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					Ghost-hunting groups enjoy renewed popularity
Interest is fueled by TV
shows, the Internet and
the increasing availability
of high-tech equipment
By JAMES HANNAH
ASSOCIATED PRESS


   URBANA, Ohio - As
midnight      approached,         a
grassy field where the old
train depot once stood
pulsed with activity.
   About 90 people tiptoed
around night-vision cameras                                                                                                                    .':~;.:
atop tiny silver tripods and                                                                                                            ~...:.... ..-~.'"
dodged remote sensors con-                                                                                                   ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOS
nected to a computerized              Members of Ghosts of Ohio and local people gather along the railroad tracks as they prepare to investigate            Mark DeLong reacts to changes in temperatures shown on a laptop
surveillance system. They             any paranormal activity along a railroad track in Urbana, Ohio. Legend has it that a ghost train which                computer while Jim Willis, right, looks on. In the background is the
waited for the Lincoln Ghost          carried the body of Abraham Lincoln was sighted in this area on April 29, the same date that Lincoln's                monitor for the four night vision video cameras as they investigate
Train, which .some people
believe passes through this           funeral train stopped in Urbana in 1865.                                                                              any paranormal activity along a railroad track.             .
western Ohio city on the an-
niversary of the 1865 trip that       tracks for the paranormal           Lexington, Ky.-based Ghost           Erie, Pa., that featured the                 ceptable to talk about," said        ture close to the lens of the
carried the president's body          train.                              Chasers       International.         Paranormal Study and Re-                     executive director Marie             camera, "voices" picked up
to Springfield, Ill., for burial.        The airwaves are popu-           "Through that show, I think          search Group asked if they                   Cuff.                                by tape recorders can be
   Ghost-hunting          groups      lated with shows such as            people see we are really seri-       could join the group or tag                     Thirty-four    percent of         radio signals or noise from
around the country are swell-         "Ghost Whisperer," "Me-             ous about what we do, and            along on ghost hunts. A year                 Americans say they believe           the recorder, and electro-
ing with members - their              dium," "Paranormal State"           they've raised the bar."             earlier, only two or three                   in ghosts, according to a sur-       magnetic detectors can be set
popularity fueled by televi-          and "Ghost Hunters."                   Even the U.S. Air Force           asked to be involved after a                 vey conducted in October by          off by faulty wiring or micro-
sion shows, the Internet and             Viewership     of "Ghost         has gone along, inviting             similar event.                               The Associated Press and
the increasinl? availability of                                                                                                                                                                  wave towers.
                                      Hunters," a reality show on         "Ghost Hunters" to investi-                                                       Ipsos.                                   "The' least likely explana-
high-tech eqUIpment.                  the SCI FI Channel that             gate reports of unusual oc-          'THE COOL PEOPLE'                               Joe Nickell, senior re-
   "AcademIcs pooh-I?ooh all          chronicles investigations by                                                                                                                               tion for any given reading is
                                                                          currences at Wright-Patter-             "We're actually grateful                  search fellow with the Am-
of this usually," saId Juli-          The Atlantic Paranormal So-         son Air Force Base near              for ("Ghost Hunters") be-                    herst, N.Y.-based Committee          it is a ghost," he said.
eanne Phillips, an assistant          ciety, or TAPS, has doubled         Dayton. The episode showed           cause instead of being a                     for Skeptical Inquiry, said he           Willis' group, which has
professor at Urbana Univer-           since it debuted in 2004 -          a flashlight turning on by it-       bunch of freaks, we're like                  has investigated dozens of           grown to 30 members since it
sity who invited the ghost            growing from 1.3 million            self and unex'plained knocks         the cool people on TV,"                      reported hauntings since             was founded in 1999, in-
hunters and organized the             viewers to 2.6 million.             and door-closmgs.                    founder Pat Jones said. "Peo-                1969 and has turned up no            cludes both true believers
vigil that also included about                                               Other groups are feeling          ple used to look at us like we               evidence of ghosts.                  and total skeptics.
80 students and residents.            HAS 80 AFFILIATES                   the surge of interest in ghost       were absolutely insane, and                     Equipment being used to               "If you want to be taken
"I'm hoping for some vindi-               The Rhode Island-based          hunting.                             now they want to come along                  try to detect ghosts is not de-      seriously in this field, you
cation that there might be            society currently has about            A Midwest Haunting,               with us. It's almost like every              signed for that, Nickell said.       have to acknowledge that
some type of paranormal ac-           80 affiliates in 44 states,         based in MaComb, Ill., offers        day is Halloween."                           Ghost hunters often arm              some of the stuff out there is
tivity surrounding this."             twice the number of affiliates      October tours of buildings,             More than 500 people                      themselves with electromag-          not real," he said. "They're
   On this April night, there         it had two years ago. And           cemeteries and other sites it        have registered t%st        and              netic defectors, thermome-           looking for answers, one way
wasn't.                               there are about 800 individ-        has investigated and believes        read messages an articles                    ters that can identify cold          or another."
   "Ghost reality shows have          ual members within those af-        to be haunted. The number            on the Idaho Spirit Seekers'                 spots and wireless micro-
really opened the door for            filiates, up from 300 three         of people taking the tours has       Web site since the message                   phones that eliminate back-          On the Net: The Atlantic Paranormal
people to get involved them-          years ago.                          tripled, jumping from about          board went up in November.                   ground noise.                        Society: www.the-atlantic-paranor-
selves," said James Willis,               "Thank God for the 'Ghost       600 in 2006 to 1,800 last year.      "That really shows the inter-                   Orbs of light that show up        mal-society.com!
founder of The Ghosts of              Hunters' on SCI Fl," said              Forty of the 60 people who        est that people do have and                  on photos, he said, are often        Committee for Skeptical Inquiry:
Ohio, the group watching the          Patti Starr, founder of the         attended a recent dinner in          that it's becoming more ac-                  tiny particles of dust or mois-      www.csicop.org/