Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Robb Demarest on PARA-UNITY

Robb Demarest - Ghost Hunters International on PARA-UNITY!
interview by: Faith Serafin

I am honored to bring another great interview to the Para-Unity project. Recently I was granted a very candid interview with Robb Demarest, former lead investigator of SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters International. Robb was very upfront about his experiences with drama in the paranormal community and how he advocates for a more unified community. Robb also shared a personal, off-camera paranormal experience with me that he had while working with Ghost Hunters International. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. Robb has always been a favorite of mine among the cast of Ghost Hunters International along with my friend, Joe Chin. He has always been very personable and friendly and his opinions and ideas on the paranormal are always very knowledgeable and intriguing.

Robb started his interest in the paranormal when he was young. His mother would take him and his sister to abandon houses to wander around and it was rumored that the locations could be haunted. This provoked Robb to start reading about the paranormal and anything that was available on it. Robb has interests in many aspects of the paranormal including; Cryptids like the Loch Ness Monster, and Bigfoot, which he plans to be attending an expedition for within the next few months. He has also witnessed two UFO sightings which took place during the mid 80’s in and around Hudson Valley, New York during a span of sightings there from 1982-1986.

Robb initially wasn’t part of a paranormal investigative team until he moved from up state New York to Florida for work. There he joined the Florida Ghost Team founded by, long time supporter of Robb’s; Shawn Jones. Robb enjoys working within a group and feels there are benefits to being involved with a team of investigators. When I asked Robb about how he felt working within a group his reply was, “I like working within groups. It helps better explore locations. You can pool resources. You meet new people. You can get new ideas and support on your evidence.” But as for a broader answer regarding individual investigators versus team’s his answer was; “I think there are merits to both working with a group and working on your own. I mentioned the benefits previously, but there are downsides…conforming to the team’s rules and expectations, group think, social slacking, team politics, etc are downsides. As an individual you are only responsible to yourself and set your own schedule. I think my unique position, having been on television, allows me the perfect mix. I am not tied to any one team and therefore I can work with a large number of groups as I please. I can also do as I please as an individual.”

Robb definitely has a knack for paranormal investigating as many of us have seen watching the featured episodes of Ghost Hunters International. When I asked Robb about his ideas on the most creditable resources available for paranormal investigators he answered, “The most credible resource available to an investigator is research. Many people believe that the key is to learn the history of the case before hand. I think it can function well post-investigation. For example, you do research on a reportedly haunted house, you learn that Mr. Henry Marks died on the property, and then do an EVP session and ask for a name, guess what any response is going to sound like? That’s right! Henry!” Also, Robb mentioned that he prefers doing EVP work over other methods and techniques of investigation. This has been his prime source of documentation, though he does use other methods; the voice recorder is his primary weapon. Robb is also a believer in psychic phenomenon, stating; “I am a big believer in psychic phenomenon. That being said, I believe 50% of so-called psychics are frauds, 49% percent are self-deluded, and somewhere in that last 1 percent is the real deal. A number of universities like Duke have used very scientific means to test these abilities. I believe that greater testing may become available as we continue to learn more about brain function and mapping.”

Robb has also had numerous experiences with the paranormal and did say that some, he can’t explain, but does admit to understanding the flaws in what science and nature have presented to us as paranormal. However one experience he had during his time with GHI has stayed with him. When I asked him about this particular moment he shared with me that when he was on TV, he captured a lot of EVPs, saw some strange shadows, and heard some disembodied voices. – “There was only one slightly frightening experience. I was at the top of a staircase, taking down a DVR camera, and I had the sudden feeling that something was going to try to push me over the railing. Another member of the team approached me the next day and told me of the same experience. We asked our client about it and he said there was a rumor that he didn't mention on camera, that the patron of the house had pushed a maid over the same railing because she was pregnant with his child.”

With all of Robb’s experiences in the paranormal field and research I had to ask him what intrigued him the most about the paranormal community, his reply was; “This is going to sound harsh, but I’m intrigued by the ineptitude of many of the investigators out there. Some go in to debunk, so they debunk everything. Some go in to believe, and thus believe everything. Many use equipment so bad that it’s laughable. I call this equipment “microwave gear” because it is useful for giving you “evidence” quickly (and anywhere you go). Go ahead, bust out your Ghost Radar app right now, betcha there are ghosts all around you. This has been a tough influence for me because it sometimes is so overwhelming, that it makes me want to quit or go back into underground mode.”

