04/26/14

The Philip Experiment – Can You Create Your Own Haunting?

Disclaimer:  The article shown here is for information purposes only. Para-Boston does not specifically recommend or condone the use of séances as a tool for investigative research.

Some paranormal researchers theorize that some ghostly manifestations and poltergeist activity (footsteps, door slams, moving objects) are products of the human mind.  In the early 1970s, a Canadian-based group set out to test the theory by conducting a fascinating experiment. The Toronto Society for Psychical Research (TSPR) wanted to see if they could create a ghost.  They wanted to get a core group together to concoct a fictional character and then conduct séances to see if they could contact him and receive messages from him. They theorized if they were really lucky maybe they’d see an apparition.

They “invented” a spirit named Philip.  Would you believe Philip actually made contact with them through a series of possible psychokinetic phenomena? Read on…

Dr. A.R.G. Owen, the leader of this study group in the TSPR, gathered eight people from their membership. All claimed to not be pychics. This group, often called the Owen Group, were comprised of the good doctor’s wife, an accountant, a designer, a housewife, a bookkeeper and a sociology student. Also there was a psychologist, Dr. Joel Whitton, in attendance as an observer.

To create the fictional “Philip Aylesford”, as a group they began Phase One: Creating Philip’s Life. They wrote a short biography about him. He was an English aristocrat who lived in the mid-1600s. He was a supporter of the King, and was a Catholic. He married the Dorothea, daughter of a neighboring nobleman. She was a beautiful, but cold and frigid wife.

One day Philip was riding on the boundaries of his estates and he came across a gypsy encampment and saw Margo. She was a beautiful dark-eyed gypsy girl who he fell instantly in love with. He brought her back to his land, secretly, to live in the gatehouse near the stables of his family home -Diddington Manor.

He managed to keep this a secret from Dorothea for awhile, but eventually she figured out he was keeping someone in there, she found Margo and Dorothea accused her of Witchcraft. She also accused her of stealing her husband. Philip was afraid of losing his reputation, his wealth and possessions if he protested, so Margo went to trial and she was convicted of witchcraft and burned at the stake.

Talk about guilt. Philip was overwhelmed with remorse that he never spoke up to defend Margo. He used to pace the battlements of Diddington in utter despair. Then one morning his body was found at the bottom of the battlements. It was assumed that he threw himself in after a fit of agony and remorse. He died at 30 years old.

The Owen group called upon one of their members with artistic talents to sketch a portrait of Philip. Now the Owen Group was ready. They had an image and a detailed background which was firmly set in their minds to focus on and they were ready for Phase Two of their experiment – Making Contact With Philip.

In September 1972, the group began their “sittings”. These were informal meetings in which they would discuss Philip and his life, they would meditate on him and focus to try to visualize their “collective hallucination” in greater detail. These sittings were conducted in a fully lit room and went on for about a year. Nothing happened. Some group members would occasionally claim they felt a presence in the room, but it was just a personal experience and there was no result they could consider any kind of communication from Philip.

Then they changed their strategy and began conducting classic spiritualistic séances. They lowered the room’s lights, sat around a table, sang songs and surrounded themselves with objects from Philip’s time period, pictures of the type of castle they imagined he would have lived in, etc.

That worked! One evening, during a séance, the group received its first communication from Philip in the form of a distinct knock on the table. Soon Philip was answering questions asked by the group – one knock for yes, two for no. They assumed the communication came from Philip because, they were attempting to communicate with only him.

The sessions escalated and produced a range of phenomena that couldn’t be explained scientifically. The group was able to learn more details about Philip’s life through the table-knocking communication. It appeared as if he had a personality and he conveyed his likes and dislikes and his point-of-view on various topics. This was deduced by how quick and enthusiastic, or plain, his knocking responses were. They joked with Philip, teased him, even flirted with him.  When Philip was asked if Dorothea, his wife, didn’t want children, the group heard scratching sounds coming from the walls. One member asked if the question was too personal and one loud rap was heard (a strong Yes!) His “spirit” was eventually able to move the table and slide it from side (even though it was on a carpeted floor). Sometimes the table would “dance” on one leg.

