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The Paranormal

Michelle Trantham

Michelle Trantham, Opinion Editor

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For many people, ghosts are something to scream at in a movie theater or have nightmares about. For Susan Mann, English teacher, ghosts are much more than just special effects.

“When I was a kid, my parents would leave me at my grandmother’s house when they went out,” began Mann.

She would sleep in the living room on an old blue couch, right under

a clock that would chime every 15 minutes.

On the adjoining wall stood an upright piano, and on the piano stood two handmade porcelain dolls with dark human hair.

“They were a set,” she said, “a girl and boy wearing little wool Swiss-German outfits. There always seemed to be something… odd about them.”

For one thing, their small, brown painted-on eyes seemed to follow people across the room.

“One night, while at my grandmother’s again, I woke up… just before midnight. I happened to glance toward the piano, and I froze.”

The dolls were looking at her, “That was rather odd, I thought, as I distinctly remember turning them away from me before I fell asleep.”

They had turned themselves around on their stands.

“One doll raised its arm and pointed at me, wrinkling the sleeve of its little outfit. The other pointed at the clock above my head, and both of them were staring directly at me.”

Cold seeped into the room.

“I was petrified: all I could feel was… unabbreviated terror.”

Experiences like this one are not uncommon. People have made careers out of reports such as these, dedicating their lives to the research of the paranormal.

Dave Harkins, 48, is the director of The Ozarks Paranormal Society, whose mission is to seek out and authenticate evidence of the paranormal while conducting investigations in and around the Ozarks.

“Having always been fascinated by all things metaphysical and having many paranormal experiences myself, I found it natural to investigate [paranormal] claims,” said Harkins.

Harkins is the founder of the group, and has been investigating the paranormal for 31 years.

Bud Steed, 50, has been the writer and photographer for the Society for over two years.

“I’ve always been tuned in to things I can’t see… that led me down the path of paranormal investigation,” said Steed.

The Society has investigated many places in and around the Springfield area.

“Springfield is a very haunted city,” said Steed.

“One of the most publicly know places that we have investigated in the Springfield area would have to be Wilson’s Creek Battlefield,” said Harkins. “We were granted access to investigate overnight at the battlefield this past August and found it to be very active.”

The Ozarks Paranormal Society prides itself on being experts in the field of paranormal investigation, and

warns people to be wary of amateurs.

“Nowadays, everyone and their brother is out there ‘Ghost Hunting.’  This can be very dangerous!” said Harkins.

“With the popularity of reality shows, we’re seeing more and more amateurs in the field who have no idea of what they are doing,” said Steed, “They trespass, destroy property and historical items, and have no respect for the dead at all.”

The popularity of shows such as “Ghost Hunters” has risen significantly in the past few years, and while these shows are great for entertainment, audience members should leave it to the professionals.

“I watch ‘Ghost Hunters’ all the time. That stuff’s crazy,” said Shaun Borneman, junior.

Amanda Trotter, junior, also watches paranormal reality shows. “‘Ghost Adventures’ is the only legit ghost show in the realm of the living,” she said.

Today, people grow up with movies and television shows depicting paranormal stories meant to frighten and terrify. These sorts of things get buried in the subconscious, and suddenly every bump in the night is something out to hurt or scare somebody.

“People are afraid of what they don’t understand and their imaginations, coupled with all of the paranormal movies and horror shows, tend to intensify what they are experiencing,” said Steed.

Mann said that sometimes the paranormal serves as an explanation in order to make sense of the real world.

“Things can conflict with our reality, and it throws us,”said Mann.

Some people just do not believe that ghosts and the like exist at all.

“They do not exist. People can’t control their imagination and they like to tell stories about things that DON’T EXIST,” said Quinton Tews, junior.

Ben Sowards, junior, agrees that people jump to conclusions too quickly. “People are afraid of what they can’t explain.”

Some students in Parkview have had a paranormal experience or two in their lifetimes.

“No, I’ve seen one before,” said Steleisha Luster, senior. “It was like a shadow, just sitting there.”

“My house is haunted by an old lady and her cat,” said Stephanie Titus, junior. “I’ve actually seen the cat! So has my sister.”

Fear is a major factor when regarding a possible haunting. It tends to amplify what is really happening.

“As human beings, we can’t control our reactions to things we cannot explain,” said Mann.

A total of 100 Parkview students took a survey about their personal paranormal experiences. 41% reported having had a ghost experience, 17% had seen a UFO, and 56% had no paranormal experience whatsoever.

Under the “Other” option of the survey, comments included everything from “Yes, I was possessed” to “I saw a hipster at Wal-Mart.”

Many people laugh off the report of a possible haunting. When asked if he had ever seen a ghost, junior Justin Tate jokingly replied, “One time I thought I saw my fish floating. Then I realized I never had a fish. It was my cat.”

Bud Steed believes that there isn’t much you can say to someone who doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he does say this: “Doesn’t it stand to reason that that intelligence, that spark that makes each of us unique in our thought patterns and establishes who we are in relation to every other individual on the planet, would continue on after our bodies have expired?”

When facing a possible haunting, The Ozarks Paranormal Society urges people to call a professional.

“First off, they should contact a reputable paranormal group in their area,” said Harkins. “If you don’t know what you are doing you can really stir things up and make a bad situation much worse.”

Steed strongly advises against using unprofessional means to deal with the unknown.

“One word of caution here: never use a Ouija Board or similar type of item to ‘converse’ with whatever is suspected of being in your home. It can lead to…complications.”

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The Paranormal