Still Robb progresses on in the field of paranormal research and study and now has big projects underway. He is still actively investigating and has co-created and co-produced two specials for the Chiller channel. With all Robb’s successes he has still not been immune to the drama that exist if the paranormal community. He was very open about his opinions on the matter and stated that; “ I've been a part of para-drama. It’s almost impossible to be in this field and not get your hands dirty. I've seen friends turn into foes, and I've seen the worst in people (including myself) come out. I’m not going to get into specifics because it’s water under the bridge now and many of the wounds have healed.” I asked Robb, what suggestions he would offer to help support a more unified para-community to which he replied; “In my opinion, the best thing that can be done is to turn the other cheek. Designate your team as a “NO-DRAMA” team. Don’t spread gossip. Don’t respond to nonsense attacks by attacking others. You can defend yourself by explaining against accusations, but avoid the natural urge to strike back.” Robb also stated that, at this time, he isn't affiliated with any team or group and is not as greatly affected by the drama. – “That doesn't mean I don’t see it. Where does it come from? Wow, jealousy, envy, scarcity of resources, pride, etc. You have a lot of people who seem to work in the paranormal to start problems rather than to find ghosts. It seems that being an internet troll and being a ghost hunter seem to (too often) go hand in hand. It hinders the possibility of moving forward faster, forces good people out, and that’s really a shame.”

But Robb’s faith in the idea that para-unity is obtainable is enlightening and does bring with it the hope he has in healing from his own battles and what the relentless nature of some does to hinder the research he believes so much in. Robb told me that “If Para-Unity means that we all get along and act civilly, then I’m all for it. The problem is that it has become a way to hinder honest criticism. If I see someone faking evidence, using nonsense gear, and I speak out on it, I’m against Para-Unity? If Para-Unity means I can’t be honest and call "BS" when I see it, then you can keep it. I see a lot of shenanigans going on in the community. Para-unity should mean that I can present my opinion in a polite manner, but I am so tired of the argument: We don’t really know anything about ghosts, so every technique and piece of equipment, is equally valid. That’s nonsense. So, as per my definition, is Para-Unity achievable? No. There are jerks in this field that can’t play nice with others, and this isn't going to change. It’s like asking if we can completely eliminate racism. No.”

This is the simple and deliberate truth that many people involved in the paranormal community are reluctant to acknowledge. It’s hard enough to understand without having to continuously reassure your fellow investigators that any method, technique, purpose or assembly through science or séance is proper procedure for paranormal investigating. However the understanding that opinions will vary should be common knowledge given the vast “grey areas” in paranormal investigations and science. Most opinions are viable but not all and Robb’s points here are more than valid in the nature of the science we study involving anything paranormal or unexplained as are his thoughts on obtaining unity in the field. 

Robb’s list of supporters is not suffering do to his opinions and he continues to be recognized for his efforts and research throughout the United States and abroad. Giving him a more united force of open minded individuals to help support and validate his work as a paranormal investigator. To name a few that will be recognized here at the para-unity project are: Chad Calek (of Paranormal State), a large number of members of the GHI team: Dustin, Donna, Angela, Brandy, Shannon, Ashley, Barry, Andy, etc. etc., Gaurav Tiwari of GRIPS, Katrina Weidman (also from Paranormal State) and Brian Harnois former and original member of the SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters.

As the Para-Unity project grows every interview I conduct will be done so in a constructive and open minded manner, giving each interviewee the opportunity to state openly their ideas and opinions of all things paranormal. Supporting the unity factor is not as hard as you might think. Staying neutral isn't a facet in the concept but being understanding, open minded and constructive most definitely is. Thank you Robb Demarest for allowing me to conduct this interview with you. Your openness and appreciation for the field is to be commended as is your hard work and passion in pursuing the science and study of the paranormal. 

Robb Demarest at Kek Lo Si Buddhist temple in Penang, Malaysia. -2013 

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Supporting Para-Unity - An interview with Kathy Cash.

On New Years day-2013, I interviewed my friend and fellow paranormal investigator, Kathy Cash, on the subject of para-unity and some of her own personal experiences regarding her father. As the second oldest daughter of legendary country music singer and songwriter, Johnny Cash, Kathy has had a number of visits from her father since his death on September 12, 2003. Kathy has been a believer in the paranormal since she was very young and shared some of her earliest memories of paranormal experiences with her father. According to Kathy, her father wasn’t always a firm believer in the paranormal until after some unusual experiences living in Jamaica.

