Category Archives: Breakthroughs


Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 9.20.38 AM

But Karl. You have no photos in this blog. Your only video is you talking to a camera. Where’s this proof you speak of? Dammit, I’m going back to Facebook.

Unfortunately, that up above is the way too many of us would-be “ghost hunters” do think. We operate under pop definitions of “proof.” Our “proof” is a distillation of a personal experience. We think that because we’ve experienced something (a certain kind of proof in its own right–but not one without its own flaws), that if we can recreate that experience for others, we have proof. Unfortunately, recreation seems to stop at video, audio, and photography.

In the scientific world, “proof” is different. Proof is an experiment, rigidly designed so that it can be recreated by anyone. Proof is a statistical, mathematical reference. It’s an argument based on a series of facts distilled from an experiment. Proof is then presented in scientific journals. When other scientists read them (skeptical or otherwise), they recreate the experiment, and report back in other scientific journals. If the results are consistent enough, this indicates that the scientists are on to something. If the results are consistent for seven decades, there comes a point where the phenomenon is, in a scientific sense, “proven.”

Is there room for error here? Is there room for misinterpretation? Absolutely. It’s in early stages. And problems arise when too much theorizing happens without enough facts. But after several decades of scientific study, scientists familiar with the researchers do confidently say:

ESP HAPPENS. What it is yet, they don’t know. How it works, they don’t know. Further experimentation is required.

So, before giving you an overview of what experiments were done, the reports published, the recreated experiments and the modifications, I wanted to give you an oversight from the scientists (no, really. Real life scientists with degrees and University funding and everything) who have interacted directly with the research from this past century. If you want to read the legitimate “proof”, start here first, and then begin to reference the bibliography.

“Telepathy, for example, had been extensively studied and documented for a century. The work of J.B. Rhine, Rene Warcollier, S.G. Soal, and many others, including the astounding experiment between Harold Sherman and Sir Hubert Wilkins in the Arctic, could leave no doubt about its existence.” -Edgar Mitchell

Psychic research officially began nearly a century ago, in 1882, when the Society for Psychical Research was founded in London. Three years later, the American Society for Psychical Research was organized in the United States.

“The subject of the societies’ concern can be broadly classified as Extrasensory Perception (ESP, psychokinesis (PK), and survival phenomena (theta). Collectively, they are referred to as psi, the twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet and the first letter in the Greek word for “psyche”, meaning “mind” or “soul.”  -Mitchell

“ESP is a psychic event in which information is transmitted through channels outside the known sensory channels, either in waking consciousness, trance, or dreams.” Mitchell

“PK is a psychic event in which objects or organisms are physically moved or affected without direct contact or use of any known force that would allow a conventional explanation. PK includes teleportation, materialization and de-materialization, levitation, psychic surgery and psychic healing, thought photography, and out of the body projection.

Theta are events due to the agency of supposed discarnate personalities. Theta include the phenomena of mediumship, ghosts and hauntings, apparitions and poltergeists, spirit photography, spirit possession, and reincarnation.” -Mitchell

“There appears to be a continuum along which we may place occult, psychic, paranormal, and mystic phenomena–a continuum of consciousness. But it is not easy to draw lines of demarcation between them.” Mitchell.

I mean, where does one end and the other begin? Are spirits actual spirits, or are they projections of our minds into someone else’s mind? Do spirits manifest by appearing in our brains psychically, accounting for why sometimes only one or a handful of people “see” them? Look at PK versus clairvoyance. Do you know what is about to happen, or do we create it? On the flip side, do we create something happening, or just know what’s going to happen?

Now, on the scientific side,

Mitchell points out that science is made up of two components: objectivity and materialism. Objectivity being that the human being should have no necessary relationship with the world around it. Materialism in that everything fundamental to science is made up of matter.

So, according to Mitchell:

“Psychic research is leading to an extraordinarily challenging conclusion: science’s basic image of man and the universe must be revised… Science will have to divest itself not only of some deeply cherished “facts” but also of its philosophic foundations — the whole intellectual outlook upon which our present civilization is based.”

This isn’t an attack on science. It’s not a revolution, it’s a revelation. This IS science. Science is constantly updating to new facts, new realizations. This one has been pushed to the side for long enough because it doesn’t fit the framework. As soon as it becomes credible, we may see a shift more radical than any discovery in the past couple hundred years.

“The only possible bias for rejecting the evidence of psychic research is prejudice and diehard stubbornness born of insecurity.” -Mitchell

S.G. Soal of London University writes:

“It would be interesting to meet the psychiatrist or psychologist who has perused every page of the 49 volumes of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, and who remains a skeptic. It is no coincidence that those most skeptical of ESP research are almost invariable those who are the least acquainted with the facts.”

