Bryan Bonner and Bob Lewis are the The Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society. They’ve investigated hauntings of invisible jellyfish, alien voyeurs and ghosts — but one was a bad mix of medication and alcohol, another a rubber mask and many others noisy pipes or leaky toilets.
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Operating for almost 23 years, they have not seen a ghost yet. Most of their investigations, as Bonner explained, is finding rational explanations for paranormal seeming events — bringing many clients more at ease with their own homes.
Below is a Q&A with Bonner edited for brevity and clarity.
Jeffco Transcript: You focus heavily on the scientific method for investigating. What does that look like for you?
Bryan Bonner: We do follow the scientific process as best as we can, but when you try to apply it to something as weird as ghost hunting, it’s difficult to apply. We definitely try to apply it as much as we can, but our main goal isn’t as much to investigate something as a ghost investigation, as much as say, "What have the claims been, and how can we look at those claims to come up with a rational explanation?" We need to work through the normal before we can ever get to the paranormal.
Going in specifically trying to find a ghost kind of gives you a weird bias, whereas going and thinking, "What are the specific claims, what have people seen, and what can we do to see if we can witness, document, replicate it?" Based off that, we start our investigation.
JT: Do clients normally reach out to you? How does that generally work?
BB: I always like to tell people we’re like vampires, we come where we’re invited. Whether it’s a public place or a private residence, generally people track us down and say, "I’ve got this story," or "I have this thing going on, and I’d really like you to look into it and see what you can come up with."
We haven’t found a ghost, but boy it would be cool if we could. To be that first person to say we actually found a ghost, that would be amazing. But, we want to be credible enough that when we do have something that’s unusual, and we go to the scientific community and say, ‘Hey, we want somebody to look at this,’ they actually take us seriously.
JT: You mention even non-skeptics get frustrated with you. How so?
BB: We do have cases of going to a location and maybe something does happen. It’s kind of frustrating for a lot of people because we will keep investigating it until we come up with some sort of an answer, or even just we don’t know what it was. I would love to be able to say with 100% accuracy, I know that you have a ghost, however, nobody has a 100% proven what ghosts are, if they exist at all, so if I go in and tell somebody that you absolutely have a ghost, I have to have proof of it.
JT: What does it mean, to you, to be a skeptic?
BB: The word skeptic has, over the past couple of decades, unfortunately, taken on a new definition. A skeptic, if you actually look it up in the dictionary, is someone who is open to all possible explanations based on the data collected. Now, you have cynical, which can be thrown on either side, and that’s really what the slang skeptic means nowadays.
Rational thinking goes with skepticism, so we’re desperately trying to cling onto that word, because it means so much, but it has a questionable definition at this point.
JT: Is there a point where you have to come to a conclusion that there are no ghosts?
BB: In short, you aren’t being truly skeptical if you can jump to a conclusion that just because you examine X amount of cases, they don’t exist. However, it is definitely frustrating with something like that. There’s something causing these cases, even if we’re investigating these cases for nothing more than the psychology behind it to see how people are interpreting things — both for research and being able to help people who are truly having an issue.
When somebody has a perceived paranormal event, real or otherwise, it takes away their power over their life. It really makes them feel out of control, and that’s one of the few things that people really have and hold onto that keeps them together. So, when they lose that, it really tears them apart from the ground up. Being able to get somebody and say, "Here’s a rational explanation, we’ll work with you on this," they come back and thank us, because the rest of their life is coming back together as they aren’t so overwhelmed with that.
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