Philip was a creation of the group’s collective imagination and had his limitations. He accurately answered questions about events and people of his time period, but it did not appear to be information that the group was unaware of: meaning Philip’s responses were coming from the group’s subconscious – their own minds. At some point some members thought they heard whispers in response to certain questions, but no whisper was ever caught on their audio recordings. Dr. Owen later stated that if the entire team were in agreement to the answer to a question, the responses would come very quickly but if one or more people were uncertain in the answer then Philip’s responses would be hesitant, taking some time to reply.

There was no explanation for Philip’s amazing psychokinetic powers. If the group asked Philip to dim the lights, they would instantly dim. When asked to brighten back the lights they would brighten instantly as well. The table that the group sat around was quite often the focal point of odd phenomena. They felt a cool breeze blow across the table and asked Philip if he could make it to start and stop. Yes he could and he did so. The group observed that the feel of the table was different to the touch whenever Philip was in their presence — it felt electric or “alive”. There were a few times when a fine mist formed over the center of the table. Quite unbelievably the group claimed that the table would sometimes be so animated that it would quickly slide over to meet latecomers to the session, and sometimes even “trap” members in the corner of the room!

The climax of the Philip Experiment was a séance conducted before a live audience of 50 people. This session was also filmed as part of a television documentary. Philip performed above expectations. There were table knockings, odd noises in the room, lights blinking off and on, and the table became fully levitated. It only rose a half inch above the floor, but this incredible feat was witnessed by the group and the film crew. Because the lighting was dim at this point – the levitation was not caught on film.

In a later session during an especially active night, one of the members jokingly told Philip that he could be sent away and replaced. After that, Philip’s activity began to decrease until it stopped altogether and the experiment was stopped.

The Philip Experiment was a success in all ways but one – the spirit of Philip never materialized into an apparition.

Because the Philip Experiment was such a success, the Toronto organization decided to try it again with a completely different group of people and a new fictional character. After just five weeks, this new group established “contact” with their new “spirit,” Lilith, a French-Canadian spy. Other similar experiments conjured up such entities as a medieval alchemist named Sebastian, and a man from the future named Axel. All were completely fictional, yet all produced unexplained communication through their unique knockings.

A group in Sydney Australia attempted a similar test with “the Skippy Experiment.” Six members created the story of Skippy Cartman, a 14-year-old Australian girl. The group reports that Skippy communicated with them through knockings and scratching sounds.

Conclusion

What the heck does one conclude about these experiments? A hoax? Real communication with a made up character? Real communication with another spirit posing as the character?  There is no such thing as hauntings – just a psychokinetic manifestations of our minds? One thing is for certain – the experiment did not and can not prove that there are no ghosts.

In any case, the what the experiments did prove is that paranormal phenomena are quite real. These experiments leave us with more questions than answers about the world in we live in.

Want to try and create your own experimental ghost? British psychologist Kenneth Batcheldor and engineer Colin Brookes-Smith, back in the late 1960s and early ’70s, developed a methodology for educating psychokinesis as a group-skill, to provide phenomena for their research on the physical operating-mechanisms of psychokinesis. The key parts of their methodology was published in the Journal of the (British) Society for Psychical Research, Vol.47, No.756

Below from the June 1973 pages 69-89 are notes adapted from Batcheldor’s “List of Rules for Sitters”.

