WHAT IF WEDNESDAY:
What if Wednesday is a bi-weekly post where I ask, what if? What if a crazy, outlandish, bordering on science fiction idea could explain what we're seeing, hearing and feeling while investigating the paranormal? These are not definitive answers! They are what if's. The following stories are fictional and only told to illustrate the ideas.
Scenario #1: The Patients of C Ward
The year is 1924. Summertime at the asylum means two things: it's hot in the hallways and the uncomfortable heat is making the patients in C Ward act up more than usual. The two patients here, under the care of Dr. William Sinclair, are special cases. They are not dangerous to others or themselves so they are allowed to roam the halls freely. Although there are times during their "episodes" where it's necessary to restrain the patient and place them in isolation, but they are rare. What these two suffer from is delusion. They believe that without a doubt, they can leave there bodies at night and travel to the future. In a recent session with one of the patients he described his latest "trip." He was in the year 2016. The asylum was in ruin. As he made his way through the dark halls he saw three people he did not recognize. The three people were dressed in all black and holding strange devices that made weird noises and had flashing lights on them. One of the people was asking questions. The patient tried to answer him, but it was as if the people couldn't hear him. When the patient went to touch the person closest to him he woke up and found himself back here in his room.
What if he is actually traveling to the future and interacting with people who can't see or hear him?
Scenario #2: Grandma's Dreams
Grandma has been gone for three years now. We moved into her home last year and ever since that time we've felt her presence and have even heard her voice in different rooms of the house. After a recent event where I saw a shadow cross the kitchen, followed by humming, which sounded like Grandma, I was reminded of the stories she use to tell us. When Grandma was alive she use to tell us about dreams she had. In them she was in the house doing what she always does (cooking, cleaning, listening to the radio), but the furniture and decorations inside were different. She would see us, her grandchildren, as adults in the house with people she didn't know. In her dreams she would try to join in on our conversations and get our attention, but no one would ever answer her. We would only look in her direction as if we were scared. We would always laugh at Grandma's stories and tell her we could never be scared of her, but now I'm starting to think differently.
What if we're actually living in the moment Grandma said she was traveling to? Are we being scared by her now as she dreamed about in the past?
Scenario #3: The Time Machine
Welcome to the year 2105. There have been many advancements in the field of science. The latest announcement comes from the study of electromagnetism. In the upcoming issue of Scientific America, the cover story will disclose the findings from this years time travel trials! Many test signals have been sent back to different times, ranging from 1890 to 2026. To date these tests have only consisted of light and sound waves, and from studying data from "paranormal" researchers during those times in the past it has been concluded that sent voice messages have been captured on recording devices. There are also documented sightings of lights and shadows, which corespondent to the light wave signals sent back. Unfortunately scientists are only able to send these signals to targeted dates and locations 5% of the time. The majority of the signals are scattered, but seem to focus on a number of "Hot Spots." In the coming year tests will include sending small inanimate objects like coins back through time. Monitoring investigations of the paranormal in the past will tell us if these tests are successful.
What if what has been labeled "paranormal" from the year 1890 to 2026 are only signals sent through a time machine in the future.
If you have a "What if..." you'd like to share with others? Email me and I might post it.
Send to: email@example.com
Read more about the time traveling ghost concept in my blog post: TIME SLIPS
When I first heard the Renovation Theory I was intrigued. My intrigue funneled into research.
It’s really easy to explain this theory. All you have to do is think of the movie Beetlejuice. Dormant spirits become active when changes are made to the dwelling. The ghosts in a location being renovated are disturbed and they’re making their disapproval of the changes known to you and anyone swinging a hammer.
I’ve never heard reports of people singing Calypso music while dining on shrimp cocktails, but I have read many reports from people who’ve experienced intense paranormal activity soon after they started to renovate their home or business.
Tools are moved, strange noises and voices are heard, lights flicker, and in many cases those doing the renovating feel unseen hands touching them and even find unexplainable scratches on their skin.
When I starting renovating my home, a 1910 craftsman in a historic neighborhood of Northeast Portland I experienced similar activity. As I sledge hammered lath and plaster walls, tore out knob and tube wiring, and ripped up stained floor boards I was reminded of what I’d read during my research. I started to hear unfamiliar noises, smell fragrant odors, and experience the exact same symptoms reported by people who had experienced frightening hauntings and possessions during a building renovation.
I became dizzy and fatigued in my basement. I even discovered fingernail-like scratches on my arms and body that I could not explain. But I didn’t rush to a conclusion and contact my local ghost hunting group. What I did was ask this question:
What else could I possibly be disturbing?
Dust, which more than likely contains mold spores. Exposure to Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (mVOC) and Mycotoxins can cause:
All symptoms said to be linked to paranormal claims. These spores also give off an unpleasant odor, which could explain phantom smells.
Molds are commonly found in older buildings and those open to the elements. When we investigate in these locations, with each step, placement of equipment, and opening of a door we’re launching spores (mVOC & Mycotoxins) into the air and ingesting them. Some people can go all night and not be affected. Others may feel these symptoms after a few minutes of exposure. It will be different at every location and with every person in your group. Strapping on a mask eliminated my problem and is now a permanent addition to my gear.
So, if you’re feeling haunted, think about the other things in the space you can’t see. They may be the cause of the activity and for residential cases, a lot easier for the homeowners to exorcise than a ghost or demon.
I took this digital photograph in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 2006. I didn't look at the photo right then and there. It was later that night when I went through the day's pics. At first glance I thought I had moved the camera, creating the blur, but then I took a closer look. Everything in the background is in focus, only the light in the foreground and the anomaly "flying" in from the from the right are blurred. This prompted the thought, "Did I just capture something?"
