Jo Davy and James Gilberd of Strange Occurrences were delighted to be invited to speak at the paranormal conference Paracon Australia, which will be held at Maitland Gaol (out of Sydney) on the weekend of May 10th-11th, 2014.
We will be talking about some of the topics covered in our book 'Spooked - Exploring the Paranormal in New Zealand', and including a section on photography and the paranormal.
We are looking forward to meeting others in the paranormal community and hearing international speakers such as Dr Cairan O'Keeffe. The venue should be interesting, too!
During the week I was asked to contribute to an article about Haunted Auckland for the Sunday Star Times, written by Shabnam Dastgheib, on the question of there being more calls from the public for paranormal investigations on private residences. I was quoted in the article; but for background information, here is my full email reply to Shabnam:
"We haven't noticed any rise in callouts this year. We don't receive that many, but when we do they seem to come in clusters. I would say that has more to do with random clumping than any widespread paranormal influence. Also, the release of a new Paranormal Activity or similar movie can get people thinking about ghosts a bit more than usual, and influence them to attribute paranormal causes to (generally unconnected), unexplained events, or coincidences.
"When there were fewer paranormal groups in the country, we used to get more media coverage, and more callouts. We've been keeping a lower media profile lately, but are still going strong as a team of ten. Our two newest team members are a medical doctor and a psychology graduate.
"The work our team does is split between call outs (usually to private houses or flats, sometimes to businesses) and investigations of public buildings, theatres, etc, that we generate through contacts and discussions.
"We would like to receive more calls from people, but we know that Kiwis can be a bit reticent to talk to strangers about things that spook them. Also, the positioning and perception of our team is hopefully fairly balanced between a scientific approach and being open minded about the paranormal, so we don't tend to get calls from people who just want confirmation of their belief that their place in haunted. We are inclined to find natural reasons for ghostly experiences, which can leave some people feeling disappointed and others relieved! But this doesn't mean we don't believe in the possibility of there being ghosts. We are sure that people experience ghosts, but what ghosts really are remains almost a total mystery."
Original Sunday Star Times article, featuring Mark Wallbank of haunted Auckland:
Stuff article as posted for The Dominion Post: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/capital-life/9834105/Calling-in-the-ghostbusters
Haunted Auckland website: hauntedauckland.com/
Core Paranormal website: www.coreparanormalnz.com/
I wrote this for our Facebook group on Wednesday but thought it worth preserving here as a blog post.
Maybe our Methods web page, and our disclaimer, labour the point; but we make it very clear on our Strange Occurrences website that we are not offering professional services. NZ has very good, strong consumer law. I'm not sure that it extends to unpaid services, but we are careful to not make claims that we can't deliver on.
I think it's unwise - and possibly damaging and dangerous - for paranormal enthusiasts to offer 'professional services' or use terms like 'trained professionals' when there really is no training or qualifications involved, and the people concerned are not actual professionals. Claiming a 'professional attitude' might not stand up that well in court if things go pear shaped and someone really gets hurt.
We've probably had fewer calls for our services since we've explicitly stated our position on the website. We're not about just confirming people's belief that their property is haunted or that they're possessed. We actually try to figure out what's really going on, and sometimes people feel disappointed because they may not have a ghost after all. That doesn't necessarily mean we rule out the possibility, though. We've all had enough uncanny experiences to know that science doesn't yet have all the answers. Strange stuff goes on and it can't all be explained away.
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is a blog by James Gilberd - leader and co-founder of Strange Occurrences. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Strange Occurrences team.
James Gilberd is an amateur paranormalist, writer and musician, and a professional photographer, living in Wellington, New Zealand.