1. At least three but not more than six sitters 
2. Only those capable of friendly co-operation 
3. No extreme sceptics seeking convincing evidence 
4. No inflexible Spiritualists or scientists 
5. Both sexes, no age limit 
6. Agree to meet once a week at the same place and time 
7. Use a comfortable living room with familiar surroundings 
8. Sit in any preferred order 
9. Use the dimmest possible light tolerable without discomfort (unless extremely confident of success in stronger light) 
10. Use total darkness for advanced phenomena (unless unusually confident of success in dim light) 
11. Hands on table – not necessarily touching each other 
12. Never change conditions even slightly, unless this is essential to relieve tension or increase expectancy 
13. Avoid arguments – sense and resolve even covert disagreements about procedure 
14. Avoid immobility of posture – move freely, behave naturally 
15. Don’t worry about accidentally imparting movement to the table 
16. Be relaxed – engage in light-hearted talk, jokes and laughter 
17. Smoke initially or during breaks if you wish 
18. Avoid long silences and boredom 
19. Be patient, just wait calmly and cheerfully without irritation 
20. Don’t comment on the time, weather or topical news 
21. Don’t become too interested in any particular conversation 
22. Don’t say or think anything that implies doubt 
23. Don’t do anything that implies or arouses doubt 
24. Don’t perform tests or impose controls in half-hearted belief 
25. Don’t try to ‘will’ the phenomena 
26. Cultivate an attitude of serene confidence 
27. Avoid all thoughts of any particular experiment ‘failing’ 
28. Avoid both long-term skepticism and ‘instant’ doubt 
29. Don’t explain away every little happening 
30. Don’t express (surprise or) astonishment at any PK display 
31. Don’t concentrate your gaze – even in the dark – where PK is imminent 
32. Don’t focus your thoughts analytically on specific phenomena 
33. Encourage a generalized idea or image of the experimental task 
34. Don’t apply critical analysis during or after a PK display 
35. Keep your mind in ‘neutral’ – be an uncritical observer 
36. ‘Pigeon-hole’ your observations for future consideration 
37. Let the spokesman give all the commands 
38. Use wording unambiguous in its intention 
39. Use a tone of voice implying unquestioned obedience 
40. Don’t comment on or distract attention from specific commands 
41. Start with what seems easy and plausible 
42. Grade the tasks commanded 
43. Maintain plausibility throughout the experiments 
44. Practice each step sufficiently – but don’t let it become tedious 
45. Don’t hurry the steps – wait for each response 
46. Go back one step if no response is forthcoming 
47. Don’t repeatedly call for something not forthcoming 
48. Revive interest and excitement by some free uncommanded action 
49. Call ‘STOP’ if free activity ignores commands, then regain obedience 
50. Briefly express approval for successfully performed tasks 
51. Don’t consult ‘the table’ on procedure or theories 
52. Don’t ask for spiritistic messages 
53.A void being led astray by the offer of prizes 

[The above table is copyright ©1970 Kenneth Batcheldor.] 

Happy haunting!

04/16/14

The Near Death Experience of Dr. Eben Alexander

Dr. Eben Alexander III is a neurosurgeon and author of the best selling book, “Proof of Heaven”.

Dr. Eben Alexander graduated from Duke University in 1980 and was a resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. He is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery and American College of surgeons. He has been employed at some of the top hospitals in the world. These hospitals include Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Boston, Dana-Farber Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Alexander comes from a scientific background and has followed in his fathers footsteps in neurosurgery. Once a true believer that there is nothing after death, which his upbringing and education taught him, Dr. Alexander now questions everything he has learned since suffering from a meningitis induced coma in 2008.

His book claims that our consciousness is independent from the brain and that death is simply an illusion. He also says there is a perfect life after death that includes butterflies, Angels, clouds, and our departed loved ones.

Dr. Alexander slipped into a coma as a result of severe bacterial meningitis. Having no brain activity he was considered “brain dead”. His journey began in a dark formless place without memory, language, or time. He was saved by a spinning melody of light that came closer and closer until it opened up to a world full of vivid colors and millions of butterflies. Flowers blooming and blossoming as he floated by. By his side was a beautiful girl with blue eyes. She would look at him without saying a word and the thought would mystically enter his mind that she was telling him he was loved and cherished but he must go back, it was not his time. After seven days in a coma, he miraculously opened his eyes. Due to his amazing experience Dr. Alexander had a different view of life and life after death.

After going public with his story prior to the publication of his book, he has been terminated or suspended from multiple hospital positions and subject to several malpractice lawsuits. Other medical professionals claimed that Dr. Alexander was in a medically induced coma and was conscious and hallucinating.

