Unconventional Conventions – John Keel 1966

John Keel is regarded by many as a pioneer in the field of Fortean studies. He popularized, and indeed may have created, the terms “Men In Black” and “Ultraterrestrials” but Keel is most well-known as the main researcher and investigator of the Mothman experiences. He wrote a number of books including The Mothman Prophecies, Disneyland of the Gods, Our Haunted Planet and Jadoo. He challenged the commonly held belief that flying Saucers, cryptozoology and hauntings were unique and separate experiences. In an interview Keel stated that,”The objects and apparitions do not necessarily originate on another planet and may not even exist as permanent constructions of matter. It is more likely that we see what we want to see and interpret such visions according to our contemporary beliefs.”
Without Keel the “paranormal community” would be lacking in much of its insight and humor.

Here for you enjoyment is a lecture by John Keel recorded during a UFO convention in 1966.
John Keel, UFO Convention 1966

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The World’s Most Haunted Location

I am very frequently asked by people, “Where is the most haunted place in the world?” My answer is always the same, “If any place is haunted, it’s the Earth.”

Now, although many people think that I am trying to be funny, which I am, I am also being serious. So, let’s try a little thought experiment.

If ghosts are what people generally believe them to be, the remaining energy/consciousness of a human being who has died, then each person could potentially become a ghost when they pass out of this realm.
I’m bad with math but I can make this easy on myself and you…so hold on.
Since human beings have been “human beings”, (we’ll just go with the genus Homo which will put us around 2 million years ago), estimates of population would show that approximately 75 to 105 billion have been born and died on planet Earth. Now, let’s say that some “ghosts” have passed on and or perhaps never became ghosts; I’ll be generous here and say that out of the 100 billion deaths 85% either never became ghosts or are ghosts that have moved into a different existence that doesn’t interact with us on Earth. That leaves us with approximately 15 billion ghosts still residing with us on this planet.
Now that we know we might have as many as 15 billion “ghostly” friends wandering around we need to look at where they could be. The total land surface area of Earth is about 57 million square miles, of which about 57% is uninhabitable leaving us with about 15 billion acres of land.

See why I was so generous by saying 85% of the ghosts are “gone”? I makes it easy for me to do the math.

So, 15 billion ghosts divided by 15 billion acres of land equals 1 ghost per acre… at least.
So why are people traveling all over to investigate ghosts?
Isn’t there at least one right next to you?

Haunted Hooey – Part Two: Hoaxing Haunts

In the first Haunted Hooey I described some tricks that people have employed during séances to create what would seem to be supernatural happenings. In this brief post I’ll describe what some people have done to convince others that a location is haunted.

Dry Ice:
Believe it or not dry ice not only makes cool looking fog and smoke but it is also used to help create the illusion of spectral denizens. In my original Haunted Hooey post I wrote about people using a mouth full of beans to spit out to create “rapping” sounds; well dry ice, which should not be put in your mouth, can create bumps and bangs in a much more sneaky manner. A person can carry around small chips of dry ice in their coat pocket and whenever they feel so inclined can throw or flick those chips around a room. Now after the “taps” have been heard the only thing they have to do is keep people away from the chip of dry ice until it evaporates. In some cases the evaporation of the dry ice chip will even catch the flash from a vigilant camera-person and create a spooky “mist” which, since coming from the same direction as the “tapping,” must have been the ghost! Another trick utilizing dry ice is performed by slightly compressing a plastic water bottle and placing a small chip inside. Tighten the cap and place the bottle somewhere; as the dry ice evaporates the bottle will start to inflate causing the plastic to snap and pop. In a dark location the sources of the sounds will almost never be found, especially since once the bottle fully expands the sounds will stop and if the bottle is discovered, well, it’s just an empty water bottle.

Invisible Thread:
For those of you, who have ever seen a magician “float” a small object or dollar bill the illusion is created by the use of a monofilament thread, usually made of nylon called “invisible thread”. Even up close and in a well-lit area invisible thread is difficult to see which makes it perfect for close-up illusions. In cases of “haunted” locations the string can be pre-attached to small objects, like a ball or a sheet of paper, to make them move. Once the string is broken or dis-attached from the item it almost completely undetectable. Although invisible thread tends to be very “breakable” if multiple threads are used they can move much larger objects, although only slightly, but sometimes slightly is enough to convince those looking to be convinced. I have also seen a person attach a long strand onto their fingers so that it will, when the arm is raised, brush against the face of someone standing near them creating the feeling of “cobwebs” touching their face.

