Famous paranormal researcher Peter Underwood is well known for his work within the paranormal field. As an author of over 50 books, president of the Ghost Club and member of the Society of Psychical Research, he had a lot to say when it came to paranormal phenomena. His involvement in the research of the Borely Rectory is probably what he is most well known for to those not as familiar with paranormal research. Like many within the field you may agree or disagree with his approach, but there is always something to learn we can learn from each other through the art of discussion. Let's explore some of the quotes from his many books and writings for this installment of In the words of ..
“98% of reported hauntings have a natural and mundane explanation … it is the other 2% that have interested me for over 40 years.”
― Peter Underwood, No Common Task: The Autobiography of a Ghost-hunter
I think this is something that would resonate with quite a lot of people that read this blog. We cannot deny that we get it wrong sometimes. Our brains can play tricks on us or we simply don't know that the thing over there making that noise is really the wind. Our own bias can sometimes get in the way. It doesn't take away the fact though that paranormal research is something that has been taking place for centuries. Belief in the paranormal dates back to ancient times. Regardless of what it is out there, there are those times where things happen that make us scratch our heads. That 2% of the time where we cannot debunk something or we just know in the bottom of our gut that it was something more. It is this rational approach to paranormal investigation that every investigator needs to at least consider. While we wish that everything was paranormal, it isn't and a lot of the time it can be explained. This doesn't take away though from the times we cannot explain it. I suppose when you think about it, if everything were paranormal, it would become mundane. It is that 2% that keeps us going, keeps us asking questions and keep searching. Just when we feel it is at our fingertips, we are left with more questions than answers.
Belief does not really come into it. I am quite sure that I have spoken to people who are convinced that they have seen ghosts and experienced psychic activity and I have certainly experienced some things that I am totally unable to explain. But my object has always been to scientifically prove that what may be happening is objective and can be recorded and is not merely in the minds and imaginations of the people concerned.
I really resonate myself with this response. I suppose in a lot of ways, isn't this what a lot of us are doing? We are looking for some kind of proof that these claims are real or looking for some sort of answers as to what it is that we ourselves have experienced. When a person experiences something, while there are cases where something is a natural explanation and could even be some sort of misinterpretation, the person experiencing this phenomena at the time believes it is real. Usually it not just one small experience that has caused them to suddenly believe that something is happening. It is quite often a series of events and in this sense it is always important to look at things in context. I do however somewhat disagree that belief is not a part of it because I believe myself that it does play a major part. We can sit and say that we are objective and that we don't let our belief get in the way, but our own bias will unconsciously get in the way whether you believe in the paranormal or you are skeptical towards it. It is how we are built as humans. Being aware of it helps, but you are not completely immune. So this is why it is important to focus on the task at hand and interview the witnesses and get to the bottom of what is happening. This is why I think working with others can be essential. It can sometimes take another set of eyes or ears to help gain a solid understanding or perspective of what is happening.
Ancient knowledge is often enshrined in folklore and folk memory. Mutilation of the body to prevent it walking after death goes back more than two thousand years. Is this why we sometimes encounter headless ghosts? Many people believe a life force remains around after the death of the body. Is this why we often feel 'something' is apparent at haunted places but we are not sure what and why tragic and violent deaths often leave behind ghosts?
Where the Ghosts Walk: The Gazetteer of Haunted Britain
By Peter Underwood
In this particular book, Underwood explores different famous locations and hauntings tied to trauma based areas like airfields and battlefields. This quote in particular looks at the concept of sightings where an apparition may be missing a head or you see just a hand etc. It also lends to the common theory that many have within the field that a traumatic event leaves behind some sort of residual energy and this perhaps is what can cause a haunting. It is a good question to ask. When I read a lot of his work, in some ways it reminds me of my own writing where instead of stating things as fact, he more asks questions. What is it about a traumatic event that causes a haunting? Is it just us as humans that maybe thinks because there has been death at a place that it must be haunted? Does the energy imprint itself in the surroundings and play back when the conditions are right? It is one of the common areas that we as investigators discuss.
Overwhelming evidence suggests that odd happenings, frequently of considerable complexity, do happen. Perhaps we should accept these inexplicable occurrences as part of the basic furniture of the world.
Where the Ghosts Walk: The Gazetteer of Haunted Britain
By Peter Underwood
Instead of thinking of the paranormal to be this taboo dark subject, maybe we need to just embrace it and accept that there are things within this world that we do not understand. Maybe we are not meant to understand them. What if the key to understanding them is not necessarily to study or investigate them but to embrace and experience them? To a lot of us within the paranormal field, we will say things like 'paranormal is normal to me'. In today's society, more than ever the paranormal is more popular and accessible than ever before. You can attend tours and google anything you want. Most literature is available in ebook format and you have a worldwide community you can talk to at the click of a button. Maybe it is time to come out of the darkness and into the light and just see what happens?
These are just a few quotes of course and my own thoughts on them. I would love to hear what you think!
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