Life after 50 – Adventure

Paranormal

Martha Decker founder of East Texas Paranormal likes talking about investigative techniques

by on Sep.17, 2012, under Paranormal

 

East Texas Paranormal Founder Martha Decker likes talking on the radio about investigation technique. She applies a lot of the techniques she learned while in law enforcement. Decker retired from policing in 2007 and formed East Texas Paranormal (ETP) and hasn’t look back, well maybe not too often. Since then she has appeared on numerous paranormal radio shows as a guest speaker. While they talk about a variety of subjects the interviews always seem to turn toward her law enforcement experience and how she applies her knowledge to the paranormal. In fact, a majority of this group are current or former law enforcement officers. Decker talks about how many of the techniques used for police investigations and interviews work well when applied to the paranormal. She is working on a couple of books and the one that will be completed first is about police techniques and the paranormal. Decker began conducting paranormal investigations in 1999 after going to the Myrtles Plantation with fellow ETP member and longtime friend Tamra Brickey.

Here are the archive links for some of the radio shows she has been on – If you have the time, you just might like to listen in…..

Just Energy Radio with Dr Rita Louise

Spirit Buzz with Jill Marie Morris

Bridging the Gap with Anthony Zepeda

 

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Author Martha Decker Looking for Paranormal Hauntings Legends and Mysteries in East Texas for New Book

by on Sep.04, 2011, under Books, Paranormal

dark day

Image by / // / via Flickr

Martha Decker

Solving Mysteries Surrounding East Texas in new book

by Martha Decker

Author Martha Decker Looking for Paranormal Hauntings Legends and Mysteries in East Texas for New Book. Martha Decker is a longtime published news journalist. In 1995 she won a first place Associated Press award for specialty reporting for an article she spent a year researching before it went to print. She is also the founder of East Texas Paranormal, a paranormal group dedicated to helping individuals in need of answers for unexplained events.

Decker currently is working to complete a book about paranormal experiences, hauntings, legends, myths and mysteries in East Texas. This area consists of all counties east of I45 and SH 75 from the Gulf of Mexico to the Oklahoma border or from the Red River to the Big Thicket.

She has heard stories about Tool, Eustace, Gun Barrel City, Malakoff and Peeltown along with other places near Cedar Creek Lake. Surely someone has a story to be told. Out of the way, odd, weird or unusual might just fit the bill. Decker can always use more information about things that may have already covered by other individuals. What about mysterious lights, big foot sightings and so much more……….

Decker is interested in hearing your story. If you have any information you would like to pass on please send her email at marthadecker@live.com. She can be reached by mail at PO Box 73, Kemp, TX 75143. Feel free to use the Contact Me page on this site and I will get her the information. If you would like to contact East Texas Paranormal they would be glad to hear from you.

Author Martha Decker Looking for Paranormal Hauntings Legends and Mysteries in East Texas for New Book

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Troy Taylor – What to do when your house is haunted

by on Jul.10, 2011, under Paranormal

Keith Age and Troy Taylor

Image by merfam via Flickr

American Ghost Society

an article

by

Troy Taylor

 
Editor’s note: This article is reprinted with the written permission of Troy Taylor. The photograph is of (L) Keith Age and (R) Troy Taylor . For more information go to American Hauntings.
 

What to do when your house is haunted

Thanks to the type of work that I do, I meet people on what seems an almost weekly basis who have (or claim to have) a ghost in their house. These otherworldly encounters may not be occurring at the present time, or may have happened in a house where they used to live, but they assure me that strange things did, or do, occur at the place they inhabit.

Perhaps even more frequent than these chance, fact-to-face encounters are the phone calls and email messages that I receive from people who also claim to be going through the same predicament. All manner of strangeness may be reported and on many occasions, the callers and correspondents will ask what they should do about their uninvited and often spooky guests. Should they move out? Should they stay? Should they talk to the specters or ignore them? What is the best thing to do in this situation? And most of all, should they contact a ghost hunter to come in an investigate?

First of all, let me say that over the years that I have been involved in ghosts and ghost research, the vast majority of the cases that I have been involved in have perfectly natural explanations. These explanations may not be immediately realized, but they can be discovered. Of course, that is not to say that I have not been involved in some cases that did puzzle me and which did leave me feeling that (based on the witness accounts and my own research) the location really was haunted.