Pre-recorded EVPS:
Believe it or not strange voices can sometimes be recorded on a digital recorder before they are recorded on a digital recorder! If that sounds confusing…it is. There have been two instances in which I found “investigators” faking EVPS, but playing EVPS. What?

The trick goes something like this. An “investigator” records weird whispering words into their recorder before anyone arrives then after others get to the location and during the EVP sessions the hoaxer plays their recordings while pretending to make recordings along with everyone else! Of course the sounds are sometimes heard as they are being played so people will check their devices and guess what? Some people will have recorded them! Boom! EVPs! Of course EVPS don’t show up on everyone’s recorders, including the person who originally recorded the voices which were played to hoax the EVP in the first place.

More to come in part 3: Cold Readings

10 tips for making your house a scary stop. Updated!

10 tips for making your house a scary stop for trick-or-treaters.
Updated with 3 extra tips!

Driving through the neighborhoods at Halloween time our eyes are barraged by fake tombstones, giant inflatable grim reapers and foam body parts. All of this can be good fun, but in all reality we must ask ourselves, “Is it scary?” The answer is a simple, “no.” When I was growing up the scariest house on the block was the old abandon bungalow­–grass overgrown, windows boarded up and a front porch that you dare never go on to. That house was Halloween all year around. The fright and horror came not from a bloody skeleton hanging on the front door but the imagined skeleton that just might be lying in the shuttered living room. As a person who has been in hundreds, if not thousands, of alleged haunted houses, buildings and cemeteries, I am happy to share with you 10 tips for creating a really frightening, perhaps horrifically traumatizing, stop for the trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood.

10. Don’t mow the lawn. I don’t mean don’t ever mow it, but if your neighbors are willing to put up with a lawn covered in fake fencing and plastic gravestones you should be able to get away with not mowing your lawn for 3 or 4 weeks. Overgrown lawns provide a feeling of disrepair and abandonment.

9. Your porch should be red or orange. Replacing that bright white bulb with a red or orange bulb still shows you are home while providing enough light for the kids to get up the porch. Red and orange lights also create unnatural shadow colors which can evoke feelings of uneasiness. Blue and green bulbs are recognized as totally unnatural light colors. It looks like you’re making an effort to be different, which negates the feeling of disregard you’ve built up with the unkept lawn.

8. Carve your jack-o-lanterns poorly. No one wants to see an R2D2 jack-o-lantern, except the kid dressed as Asajj Ventress or General Grievous, or Darth Vader for those of you don’t watch Clone Wars. A jack-o-lantern is supposed to be creepy. Think of  it as a glowing light in the middle of a swamp, think of a face trying to scare away ghosts and spirits, but don’t get too crazy with the design. Stay simple  with the concept; it makes the face ten times scarier.

7. Leave the screen door shut but the front door open. With all of the initial unease “treaters” will feel walking up to your house, an open front door will create a parallel psychological thought pattern. Since open doors are a sign of welcome the brain’s conceptualization of unknowing and knowing will compete for dominance, causing internal feelings of confusion.

6. Turn off the lights in your house. One or two candles in the living room far away from the front door will be perfect. This should be a no brainer. As soon as kids see a house all lit up, they know people are in there having Halloween fun. The fact that you have a porch light on but no other lights is very disconcerting. If your living room is totally lit up all horror rushes away from the “treaters” as they see the normal interior of your home. In the dim light of candle glow, shadows bounce and flicker, creating a world of unfamiliar shapes inside your house.

5. Play classical or orchestral music. Most kids these days only hear classical or orchestral music in a few places: religious ceremonies, weddings, funerals, and horror movies. As a plus, a lot of kids associate classical music with old people. Aside from their grandparents–sometimes including them–most kids are confused or even scared of old people.

4. Make them have patience. When you hear “Trick or treat!” don’t run to the door. Walk …slowly. And walk from another room. If you must be doing something, why not sit in another room watching TV or playing on the internet, sans lights. Let them see you coming, but make them wait. As you open the door of the room you are sitting in and meander down the hallway, the glow from your TV or computer can add some neat lighting effects as it shines and flashes behind you.

3. Don’t talk. If you must say something when you walk to the door say “Treat.”  Most people strike up conversations and ask questions about the costumes. Kids don’t care. They are there for the candy and to be scared. They have asked you, “Trick or Treat?” and you should answer them, “Treat.” Trust me, it’s creepy.