H.J. Eysenck, head of the Department of Psychology at Maudsley Hosptial in London, answers the charge of fraud like this:

“Unless there is a gigantic conspiracy involving 30 University departments all over the world, and several hundred highly respected scientists in various fields, many of them originally hostile to the claims of the psychic researchers, the only conclusion the unbiased observer can come to must be that there are people who obtain knowledge existing either in other people’s minds, or in the outer world, by means yet unknown to science.”

Dr. Montague Ullman of Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY:

“If the only answer to the vast amount of solid experimental evidence is incompetence or fraud on a global scale by men with credentials equal to those of their scientific peers, working in academic surroundings, and whose work extends historically in time over at least three generations, then the adherents of this position would seem to have adopted a stance that is even more difficult to defend than the psi hypothesis. In fact, it would seem to represent a last ditch stand–in short, the bankruptcy of the critical effort.”

New Scientist Magazine did a questionaire on parapsychology in 1973. It’s first conclusion reported that

“parapsychology is clearly counted as being exceedingly interesting and relevant by a very large number of today’s working scientists.”

25% of the respondents held ESP to be an established fact, with another 42% declaring it a likely possibility.

“This positive attitude was based, in about 40% of the sample, on reading reports in scientific books and journals. Moreso came from a majority whose convictions arose from personal experience. There was a strong undercurrent among respondents that too much time was being spent proving the existence of ESP, when the real need was to “get on with finding out how it works.”

By that same note, Gerald Feinberg points out:

“I believe it would be appropriate for researchers to emphasize detailed studied of psychic phenomena rather than to concentrate on further efforts whose primary purpose is to convince others that the phenomena exists.”

This Advice is good for paranormal researchers too. Stop trying to “prove it”, start trying to figure out what is going on.

As you try to figure out what’s going on, you might just stumble across some real science on your way.

As always,

My name is Karl Pfeiffer. I’m a writer, ghost hunter, and blogger/vlogger. I won the first season of the pilot reality series Ghost Hunters Academy, and went on to work with the Ghost Hunters International team on the same network. Since then I’ve lead the weekend ghost hunts at the Stanley Hotel, studied religion and writing at Colorado State University, and published my first novel, Hallowtide, in October of 2012. More can be found at

Tagged , , , ,

Cloud Atlas Review

Four AM on a Friday morning. Review time.

Preface to say I was excited about this film. Hearing Lana and Andy Wachowski do media for this film was fantastic. This was their baby. And they came out of anonymity in order to inspire the public to go check it out. And go check it out you should.

TLDR: Complex, thought-provoking, operating on many, many different levels, thematically rich, well acted. But also not for everyone, and weak in places.

Cloud Atlas is a movie about souls traveling through time. Each actor illustrates a different soul, each soul embodies itself in a different character in some six or so different stories that interweave throughout the movie as a whole.

The film is about redemption. Primarily embodied in the main soul (character), acted by Tom Hanks, it’s about one man’s journey from greedy killer, to awakened hero.

It’s about hope. But whereas we’re used to a study of hope in an individual sense, the scope of this story is cosmic. Dealing with over three or four hundred years of the human race, this becomes a story that doesn’t simply study one person’s life, but many people’s lives, afterlives, and the human race in general.

It would be wrong to say that this film is about karma or reincarnation. Those are labels, attached by cultures and adopted by societies, and so carry with them connotations and likely inaccuracies. Cloud Atlas seeks to transcend these instances, these windows of the world that we’re used to looking through in our daily lives (indeed, it’s our only view), and study something broader, if not greater.

“It’s through the eyes of the other that we most truly see ourselves,” (my rough paraphrasing) was one of my favorite quotes of the movie (and hopefully the book, when I get to that shortly). I mean, get-this-tattooed-favorite quotes. Applying individually to the characters, to the more grandiose souls, and to the way that we treat human beings in different cultures and races in general, this movie comments on layer after layer after layer.

Though at times some of the voice overs and thematic lines feel forced and even obviously trite, I think that’s the risk of a movie trying to do such grand thematic play. And it’s forgivable so long as the depth backs it up. The audience after all are all watching at different levels. And sometimes just pointing out that these character’s souls stretch through the movie, while overt to some, might bring the pieces together for others.

The visual components were fantastic. The acting was fantastic. The desire by Lana, Andy, and Tom Tykwer to make this book into a movie permeated the film, and to know that they did it independently, is even more of an accomplishment. Movies that take this kind of risk need to be supported. Hollywood needs to take these kinds of epic risks more often. Because we absolutely need brilliance of this measure on our screens.