As the witness to a series of what could be ghostly events, you (the reader this article is aimed at) have to first determine whether or not you think the odd happenings in your house (or business, theater, etc.) are natural or supernatural. In order to do this, you should try and relax and be a good observer. Even if you are scared by what you have seen or heard (or what someone else has seen) you have to give the occurrences some rational thought. Could those “phantom footsteps” have been simply the house settling or the floorboards creaking? Could that “cold chill” have been merely a draft? Could the “ghost” that you saw out of the corner of the eye have been nothing more than a trick of the light?

Maybe the events have explanations, or maybe they don’t. Believe me, I know that it’s easy to let your imagination get away from you. All it might take are a few harmless comments to someone else in the house and before long, you have a “haunted house” made to order! Here’s how that works:

Let’s say that you and your family just moved into an old house in a neighborhood in your town. You don’t know anything about the history of the house but unknown to you, a family of mice lives quite comfortably in the cellar. One night, you wake up and hear strange noises coming from under the floor. Since you don’t know that the sounds are caused by the mice, you jump to the conclusion that the house is haunted. Of course, it’s not haunted… but that’s not the point. What is important is that you think the house is haunted! In fact, you get quite caught up in the idea and begin to think that every bump and creak that you hear is something ghostly. An odd reflection or a curtain moving in the wind might even look like a ghost. Combine all of these things together and you have a haunted house on your hands!

At this point, you have come to believe that you have a haunted house with bumps, rappings, ghostly footsteps and even apparitions that roam the hallways. It’s not long before your family begins to pick up on your fears, either consciously or unconsciously, and they also begin hearing the “unexplainable” sounds and seeing the resident “ghost”.

You can see why it might be easy to feed off one another’s fears and literally “invent” a haunted house. That’s why I try to ask the people who contact me to step back for a moment and try to look at the events they describe to me as a skeptic. I ask them to try and consider some other possibilities for the events besides supernatural ones. Sometimes this can be done and sometimes it can’t. I never tell the witness that their house cannot be haunted! Obviously, there is no way that I can know that and for several reasons:

1. I was not present at the time the reported events occurred.
2. At this point, I have never visited the location.
3. I cannot claim to be an “expert” on all things paranormal because no such thing exists.

What I am trying to do at this point is to simply assist the witness in looking at what they feel is a supernatural event in another manner. As a witness, you should not take offense at this. In fact, you should welcome the skepticism of the investigator. A legitimate investigator will not accuse you of lying but he will also not immediately accept your story as fact, based on the idea that he really has very little evidence to work from at this time. It is not that he doesn’t believe you, but only that he is keeping an open mind to everything, including the idea that the house may not be haunted. This is the sort of investigator that you should be looking for… not the one who immediately accepts your story at face value. This is a sure sign of inexperience with real cases and one best to be avoided.

However, at this point, I may have gotten ahead of myself a little bit. As mentioned already, it is best for the homeowner to try and determine for themselves if the possible ghostly activity has some natural cause. In many cases, if they do contact an investigator, that investigator may try and suggest some natural causes for the activity and it would be best to try and rule that out ahead of time. You might save yourself some embarrassment down the line, although a good investigator would never try to make you feel silly for some misidentified happenings.

Another thing that I recommend doing is to try and keep a log or a journal of any activity that occurs in the house. This will be extremely helpful and as a rule, I always suggest it to people who contact me about their possible haunting. It’s a great way to not only recall the events while they are fresh in your mind (so you don’t have to try and remember them for the first time in a later interview) but also to see if a pattern of activity exists. The determination of such a pattern would be extremely helpful to an investigator. It could show a natural cause for the activity (such as a furnace kicking on or a nearby fright train passing by) or might make it possible (if the activity turns out to be real) to decide when might be the best time for a paranormal investigation to take place. Obviously, if it looks like the ghostly events are occurring at a certain time (or day), then this would be the time the ghost hunter and his team would want to be present.

When you are compiling your journal or logbook, here are a few things that you want to be sure to include:

1. Note the exact time and date when the activity occurred.
2. Make a note of everyone who was present and what they saw. If possible have each witness record their thoughts in their own words.
3. Try and note the weather conditions at the time.

The journal will be an invaluable piece of research if an investigator comes to call and it will go a long way in establishing evidence about the haunting in your home.

