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The Triumphant Return: Getting One Foot Back in Psychic Research

I remember telling my good friend, fellow author, and adopted “brother” Brad Steiger on one occasion that “when you’re on the right path in life, the universe has its way of letting you know.” Call this synchronicity (a term I believe may have been coined by Carl Jung), or maybe just following one’s own natural intuition–or as Arthur Koestler worded it eponymously with his book of the same title, it could be tracing our way to an understanding of “The Roots of Coincidence.”

Regardless, we all have strange sensations and feelings that overtake us from time to time. I must admit, even though I often feel that my own roll in the grand scheme of things is more passive (in that I almost feel like a silent pawn being moved across a tremendous chessboard, void of any discernible intuitive abilities that could be called “psychic”), I certainly can’t rule out the possibility that we are occasionally “led” in certain instances.

This is a difficult thing to account for, considering the fact that it is so difficult to quantify such things scientifically… and this is a natural inclination of mine. Nonetheless, there are a number of scientists who, while being rather scientific about things over the years, nonetheless felt the draw of intuitive forces that tended to grab hold of them. Consider Albert Hoffman, who first synthesized what we know today as LSD, and how he had been working to try and synthesize the hallucinogenic components within the fungus ergot. The particular synthesis he came across in the creation of lysergic acid diethylamide 25, one rather inconsequential number in a series of syntheses he had managed to procure, was set aside and ultimately would have been forgotten, had Hoffman not literally felt compelled to re-synthesize number 25. Though this was certainly not a common practice, during the second synthesis Hoffman managed to get a small bit of the substance on his fingertips… the rest, as they say, is history.

But so far as my own involvement in this sort of thing, I’ve suddenly found myself thrust back into something I hadn’t focused on for many years: psychic research and claims of hauntings. It is fairly well known that I began my own research into claims of the supernatural and unexplained elements of existence in my youth, and by my early twenties had made associations with Joshua P. Warren, a friend and colleague who is perhaps best known for his investigations into ghosts and hauntings (for more on this, see his book How to Hunt Ghosts, published by Simon and Schuster). At the time, although I found Warren’s research of relative interest, I was more fascinated with crytozoology, and have always had a certain tendency to think, rather purposefully, against the grain on a variety of issues. Hence, my earliest forays into writing about this sort of material began with an article in FATE Magazine several years ago titled “Voices in the Dark: Do Sasquatches Have a Language.” Later, my focus would begin to shift toward the study of ufology and incidents of “high strangeness,” as my interests became more all encompassing.

I’ve never been able to operate very well as a “specialist,” in the sense that I can find only one thing I really want to be known for and stick with it. My interests in this field of research, like so many before me (Ivan Sanderson, Jerome Clark, and my pal Nick Redfern) are vast and varied… though admittedly, I haven’t made psychic research or investigations into haunted sites a priority for a number of years… and for a number of reasons, too, which will have to remain outside the present conversation for purposes of time and space.

Nonetheless, a short while ago I had begun to consider what I feel are a number of “logical fallacies” that pertain to what we call “ghost hunting” today. Questioning things the way I tend to do (something that often gets me in trouble with what we might call “the conventionalists”), I had begun to consider, for instance, the use of electromagnetic field detection equipment in psychic research. True, certain multi-detectors, among them the Trifield Natural EM Meter, are able to detect electromagnetism produced by the human body. But to me, this seems to point to the notion that a body’s physical presence, and more importantly, the bio-electric processes that result in the production of electromagnetism, are what these devices can measure. Therefore, what, in the absence of a physical body, could a multi-detector like the Trifield actually be reading? Sure, there may be “transient energies” that are measurable in an environment, but it’s quite a leap of faith to assume conclusively that they are “ghosts.” Again, in the absence of a physical body, what could possibly serve as the source for such energies that EM meters and other devices sometimes detect? Obviously there are energies present at various times, some of which may even “behave” vaguely in a human-like way… but without a physical body to produce them, logic would suggest that the energies emanate from someplace else, rather than a disembodied spirit.

Of course, the argument many psychic researchers bring to the table is that a disembodied electromagnetic field may be proof of a living soul that exists after the death of a physical body… but however likely this may seem, we have yet to understand fully what a soul even is, or if they exist outside the justifications of faith alone. Despite my own deepest spiritual feelings, I began to realize that it isn’t good science to try and substantiate anomalies (i.e. transient measurable energy fields) by proposing the unquantifiable (the existence of souls or spirits of the dead). Even if this were found to be exactly what’s going on in a haunted house, for instance, we’re left with little ability to prove it whatsoever.

And then, as though having the floodgates opened, I almost immediately began to receive calls from friends and associates–some of them people I hadn’t spoken with in months or even years–wanting to know if I would be interested in visiting a few purportedly “haunted” locations. How could I decline? In fact, the most recent of these occurred today, when an old friend called and told me of a bed and breakfast she now worked in that had a very unique history… and of course, this also involved a healthy dose of purported “ghost” activity.

Will my outlook on this phenomenon, having become more skeptical and discriminating (though by no means against the notion that strange things do potentially exist) change the sorts of results I garner in future investigations? Perhaps only time will tell, but rest assured there will be updates here at Mysterious Universe, and for the time being, I’m fine with accepting that the universe, yet again, has seemingly helped steer me in another direction I hadn’t quite expected. Highly strange… but sort of welcome.

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Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.
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