Blog

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 www.ghostprojectcanada.com, or you can e-mail ghostprojectcanada@gmail.com. Confidentiality is assured. Ghost Project Canada is not a paranormal investigative agency. You can however, visit Paranormal Phenomena Research & Investigation at www.ppri.net or e-mail info@ppri.net and an investigator will contact you seeking for further information.
References:

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

https://www.explorescu.org/dr-paul-kingsbury

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

https://www.sfu.ca/geography/people/profiles/paul-kingsbury.html

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 ghostprojectcanada@gmail.com.

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/haunted-house-reports-on-the-rise-during-pandemic-says-paranormal-researcher-1.5571882

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/stock.adobe.com)
Listen6:05

Transcript

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 ghostprojectcanada.com, ghostprojectcanada@gmail.com, 902-782-414-4666 (Dr. Van Dusen), 902-414-9535 (Dr. Walsh) Thank you for your assistance.

What Part of Canada is the Most Haunted?

There is no question that the east coast of Canada is the most haunted area of Canada.  The main reason is because it has been settled and fought over for the longest period of time.  It also has the most cosmopolitan heritage and folklore. English, French, Irish,  and Scottish are the strongest influences, but Native, German, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish have played their part too. The Portuguese, Italian and Spanish influences on the east coast are generally ignored and almost unknown, both in the timeline of history and their effect upon the land and the emerging culture and it’s representation in folklore. For instance, though Cape Breton Island was French for much of its history, the influx of Scottish after the Acadian deportation in 1755-57 has masked much of its heritage, and little evidence of the French occupation exists outside of Fortress Lousibourg and the  French areas and names between Port Hawksbury and the former port and fort Toulouse at what is now St. Peters.

So too, other than the story of Glooscap, Native folklore is ignored and generally unknown even though they have some of the most disturbing folk beliefs. Glooscap is over represented in Native mythology so much so that he obscures many more interesting aspects of Native mythology.

It is almost certain that the Norse were aware of Cape Breton Island though no archeological remains have been found. We know they must have been to the Miramichi River area to gather beechnuts that only grow there, and this, coupled with their exploration-minded mindset makes it almost certain they were the first people to explore and roughly map Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec though nothing of their explorations still exists, either in the archeological record or in their literature. Still, only the most pedantic or obtuse observers could believe that the Norse only settled L’anse aux Meadows and didn’t dare go any farther.

After them came the Basque fishermen from France and Spain prior to Columbus discovering Central America and John Cabot discovering Newfoundland in the great European western migration. The Basque never established permanent settlements, and no one asked them about their fishing areas, so no one in power knew they were the second people in Europe to find North America. Thus, both the Norse and Basque folklore has not been recorded in relation to eastern Canada. We are instead left with primarily French, English, Scottish and Irish folklore. And there is plenty of that.  Much more than the rest of Canada, with Quebec following close behind because of its early settlement.  @haunted @ghosts @Canada

Creepy and Unusual Names Wanted

GPC is not only interested in supernatural events, we are also interested in anything remotely paranormal, ie. folktales, superstitions, etc.  One of the most interesting elements in this project is that of bizarre, unusual or supernatural sounding place names or street names.  Many of these names can be found on maps, but there are always locations or roads known only to locals.  Please submit any interesting names to ghostprojectcanada@gmail.com or on this site. Please also include location information of the place or street.  Thanks!  #bizarre  #paranormal  #supernatural #ghosts

Examples:

  • Devil’s Elbow, Yukon
  • Deadman’s Bay, Newfoundland
  • Bogart Lake, Nova Scotia
  • Fairy Glen, Saskatchewan

 

A Point by Point History of Ghosts

HISTORY of GHOSTS

Ghosts have been identified for thousands of years. Over that time, our beliefs and opinions of them have changed dramatically. This is not so much a result of ghosts changing their behaviour, in general, but of our ideas of their motivations. Our interpretations of ghosts are affected by our religious beliefs, cultural mores, literary influences, and more recently, media effects. Until the 19th Century, most ghost reports were made by religious figures, then intellectuals. Not until the end of the 1800s did the common man’s perceptions become paramount. The following is a summation of the changing factors regarding ghosts in bullet form, taken from one of my classes in Parapsychology that I teach. This is the most efficient way and less arduous way to gain the information than a horribly text heavy blog post. Many of this was taken from the excellent book, Ghosts: Appearances of the Dead and Cultural Transformation, by R,C, Finucane, 1996, perhaps the best book on ghosts ever written. Though it is loaded with detail, that never interferes with its readability.

