Why am I here?
About twice or more times a year, I sit down and seriously consider what the heck I'm doing. Every month, I invest hundreds of dollars of my own money and literally hundreds of hours of my time and why? During these soul searching moments, I start to contemplate stopping the site, tearing down the servers and going back to my "normal" life.
It seems that this "hobby" of mine has done nothing but garner me negative comments and brutal accusations and a list of people that feel that I'm a complete and total a$$ for many reasons. They may be right... Who knows.
People seem to think I'm "out" to do something. Steal their thunder or mock them. Maybe, as it's been suggested, I'm in secret league with so-called "sceptical" groups and any minute now, I'm going to jump up and say "It's all nonsense!"
Some people seem to be intent on trying to figure out my "cunning plan" to make these sites and this hobby yield fortune and fame. Others think it's for a pseudo sense of self importance.
These people are wrong and it saddens me that they don't seem to read beyond what they want to see either via their own paranoia or their own special interests.
I've always said that I never expected this site to go beyond about five-hundred hits per year. This is very true. I figured that only those interested in the odd ghost story around Halloween would show up and probably not stick around much. The concept of five-hundred hits per slow day still, in many ways, astounds me. I started the original website because, as I've said time and time again, because no one in Ontario (and almost all of Canada) had done it before. I started it, not for fame or glory (and certainly not for cash!) but for three basic reasons.
Number one, I have had experiences of my own and truly, I do believe in the existence of the phenomena. In time and with reading, I soon learned (long before the advent of the World Wide Web as a popular form of communications) that I was by no means alone. Not just that but, there were many different people and many different ways of seeing and interpreting the experiences we call "ghosts". Not once have I ever "mocked" witness testimony. As a matter of fact, I've taken more than my fair share of grief for it.. once very publicly.
A reporter was interviewing me for a small article in a Toronto daily paper and, over the course of the interview, I noted that the reporter was becoming more and more negative about the phenomena and the work we were doing. I said the words, "If someone says that a ghost came into their bedroom and spoke to them about something, can any of us say that it never really happened? I mean, we weren't there, how do we know? Can you say for certain that this is nonsense?"
The reporter replied, "Yes. I can."
I'd like to say this is only the attitude of the standard non-believer but as I was to find out, that door swung both ways.
Having my own experiences also made me want to know why. I've literally read (and own) hundreds of books of "true ghost stories" and studies and spend a lot of time researching the phenomena itself looking into a mystery that quite honestly, I never truly expect to resolve.
Number two is a sincere and total love of history. I saw that in most cases, ghosts and ghostly folklore dovetailed neatly with this study and gave me more than my fair share of reasons to delve into the books and sites of my interest. I've often said the "coolest" part of this "gig" for me is when a museum or historic site that knows me and trusts me literally gives me the responsibility of "looking after the place" by myself or within the group of people who have come with me. It's certainly not the only reason for doing this (as shown above) but it is a thrill for me as I love the discovery and the legitimate fun of finding out about the way things were. Again, I've always said, simply saying a "lady in white" drifts through a building as a ghost is not enough for me. Who is this lady in white and what is/was her reasons for being there? That's one of my greatest joys is the discovery of that.
Lastly, I've met some truly wonderful and extraordinary people doing this. The interaction with witnesses and colleagues has taught me a lot of things and many, many times, made me re-examine my own views and beliefs.
That's truly it, folks. No real mysteries beyond that. This is *why* I do things.
The reason I set up this website and the GHRS is not as easy to explain but let me try...
Again, years before the World Wide Web gave me a forum, I spent a lot of time in libraries and bookstores as well as conversations with friends and writing letters to various people looking for both data and information on ghosts and hauntings. I'd even attempted (using Harry Price-like methods) to do a few on-site investigations of places. I'd found my own interest in a place increased ten fold if there was a good ghost story attached to it but, in the long run, the majority of "regular people" I chatted with tended to be more of the mocking non-believer types. Then, when I added a couple of "ghost stories" to a personal webpage I developed in the mid-1990's, I was contacted and found many that shared my inquisitiveness on the subject. The problem was, there was no real "Canadian" channel for this interest and these people.
Not only that but, I realised that if I wanted to expand my own research in all of the three above topics, I needed some way to let people outside that small group know that I was serious and not a complete "nutbar" (as I had been called on more than a few occasions).
The rest, as they say, is more or less ongoing history.
Now, since that time, I've really gotten myself into more than a few "muddles" and, as stated, I do believe for the wrong reasons.
