A Paranormal Job for an Abnormal Situation

13 02 2010

by Janine Loechel

Attempting to catch and record evidence of the paranormal – ghosts, odd sounds, and unexplained sights – is a new job that is gaining popular attention.  Dispelling myths on the unknown, Sherry Stednitz, a paranormal researcher and coordinator of three years for the Ghost Research Society (GRS), discusses her overnight job with the unseen.  The Ghost Research Society, founded in 1977 and based in Oak Lawn, IL, seeks to capture evidence and to research local reports of ghosts, hauntings, poltergeists, and life or death encounters.  Stednitz, a local park worker by day and paranormal researcher by night explains her late night job.

Photo captured by the Ghost Research Society of an entity sitting on a bench in Bachelor’s Grove cemetery in Midlothian, IL.

What exactly is a paranormal researcher/ coordinator?  What do you do?

Ok, well, part of my job within the organization is to interview clients – potential clients.  Let’s say they’re having a problem with their house- let’s say they’re reporting some paranormal activity.  We would do research online and part of my job as a coordinator is to make sure that there isn’t something really obvious going on.  A lot of people think there is paranormal activity going on in their house, when it can be explained.

My group in general does private investigations where some of them are strictly confidential, and some of them don’t really care whether or not it’s publicized.  If they don’t care, we post our findings on our website.  Basically, we go in when we get a call from a private party or the public and investigate.

We use all sorts of equipment: electromagnetic field meter, a geist meter, an ion meter, a tri-field meter… and we run all these cables and set up all the equipment and video cameras to the main computer and we watch it in real time.  A lot of stuff we don’t always catch in real time, we catch it when we review it afterwards.  We also do EVP [Electronic Voice Phenomena] recordings, where we sit in a room and it’s very quiet and we’ll ask a question.  Sometimes we’ll know something about the place and sometimes we’ll know nothing, so we’ll ask questions like whether or not it’s a boy or a girl, [ask for] a name, etc.  Believe it or not, we’ll catch things on digital recorders that you can’t hear in real life.

If you hear a sound during an investigation, how do you determine that it’s paranormal?

If you heard the noise in real time, you obviously have to go and backtrack and find out where it came from.  We have walkie-talkies, so we radio each other and ask [to confirm a noise and] hopefully, you’ll catch a sound and a visual at the same time.  We don’t just willy-nilly say “It’s paranormal.”  We match up the time on the camera, the time on the video recorders, and the backup.  It’s as scientific as we can get with our knowledge and our equipment.

How did you get involved in the paranormal?  Was there any particular event that happened?

Well, I’ve had paranormal experiences since I was a little kid.  The older I got, the more weird things happened to me.  I became clairaudient.  A clairvoyant sees things, while a clairaudient hears things when they happen.  I’ve had several predictions, but I have been wrong one or two times.  What happens to me is… it’s usually when I’m in a quiet room.  I’m not really focusing on anything, I’m not nervous, and it sounds like something literally whispers in my ear, like they’re standing right next to me and they tell me these things.

Wow, doesn’t that scare you?

It doesn’t happen often enough to be an issue with me.

You said earlier that you do private house investigations, but do you also look into photos?

Yes.  A lot of times with photos, what people think is paranormal activity can easily be explained.  More often than not, it’s dust or the wings of an insect.  People submit a photo to the president of GRS and give an explanation- where were you, what time of day, what temperature, whatever information you can give [to the board] about the picture.  They look at it and from years of experience figure out what it is.

What are your hours like?

When we do an investigation, I’m up all night.  You’re literally up all night.  The theory is that in the evening is when everything happens, because everything is quieter, and you can actually catch things easier because there’s less noise and movement.  Lots of theories, but it’s usually night time.

How often do you do an investigation?

Last year they had an investigation at least once a month.  The year before that, we had probably five throughout the year.  It really depends on how many people are having issues.

I know GRS is non-profit, but is it possible for paranormal researchers to make money for their work?

We don’t accept payment for what we do.  Other groups, the way they get their money is through [ghost] tours.  They show places that are known to the general public- they’re in books, they’re on the internet as having paranormal activity occur at the site.  But, the president and his assistant [at GRS] do conduct tours and they do get paid for that.

Another way is by writing books, or if your picture or footage is established as paranormal, other people will pay to publicize it.

Ok, so can anyone get involved?

Yes, you have to go through an interview process- I honestly don’t know what [the president of GRS’s] criteria is for accepting or not accepting someone.

Are there any pre-requisites to join?

Yeah, you have to be somewhat of a skeptic.  Even if you really truly believe that there are some things that go on, if you don’t have some skepticism, you’re never going to be objective enough to come up with an answer that’s objective or scientific.  You want it to be paranormal, and you can’t have that, because you can come up with a paranormal answer for everything.  So, I think you have to have a healthy dose of skepticism.

Probably one of the criteria is you obviously can’t scare easy, because when you’re doing these investigations, if you’re a skittish personality, you’re never going to make it, because you’re going to be like, “Ahh!”  Well, you’re worthless now, because now you’re not thinking clearly, you’re not objectively looking at what’s happening, and you’re not actively trying to come up with a reason to debunk it being paranormal.  That’s what you’re really doing- you’re a paranormal researcher, but really you’re job is to come up with an explanation for why it’s happening.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, you can come up with an [non-paranormal] explanation for what’s going on.




One response

27 01 2012

I m avishek i had a lots of interest on ghost.i never fear of anything.i love to fight with horour side of my life.
i want to join with u all for ghost investigetory project.
contact me-9339032342

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