For the first two thirds of the movie, I wasn’t very impressed. It felt very simple. But as the threads come together in the final third, the ethical and human and thematic and personal and redemptive issues start to come together, where loss and love are realized, where even the foundations of religion and hope itself are pulled apart and studied over time, the movie begins to do its truest work.

If entropy is about falling apart over time, this film is about how things are realized, and how they come together.

Now there are a few instances where the movie goes wrong, or where you feel it might go wrong. There’s been criticism cropping in the last few days about white actors playing asian characters. Anyone with this criticism hasn’t watched the movie. The actors have the challenge of playing characters of all races and genders. Asians play white characters, male plays female, white as Asian and all back again. This is the necessity demanded of this script. If you want to call it yellowface, you’ve utterly missed the point. That said, it’s not always elegant. Some actors just don’t quite fit the roles, and the effects can be distracting. Well done distractions, and to an important point. But not always elegant.

At times this, combined with the lofty ideas dealt with can very easily feel like the movie was trying to hard. And it’s easy to leave it at that.

The movie is long, and the pacing is a bit awkward at times, ringing in too many climaxes and sometimes jarring switches in the story and action. Scenes could have been cut. I was never bored. I was awake and engaged the entire movie. But I know some weren’t. Though the visuals are pretty and the action is well done, it can drag while keeping up with each storyline.

This is a movie you must engage with. To take it on its surface is to watch six compelling movies that awkwardly intertwine to no real rhyme or reason. But it’s that rhyme and reason that intertwines between them that absolutely is the point. As I said before, it’s about big issues. It breaks the conventions of every movie that’s come before it. You must go prepared to think.

If the thematic and intellectual achievement here was not enough, it was in these three directors capturing what has been said to have been unfilmable. Cloud Atlas is a massive scope of a story, and for these three to fit it in one three-hour movie experience, and as elegantly as they did, a true masterwork was accomplished here. And if you’re not left moved by the end of the movie, I hope you’re moved to think about the other impossibilities that this film has now made realistic.


Karl Pfeiffer is the author of the psychological thriller HALLOWTIDE. He also won the first season of Ghost Hunters Academy and went on to work with the Ghost Hunters International team. He graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in creative writing, has lectured across the nation, and works at the Stanley Hotel, leading the public ghost hunts on the weekends. More can be found at

The Cabin in the Woods Review

So. After realizing that my buddy did not want me to meet him at A cabin in THE woods at midnight, but did in fact want me to join him for a movie, I found myself in my seat at the theater and having one of the best cinema experiences I’ve had at a theater since I made out with a girl in the back row when I was in middle school. (You didn’t have a girlfriend in middle school, Karl. Shut it, haters, just go with it.)

One early review over at the Paranormal Pop Culture Blog by Aaron Sagers recommended that the less you know going into this movie, the better. For the most part I agree, so I’ll be brief.

All you need is your horror movie expertise. Then just settle in.

I laughed through the first ten minutes and then kept going. I’ve never laughed so much through a movie and been so engaged at the same time. This one challenges everything you’ve ever known about the horror genre, flips it on its head, then keeps flipping. Think Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil on crack (and without the trailer giving away the best laughs), which is saying something, because Tucker and Dale was, in its own right, doing the exact same thing. The meta turns from commentary to story, the thrills to laughs and back again, but doesn’t stop there.

It feels wrong to say it’s a comedy, even a black comedy, even a movie that you should laugh more than twice in. The trailer certainly doesn’t give away more than one laugh (IF YOU HAVEN’T YET, TAKE NOTE COMEDY TRAILER EDITOR TYPES) (though it does give away a bit or two away that it probably shouldn’t have mentioned, so, view at your own risk). But to get back on point, the comedic nature is pitch perfect. Camp is that genre that shows the strings, playing with the elements of meta-awareness, and often it’s funny as a necessity, and Cabin in the Woods is aware of this from the get-go. That’s real comedy. To blend the horrific and make it funny. To make a commentary. To show the strings and then cut them all to bits.

I can’t say much more without spoiling anything, which isn’t to say that this was a movie that hinged around spoilers (Any careful few minutes’ consideration of the trailer gets you well-prepped, and there are no gimmicky twists, just the ride as it unfolds–or better: unravels). But the charm that the movie brings (yes, it’s charm. Not romcom charm or drama charm, but horror movie brilliance charm, that glee in pointing at the screen to some clever allusion otherwise missed), it’s something I’d hate to ruin.

The subtlety and surprise are best left at that.

Four stars. A horror masterpiece. A breath of fresh air. Hope that a fresh story can be told, and that wonderful writing still exists in the cinema. Go see it right now.

Striking the Natural

Over the last few months I’ve been growing discouraged about the paranormal. I found myself in doubt about one of my greatest passions I carry, and the two fronts that I’ve been a part of have been on the Ghost Hunters franchise and with my local group.