2. Don’t let them see what you are giving them. It’s extra creepy to produce the “treat” from a suit coat pocket or purse. Retrieve the treat and hold it entirely in the hand away from curious eyes until you’ve placed it in the “treater’s” bag. Or have your treats just lying on a table out of view, or anywhere but a giant bowl. Don’t let them see what the treat is. Just let them feel it hit the bottom of the bag.

1. Don’t underestimate the power of subtlety. Horror comes from the unknown. We all harbor some fear of the dark or the unfamiliar. Children have a heightened sense of strangeness because things are still new to them and so much is still unknown. When kids leave your front porch whispering to each other, “what was that all about?” or “dude, that was weird” you can rest assured that they will be talking, the next day, about the creepy house they went to on Halloween… your house.

Here are 3 extra tips just in case you want to have an extra creepy house.

1. Plywood can equal terror. Adding plywood to the inside of your windows really kicks up the effect of an abandon house. You don’t even need nails or a hammer to install the plywood. Just find, or buy, some scrap pieces and lean them up against your windows from inside the house. You don’t want the windows to be completely blocked and the effect of a partly boarded over window will enhance the effect of a house in disrepair.

2. Your backyard privacy fence adds mystery. Some people don’t decorate their backyard for Halloween because they have giant privacy fences which keep everyone from seeing what is going on back there…which is great! Perceived horror can be far more terrifying that what is actually seen, so use that fence to your advantage, Simple buy or download a looped moaning sound and then using speakers play that sound close to your privacy fence in your backyard. Don’t get too crazy with the sound, let it be subtle. A constant moan or whine coming from behind that giant fence will make people wonder, “What in the world is going on back there?”

3. All those fake body parts you’ve bought are still usable. Although I really don’t like the use of “props” for making a creepy “haunted” house for Halloween I know you probably have a bunch somewhere that you paid good money for and feel like using, well use them! A great way to use those gory hands, heads and legs is to keep them inside the house. Any decent serial killer, psychopath, etc. would never leave body parts on the front lawn but they might have them tossed around the living room or, even more disturbingly, arranged on a dining room table which can be seen from the front door. Lay out a whole body-part-dinner and don’t forget to add lots of ketchup. When kids are standing at your front door looking in your house don’t be surprised if they aren’t there when you come back with the candy.

5 Myths People Tend to Believe about Paranormal Research…

5 Myths People Tend to Believe about Paranormal Research… because of Television and Movies

5. Demons are everywhere.
Over the past 10 years, demons must have been working overtime. It seems like everyone everywhere is either being attacked by a demonic force or is possessed by one. Talking to researchers, priests and historians, it seems that cases of what many people believe to be “demonic” energies or beings is actually very uncommon. Although the Vatican itself will not acknowledge an actual number of cases that they become involved with, by researching where and when they will confirm priests to perform exorcisms we find that perhaps the number might be somewhere between 10 and 20 cases a year world-wide. Now, remember the Vatican has unlimited funds and time to investigate cases and yet they find throughout the world only 10 to 20 cases a year that need intervention. So why does every ghost hunting team find a demon? Why are exorcisms and deliverances being performed almost nightly on paranormal reality television shows? Mostly because people don’t truly understand what is actually involved during an alleged demonic possession or when a supposedly demonic force is manifesting itself. As a side note, most people who call themselves “demonologists” don’t even understand what that word traditionally means (see this post) Sorry, but it’s true.

4. EVP is a relatively new process.
Experimenting with Direct Voice, Electronic Voice Phenomena and other forms of I.T.C. has been around for as long as the technology to perform it has been around. Pioneers, like Jungerson, started honing their skills and research methodologies close to 70 years ago. Even equipment like the “ghost box” has its origins with inventors like Thomas Edison. It’s not a new process and unfortunately many researchers are unaware of the decades worth of documentation, data and evidence on how and why the process is supposed to work. Here’s a tip: Long ago, EVP researchers determined that if you can only hear an understandable voice because of manipulation to the recording, then the evidence is no good, so try again.

3. Screaming at a ghost is a great way to get a response.
In my last post, “Come at me ghost,” I looked at ways that “provoking” probably isn’t a wonderful form of investigating. Put as plainly as possible, when someone I know, who is alive, starts yelling at me I’m pretty likely to not respond.