Kathy acknowledged a conversation she had with her father while living at the Cinnamon Hill Plantation in Montego Bay. When she asked him if he believed in ghosts, his reply was, “Well, I didn't until they started walking through this room and out that door. I've seen a man and woman dressed in period clothes many times. They don't seem to know I'm here. They stroll through the room and through the door." These experiences and local superstition in Montego Bay from the neighboring Rose Hall Plantation led Johnny Cash to research Annie Palmer, the mistress of Rose Hall Plantation, who allegedly murdered three of her husbands. This was the inspiration for his song, “The Ballad of Annie Palmer”, also known as the White Witch of Rose Hall.

Kathy and her sister also had a paranormal experience while living at the Cinnamon Hill Plantation. They shared a room, and one night woke to the feeling of something sitting on the bed between them. When they looked to see what it was, they only saw the canopy moving above the bed. They were terrified and ran into their father’s room frantically trying to explain what transpired. He replied, "Oh, I guess you met one of the ghosts." The girls stood in front of him in shock and said, “You knew there was a ghost in our room???" Then he grabbed his Bible off his night side table, and said, "Come on girls, we'll say a prayer." The three of them then went back into the room where John read a scripture and one of the Psalms, and said, "Goodnight babies, we're protected by the light of God."

Some of Kathy’s earliest experiences with the paranormal presented at age four and she suffered from night terrors until she was ten years old. She was plagued by creatures in her dreams that repeatedly tormented her. Upon research of the phenomenon she believes that the creatures in her nightmares were cellular memories from a past life. Kathy also had an out of body experience when she was ten. After contracting Leptospirosis, a deadly blood disease that causes high fever and, in many cases, death Kathy was hospitalized due to the severity of her condition and spent two weeks in an isolated hospital room, drifting in and out of consciousness. In 1966, it was unclear that she would survive the illness.

Though gravely ill, Kathy does remember many strange hallucinations during this time. Unusual creatures she described as being about a foot tall, hairy, with sharp teeth, would bite and frightened her day and night. They were similar to the ones in her nightmares from early childhood. As Kathy got older, her experiences with the paranormal grew and she researched and investigated the physic phenomenon that many believe contributes to paranormal activity.

Being a Clairaudient, (A type of clairvoyance that gives one the ability to hear sounds beyond the normal hearing range, also associated with mediumship in communication with the dead) Kathy believes that she has an ability to tune into levels of supernatural conversation in order to gain a broader understanding of spirits in their attempt to communicate with the living. She also validates her findings with standard ghost hunting equipment. Including a digital recorder in her sessions to help verify what she hears.

Many years of research and interest in the paranormal brought Kathy together with a group of paranormal investigators. Everyday Paranormal directors, Barry and Brad Klinge, (formerly of Discovery Chanel’s “Ghost Lab”) and producer and caretaker of the Villisca Axe Murder House, Johnny Houser, asked Kathy to join Everyday Paranormal, which she gladly accepted.

Kathy has a great respect for groups and teams working in the paranormal community and stated that her greatest supporters have been her team-mate and great friend, Johnny Houser, and her husband, Jimmy Tittle, who has encouraged Kathy in her abilities and growth in learning more about the world of the supernatural. She also believes, that at the core of every good group of paranormal investigators, that trust and value is most important. She feels that working within a group and with other teams is a benefit to learning more about the paranormal field in every aspect.

When asked about her personal feeling, regarding the uncooperative nature that exists in the paranormal community, Kathy stated, “It's a big turn off to me. It's not a competition or contest. I've heard some investigators slander others and it makes me angry and sad. We're all on the same quest to find the truth. It's pretty annoying and has made me want to avoid the paranormal community altogether. I realize not everyone is like that, and I would love to find a team that comes from the same mind set and is supportive, peaceful, kind and encouraging.”

Kathy believes in the spirit of unity and tolerance in the methods and techniques used by different types of paranormal investigators. And understands not every team has the same dynamics, but she is still willing to learn from those ideas to help her better understand her own and the ideas of others. She believes that Para-Unity is obtainable, but also acknowledges the jealousy in the field and how it hinders many groups from working and learning together.