Now that you have been able to try and rule out natural explanations for the events in your house and perhaps have even kept a log of the weird things that occurred, you have to decide what you want to do next. Admittedly, many witnesses will not have gotten this far with their own research. Many people are frightened by what is going on and very few of them understand it. The fact that (if you think your house is haunted) you have gone as far as to read this article is something you should be commended for. People are frightened by the unknown and by things that they don’t understand. I should tell you though, that in all of the years that I have been involved in ghost research, I have never run across anything that I would consider to be “evil” or “demonic”. Yes, I have run across some cases that are outside of the norm, and were certainly strange, but they were not “demons” disguised as ghosts! Despite what some people would have you believe, the cases of people actually being hurt by ghosts are very, very rare. There is an extremely remote chance that you have anything at all to be afraid of, so try and relax and keep your eyes and ears open to any other developments.

At this point, you have a choice of what to do next. You can either learn to live with the novelty of a ghost in your house, or you can get in touch with a legitimate ghost researcher to help you understand it better. You may also decide that you can’t abide the idea of sharing your house with a ghost and we’ll talk about what you can do about that later. Even if you decide that you want to “get rid of” the ghost, it’s likely that an investigation team would need to determine the veracity and extent of the haunting first.

This leads up to you getting in touch with a qualified ghost hunter, who can come into your home and determine what sort of activity is taking place. This is not as easy as it sounds! There are literally hundreds of websites on the internet that claim to be affiliated with paranormal research and it would seem that you have scores of ghost hunters to choose from. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Once you discard the inactive groups who still have websites, the “wanna-be” ghost hunters who offer all sorts of services and yet have never actually done a real investigation and the ones who think that wandering around in cemeteries with cameras makes them “researchers”… you don’t have near as many to choose from as it first appeared!

Here’s some information though that may help when it comes to actually choosing a ghost hunter to do an investigation at your location:

1. Make sure they offer a phone number. While there is nothing wrong with making contact through email, make sure that the group or ghost hunter you are contacting offers a phone number where they can be reached. This does not insure credibility but it does at least rule out the wishful ghost hunters who are living in their parent’s basement! In many cases (as with the American Ghost Society), larger organizations may not offer the phone numbers of their area investigators but they should offer a main number where information can be given out.

2. Make sure that the contact information on the ghost hunter’s website lists a first and last name of the persons who are actually doing the investigations. If they are listed by their first names only, then it’s likely that they are not serious investigators but rather more wishful ghost hunters looking for thrills.

3. Try and determine from the website if the investigators are someone that you would like to have in your home. Remember, the website is the method of advertising that they chose to offer their services through and if the site is questionable, the ghost hunters are likely to be as well. Anyone can put up a website but the quality of the material on it will speak volumes about who is behind it.

4. Avoid ghost hunters who dabble in magic, the occult or offer “magical cleansings” of homes. All of these things are the ghost hunter’s own business ( and on their own time!) but should not in any way be a part of a legitimate investigation. If anything like this appears on the website, move on. And be sure to ask about this when you speak to the person on the phone because solid researchers will not employ these methods.

5. Legitimate ghost hunters will not charge for their services. If you are asked to pay for an investigation, then you should look for something else. Only services that produce concrete and tangible results are worthy of payment and paranormal research is too unpredictable for that. In most cases, very little may occur in an investigation and no one should be expected to pay for that. It should be noted however that if the ghost researcher is expected to travel (especially overnight) to reach your location, it should be expected for you to offer that person reimbursement for their expenses.

6. Remember that legitimate ghost hunters will come to your home by invitation. If you are contacted and are asked if an investigation can be conducted in your home, quickly decline. Trustworthy ghost hunters don’t go where they are not wanted! This may not be the case in public locations though, so if you are involved with a location that has a reputation for being haunted, you may be contacted by someone. At that point, you should simply judge the researcher on his merits.

7. Once you believe you have found an investigator that you are comfortable with, you need to check his qualifications for an investigation. Ask how long he has been involved in paranormal research and about investigations in the past, especially those involving private residences. If he claims to be some sort of “doctor”, ask where this certification may have come from. Just because he chooses to pay for a questionable “doctorate” from an internet university, does not make him qualified to interact with people. Believe it or not, many ghost hunters have never conducted an investigation in a home (no matter how experienced they seem) and you have to decide if you are comfortable with this person starting out in your house. They may turn out to be great investigators, but you have to decide if you want to be their first one!

8. Also ask the researcher if they are affiliated with a research group or a national organization. Just because they are not does not make them less legitimate, however being affiliated with a group that has a good reputation can help you make a decision about allowing the researcher into your home. You can also get in touch with the main number for the group and check this person out before working with him.

Just remember though, once you have decided on the person that you want to contact, you have to be patient when requesting help. Although there are people out there claiming to be legitimate and charging large sums of money to “bust your ghost”, genuine researchers do not charge for investigations, being more interested in collecting evidence. Because of this, there can be a shortage of funding for most people involved and witnesses are often asked to wait until the investigator can be freed from his “real job”.