2. Psychics/Mediums are needed to investigate.
Throughout the past 20 years I have utilized persons who regard themselves as “psychic” or “mediumistic” to act as additional tools during research. Unfortunately, psychic power is part of the paranormal phenomena which we as researchers are supposed to be investigating. Using paranormal phenomena to explain paranormal phenomena is like getting lost in the forest and then asking yourself for directions out of the forest. Again, I have no problem asking someone if they can confirm or deny information, but then I will have to confirm or deny what they are telling me. Then I will have to study the psychic to figure out how they have received that information. Psychics/Mediums, in my opinion, should be treated as a piece of equipment to further your research, but only after all accepted/traditional forms of research and investigation are exhausted.

1. Investigation happens at night.
Ghosts probably don’t wear watches. It’s more than likely that if there is a spirit realm, time does not exist in a way that we, the living, understand. Television producers know that humans have an inherent fear of the dark, so most of the time research and investigation is shown taking place only or mostly at night. In all honesty most of the “research” that should be taking place can only happen during the day because places like libraries and court houses are only open during the day. Also, interviewing people usually has to take place during daylight hours, since most people are usually asleep at night. On-site investigations should take place during all times of the day to allow the researcher to see when the activity in a location is most energetic… plus during the day you don’t have to stumble around a dark unfamiliar house… and bang your shins, because that really hurts.

Happy New Year for EVP enthusiasts

Here is a little audio file for all my friends in the paranormal community that love Electronic Voice Phenomena. Have a safe, fun and happy new year. Email me when you get the joke. EMAIL JOHN

Happy New Year EVP

Download the file here for investigation purposes.

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Paranormal State: The New Class

Paranormal State: The New Class is a docudrama paranormal reality television special that will premiere on the A&E Network on November 21, 2010 – 8:30/9:30 Central. The program follows, and stars, six members of the Hoosier State Paranormal Research Team, a college student-led group, including 4 family members. The show features investigations of alleged paranormal phenomena at reportedly haunted locations. Check your TV guide for the air time in your city.

Join the official Facebook page HERE


The Cast: Christopher Lien, Savahanna Lien Wise, Nate Lien, Stephen Wise, Daniel Hendry, John Tenney

Twitter Links: @hsp_chris, @hsp_nate, @hsp_savahanna, @JohnELTenney

5 Things to Do in Detroit Once You’re Dead

5 Things to Do in Detroit Once You’re Dead

I’ve seen a thousand lists that discuss places people should go to in and around the Motor City before “you die,” and it got me thinking about all the amazing places that most people aren’t allowed to see. For reasons we won’t discuss, there can be some pretty heavy security and massive safety issues at certain locations in metro Detroit so you may never get the chance to visit them … if you’re alive. But if you were a ghost, you’d have unlimited access to these exciting — and sometimes bizarre — locations. Think of being dead as having a ghostly VIP pass. Of course, while you’re alive, it can’t hurt to ask “the right people” and see if they’ll let you take a look.

5. Detroit Sewer System:
The Motor City’s sewer system is a sprawling maze that winds for miles, linking Detroit to cities as far away as Pontiac and Oxford. Dangerously dark and confusing, these tunnels connect to basements of older buildings, as well as to rooms constructed by Prohibition-era bootleggers to store liquor and other illegal goods away from the prying eyes of the law. The sewers are the perfect place to wander (if you’re a ghost) and explore without fear of getting lost and not having enough time to find your way out. (You’re a ghost; you have all the time in the world.)

4. Underground Railroad Tunnels & Holding Areas
There are some well-known tunnels and safe rooms underneath Detroit that were constructed in the basements of churches and houses during the 1800s. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History offers information on the ones you can visit while you’re still alive, but — truth be told — new rooms and tunnels are being discovered all the time. Thanks to a lack of written records, though, there’s no comprehensive list of these tunnels and rooms. Many were sealed up over the years, so, as a ghost, you would have plenty of time to wander through many of Detroit’s old houses and churches to discover these lost historical spaces. The First Congregational Church of Detroit offers a tour for living people so you can get an idea of what you’ll be looking for after you’ve passed on.

3. The Detroit Salt Mine City

Nearly 1,200 feet below the surface of Detroit lie its legendary salt mines. Spread out across 1,500 acres, they cover more than 75 miles of roads. At one time, tours of the mines were given regularly, but these events are now sporadic, at best. As a ghost, however, you can wander and investigate this underground city as long as you want without fear of collapse or the owners chasing you out.