I asked Kathy what suggestions she could give to help promote a more unified paranormal community. Her answer was, “I don't know the answer to that. I wish I did because it's disheartening to watch adults slam each other due to jealousy, etc. To me it makes the ones talking about others look small and petty, not the ones they're talking about.” I also asked Kathy what her idea of Para-Unity is, which she explained, “Para-Unity, to me, is a group of like-minded professional, non professional, and all people interested in every mystery of life encompassing the spirit world, UFO's and any type of phenomenon. The most important part is the UNITY. I'd love to see a group of people supporting, encouraging, learning, teaching and sharing with each other in a kind and nurturing way. I avoid people that are condescending and back biting. Our planet has enough of that without ‘spiritual seekers’ adding to the nastiness that already exists. I'm a peaceful person that doesn't pretend to have all the answers. I want to learn all I can, yet I avoid any and all "dark" spaces and people. I prefer remote viewing because it keeps me protected spiritually from any and all dark entities. I gravitate to positive people. I believe we all do, but sometimes get caught up with people that have the wrong intentions. I follow my instincts and listen to my higher self. Many times I've been wrong, but I'm getting better at it as I get older.”

Kathy’s experiences with the supernatural continue to grow and evolve. Her understanding of the paranormal community has not stirred her in any one direction except to avoid the drama and conflicts as we all should. Understanding the idea of unity varies, still the core value remains the same in tolerance and learning. Kathy is a wonderful supporter of the Para-Unity Project and will continue to be proactive in the search to support the coming together of ideas and people working to benefit the field of paranormal research and science.

She continues to research and investigate the paranormal and is intrigued by people, like physics Chip Coffey and Lisa Williams. She continues to advocate for para-unity and will, no doubt, grow in the paranormal field with the rest of us who are determined to promote a more unified community.

Find out more about the Para-Unity Project: http://paraunitylove.blogspot.com/
Organized by the Alabama Paranormal Research Team

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Para-Unity VS Para-Community

Para-unity  VS.  Para-community

As a writer and published author of historically haunted locations and paranormal investigator/researcher, I stumble across information often that pertains to my line of work, in many aspects. Being an established student and non-biased individual  in the paranormal community, it seems that the more I search for the facts pertaining to science and how it can be associated with paranormal phenomenon, I am regularly reminded that everything I will ever do or be as a writer and researcher working in this field, will always be part of a continuous learning curve of endless study. A study chalk full of science related technologies and spiritualist ideologies that meet along a very uneven seam of wild theories and some very unorthodox methods.

The majority of literary people working in the field, like myself, seek out some form of rational stigma to organize story lines for readers or curious people who find paranormal literature fascinating. This form of writing, for entertainment or historical value, has been around for millions of years in our everyday ghost stories. One criterion, I often find among story tellers and paranormal enthusiast is a genuine passion that drives them to spend long hours; writing, critiquing, and publishing literary works of supernatural art.

The same can be said for many paranormal investigators and researchers. Some force of curiosity drives them to get involved in the paranormal field, perhaps a personal experience or a need to know the truth regarding the strange and unusual. Still the common thread between all people involved in paranormal study, investigation or entertainment is the same, an understanding. But what happens when that genuine experience of curiosity turns into a relentless battle of wits and dramatics?

As the paranormal field advances today, many forget that pioneering scientist and even ancient prophets are still circulating in theories and ideas which are being built upon by groups and paranormal students everywhere. Just twenty to thirty years ago, people looked to more primitive means of trying to understand the afterlife, bringing about the rise of psychics and Ghost Busters everywhere. Though some appear to be genuine and have established themselves on many levels of paranormal study, the media has turned them into a virtual three ring circus of clowns who are willing to say and do anything to get on television. However the opposite of that points to individuals who are legitimately gifted, to a degree and Ghost Busters who are diligently working to advance paranormal studies. 

Any real physic will admit to fault, as with human beings in general, the potential for error is in everything we do, from walking and talking to visualizing the future or communicating with the dead. The area of study most intriguing with physics seems to be their ability to see, hear, feel and understand things that the rest of the general population can or does not. The power of observation is a vital tool in physic understanding, reading body language, visual and other sensory cues from people is another well learned and sometime natural ability to some. Others are blatantly obvious in their own gestures of observation while some are nearly undetectable. But what about those who seem to relentlessly predict situations through generalized and vague communication? Simple minded parlor tricks are typically detected by those with a broader intuition, but sometimes a matter of “getting to the point” seems to be more convincing than just fishing for some cue to go off of.

