The paranormal lives on the internet -- from the spooky stories spread on Reddit and 4chan to communities of UFOlogists in enthusiast forums -- but sometimes it can be hard to find a reliable source to read up about it all. We've compiled some of the best resources that exist online. Whether you spend your time searching for the most out-there stories of paranormal phenomena, or you just want to see some solid scientific processes in the field of parapsychology, we've got you covered.
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Based in Sydney, the AIPR should be the first port of call for any Australian who wants to look into the weird and paranormal. Parapsychology is a branch of fringe science that examines psychic and paranormal experiences through the lens of conventional psychology and science. A key part of AIPR's philosophy is stated as such: "Psychic experiences (or claims of such) should be studied and treated in the same way as other human experiences."
The organisation's aims are stated as follows:
•To collect, assess and disseminate factual information about claims of psychic (paranormal) phenomena. •To support and encourage parapsychology (the scientific study of paranormal phenomena). •To provide support in matters to do with alleged or actual experiences of a paranormal nature that may require relief of suffering, distress, or helplessness (see seeking help). •To undertake or promote activities (e.g., fundraising, social events, etc.) in support of the above.
So what does AIPR do? Their main activity is the publishing of The Australian Journal of Parapsychology, a twice-yearly peer-reviewed journal. While the subscription page seems to be closed at the time being, it's worth keeping an eye out. Aside from the journal, AIPR keeps an extensive collection of information sheets regarding paranormal occurrences, including a page on what to do for those who find themselves on the receiving end of unwanted paranormal events.
Published works aside, the AIPR also runs events, including conferences and even courses and workshops centered on the study of parapsychology. Keep an eye on the AIPR's slow but not-quite-dead Facebook page if you're keen to see what's coming up.
This video from one AIRP conference includes a few accounts of poltergeist activity in Australia, including one where the afflicted took the typically Aussie approach of telling the spirit "why don't you just fuck off?"
AIPR was also involved in a huge online survey that collated personal experiences of ghosts and paranormal activity from respondents around the world. You can see some of the results on researcher Rosemary Breen's website, with accounts of hauntings at this page and stories of psychic premonition on this one.
Here are some more handy links from the AIPR:
When investigating the weird, the paranormal and the straight up mysterious, there are plenty of dodgy sources on the Internet. If you're looking for pure, scientific fact, why not go straight to the source -- hundreds of CIA documents involving UFOs and unearthly phenomena that were declassified in 1978. This is the CIA's FOIA UFO collection, and it's all archived and searchable thanks to the wonders of the internet:
This collection catalogues CIA information on this subject from the 1940s through the early 1990s. Most of the documents concern CIA cables reporting unsubstantiated UFO sightings in the foreign press and intra-Agency memos about how the Agency handled public inquiries about UFO sightings.
Most people would have found out about this collection earlier this year from the CIA blog post that was released to tie in with the X-Files hype. The information has already been out there for some time, though determined UFOlogists are convinced that there is still plenty that the CIA aren't being open about.
Considering that UFO hype peaked during the cold war, however, it's more likely that alien theories were welcomed by the CIA as a way to explain top-secret weapons testing. The archive mentions Project BLUE BOOK, which defined three main objectives for its investigations into UFOs:
•To determine if UFO phenomena present a threat to the security of the US; •To determine if UFO phenomena exhibit any technological advances which could be channeled into US research and development; and •To explain or identify the stimuli which caused the observer to report a UFO.
If UFOs are in your area of interest, the best place to start is Gerald K. Haines' article CIA's Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-90, a meta-study of all the files in CIA's UFO archive. He looks not only at the UFOs themselves, but also the history of both the CIA and the American public's obsession with them between 1947 and 1990.
The CIA also has a featured field guide for amateur UFO enthusiasts: How To Investigate a Flying Saucer
Some of the best of the archive, to get you started:
Formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, this organisation generally just goes by CSI these days, though its values remain the same. If you believe in applying science and logic fairly to all fields, you'll likely value the scientific processes championed by the CSI, even in the pursuit of paranormal events and phenomena. Its guiding principles are listed as:
The mission of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry is to promote scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims. To carry out these objectives the Committee: •Maintains a network of people interested in critically examining paranormal, fringe science, and other claims, and in contributing to consumer education •Prepares bibliographies of published materials that carefully examine such claims •Encourages research by objective and impartial inquiry in areas where it is needed •Convenes conferences and meetings •Publishes articles that examine claims of the paranormal •Does not reject claims on a priori grounds, antecedent to inquiry, but examines them objectively and carefully
The Committee is a part of the Center for Inquiry, a broader educational organisation that also covers matters of secular Humanism, religion and ethics. Its fellows include academics, notable scientists, Nobel laureates, psychologists and more -- if you can trust anyone with reliable paranormal research, it's CSI.