When I returned home I put the photo through every test at my disposal. There had to be another answer to what I was seeing here. After exhausting my bag of logic, science and common sense I still wasn't satisfied. I sent the photo to people I respect in the paranormal field for their expert and unbiased opinion. I included all the information and details I remembered from the moment I took the photo, down to the temperature and presence of (or lack of) pigeons. After a couple weeks all came back with their thoughts and ideas, but none of them had a definitive answer. To each and everyone, based on the information they were given, this could be actual evidence of the paranormal.
And then it happened.
I was on vacation in Africa. I was setting up to take a picture of a bull elephant, but the sun was blinding. So I took my sunglasses off and put them over the lens of the camera. I snapped the picture, took a look, and saw I had the answer to a 3 year old mystery.
When I took this picture in New Orleans I had done the exact same thing with my brown tinted sunglasses. I just forgot that I did it when I was reviewing the pictures hours later.
From that day I've asked myself these 3 questions whenever I'm presented with claims:
In this case I made it happen, but it would have been really easy for me to post this pic on every social media page and website, claiming that I had photographic proof of ghosts in New Orleans. I could have argued with every negative comment and blocked “Haters." My story could have been picked up by news organizations all over the world, and for 15 minutes people would know my name. But that is not why I and many of you investigate paranormal claims. For us this is a personal quest for answers to a deeply moving experience, and seeing easily dismissible "evidence" posted on webpages is a scar on our field of research.
The message here: Dust floats, its every action dictated by the wind. It ultimately settles, remaining still until wiped away and discarded. Don't be dust. Be the wind. Become that force with the ability to move ideas and research in the paranormal field forward.
And so the debate rages on. It's been one that has been going on for decades, but has become a lot more vocal in the past ten years thanks to the Internet and the ever expanding field of ghost enthusiasts. The topic: Science and the paranormal. Paranormal teams are proud to proclaim and post they are "Science-based" or take a "Scientific approach" during their investigations. Scientists on the other hand are firm on stating there's no such thing as ghosts and if paranormal claims are true, prove it.
That right there is the problem. We in the paranormal field cannot and will never be able to prove any claim if we continue to be hellbent on proving our extraordinary claims in a scientific manor. The hard truth is, the sights and sounds we experience during investigations cannot follow the Scientific Method because we will never be able to recreate the anomalies we encounter.
What we need to do is simply restate our objectives and how we explain our experiences with paranormal anomalies. I do believe one day, probably long after I'm dead, science and a collective of focused and dedicated minds will be able to explain how and why we see and hear the things we do on location. Maybe we'll even get an answer to, from where or when are these sights and sounds coming from? But what I propose is ending our need to explain these experiences scientifically. We all (paranormal investigators, skeptics and scientists) need to think of encounters with the unexplained as, well...encounters.
Example: I claim that I once saw Patrick Stewart. I asked him a question and I got a response. A doubter will say, "prove it." Well, I can't. He was only there for a few seconds. I didn't have time to take a picture or record the encounter, but it happened. If I were to apply the Scientific Method to my meeting with Patrick Stewart I wouldn't be able to prove it either because I can't recreate the encounter with the man. I could experiment like mad, calling him and sending emails asking him to meet me, but that would only lead to a restraining order, not proof.
My point here is hopefully clear. When someone tries to shut you down and discredit your encounter with the simple and, in my opinion, lazy statement, "prove it," don't get frustrated or try to defend your claim with science. Explain your encounter with the paranormal as if you were telling someone about that one time you met that awesome person no one will believe you met. They don't have to believe you. You know it happened and there's really no need to defend your encounter. It was personal and had profound meaning to you. The science will come when the accumulated encounters with the things we cannot prove lead to questions like, "What are ghosts?" and "How can they do what they do?" These are the questions science will hopefully prove in the future. Until then, lets enjoy our brief encounters with awesome anomalies and consider ourselves lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to have had the encounter. Maybe all those who don't believe today will one day experience something they can't explain scientifically and join in the hunt for answers. I hope so. We can use all the help we can get.
We live in a 3-dimensional world. Our brains have learned since birth to take those confusing and complex signals of light, shadow and color from our eyes and create 3-dimensional objects. This is all we will ever know or understand, but put aside what you assume is reality and imagine a being that was 2-dimensional — A being that is not flat (even the thinnest sheet of paper is 3-dimensional), but only has height and width. Without the 3rd dimension of depth that being could stand right in front of you and because you’re either looking at it at any other angle other than straight on or looking down on it, you wouldn’t be able to see them and you would be invisible to them. In fact, in their 2D world nothing of our 3D world would exist to them. They could never interact with our extra dimensional world, but we could with theirs.
Now take our 3-dimensional world and introduce a being that has a 4th dimension that we can’t even understand or comprehend. We then become that 2D being in a 3D world. The 4th dimensional beings could be standing and living right next to us, but we would never know they were ever there. Because they understand Height, Width & Depth they would be able to interact with us if they wanted to (sounds, movement, light, color, temperature, etc), but because we don’t know of the 4th dimension we could never interact with them.
So the big question is, and this goes back to an idea I had 10 years ago, what if some or all of the paranormal activity were experiencing is the wanted interactions of these living beings, which exist side-by-side with us, but in a 4th, 5th 6th or greater dimension?
Possible? Yes, it is.
Reality? We may never know.
To find the answer we have to keep pushing our ideas and make sure we never get stuck on currently accepted theories.
Patrick H.T. Doyle
Being out in the middle of nowhere for an extended amount of time gives me time to think. My mind wanders, jumping from thoughts about current theories in the paranormal to new ideas in the hopes of discovering the truth about what we're encountering. These are some of those ideas.