A fair amount of psychology goes into understanding the human brain and how people interact with each other.  The simple communication of a story or experience involving a paranormal situation sparks emotion, not just in the story teller but in those who are listening or reading as well. This tends to provoke many emotions in those involved. Love and longing, sadness, desperation, fear, anger, understanding, torture, anguish, etc. are all typical emotions felt when listening to stories of paranormal experiences even if you don’t realize it is happening. This emotional stimulation in the nervous system can trigger all sorts of vascular, muscular and emotional cues that some people are able to intercept and believe it or not, every man, woman and child on the planet is capable of training their selves to detect these cues.

Other physics claim to see, hear and communicate with spirits. This form of clairvoyance is commonly refereed to as: seeing and audio clairvoyance and mediumship. To clarify; clairvoyance is a French term, which literally translates to “sees clearly”, hence the audio terminology in audio clairvoyance, while mediumship is the practice of communicating with the dead (typically in many forms of physical and metaphysical forms). Some physics claim to have many of these abilities and most differ in range and frequency and can include remote viewing and even telekinesis and telepathy. Largely, this area of physic phenomenon, is capitalized upon by frauds and fakes, of course making it harder for more reputable physics to find a foundation that has not all ready been tainted by a growing number of frauds.

Other unfortunate aspects of the paranormal community are the ridiculous number of people selling their souls for fifteen minutes of fame on television. Ghost shows, now days, are a dime a dozen. It seems every time you turn on the television you can find a station relinquishing the world of demonic forces and or flexing their paranormal pecs in an effort to “prove or disprove” a haunting. All teams, geared toward the same goal of proving or disproving, should have the understanding that just because you go to a location with a haunted historical past or reports of paranormal activity, dose not, in any way, mean you will find evidence of that claim.

The common misconception and most often rudimentary argument between many paranormal groups and investigators is that just because one person/team has found or collected evidence of something potentially paranormal, it some how contradicts another’s findings or of nothing at all. With varying techniques, methods, and structures in teams, it’s important to understand that most teams do not function the exact same way, and do not share the same dynamics. Also, going back to psychology, individuals and the make up of the team can also be a factor in the methods used to collect and prove or disprove evidence of something paranormal.

The biggest issue today is that too many groups in the paranormal field can not disagree constructively without being over dramatic. The field of study means just that; to study and gather information in an effort to gain a better understanding and learn about things we do not. Some people are more structured to do this on a level of individualism, while others work better within a group. Regardless of the method and structure, most paranormal investigators are certainly geared toward the genuine purpose of collecting information to help better understand their initial purpose or curiosity regarding aspects of the paranormal. For those people reaching out, collectively and having the open mind to understand the foundations of para-unity seem very basic and logical, but to others, who just dwell in the para-community without the understandings of learning, please know you are doing the science we love a great injustice.

So many organizations go unmonitored and unchecked with the growing commercialism of paranormal investigations. Clients of potential paranormal teams or investigators: BE ADVISED, do back ground checks on individuals within a group or team of paranormal investigators. See if they can offer creditable references from previous clients or locations they have investigated. This is never asking too much from a group of well organized individuals who have your best interest at heart. Many teams today gain a basis of education from what they see on television and not through field experience. Good paranormal investigators, physics and individuals involved in this field have and will provide clients with an open line of communication, from background to understanding and the best policy in understanding a paranormal situation means working with the client to gain a resolution and establish a network of trust.

And the same should pertain to paranormal investigators who are seeking clients for study. Do your homework and interview them thoroughly. Many paranormal groups/individuals are being taken advantage of at an alarming rate. Teams desperate for paranormal attention seem to be begging for cases and finding themselves involved in a case that they are not capable of handling, whether technically, emotionally, or psychologically. There is more to paranormal investigation than the thrill or rush of adrenaline (for you para-junkies). The sense of community is growing in the paranormal field. With every new Facebook or Twitter account, a new para-team is born. But the sense of unity is dying and more ideas are being stubbornly clung too like an old family heirloom that’s dilapidated with time. Though precious and seemingly real, sometimes it’s better to let go of those old outdated ideas and gain new ones, again, keeping an open mind and collectiveness alive in para-unity.

Keeping a working and established organization afloat in the paranormal community is easy. Having a creditable and fundamentally appreciated organization of different views and manners of beliefs is difficult. But believing in a dignified unity of unorthodox beliefs and ideas is nearly impossible....without believing in unity itself.  

Post Note: This blog is not intended to discredit or contradict anyone in the field of paranormal investigations, research, or study, but rather an over view of some very real and serious escalating issues within the paranormal communities. 

Organized by: Alabama Paranormal Research Team