A perfect example is my personal questioning of the "photo-orb" phenomena. I didn't jump on a band wagon, I'd seen the TV show where they first "appeared" and even then, was somewhere between amazed and sceptical. The orbs and vortices on this show intrigued me but when they started "spelling out words" and looking more and more "convenient", I knew something was up... and it was. Those orbs were exposed as a hoax.
Then, on finding the now "accepted" orb photos (in about 1996), I had the apparent "unmitigated gaul" to do something to the one large group that was really pushing them to say "Why are these ghosts?"
As opposed to an answer, I was slammed down as a "non-believer".
When this group, about two years later, started charging people to look at them, I admit, I started studying.
I wrote editorials explaining my concern about the validity of the phenomena and even tried to come up with "paranormal" reasons why orbs may happen. Again, it seemed I'd picked a fight... unintentionally.
A few months ago when I published the article that has garnered literally world-wide attention where I had found a camera/film company that had "explained" orbs matched with the work of a scientist (who is a UFOlogist and not a "ghost researcher" so therefore had nothing to gain), people seem to have assumed it was the work of a "non-believer" (or, as they often misinterpret the word, "sceptic") who was out to shoot down their work.
This is very sad. I do believe in ghostly phenomena and no, I simply think that this one lonely area is now a non-issue and I'd like to see us look into something else. It's time, in my eyes, to take the time and effort spent on orbs and move onto other possibilities and types of evidence or experiences. I am not a "non-believer" and I am, in the *real* sense of the word, a sceptic. I want to see to believe in certain things. I am not a "sceptdebunker".
If you folks knew how many e-mails I get per *day* decrying the article and my work as that of a "debunker" and a "non-believer" by those who, again, only read or see what they apparently want, you'd probably be horrified.
Next, there are some who assume because I, again, have the "unmitigated gaul" to ask "Why?" that I'm out to get them. Why do we assume that EMF detectors detect ghosts? Why does 'X' researchers think that 'X' device is a good idea? Why does 'X' report seem to go this way?
Maybe I'm wrong but isn't that the point? Shouldn't we be constantly questioning? Does any of us have all the answers and those who say they do, shouldn't they be able to back that up?
I don't do this to be mean or spiteful, I do it to try and educate myself and anyone else who's interested. Honest!
When did asking questions equal an attack? When did asking questions mean that I'm 'against' something?
I don't need fame or accolades, I'm truly here for the discovery and if you can help, I want to hear it but, I'm not willing to change my mind or try to educate the thousands of people that come to this site for ideas and study about things based on faulty concepts or blind faith. There's far too much to say that the phenomena is real and exists to start trying to dive on one thing "just because".
Some people have said I'm trying to "make everyone like myself". What good would that be? How can *I* (let alone everyone else) learn and grow if we were all the same? I'm not some multinational conglomerate looking to snatch up smaller groups (or other groups) and all become one with the collective. Resistance is not only non-futile but essential. The only thing that maybe I'd like to try and get everyone on board with is that we *must* question and learn and we *must* do our best to kill arguments from true sceptdebunkers before we place something for public consumption as "fact". Other than that, I don't remember one thing that I've said "must" be done by all yet, it's something I've been accused of. I'm not sure what's the "best" method of anything... I mean, if we knew the "best" ways, it wouldn't be a mystery. right? Learning and growth are very important.
I admit I do have a pet peeve other than self-proclaimed "experts" or people who say that they have the absolute "proof" (or "truth") without being able to stand up to scrutiny and that is people trying to make a cheap buck of this study. I understand (better than most) the resources needed for this study but, sometimes, I see people who don't seem to be terribly interested in learning or bettering themselves and simply try to either earn a fast buck off people willingness to believe or people's willingness to try and find quick answers. I've seen a self-proclaimed person out to thwart frauds and hoaxers who, themselves, have done questionable things and worse, have no issues about trying to profit from it. Why? I've seen someone who's mocked witnesses and switched sides in the "total belief"/"total non-belief" camps so often and every time, it seemed to be simply because this person knew this new "switch" might garner them more money or more fame. Maybe it's because I really am a little too altruistic but this bothers me as a "student" more than one could calculate. This person, who we saw feed a person in distress to CSICOP and publicly mock a very nice psychic has even charged for courses on how to be a paranormal investigator? Okay, I admit, this is not something that makes me comfortable.
I have no problems with people charging for books, ghost tours and events but when people charge for an investigation, I'm worried. Maybe this is a case of me putting myself in the drivers seat. I see the ability to do an investigation as an opportunity for me to learn more. To expand my knowledge. Why would I charge someone to let *me* learn? To improve my own data?
Yet, with these attitudes, I apparently have made enemies. My question to them is "Why?" Wait a second, asking questions is an "attack", I forgot.