2. The Detroit Public Library Basement Archives
You can actually see this one before you die. The archives of the Detroit Public Library are awesome. To see the basement archives, all you need to do is ask a kind and caring librarian. One librarian told me that the library staff tries never to throw any book away. Hundreds of shelves lined with books, maps, pamphlets, and other printed ephemera create a dizzying landscape for any lover of history. And as a ghost, you’d actually have the time to look through all this material. But be warned: Many of the staff believe there are already ghosts down there.

1. Masonic Temple Detroit
Again, you could see this pretty easily while you’re alive. The Masonic Temple in Detroit does give tours, but be aware that they won’t show you everything. Certain floors are restricted to lodge members and staff. Although Masonic members claim there are no hidden rooms or tunnels, you can be sure there’s more going on than meets the eye. Rumors of multiple basements, trap doors, and access to floors through hidden routes behind walls make the Masonic a great place for a spirit to explore. Years ago, I was given an impromptu tour by a custodian, and I can tell you there’s much about the building that isn’t normally seen by the uninitiated.

2010 Most Haunted Cities in Michigan

2010 Most Haunted Cities in Michigan – Detroit Tops The List

Oct .1, 2010

ROYAL OAK, Mich. — To help citizens enjoy their Halloween season, Paranormal researcher John E.L. Tenney of WeirdLectures.com has once again identified Michigan’s Top 10 most haunted cities.

“The top 10 cities include places for the believers and skeptics, living or otherwise,” says John E.L. Tenney, founder of WeirdLectures.com. Tenney’s organization collects and compiles e-mails, news stories, letters, and historical documents to create the list. “People are not only interested in understanding paranormal phenomena in their community,” he says, “but they use those experiences to connect with neighbors and other residents and share in a new kind of oral history.” The real excitement in these haunted cities, Tenney says, comes from exploring them in person and absorbing their histories.

Every year, some citizens worry needlessly about the list, which has become a “rite” of the Halloween season. But not to fear, Tenney says. “The only thing some residents are really afraid of is if this list will effect the marketablity and value of the homes in their community. The reality of the situation is that researchers and scientists would pay anything to get their hands on a truly haunted house.”

The 2010 Top 10 Haunted Michigan Cities (2009 rankings in parentheses)

1. Detroit (6)
2. Traverse City (4)
3. Kalamazoo (1)
4. Jackson (8)
5. Hamtramck (7)
6. Troy (2)
7. Flint (3)
8. Lansing (10)
9.  Ann Arbor (5)
10. Warren (-)

WeirdLectures.com is dedicated to the cataloging of mysterious places and events that have their home in Michigan. Information is compiled and collected from a vast number of resources, researchers, and writings. Some of the information this year came from over 1100 emails, 100 personal interviews and 50 private investigations. Every year, on October 1, Weird Lectures releases a list of the 10 most haunted cities in Michigan. www.weirdlectures.com

Ghost Investigation Tips & Tricks

Optical systems of infrared thermometers gather energy from a circular spot which increases with distance. Make sure that your target is larger than the spot size you are measuring. The smaller the target, the closer you should be to it. The further away the more inaccurate the reading.

If a temperature anomaly is found by an investigator, since the field of measurement is of increasing size, a second investigator can be used to more accurately locate the temperature variance. Please remember you are not measuring air temperature you are measuring the heat/coolness of the surface you are near. Again, infrared thermometers are NOT measurng air temperature.

Vincent Price Demonologist!

vincentVincent Price: Witchcraft~Magic: An Adventure in Demonology, Capitol Records 1969.  Honest…How can you go wrong with…”The Secrets of Witchcraft & Magic Revealed by Vincent Price, Distinguished Actor & Demonologist” I’ve zipped this double LP into 3 files but beware it’s big and might take a little time to download. It’s worth it though, come on it’s Vincent Price…Demonologist!
Vincent Price 1
Vincent Price 1
Vincent Price 3

The 2009 Top 10 Haunted Michigan Cities

The 2009 Top 10 Haunted Michigan Cities (2008 rankings in parentheses)

1. Kalamazoo (3)
2. Troy (1)
3. Flint (6)
4. Traverse City (2)
5. Ann Arbor (5)
6. Detroit (4)
7. Hamtramck (-)
8. Jackson (9)
9. Sterling Heights (-)
10. Lansing (-)

WeirdLectures.com is dedicated to the cataloging mysterious places and events that have their home in Michigan. Information is compiled and collected from a vast number of resources, researchers, and writings. Every year, on October 1, Weird Lectures releases, in association with The Great Lakes Ghost Society, a list of the 10 most haunted cities in Michigan. www.weirdlectures.com