Real life ghost busters

According to a 2007 poll by the Associated Press , 34 percent of the American public believes in ghosts. Twenty-three percent say that they have seen a ghost or at least been in the presence of one at some point in their lives. If that number is hard to imagine, it might help to know that itâÄôs about the size of the population that still likes President George W. Bush. The Twin Cities Paranormal Society is at the forefront of this believing third of the population, acting as the ministry of the occult for the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, filling the role of real life âÄúGhostbusters âÄú for the Midwest. Skeptical? LetâÄôs put this into perspective. The idea of spirits dates back almost as far as recorded history itself. The belief pervades every culture in the world. Spirits appear in âÄúThe Egyptian âÄúBook of the Dead âÄú and in the Hindu religion. Languages from Latin to Chinese to Greek have their own phrases for our German -derived word âÄúghost.âÄù Many of the words, like the Spanish âÄúespíritu ,âÄù are related to breathing, and itâÄôs worth noting that in the Bible , God produces Adam with a breath of air (Gen. 1:26). Although a society dedicated to âÄúthe research, investigation and documentation of paranormal phenomen[a],âÄù may seem crazy or unnecessary, the Twin Cities Paranormal Society is no joke. This is no fly by night ghost group, no âÄúScooby and the Gang ;âÄù The society is based in professionalism and integrity. These people take ghosts seriously. It would be easy to play Scully to the Moulder that is the Twin Cities Paranormal Society. There are many reasons why one could be skeptical. One could say that their enthusiasm for the material might blind them to the fact that their investigations are biased, or that much of their evidence is reaching. That through sheer desire or childlike curiosity they have duped themselves into believing in something completely unfounded and utterly hypothetical; the existence of spectral beings. We could Richard Dawkins this horse dead. But why do that? Believing in things is fun, and apparently a fourth of the population agrees. Having been around for a few years now, the society has grown from a few fanatics to 15. Yet with a constant onslaught of investigations, they have decided to open membership to the public to help deal with the number of requests for investigations they are now receiving. Being a non-profit organization, the society never charges for its services. It is merely there to help all parties involved, alive and dead. The society hails from various backgrounds, ranging from the business and health care industry to private investigators. All investigations take place from around 9 p.m. to around 3 a.m. They are available for cleansings, house blessings and even use the Native American method of âÄúsmudging,âÄù a technique involving the burning of sweet grass. With the aid of a variety of video and audio equipment as well as EMF detectors, the society accumulates several different forms of possible evidence, like photographs, video feed and EVP-electronic voice phenomena from a site upon investigation. During an examination, members ask a series of questions. These questions are followed by a period of silence lasting around 20-30 seconds. It is believed that ghosts must build up energy in order to be heard, so there is a pause to let them try. Sometimes upon EVP review, answers to the questions are audible. Noises are found that were not apparent to investigators at the time of questioning. Some of the EVP sound bites on the societyâÄôs website are refutable but terrifying, phrases like âÄúGod Help Us,âÄù and âÄúGet Out.âÄù Although there is no way of checking the authenticity of these sources, the chance that they may be real serves to frighten nonetheless. To get a better understanding of the group, A&E got in contact with co-founder of the Twin Cities Paranormal Society Lisa Hottinger to ask her a few questions. What does an investigation entail, exactly? First of all we have whatâÄôs called a preliminary interview where we go to the property; we speak to the owner, get the background and everything and then we have researchers who do an actual background check on the property to find out if there have been any deaths or tragedies or just anything affiliated with the place. Then weâÄôll go in and weâÄôll investigate. Do your investigations always start with someone seeking out your services? Or does the society investigate when they think something might be haunted? When we first started out, we were making most of the phone calls, but now itâÄôs pretty rare when we make the calls, because, like I was saying before, we are really busy. Do you think that because you are seeking out paranormal activity, ghosts are more prone to try to make contact with you? Because they can comprehend that you have a vested interest in them? You know, yes, it seems to be that way. When we first started out it was challenging to get them to interact, but now itâÄôs just kind of a given. When a place actually does have activity we always get evidence. Ok what does crossing over mean? Well hold on, let me back track for a minute; do you know what a residual is? ItâÄôs something left behind, right? Imagine a CD that youâÄôre playing and you push repeat so it just keeps going, the same song over and over. Right, OK itâÄôs a loop? Yeah thatâÄôs pretty much what a residual is. It doesnâÄôt necessarily mean there is a ghost there, it just means that energy is put there and it just keeps doing the same thing. So when someone says, âÄúYeah it shows up on the third Sunday in January every year at this time,âÄù thatâÄôs a residual. ItâÄôs not actually a spirit. ItâÄôs an imprint âÄî itâÄôs placed memory. What does that signify though? That there was some event there that was traumatic or something happened that was important to that person at the time. Now an intelligent haunting is somebody that is actually communicating with you or can communicate with you and is trying to. ItâÄôs a spirit that is aware of his or her surroundings and may be aware that they are no longer living. And so the situation is not predictable in the way that a residual would be? Exactly. When people die and itâÄôs traumatic, say itâÄôs unpredicted like a car accident or just any kind of really traumatic event, oftentimes they donâÄôt realize that theyâÄôre dead. And so theyâÄôre confused; they are kind of going around in a fog, and this could go on for years. Other times they are completely aware and they are trying to get your attention because they need your help. They are lost or confused and they want to get a message across. ThatâÄôs when we come in with our equipment and sometimes itâÄôs something like âÄúI just need to be acknowledged,âÄù and then they can go into that light or âÄúplease tell Mary Sue that her locket is âĦ âÄù wherever or something. Right. Kind of the idea of unfinished business? Yeah. Some of them are just confused, and some you know think that they might be going to hell. Sometimes they are just scared. Do you think it happens more often when they are younger? Yes. I do. But thatâÄôs an opinion. Actually most of this is speculative, obviously. Have you ever been in a situation where you were just completely terrified by something that happened? IâÄôm more afraid of spiders. Ghosts donâÄôt scare me. Do you think animals are prone to be able to see them? Yes. There have been a lot of different stories about how animals can see spirits, how dogs will stand at the bottom of the stairs and bark up or run away from them. Again, itâÄôs speculation, but it seems to be that they can see them. What is the most haunted place that you have ever been in Minnesota? In Minnesota, I would say the Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre. ThatâÄôs pretty wicked. But also the Mum Theatre. The Soap Factory is a good one. The St. Paul Cathedral too, that is really haunted. Do you think that there may be more activity as a result of Halloween? There is a theory that the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is supposed to thin on Halloween. Again that is superstition, so I really donâÄôt know. They do say however, that different sunspot weather causes different activity; it makes it easier for them to show up. Lunar moon phases are also said to have an effect.