The resources offered by the Committee are many and varied, some in-depth and others more light-hearted and humorous. The best springboard into its world of the paranormal is its publication the Skeptical Enquirer. While you can subscribe to the magazine straight from CSI's website, the Skeptical Enquirer's archives include a large number of articles that are free to access.
In addition to the articles on CSI's website, a number of its fellows run blogs that are hosted over on the Center for Inquiry's website. These include two renowned scientific paranormal investigators. One is Benjamin Radford, whose past investigations include the Dyatlov Pass mystery, the legend of the Chupacabra, and even the widespread seizures caused by an infamous episode of the Pokemon anime that aired in Japan. The other is Joe Nickell, who has looked at cases like the old farmhouse in Rhode Island that served as the basis for The Conjuring, and the more recent so-called '200 Demons' house.
For in-depth reading, check out books from both writers such as CSI Paranormal: Investigating Strange Mysteries by Joe Nickell, a handbook on paranormal investigations and Scientific Paranormal Investigation by Benjamin Radford.
If you're not quite ready to jump straight into the books, here are some of the most useful links from CSI and its fellows to start you on your journey into the paranormal:
From the rigorous science of the CSI we move to Disinformation, a site that curates offbeat news in a more community-orientated format. Of course, as a site where content is often contributed by the community or curated from various sources, articles and resources found here should often be taken with a grain of salt. It deals in conspiracy and fringe science for the most part, but cultivates a community that can often be found discussing the merits of the information (or disinformation) put forward in its submitted articles.
For paranormal enthusiasts, your go-to tab will probably be 'Mystery', covering the strange, paranormal and unexplained. Of course, interesting topics can be found in many of the site's sections, depending on your range of interests. The site describes its purpose as such:
Launched on September 13, 1996, disinformation was designed to be the search service of choice for individuals looking for information on current affairs, politics, strange science and "hidden information" that seldom slips through the cracks of corporate-owned media.
Aside from the original content submitted to Disinfo, as a content aggregator it also serves as a great springboard to discovering many interesting podcasts, blogs and resources across the web. While not as active as it has been in the past, its archives still contain a wealth of curious information.
Some starting points include:
Go Hands On
Say you've read all of the stories, resources and guides that the above sites have to offer, and you're itching to experience something paranormal for yourself. Where do you start? Before you go running out into the unknown, it's useful to put together some basic equipment of your own -- though for the sake of your wallet, you may be happy to know that most expensive ghost hunting equipment can be replaced with your phone, or an app on it.
One of the most common pieces of ghost-hunting equipment is an EMF meter -- and you can usually replace this with a cheap app. An iPhone app called iEMF was tested by Forbes against a professional $300 EMF meter, and came up with similar readings almost every time. At $0.99 the app seems ideal for ghost hunting, though it is only compatible with much older models of iPhones -- the 3G, 3GS and 4. More recent highly rated apps include Electromagnetic Detector: EMF Scanner on iOS and Entity Sensor Pro-EMF Detector.
Aside from an EMF meter (which some paranormal investigators like, and others spurn) the best thing you can have for investigating paranormal phenomena is a good recording device -- whether you're taking photos, videos or audio recordings. Most phones will have these capabilities by default, so make sure you're always ready to snap a picture or a video. You can also augment your phone with sensors such as Thermodo, a tiny thermometer that clips into your phone's audio jack.
There are, of course, specialist ghost hunting apps like Ghost Detect Pro, which boasts everything from an anomaly tracking radar to a super sensitive microphone and even a 'Quantum Flux detector'. While it's obviously worth taking apps like these with a grain of salt, they can also be fun tools to play with.
If you don't want to have to go out of your house, you can build your own version of Tesla's Spirit Radio, a crystal radio circuit that generates sounds from all kinds of sources including light and colour. The spirit radio is able to pick up the sounds of thunder from distant storms, and can even emit sounds that sound like odd human conversations. Tesla himself was quite unnerved by the device:
"My first observations positively terrified me as there was present in them something mysterious, not to say supernatural, and I was alone in my laboratory at night." – Nikola Tesla 1901
"The sounds I am listening to every night at first appear to be human voices conversing back and forth in a language I cannot understand. I find it difficult to imagine that I am actually hearing real voices from people not of this planet. There must be a more simple explanation that has so far eluded me." – Nikola Tesla 1918
You can build your own spirit radio at home for cheap, using this Instructables guide.