Although Dr. Alexander states his near death experience occurred while his cerebral cortex was shut down and inactive, neuro-scientist Sam Harris disagrees. He states Dr. Alexander’s claims are not only inadequate but insults him by saying he doesn’t know anything about the relevant brain science. Neurologist Oliver Sacks states that it was impossible to establish a near death experience while the brain was shut down. The most plausible explanation is that it occurred not during the coma but as he was resurfacing from it and his cortex was returning to full function.

What is your opinion? Do you believe in life after death or is it just a hallucination?

03/29/14

Celebrity Corner – Jeff Ayers and Tim Duncan

image

Disclaimer:

Many people over time have showed interest in, or have had, paranormal experiences. Some of these people are persons of notability such as actors, musicians, athletes, writers, and even politicians.  Although Para-Boston can not confirm nor deny their stories, they make for interesting, enjoyable reading. I hope you become as entertained by these stories as I was during my research.

Claremont Resort in Berkeley, California

The Claremont Hotel is a five star resort regularly visited by sports figures during the season tour. Two NBA stars recently found they have a fan base both living and dead.

The Claremont Hotel was built in the late 1800’s by Bill Thornburg for his wife and later sold to the Ballard family after her death.

In 1901, a fire broke out completely destroying the building while they were away.

In 1905, Fran Havens won the property during a checker game and began construction to build a hotel. Although an earthquake had slowed the process, the hotel was completed in 1915.

Almost immediately after it’s opening, visitors complained about the smell of smoke even though the original building that burned was completely demolished and a newly constructed building was erected on the same site. Other complaints included a flickering light and television on the fourth floor.  Some claim to have witnessed an apparition of a 6 year old girl, who died on the property, and feel she was to blame.

San Antonio Spurs players Jeff Ayers and Tim Duncan recently learned about her spirit by experience.  Ayers tried using his key card to enter his room but it would not work. While he continued trying his card, he heard the voice of a little girl coming from his room. Certain he had the right room, he went to the front desk to complain about the card and that someone has entered his hotel room. Escorted with security, they returned to his room. Now the card worked fine, the room was empty, and nothing was taken. He would have thought it may have been his imagination if not for Tim Duncan who claims to have heard the child’s voice as well.

I think Jeff Ayers should have left an autographed picture for the little fan.  She could start a fan club for the deceased.

03/27/14

Celebrity Corner – Charlie Chaplin

Many interesting people over time have shown interest or have claims of having a paranormal experience. Some of these people are persons of notability such as actors, writers, sports personalities, and even politicians. Although ParaBoston cannot confirm nor deny their stories, they nevertheless make it interesting reading. I hope you become as entertained as I was researching them.

Mystery, murder, and hauntings surround one of the most famous actors of the early 1900s, Sir Charles Spencer also known as Charlie Chaplin. An English actor during the days of silent films Chaplin was abandoned by his alcoholic father and neglected by a mother fighting insanity, he rose from the slums of London to the elite of Beverly hills.

His legacy aside from being a ladies man, includes unsolved murders that forced him out of the country and made him world famous.

 

Culver Studios

Culver Studios was owned and operated by Hollywood filmmaker Thomas Ince. Mr. Ince died tragically in 1924 while celebrating his birthday aboard a yacht owned by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

Hearst was romantically involved with a Wanabee actress named Marion Davies. He created the Cosmopolitan magazine specifically for her. Among the partygoers aboard the yacht included Charlie Chaplin and his secretary. Hearst known to be a jealous man, saw Mr. Chaplin and Miss Davies slip off together during the party and discovered them on the lower deck. Arguing and confusion soon abrupted leaving Tom Ince and not Chaplin with a bullet to the head. This death shows that money does buy alibis and coverups. Mr. Ince death certificate read he died from a acute indigestion from eating and drinking too much.