Paranormal television is entertainment. The shows exist to show people in supernatural situations, and people enjoy reacting to these things that are frightening along with the members on the television screen. At the end of the day the shows are always about entertainment and not the future of paranormal research. In many ways these television series have garnered and increased an interest in the field, and while this is not necessarily a good nor bad thing fully, the debate does rage about their effect.

On the other hand I’ve been witness and a part of the local front – As someone with a passion, encouraged by ghost hunting groups in popular media, I found a team locally and began work with them. Cases are small. The group began as a collection of people with different experience, levels of expertise, backgrounds, equipment, techniques and approaches. Since, in waves that ebb and flow but, I think at this point, are generally forward-moving, the group has come together and tried to solidify. But cases still are not in abundance. Residential emergencies are few, and in many cases succeed only in reassuring the homeowner that what they’re experiencing is in fact quite natural and that there is a normal explanation to the experience.

I’m not suggesting that this is a bad thing – these people are very scared and they do need help, and helping people in paranormal situations (potential as alike and important as a genuine happening) is one of the greatest things we as investigators are supposed to do.

But it’s not our only goal. Especially for a person like me. Where I see that there are two types of paranormal investigator, those looking for answers and those looking for verification. Most in the field are those who experienced something and want answers. It’s these people who also feel the drive most clearly to help others because of that kinship felt in shared history of need. The other group are the faithful, the ones drawn to the field, reasons unknown, searching for experience, drawn toward that dark. It resonates in most of us – 2.5 million people just watched the season premiere of Ghost Hunters, hundreds of thousands, millions even, turn out for horror movies in the theaters, they attend “haunted houses” when the leaves turn dark and fall from the trees, they ride roller coasters and drive fast, seeking thrills. And there is a thrill in the darkness, but where most are , thrilled, others are drawn. I’m one of these latter types, who are drawn without experience. From the start, it’s not the drive to forward the field – not from the very beginning, but to become a part of it, to experience, to validate that faith. Ant that’s where I am. Perhaps no longer an amateur of investigation, but certainly still an amateur of the dark.

So I’ve become discouraged. Local groups are pulling in cases to help people and are slogging their way to the more notorious haunted locations, gathering evidence with cheap equipment. Some groups pull down better and more frequent cases than others, some investigators have a larger budget to spend on better equipment, most following what they see on TV, fewer still going to conferences and learning what’s happening on the rest of the front, very few left with the creativity and accessibility to adapt and refine equipment to make better progress.

With this in mind, I wrote about what I knew. I tried to synthesize my information. The results, I decided, told that we were at a breaking point, a crossroads even. We are at a point where the field is almost at point of saturation, where our technology has reached a point that should be giving better results, and either will or won’t – the public will either have their eyes opened, or they’ll lose interest altogether and the field will fall back again into obscurity. (For the full article, see here.)

But this international travel and opportunity of a lifetime has paid off, even in the slightest, and it’s sparked realization that I haven’t been looking in quite the right direction. I’ve been studying it from the pop culture angle, and the public reaction to the entertainment. I haven’t seen what’s really been going on – I haven’t been privy to the real progress.

I’ve been so lucky to carry on an extensive conversation across a few hours with Barry Fitzgerald, who’s made investigating mysterious happenings a lifelong search. His stories and experience astounded me. I realized that there is a lot happening. Native to Europe, a full resume` across the world, evidence at hand, Barry opened to me that there are mysterious workings here more than doors closing, inaudible voices on recorders and bangs in the dark. Sometimes tables do life above your heads, sometimes spiritual workers in South America lay hands and work in the miraculous. He showed me evidence he’s gathered, shared stories about haunted locations, touched on theories and spoke of the world. We talked technology and details about equipment, focused investigation and study rather than satisfaction with popular tools. There’s a future here, I’ve seen. Our technology is not failing us. We’re not lighting up a hallway further down to see that there’s nothing there, we’re looking at what we’re using and how it effects the environment. We’re searching at the fringes to find ranges, to weed out what’s known. Instead of looking for the supernatural, we’re striking the natural to truly find the super. We are at a crossroads, not of debatable results or total failure, but at a fringe level of science between what is known and unknown, of furthering and breakthrough.

I’m still an amateur of experience, no ghost has made effort to say hello as yet. My beliefs have not been validated. But they’ve become encouraged again. The world is laid out before me and however fragile, offered to me, potential abound, progress made, the field has taken on new light and life for me and this is only the beginning. Barry shared his stories and struck up new light inside, but it’s time to find it for myself, it’s time to join in the fray, to catch up and chase down the breakthroughs, to see what’s next.

Come along?