Once you have a ghost hunter to work with, they will need to determine if an on-site investigation of your home is needed. They will do this by asking a lot of questions and by referring to information that I mentioned you should gather earlier in this article. They will need to know that you have already tried to rule out natural explanations for the phenomena and perhaps even that you have compiled dates and times for the reported events.

Should the researcher then decide that an investigation of the house is warranted, then prepare to be invaded! Even though legitimate research groups will consist of no more than 5-6 individuals, a good team can seem like many more. An investigation can be very invasive and there will be photographs taken of the house and hundreds of feet of video shot. The investigators will ask you to describe the events that occurred (perhaps several times) and your statement will be recorded. They will ask you dozens of questions and many of them will seem unconnected and perhaps even embarrassing. Bear with them however, because the questions do have a purpose and the investigators will be working to try and not only legitimize your story but also to try and determine if the reported activity is real.

Here are some things that you should be aware of when it comes to legitimate paranormal investigations:

1. The investigating team should be no more than 5-6 people in your home. If the group is larger than this, then they have no idea what they are doing and should be questioned by you.

2. The investigators should not be drinking or smoking at any time.

3. Remember that they should arrive at your home with healthy skepticism. No one is trying to debunk your reports but have to keep an open mind to all possibilities. Good investigators must remain non-committal until they have had a chance to gather their evidence.

4. Make sure that the investigators seem to know how to use all of their equipment. If there is anything that you don’t understand, be sure to ask them to explain what it is used for. If they cannot, you may have a problem.

5. Unless the investigation was set up through you with a local television station or newspaper, the investigators should not be accompanied to your home with a reporter or media person. This should never occur without your permission! The investigators are duty-bound to keep all aspects of your case confidential unless they have your permission to disclose anything.

6. As mentioned already, the investigators should be able to explain to you what they are doing and don’t be afraid to ask. If there is anything that you want to know or need to information to feel comfortable, a legitimate researcher will give it to you. Just remember that any natural explanations that are discovered that might show the “haunting” has nothing to do with ghosts should be properly explained. This is not an indictment against your honesty, so don’t be offended. You asked this person in to give you an honest opinion and you have to be prepared to accept it.

7. You can also help by making sure that everyone who experienced anything unusual is present on the night of the investigation and that you keep out friends and relatives who want to come over to watch the proceedings. This can be very distracting to you and the to the investigators and can interfere with an accurate investigation.

8. Also remember that if you become uncomfortable with what is going on at any point in the investigation, you have the absolute right to call a halt to everything. The investigators are present at your request and are “guests” in your home. They should be given the respect that such a title signifies, but they also have to respect your feelings and fears as well.

As the investigation continues in your home, the team members will divide up their duties and while you are being thoroughly interviewed, other investigators will be filming and mapping the house, taking photos and looking for any anomalies with their equipment. They will likely ask you to show them where any odd happenings took place and may ask you to recreate what you were doing when they occurred.

If the phenomena that you have reported occurs on a regular basis, or has a set pattern, the investigators may want to conduct a vigil or “ghost watch”. This means that they will set up themselves and their gear in hopes that the activity might occur again. This can be a long process and can be very boring for you and the investigators. At this point, you may want to consider going (quietly) about your activities and to let them work.

You may have noticed in this article that I mentioned several times that activity rarely occurs during the investigation. In some cases it does though, and this can be exciting for everyone involved. However, in most cases (if the investigator has determined that there seems to be a strong possibility that the reported phenomena is genuine) a follow-up investigation will be required. This usually means a return visit that will be much less “painless” than the first, as the initial groundwork has already been laid.

It should be stressed that a legitimate researcher will always follow up on a case. If you do not hear from him, and the phenomena persists, then call him yourself. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with him and ask him to come back.

The information that has come before has been mostly geared to the witness who has experienced something out of the ordinary and while not completely frightened by it, is curious enough to contact someone who can tell them more. Truthfully, I have worked more often with this type of person than any other. They aren’t necessarily afraid of the activity they have reported, but are bothered by it to the point that they decided to seek some help.

This is not always the case though. As a witness, you may call in a researcher to decide whether or not your house is truly haunted and once you realize that something is actually happening (and that others are seeing it too!), you may want to call the proceedings to a halt. This can happen when the witness is afraid of making the ghost “angry” and you may decide that you want to just leave well enough alone, who knows? Some witnesses also may decide that they want to get rid of the ghost and if this happens to you, the investigators that you have contacted have no choice but to go along with your wishes.

