed to determine trends, hotspots, types of phenomena, human reactions to various unusual events, and the changes over time in both the character, nature, and number of phenomena found across the varied areas of the country. (Eventually the same efforts will be applied to the US and Europe.) All results will be made available to the Federal Archives in Ottawa, all ten Provincial Archives, as well as Folklore Studies faculties in applicable universities.
Through the application of proven scientific analysis we will come to understand the nature of the supernatural in Canada, differences in both inter and intra provincial areas, and how we relate to other countries. Collection of stories will be non-judgemental since it is vital we have the most complete set of data to use for this project.
Please contribute through,, 902-782-414-4666 (Dr. Van Dusen), 902-414-9535 (Dr. Walsh) Thank you for your assistance.