Rumors say Mr. Ince haunts the Culver studios not long after his death and people have made claims of his presence even to date. Employees reported seeing ghostly figures roaming the lot at night. Others claim to be frightened by a womanly apparition that appears on the third floor.  The most famous sighting is of Mr. Ince himself. The reports claim seeing him climbing the stairs of the main administration building heading to his personal executive screening room. Many renovations to the studio have been made through the years and workers have claimed to see him during the construction.

I guess you can say “that’s a wrap”.

Now you see me, now you don’t.

In 1915 while filming  “by the sea”, Charlie Chaplin’s stunt double mysteriously disappeared from the set. The production was halted for three days awaiting his return. After the third day and still no word from Mr. Chaplin’s stunt double and long time friend, they assume he quit and was forced to find a replacement to continue production. Seven days later, Mr. Chaplin and his entourage were returning to his room. They entered to find a shocking discovery. His missing stunt double was lying dead on the floor. The corpse was soaking wet, covered with seaweed, and bound by the hands and feet. The decomposition indicates he had been dead for several days. No one could ever explain where he had been and how he could have ended up on Mr. Chaplin’s floor.

Today, people who live in the building claim to hear strange sounds coming from Mr. Chaplin’s room. Sometimes they are cries of help and other times splashes of water as if someone was trying to stay afloat. There have also been sightings of a man standing in the Corridor bound by the hands and feet. The most amazing detail is the ghostly figure is dressed in a black coat, bowler hat, and a small mustache.

My research found no claims of haunting by Mr. Chaplin himself. However, it seems people who have been associated with him has plenty to say.

 Hope you enjoyed this segment of Celebrity Corner and learned a little more about a well-known someone who shares the same paranormal interests as you. Stay tuned for another entertaining read in next week’s Celebrity Corner.

03/25/14

Celebrity Corner – Pop Stars

Disclaimer:

Many people over time have showed interest in, or have had, paranormal experiences. Some of these people are persons of notability such as actors, musicians, athletes, writers, and even politicians.  Although Para-Boston can not confirm nor deny their stories, they make for interesting, enjoyable reading. I hope you become as entertained by these stories as I was during my research.

Musicians are some of the most interesting people, especially when it comes to the paranormal world.

I have listed some musical stars and their experiences.  As you read on, you will find each one is a little stranger than the last.  Move over paparazzi, you have company.

Demi Lovato, an American recording artist with two hits in 2013: “Heart Attack” and “Neon Lights”, states her house in Texas is occupied by a ghost of a little girl.  She believes her name is Emily.  She hired a medium and a paranormal investigation group to try to find concrete evidence of Emily.  When she was three years old,  her mother used to find her talking to Emily.  Demi is now 22 years of age and seems to have a friend for life.

Ace Frehley a former guitarist for the rock band “KISS”, states while in a library he was assaulted by a ghost.  It seems the ghost grabbed a book from on top of a water cooler and threw it at his head.  Maybe Ace was a nonbeliever and someone, or something, tried to knock some sense into him.

Katy Perry was taking time out of her musical career to film a commercial for her fragrance line in a haunted house.  She turned to look into the mirror only to find a very upset man with a mustache staring back at her.  Scared out of her wits, she ran around the house screaming at the top of her lungs.  Unfortunately for Katy, no one else saw him.  Was he interested in buying her fragrance?

Now let’s get a little scientific, shall we?

Lady Gaga is one of the most featured pop stars of today.  Even she isn’t immune to paranormal activity.  Insiders claim Lady Gaga is convinced she has an annoying ghost that goes by the name of Ryan.  Ryan follows her on tour everywhere she goes.  She has spent thousands of dollars on so-called real-life Ghostbusters as well as electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors.  She uses these EMF detectors before every show to detect Ryan’s presence.  Maybe Ryan is slipping into her costumes while she is on stage.

Last but not least, our most bizarre pop singer’s confession, or is it just fantasy?

Ke$ha recently interviewed with Ryan Seacrest. She told him that she was having an affair with a ghost, and a steamy encounter at that. Ke$ha claims to have had multiple sexual experiences with a ghost claiming she went to “the bone zone”.   In fact, her song “supernatural” was inspired by the affair.