But unless the investigator is a psychic (and I don’t recommend contacting a psychic for your investigation unless they are accompanied by a legitimate team to back up their findings), they will not be equipped to get rid of the ghosts that may be haunting your house. Most ghost hunters are merely investigators. We do not talk to ghosts and we don’t see them around every corner. If we are going to be able to help you, we are going to have to contact an outside source.

Let me reassure you again though that ghosts are not present to hurt anyone and in almost every case, a family can peacefully coincide with a spirit. Obviously though, not everyone wants that and some even insist that the ghost itself would be better off passing on to wherever we go at the time of death. In this case, the ghost hunter should be proactive in helping you with your wishes.

If you have a family minister, the ghost hunter will likely suggest that you get in touch with this person and ask them to come to the house and to pray for the soul of the spirit that is present. This is not an “exorcism” but simply an attempt to get the ghost to leave in peace. It can be of great benefit to you and your family as well.

If a willing minister is not available, then the ghost hunter should be able to suggest or find an expert in getting rid of ghosts. They may not be a professional medium or psychic but someone who is sensitive to spirits and who has a good reputation. It should be someone the ghost hunter has either worked with before or someone who was referred through a legitimate source. There is usually a complete lack of ceremony with this type of person as they are not a phony psychic or exorcist. They are likely going to want to look over the location and sit down and talk with you before proceeding.

Remember though to beware of any medium that tries to pump you for too much information up front! It is obviously more legitimate if this person can gather impressions that match the information you already have. If they come up with weird things that you have not experienced and seem to be making things up out of thin air, they most likely are!

If an authentic medium detects a spirit that is present, they will try and convince it to move on. How effective is this? It’s hard to say. It has been my experience that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It usually has a positive effect on the house though, no matter what else it does. I often get calls from people who ask for this service but in my years in the paranormal field, I have found very few people that I can recommend as someone trustworthy enough to be given this assignment. They are out there though and if you request it, the ghost hunter you work with should do all they can to get you in touch with them.

In closing, I hope that this article has been worthwhile for you and has provided you with some of the essential information that you need in order to find a legitimate ghost hunter. I always say that ghost hunting has several goals. Not only is the ghost hunter seeking evidence of ghosts, but he is also there to help the person who called him in to investigate the case. It is the ghost hunter’s main responsibility to alleviate the fears of the witness and to help them deal with the activity they are experiencing. The witness should never be shut out of the investigation but should be treated with the utmost respect .. for man always fears what he does not understand.

If you are experiencing a haunting and have been thinking of contacting a ghost hunter, then I hope that you now know what to expect from this experience. In some small way, I hope that this knowledge can contribute to the end of people being taken advantage of by the questionable and inexperienced ghost hunters who are out there. A little knowledge can go a long way and now that you know what to look for, you can avoid the problems that so many have encountered in the past. Good luck!

© Copyright 2008 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

For even more information you might want to get the Bump in the Night newsletter.

If you would like an investigation please contact ETX Paranormal. Our information is on our About ETX Paranormal page.

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Have Haunting Questions? East Texas Paranormal Can Help

by on Apr.04, 2011, under Paranormal

Got Ghosts?

Do you have paranormal activity?

Do you think your home or place of business is haunted?

ETX Paranormal plans to set up at several festivals this spring and summer. Please come back to see where we will be and then stop by for a visit. We will have some photographs, the tools we use during investigations and forms that can be completed if you need help. We will try to answer any questions we get from visitors. If we can swing it we may have some video and EVP’s to view and listen too while at our booth.

Please contact us anytime if you need help or have a question. You don’t have to wait until we are at an event. There is no cost for our services. You can find our contact information on the About Us page.

This is a video from Haunted Earth with information on how to tell if your home is haunted……………………………….

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Orbs Debunked by Troy Taylor founder of American Ghost Society

by on Mar.04, 2011, under Paranormal

Orbs @ Sach's Bridge, Gettysburg, PA  Ghost hu...

Image by nikoretro via Flickr

“Orbs” Debunked!

American Hauntings

Presented with the written permission of Troy Taylor

Author of the GHOST HUNTER’S GUIDEBOOK & President of the American Ghost Society

Editor’s note: the image to the right is typical of what some
individuals believe to be orbs, but is usually dust or bugs.

