Paranormal under the microscope
When things go bump in the night, it could mean a phone call to at the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Center from those spooked by otherworldly sights and sounds.
The caller might be disappointed, though, when the experts at the center find the source is a funky appliance or old plumbing, rather than a spectral visitor.
Bryan Bonner, founder of the research center, is the first to point out the reality when “supernatural activity” often turns out to be easily explained in the natural world. But that doesn’t stop him and his group of fellow ghost hunters from researching and studying claims of mystical guests.
Bonner is a photographer by trade and is certified to conduct electromagnetic field studies. He founded the center 10 years ago and works with a group of professionals that include audio and video engineers and geologists, all of whom approach each ghost hunt with an open mind steeped in scientific research.
It’s just their scientific approach that made them a perfect fit for the Douglas County Library’s teen program which this year focuses on science and scientific concepts. The library invited the team from the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Center to conduct a series of classes about their work and findings at libraries across the district.
The idea to bring paranormal studies into the mix resulted from a conversation about deconstructing urban myths, said Elizabeth Kelsen Huber, program and events coordinator for the Douglas County Library District.
Kelsen Huber admits to some superstition in her background. She and her husband were at one time convinced they had a visitor from the other side in a house where they once lived.
While they left that house without any concrete answers, she looks forward to learning about the methods and equipment used at the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Center.
“It was really fascinating. Who isn’t fascinated by the concept of paranormal activities and ghosts and that topic on some level?” she said. “I’m very interested to hear the experts’ take. I suspect they’ll dispel some myths. I was intrigued by … the fact that there is a scientific base for their activity. They are all volunteers and this is something they’re all fascinated about.”
The fascination is shared by all members of the center, who devote hours of background research to every case they work. Among the haunted places they’ve researched are the famed Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Denver’s Children’s Hospital and landmarks across the state.
They usually begin by gathering the history and background of a building, documenting “sightings” as they prepare for onsite visits, Bonner said. Ideally the group can make multiple visits, each of which is steeped in scientific protocol.
With a goal to create an environment as controlled as possible, the group leaves its assumptions at the door and is as skeptical as anyone when it comes to claims of activity.
“Going into it the way we do, we can’t say we’re absolute believers because it would skew the data,” Bonner said. “So we go into every situation with an open mind.”
Citing the combined minds at work as the center’s most valuable research tool, Bonner begins with a critical eye toward any equipment that makes claims of having evidence of the paranormal.
Each technician at the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Center is certified to use the equipment at hand. The equipment undergoes a series of controlled tests before it sees a day in the field.
“We can’t depend on the equipment. It’s good to record but unless we understand what we’re doing it’s pointless,” Bonner said. “Our most important piece of equipment is our brains. Common sense and critical thinking are the most important things.”
While the researchers at the center have encountered several interesting sound effects, they rarely document visual proof of unusual activity. Among their most shocking moments was at an Indian restaurant when they captured video of a chair moving on its own. A South Dakota casino was the site of two balls moving independently — against gravity.
Despite these recordings and the stories that lead to their investigations, there is no concrete evidence to definitively prove paranormal activity is anything but, well, stories.
“When you have an amazing personal experience, it makes for a fun story but unfortunately that’s all it does,” Bonner said. “So far nobody has been able to come up with any hard evidence. There’s no proof of the paranormal. There are a lot of interesting experiences, but there’s absolutely nothing proving it.”
Source: Highlands Ranch Herald