CLASSICAL GHOSTS

  • Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey set standard for ghosts

  • They were passive, harmless creatures

  • Living ignored them for the most part

  • Ghosts seen as impotent, irrelevant, unless needed for advice or information

  • Witch of Endor called upon the ghost of Samuel in the Old Testament

  • Ghosts could only be called within 12 months of death

  • If ghosts appeared, usually they were concerned about proper burial rites

  • Rare stories of vindictive ghosts

  •  

EARLY CHRISTIANITY/EARLY MIDDLE AGES

  • Many beliefs of pagan times carried on for a time into the early Christian era

  • Eventually assimilation and accommodation gave way to a more combative stance which ultimately led to the Witch Craze

  • St. Augustine led the charge after a life pf pagan hedonism

  • Ghosts got a makeover to bring them more in line with Christian theology

  • The concept of purgatory was ‘invented’; from the Judaic concept of Sheol

  • Augustine said the souls of the dead ‘lived’ in a special place (undefined) and inassessable to us

  • However, our prayers could help the dead, even if we couldn’t see them or they us. (Augustine)

  • The concept of Demonology was largely unformed at this juncture

  • However, the idea of postmortem retribution was born (created) by Christian writers

  • In Later Christianity, battles with paganism ebbed and Celtic/Germanic influences spread

  • Communication with the dead increased and became mainstream

  • Death Warnings became more common, but concern about burial rites remained strong

  • Purgatory became enshrined and thus the assessability of souls from there

  • Ghost stories were concern with ‘establishing and emphasizing Christian teachings’

LATER MIDDLE AGES

  • The optimism of the early middle ages (with a celebration of death) gave way to pessimism and a fear of death

  • The Black Death, major famines, internal church disputes and warfare all contributed to this

  • Demonology became a staple of church teachings and fire and brimstone replaced a glorious afterlife

  • Good and bad deaths, alleviation of souls in purgatory, and common communication between the dead and living

  • Some debate as to whether ghosts occurred in dreams or a result of a vision

  • Ghosts were concerned with warning people about confession, last rites and absolution

  • Attoning for sins was another major theme by Christian writers

  • Seven and thirty days became the usual time-period for visitations, with none after 12 months when decomposition is complete

  • The dead could return from hell to warn the living

  • The dead could also come back to ask forgiveness and prayers

  • The dead of hell would come back bearing marks of their suffering

  • These ghosts looked like paler, sadder versions of themselves

  • No physical contact between living and dead

  • Most ghosts were male, 75%, with 75% of percipients being male as well

  • Most receivers of ghostly visitations were religious figures

THE REFORMATION

  • The Catholic Church became under attack by the Protestant Reformation and secularism

  • Protestants believed that the dead were illusions, demons, or angels (no purgatory for the dead to come from)

  • Catholics believed that the dead were returning souls

  • Reports of knockings and poltergeists become less rare, but won’t become common until the 18th Century

  • Shakespeare formalizes belief in ghosts and their visitations to the living

  • This leads to a revamping of literary ghosts of the Roman times. From observers to participants.

17th CENTURY

  • Religion was divided to various camps of the Right, Left and Center.

  • These camps each had strong views on visitations of the dead.

  • Ghosts became weapons in ecclesiastic wars

  • Mainly though, ghosts became a weapon of all religions to combat the rise of atheism

  • The ghost who appears to give evidence in his murder makes his first appearance in the literature

  • Provision for heirs or announcing an impending death also main reasons for visitations

  • Poltergeists ‘proved’ the existence of demonic forces

  • Death pacts came into vogue

  • Most ghosts were known to their viewers

  • They are normal in appearance, voice and behaviour, open doors, even knock.

