Ghost-hunting Skeptics Jun 3, 2007 12:07:37 GMT -5
Post by Brad-LaSpirits on Jun 3, 2007 12:07:37 GMT -5
Written by By Sarah Ostman
When Carol Copeland started renovating her World War II-era Stockton
home a year ago, things started to happen that were unexplainable,
At first, when she came home to find an empty shelf ripped out of her
bedroom wall, she blamed it on faulty carpentry. When she heard the
sound of footsteps and her name being called aloud, she brushed it
But when she watched as a shot glass collection flew off a shelf in
her living room, she said, there was no denying it anymore.
"I always said I'd need to see it before I could believe it,"
Copeland said. "Then I saw it, and I can't really explain it."
She suspects the house is haunted by the ghost of her aunt, who lived
in the home for decades until she died two years ago — and who was
very particular about the way she kept her home.
Copeland's story is a textbook example of a haunting, said Beth
Hedricks, director of the new California chapter of the International
Society of Paranormal Investigators, based out of the Manteca-French
"One of the first things (ISPI investigators) ask is if you are
making changes to the house," Hedricks said. "And the next question
they ask is if you're being treated for any psychological issues."
That sort of skepticism characterizes ISPI, a research-based group
dedicated to seeking out things that go bump in the night. Once their
skills are honed, members respond to calls from the public about
Unlike some ghost-hunting groups, the group steers clear of psychics.
Instead, members base their investigations on science and history,
"I go into every location as a skeptic," she said. "Probably eight
out of 10 hauntings are easily explained. I want to find the two that
The way to properly investigate a haunting is to try to disprove it,
she said. Investigators tackle practical matters first, looking for
outside factors that could look or feel like a ghost.
Carbon monoxide leaks, for example, are often behind suspected
hauntings. The deadly gas can make people's hair stand on end and
make them see things when nothing is there, Hedricks said.
Research comes next, when — clad in the society's work shirts and
toting cameras, recording equipment and thermometers to document
temperature shifts — investigators collect evidence to determine
whether a ghost might be lurking about.
Looking into the history of the house and its inhabitants helps them
paint a fuller picture. Still, at the end of the day, Hedricks is
left with as many questions as answers.
"I don't care how many years you've been doing this," she said. "It's
all theory. You don't know until you're on the other side."
For now, new members are learning the ropes through monthly meetings
and outings. They're also embarking on a month-long research project
about a person buried in Park View Cemetery.
At the group's meeting Saturday, May 12, no members wore "gothic"
clothes or trench coats, Hedricks pointed out, laughing.
"It's hard to get beyond that mystique and show that we're all
normal, down-to-earth people that are curious about something," she