For many years, during all of my writing on ghosts and paranormal phenomena, I have maintained that nothing that I have written has ever been meant to be the “final word” on anything related to the paranormal. However, this section is actually meant to be the “final word” (or rather MY “final word”) on the subject of “orbs”:

Enough with the “orbs” already! “Orbs” are not evidence of the paranormal. They are not ghosts and they are not even “unexplained”!

How can I say this when I maintain there are no “experts” on the paranormal? Because so-called “orbs” have nothing to do with the paranormal! Let me back up a moment and say then I’m not talking about anomalous lights and globes of energy that are seen with the naked eye, I’m talking about those pesky, transparent balls that seem to show up in photos and have been claimed for more than a decade to be “evidence” of ghosts.

Many of the “orb photographs” that turn up on Internet websites or in books seem to come from cemeteries but they actually have an annoying habit of showing up almost anywhere. They have become the most commonly reported types of “paranormal photos” claimed by “ghost hunters” in recent years.

I began debunking the vast majority of “orb” photographs in the middle 1990s, around the same time that I began the controversy over using low-end digital cameras for paranormal investigation. The majority of “orb” photos from that time could be blamed on low resolution, low pixel cameras — but not all of them. Despite what has been seen and heard, there has never been any evidence whatsoever to suggest that these “orbs” are in any way related to ghosts. Yes, they have often turned up in photos that are taken at haunted locations but, as my research started to show, they could turn up literally everywhere.

As mentioned, “orb” photos are the most commonly seen “ghost photos” today and you will probably see more photos on the Internet of these purportedly “mysterious” balls of light than of anything else. While I do believe that genuine photographs of paranormal “lights” exist, they are not as common as many people think. The reason for this is that it’s very hard to photograph something at the same time you are observing it. However, it’s been done a number of times over the years at spook light locations and even during investigations. In my book Ghosts on Film, which deals specifically about spirit photography and investigations, I present a number of cases from my files where other researchers and myself were able to photograph glowing lights at the time they occurred. Were they ghosts? I don’t know but I can say that I believe the lights were paranormal in origin — unlike “orbs”.

Despite the fact that I (along with many other researchers) have been trying to tell people that “orbs” are easily explained as a natural phenomenon for nearly a decade, those that I like to call “orb-a-philes” have continued to post “orb photographs” on websites, print them in books, display them at conferences and excitedly show them to me on their digital camera screens. When I suggest a possible explanation for the “orbs”, downplaying the idea that they are ghosts, I usually get the reaction that I described in the introduction to this book — anger, righteous indignation and a comment that I don’t know what I am talking about anyway.

So, rather than try and argue with every “orb-a-phile” that I come across, I’ll let this article do my arguing for me. I don’t plan to write about “orbs” ever again and so please spare me the angry emails that claim that I have no idea what I am talking about. This is the final opinion that I have come up with on “orbs” and keep in mind that it is my opinion — I’m not an expert because there aren’t any paranormal “experts”– but this is what I have come up with based on research that dates back over more than two decades. With that said, what follows are the reasons that I do not believe that “orbs” have any place in the field of paranormal research:

A typical “orb photograph” is usually one that is taken in an allegedly haunted place and somewhere within the photo is a hovering, round ball. Some of these “orbs” appear to be giving off light, while others appear to be transparent.

It should also be noted that “orbs” were actually quite rare (if not nonexistent) before digital cameras became common. In the early days of low-cost, cheap digital cameras, some “ghost hunters” actually proposed that digital cameras are “superior for orb photography”. And since they were producing more “orb” photos, this was technically true. But the digital imaging chip is very different than traditional film photography and was far inferior until recent times. Some of the earlier, low-end digital cameras were made with CMOS chips and they would create “noise” in low-light photographs that would be mistaken for “orbs”. It seemed that when they were used in darkness, or near darkness, the resulting images were plagued with spots that appeared white, or light colored, and where the digital pixels had not all filled in. In this manner, the cameras were creating “orbs”, and they had no paranormal source at all.

The most common “orb” photos are merely refractions of light on the camera lens. This occurs when the camera flash bounces back from something reflective in the range of the camera. When this happens, it creates a perfectly round ball of light that appears to be within the parameters of the photo but is actually just an image on the lens itself. Many people often mistake these “orbs” for genuine evidence of ghosts, although I have never really been quite clear as to why that is. Most “orb” photos occur when the camera flash is used. Some of the photographers will insist that their flash was not on, which means it was and they didn’t know it. The automatic exposure control on most any standard 35 mm camera uses fill flash in all but the brightest light.