  • Main distinction of 17th Century ghosts were their freedom from purgatory

18th CENTURY AND THE AGE OF SCIENCE AND ENLIGHTENMENT

  • Many of the mundane reasons for visitations continued into the 18th Century

  • First, brief, belief in the Devil reanimating corpses

  • These reanimated/manipulated corpses resemble Eastern European Vampire tales

  • These tales merged with Vampires and faded away

  • Poltergeists became common

  • Science developed and an understanding of Nature and God was felt to be in one’s grasp

  • Arguments about ghosts changed to debates about miracles and violations against the laws of nature

  • Ghosts appeared less to the upper classes at this time, though an increase in belief in spiritual forces increased

  • In the lower classes however, ghosts remained popular and were reported often

  • First folktale collections were started

19th CENTURY AND THE ROMANTIC PERIOD

  • Science was the dominant darling of the upper classes and intellectual thought

  • The Industrial Revolution changed the lives and living conditions of most people

  • This led to a yearning for the ‘lost innocence’ of earlier years

  • Reason gave way to a resurgence of romanticism

  • Fears of premature burial replaced ghost visitations as important indicators of death beliefs

  • Gothic horror stories became very popular and affected beliefs of ghosts and their behaviour

  • The idea of an energy force, first coalesced around Mesmerism, was born

  • Spiritualism was officially born by the Canadian Fox sisters in Hydesville, NY

  • Seances became very popular, with most mediums and guests being women

  • The SPR and ASPR were founded in the late 1800s

  • The scientific investigation into the afterlife culminated with Census of Hallucinations and Phantasms of the Living

  • Commoners were encouraged to write with their stories for the first time

  • In the early 19th Century, ghosts carried on with mundane tasks, but by the late 19th Century, their visitations seemed to have little or no reason (reflecting the general populace’s experiences with ghosts) T

  • Moment of Death visitations became more common and occurred in silence

  • Dull stories abound, but this reflects an increase in ordinary occurrences being lumped into ‘hauntings’

  • Ghosts tend to wear black, and prefer a specific venue

  • The new religion of Spiritualism began to fight with Christianity

  • Victorian ghosts were insubstantial, often accompanied by a dull luminescence, vague, clothed in black or gray and melancholy. Most are unknown to their viewers and do not appear to tell of buried treasure, murders , revenge or legacies.

20th CENTURY

  • Spiritualism flourishes and then collapses after the First World War

  • Science and a changing culture killed it

  • Ghosts and their behaviour in the early 20th Century little changed from 19th Century

  • With the advent of the Internet and dawn of the 21st Century, interest in ghosts reaches a fever pitch

  • Many more insignificant events are lumped into tales of hauntings

 

21st CENTURY

 

  • The internet made access and distribution of information on ghosts easily available to anyone who wanted or needed to understand more about ghosts.
  • Unfortunately, the internet soon was corrupted by negative forces and facts and truth became subsumed by opinion and philosophy.
  • The rise of the DIY movement was eagerly embraced by those who wanted to obtain facts on ghosts with first hand experience on demand. No longer were experts needed, any old plumber could become a celebrity with absolutley no training in the tools necessary to understand and interpret hauntings.
  • The rise of the paranormal reality TV show, still a dominant factor 20 years hence, has skewered beliefs of ghosts and changed their nature and behaviours. Gone are the apparitional ghosts, now we have unintelligible murmurings recorded on audio devices and the presence of cold spots in obviously drafty old buildings to ‘prove’ ghosts exist and are present at any particular location chosen by any ignorant amateur.
  • The creation of ghosts as a business model has rendered useless the collection of ‘haunted’ sites since truth is shrouded in generally fun exaggeration of ambiguous sensory input for the sake of customers and the bottom line.
  • Ghost tours, as well as history tours, now are tainted by entertainment and monetary gain rather than careful documentation and dissemination of actual hauntings and folktales.
  • The once respectable field of research into ghosts by respected, highly intelligent and scholarly people has been reduced to fools crawling into dirty old basements or attics and screaming for the ghosts to appear or talk to them. On camera of course. These shows don’t even bother to pretend it is reality that the viewer is seeing, and having worked int he TV business and had a ghost series myself, I can assure you it is all FAKE.