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
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/