Other than this, I've had people mad at me because of personal life choices, because I wouldn't get "mad" at someone they wanted me to and that I take the work of paranormal studies as... well... work. I've had people question my reason for being nice to them because they feel I'm trying to "control" them and I've had people literally "threaten" me because I wouldn't perform the way they wanted me to.
Okay, after all this complaining, I'll cut to the point...
I would honestly say that more people within this province seem to heartily dislike me because of my "agenda". Well, I hope the readers here now see my agenda is one of discovery. I'm not out to control or steal. I'm not (obviously!) in a popularity contest. I am what I am and the GHRS is not me but a collection of people and ideas... yet, for the people above, I, personally, am the great evil.
One wonders what I, the great evil, want to accomplish...?
I'll tell you...
I want to accomplish a post-secondary educational plan that includes paranormal studies as a science *and* a folkloric situation. One that allows for both belief and disbelief where the students of this will constantly challenge themselves and ask "Why?"
I want a place where people can get a good idea of experiences that they've had or maybe get answers to questions that they have without paying for it and without being lectured by a single authority or only getting one opinion.
I'd like to see historic sites and museum if not accept actually use their ghostly reports (or folklore) to bring in people that might otherwise not be interested in learning about their history or their past. I've learned more about history this way and, in watching my girlfriend Sue dive with a vengeance into the history of Toronto because of it, I know it's true and helps.
I'd like my colleagues to start answering the questions "Why" without being upset by them. I'd like to see them start realising that "science" and the "scientific" is not the enemy but something that can be utilized and learned from to improve our own studies. I'd like to see the "ghost community" start working towards answering questions as opposed to simply refuting them and getting mad at those of us who don't jump on the bandwagon of *pure* faith.
I'd like to see those that say they are investigating or researching be willing to present findings without getting angry when people state alternative thoughts.
I'd like to see the media not be upset at me for no longer resembling a 'goth' as it would make better television. I'd like to see them look at these reports and information properly and with respect for the witnesses, history and folklore it represents. I'd like to see at least a modicum of media attention being paid to the legitimate study of the phenomena as well.
I'd like to see those that feel that the paranormal is a quick way to accolades or a "quick buck" to disappear or move on. It's these types that fuel the "anti-ghost" fires in some circles.
I'd like to see the thrill seekers that are simply looking for a "good scare" to find a good "haunted house" in a fair ground or amusement park and not take a serious study as a reason to try and prove themselves which again, cheapens what some of us are doing and puts all of us in a bad light.
When I look at my e-mail and the comments about *me* (personally), as I said, I sometimes say "Why" again... "Why" am I doing this? "Why" do I bother to speak up? "Why" do I try to find things out? I've admitted I probably will never have "The Answers" so what's the grief for?
Then, every so often, someone writes to me or someone shows up on another website and I see kindred spirits... People looking into things with a truly open mind and a true inquisitive nature... People that have faith *and* still have questions... That's why.
There are people that share these views... That want to try and work towards a goal... That try to see both sides of every coin. Those people and especially the one's that truly read through the site make it worth it.
Between my own voyage of discovery and finding those kindred spirits, I will keep doing things that way I do... and, the way we do too.
For those that wish to argue and fight, I don't mind an argument provided that the facts and data are the topics, not personalities.
For those that feel that *I* am the great evil, ask yourself what I have done to you personally? What would be my reasons? All I ask is that you give me a fair shake.
I will never stop looking into the phenomena of ghosts and hauntings and my love of history and mystery will never be quenched.
I may say "That's it! I quit!" but I never mean it really... I believe that the majority of people in the study are good and well meaning and I think the minute some of *us* (myself included) get off our lily pads, put away our preconceptions of each other and work together to answer those questions "why", we will accomplish some great things.
For those that still assume that *I* am out to get them or that the world is against them, well, we'll have to work without you which is sad for all of us.
This subject will eventually get some of the credit it deserves and I have already seen museums, historic sites, scientists and schools taking an active interest in the paranormal as a study and/or a way of telling a story (if nothing else) and soon, we will have some of those goals I mentioned... hopefully, one day, all of them will be true.
For now though and for those that assume that *I* or *we* are the enemy, well, it'll be business as usual and at least, if nothing else for some, *I've* given you something to gossip about... even if you're labouring under some misconceptions.
I will continue the work as, honestly, I hope you do too. We all learn from each other and maybe one day, we'll learn that the lily pads we all have are meaningless without a good effort and without back stabbing and political sillyness.
This study is a good one and if you need to have everyone know your name or need everyone to love you, that's cool but, despite the negativity, as stated, *we* will continue because we know that there's good stuff coming!