Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Professor Studying Ghost Hunters Says They Offer Peace, Closure to Clients

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Professor Studying Ghost Hunters Says They Offer Peace, Closure to Clients

Article excerpt

Ghost hunters offer closure, peace of mind: prof

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VANCOUVER - No matter where she went, Nikki Peterson says strange and unexplained phenomena seemed to follow her while she was growing up.

There was the brand new apartment where the cupboards opened and closed, or the home where the front door unlocked multiple times throughout the night. But as a petrified teenager searching for answers, she had nowhere to turn except the library.

"When I had all this stuff happening to me, there was no one really to go to," she said. "I wanted to be able to be there for those that need the help."

Peterson co-founded Northern Paranormal Investigations, which responds to reports of mysterious activity in B.C.'s Lower Mainland. The group is one of several being studied by Prof. Paul Kingsbury of Simon Fraser University.

Kingsbury and his graduate students are in the second year of a four-year research project on ghost hunters, UFO enthusiasts and Sasquatch searchers. He is set to release their preliminary findings at a lecture in Surrey on Wednesday and has found the groups can offer people closure and peace of mind.

As a cultural geographer, Kingsbury said he was interested in examining why people were drawn to these three spooky subcultures. He's conducted focus group interviews with ghost hunters, attended two UFO conferences and one Sasquatch summit and observed nine ghost investigations in B.C.

While he has never personally had a brush with the paranormal, Kingsbury said he believes the investigators when they speak about the importance of their experiences.

"I guess I'm more interested in the role of wanting to believe, if you recall Agent Mulder's poster in 'The X-Files,' " he said, referring to an iconic poster in the office of the alien-chasing TV character.

"I think the paranormal entity, be that a spaceship or a Sasquatch or ghost, is a perfect object of desire because it's always out of reach. It can never be caught up with or placed into a box or a test tube."

Kingsbury said stereotypes about scam artists or paranoid conspiracy theorists don't hold up.

Ghost hunters can offer relief to clients and typically don't charge for their services, he said, while those claiming they have been abducted by aliens often recognize how laughable their stories sound, but they just want to tell them and feel accepted. …

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