Even so, “orbs” don’t have to have a camera flash to be created. They can also be caused by bright lights in an area where the photo is being taken, by angles of light and by many types of artificial lighting.

But are lights and camera flashes the only thing that can cause “orbs” to appear? Far from it! Other objects that end up in front of the camera lens and are mistaken for paranormal images are dust, moisture, pollen, insects, snow, rain, hair, ash and scores of other semi-microscopic particles. In almost every case, the camera flash reflects on the surface of one of these particles and seems to “glow”, as one might expect a ghostly image to do.

I started experimenting with “orb” photos a number of years ago, using a variety of materials, like flour, salt, dust and cat dander, to simulate “orbs” with my camera. I was not really that surprised to learn how easy it was to duplicate what so many people thought were ghosts using these ordinary items. The one argument that always intrigued me from the “orb-a-philes”, though, was: why, if “orbs” were not paranormal, did they so frequently turn up in photos taken at haunted locations?

I decided to research “orb” photos from graveyards, which I had seen scores of over the years. Keep in mind that I have often been openly critical of ghost hunting in cemeteries anyway. By that I mean, actually just going out to cemeteries and shooting photographs and hoping to capture something on film. While this is great for the hobbyist, I don’t feel that it’s serious research. Needless to say, I have been harshly criticized for this view. In spite of this, I have not changed my mind about the fact that random “ghost hunting” is not an investigation. And if this isn’t reason enough to discourage this kind of activity; I soon had another reason for taking this view.

With three other researchers, I went out to a cemetery that we picked at random on a warm summer night and took several rolls of film. We had no readings, stories or reports to justify the decision, but just took photos anyway. After having them developed, we discovered a number of the photos were filled with semi-transparent “orbs”.

On a hunch, we then went to a nearby football field that was roughly the same size as the cemetery we had already visited. We walked around for a few minutes and again shot a few rolls of film. I was unfortunately not surprised to find that these photos were also filled with “orbs”. Was the football field haunted? Of course not!

What we did was walk around both areas and stir up dust and pollen from the grass. When we took the photos, these particles in the air caught the reflection of the camera flash and appeared to be “orbs”. We also discovered that such photos could be taken after walking or driving on a dusty road. The dust particles would reflect the light, just as moisture can do, and make it seem as though the air was filled was “orbs”.

While the experiment really just reinforced a belief that I already had — namely that “orbs” are not paranormal — I do think that it was worthwhile if even one “orb-a-phile” might see the results and question some of the photos that he or she has been presenting as genuine.

After publishing this research, I was sure that this would be the end of people sending me photos of “orbs” and asking me to justify their belief that they had captured a ghost on film, but it wasn’t. In fact, people still send them to me on a regular basis and they usually follow it up with their arguments as to why they are sure their “orbs” are real.

THE LAST WORD ON “ORBS”?

So, should we discount all “orb” photos? No, I don’t think that we should. As stated earlier, I do believe that there are genuine, paranormal images that appear and which are sometimes captured on film. These visible lights are a semi-common phenomenon but whether or not they signal the presence of ghosts is still open to debate. Regardless, I believe they are something paranormal in nature and we should continue to study them, as we have done for some time.

It’s the “traditional orb photos” that have become the bane of paranormal research and I think that it’s time that we retired this irrelevant theory for good. This will be the last appearance that “orbs” make in any of my publications and hopefully, we’ll see them start to fade from the spotlight of paranormal research once and for all.

Editor’s note: this article has not been changed from Mr Taylor’s version on his web site. Thank you for allowing ETX Paranormal to reprint this article.

Bump in the Night Newsletter is a FREE newsletter by Troy Taylor

If you are looking for an American Ghost Society Rep to help you use this AGS link to find one, including ETX Paranormal. (side note that our link shows as Cedar Creek Lake Paranormal Research)

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Hill House Manor in Gainesville TX – ready for a paranormal investigation?

by on Feb.04, 2011, under Paranormal

Here is a brief walk through of a location CCPRS will probably investigate in the near future. The owner has an interesting website for Hill House Manor that is worth a visit. They allow paranormal groups to conduct investigations for a donation and even offer investigations that individuals can join who are not part of a group. Linda Hill will be glad to answer your questions. She and the Manor can be found on Facebook.

 

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Haunted Catfish Plantation in Waxahachie TX Ghost Party with Brandy Green, GHI or the Klinge Brothers, Extreme Paranormal

by on Aug.01, 2010, under Paranormal

My birthday is in the middle of the week so several of us decided to go to one of my favorite restaurants. We went the the officially declared haunted Catfish Plantation! As always, the food was outstanding and the portions big enough to feed an army.

