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