I hope you enjoyed this segment of Celebrity Corner and learned a little more about a well-known someone who shares the same paranormal interests as you. Stay tuned for another entertaining read in next week’s Celebrity Corner.

03/25/14

Trigger Objects

Sometimes in paranormal investigating, the use of trigger objects are thought to be useful. A trigger object is an object either owned by the deceased person in question or something of their time period. The theory is that it may illicit activity, communication or perhaps the trigger object may move. It is also referred to as the Singapore Theory. The theory is based on familiarization and if the spirits occupying the location are familiar with the object or music, etc – they will be more drawn to it and possibly become more “active”. The ultimate goal is that this process is so effective and stimulating – that the end result is an apparition.

We have brought an orange to an old Colonial house in Coventry CT both because the homeowners thought an orange they had in the house kept showing up in odd places and because an orange was a rarity, like a gift, back in the Colonial times.

We have used a family Bible, a toy ball, stuffed animals, an old Sanitarium bedsheet, we have played various period music, and tried many experiments using many trigger objects.

There are many ghost hunting techniques out there and we use a multitude of approaches custom-fit to each and every investigation.

Objects already found on the location of the paranormal investigation which the homeowner’s state have already moved on their own are  ideal trigger objects. Of course there is no guarantee, but it is one of the best situations to test the theory. Also ideal is if the object belonged to, or held some significance to the spirit when alive.

It is often thought that getting the personal item of the spirit that has been known to move in the past is the goal. Don’t limit yourself to just that. There may be other personal items on-site that belonged to the spirit when alive: jewelry, coins, clothes, books, furniture, toys (avoid battery, activated or computer chip toys that can react on their own and be incorrectly thought to react because of a spirit), photos, religious items, war memorabilia, etc.  Some theorize that metal objects (coins, jewelry etc) may store and conduct energy. I have never run across this – but there are many stories of movement of human vices like tobacco, drinks, cigars, pipes.

No one knows if the spirits are a residual haunting (they don’t know you are there, but they or their energy are caught in time) or if they are intelligent (they know you are there and can communicate).

When using trigger objects keep in mind the environment. Is it somewhere sturdy? Will it get bumped? Is the floor slanted so the ball will roll? Is there an open window, an air vent or draft? Put the trigger object on a piece of paper and draw an outline around it and videotape the entire process. You may think something moved but it hasn’t or maybe the homeowner’s unsocial pet bumped it while you were out of the room. We’ve used devices that detect a floor’s vibration to rule out various situations (nearby trains, construction, etc) that may cause slight movement.

There are many theories and they are largely operating on hypothetical principles about what “ghosts” are and how they can operate in our physical realm.  Whatever the case, all we can do is try to illicit activity in as controlled environment as possible and as scientifically as possible. Happy hunting and let me know what types of trigger objects you have used and what happened! I’d love to hear about it.

03/13/14

Colonial Haunts

Historical places have always been intriguing and battlefields have set the stage for this country’s freedom. So having an opportunity to investigate Lexington’s Battle Road I was excited. Walking the paths the patriots marched, the history was palpable to me! My experience on Battle Road by Hartwell’s Tavern just down from the infamous Bloody Angle still baffles me.

I just finished using the restroom (nature calls lol) and began walking back to the group of people I was with. I had to stop and remove a pebble from my sandal. After removing the stone, I stood up and started walking again, and from behind me on my left side, I saw a hand reaching over my shoulder. I clearly saw a palm and the thumb come back at my face, as if to brush a bug (or spider, I hate spiders) away from me. I turned and looked back, thinking it was my husband, and no one was behind me…..momentarily startled, what just happened? I still question just what I saw?

Interestingly, about 15 minutes later I captured a picture that appears to have an anomaly, perhaps a soldier on horseback with a tri-corner hat, crossing the path in front of me? Check it out.

lexington and NEGC class 093

What do you think?
I still believe there is more to discover in Lexington, the Birthplace of our Nation and I cannot wait to go back again!