While we were there and I was being nosy I discovered two events that are planned at the restaurant. The first one is a Ghost Party in September. It will be hosted by Brandy Green, from Ghost Hunters International. Sounds like fun to me.

Who will join Brandy?

Then there is another event scheduled for October. This one is a ghost hunt with the Klinge brothers, Brad and Barry, from Extreme Paranormal. Sounds like a lot of fun to me. It looks like they will be there for two nights so everyone can get a chance at the ghost hunt.

Who wants to meet Brad and Barry?

If you live nearby this is a happening place to go during the week. There are happy hour drink specials Wed and Thurs. Then on Wed night you can get a free appetizer! Just don’t make the mistake I did a few weeks ago and drive over there on a Mon or Tues – they are closed.

I didn’t see or feel any activity on this trip. However, they did say a picture came of the wall in one of the rooms. My friend was hoping for a friendly pat from the friendly male entity. No luck there either.

There is always another time…..

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Voodoo Village in Memphis TN

by on Apr.08, 2010, under Paranormal

If you know about Voodoo Village, then you must have lived in Memphis, TN. I took a road trip this week with a colleague who used to be a police office for Memphis PD. She asked me if I had ever heard of Voodoo Village and my mouth opened so wide that my bottom lip hit the gas pedal and the car went into G-force mode. I had not heard Voodoo Village mentioned since leaving Memphis in 1973. I grew up in Memphis and not only knew of Voodoo Village, but had visited several times as a teenager because I one of the lucky ones to have a car.

Voodoo Village is a very strange place and there were many tales told in the 1960′s and 70′s about this place. I remember this as being one of those infamous dark roads. It is located at the end of Mary Angela Rd and is now alleged to be haunted. I can’t tell you how many times I was told to “be sure to back down the street to Voodoo Village because you’ll be surrounded and they won’t let you leave.” Well, that was enough of an incentive for me to check it out.

Voodoo Village is a fenced in compound that consisted of very colorful buildings.  The building are unique and have all kinds of odd things nailed into or attached to them. We visited Voodoo Village as teenagers to try and see the people who lived on that road. The people were unique to Memphis and no one could figure out who the were or why they were there.

After I was asked if I know about Voodoo Village and told my colleague “Why yes I know about it,” we became very interested in knowing if it was still there or if anyone else know of the place. Curiosity almost killed me so here I am writing this blog post and looking up Voodoo Village on Internet. Both of us were about ready to change our McAllen, TX road trip into a Memphis, TN road trip so we could try and find Voodoo Village once again.

I remember the thrill and chills we got as teenage daredevils plunging down Mary Angela Rd in drive and not in reverse. We never were surrounded, but I have never seen any place like Voodoo Village. Even then it was a place that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. This place has its own “feel” and it’s one that is hard to describe. My colleague talked about seeing old people waling around with goats when she would get a call from the area. She drove in with a patrol car and remembers no one would talk to her. She also got that “creeped out” feeling when she went to Voodoo Village. At the time I heard a lot of stories and of it as a haunted place. It was not a place I went to alone.

Instead I chose to Google it and was surprised to find out there is a lot of Voodoo Village online. I have added some of the links to my post should you decide to look for the information.

HauntedAmericaTours.com calls Voodoo Village “A MYSTERIOUS LITTLE CORNER OF HAUNTED MEMPHIS.” They describe Voodoo Village on their website as, “The hoodoo empire of Walsh Harris’ Voodoo Village, (a fenced compound of brightly colored houses and signs in deep South Memphis) Home to a variety of artistic and intellectual practitioners. ” HauntedAmericaTours.com also says on its website, “It first gained attention in the early 1960’s when conflicts between gangs of white youths and the black residents of Voodoo Village made headlines. Ever since, Voodoo Village has been a site of many teen dares and initiations, and its reputation for weirdness has only grown over the years.”

I don’t remember much about gangs of youths having conflicts there in the 1960′s, which is when I was visiting, but maybe this is why we were told to back in so we could drive out if we were surrounded. I have slept a few nights since then and only remember bits and pieces about the place. Some things you never forget and this place is one of those memories I will never forget. I rarely think about the place, but now I may have to visit it and see if I get the same odd feelings I did as a teenager.

What really got me is that there were several places in Memphis with nuttsy stories that were just too wild to believe – except for Voodoo Village. You can find out more be reading the Voodoo Village information at Urban Legends.

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