Who ya gonna call? India's first paranormal help line

If there's something strange, in your Mumbai 'hood, who you gonna call? Indian author and strange phenomena investigator Jay Alani has started a helpline for people freaked out about "ghosts, spirits, black magic or anything related to the paranormal world." Alani says he receives eight to 10 calls each day. From the Hindustan Times:

He has been receiving various calls of people claiming to see a ghost, hearing some unusual noise, or feeling that someone is constantly watching them, during this quarantine period.

“In most of the cases, I have found that person who claims to experience any such unusual incident has been watching horror films and series during this lockdown period. After questioning them about their daily routine, family history, past trauma etc, I and my team of psychologists found out that many of them actually create a fictional ghost in their mind”, said Jay Alani who has been a full-time paranormal investigator for last many years and has investigated over 100 haunted locations and looked after over 150 paranormal cases[...]

As per Jay Alani, “The main motive behind this helpline number is to provide scientific solutions to those who are encountering any unusual incidents or have any question about the paranormal world. We see that black magic and mesmerism are propagated and advertised openly in India. People usually fall in the trap of such Babas, Tantriks and Ojhas due to lack of knowledge.”

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Quarantining with ghosts

According to a 2019 YouGov survey, 45 percent of adult Americans believe in ghosts. What's it like for people who are convinced they are quarantining with a specter? The New York Times' Molly Fitzpatrick interviewed several true believers about their ghostly roommates and puts their experiences in context. From the New York Times:

John E.L. Tenney, who describes himself as a paranormal researcher and is a former host of the TV show “Ghost Stalkers,” estimates that he received two to five reports of a haunted house each month in 2019. Lately, it’s been more like five to 10 in a week.[...]

Mr. Tenney has no doubt that the vast majority of these cases in his inbox are “completely explainable” in nature. “When the sun comes up and the house starts to warm up, they’re usually at work — they’re not used to hearing the bricks pop and the wood expand,” he said. “It’s not that the house wasn’t making those sounds. They just never had the time to notice it.” [...]

Kurt Gray, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studies how we perceive and treat the minds of other entities, including animals, machines and the dead. Times of great unease or malaise, when there is an increased drive to find meaning in chaos, can lend themselves to perceived hauntings, he said — not to mention that disease itself shares certain psychological parallels with a “malevolent spirit,” creeping invisibly upon its unsuspecting victims.

This phenomenon could also be a side effect of the loneliness of our time.

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Tessie and Binnie, the US Army's psychic dogs

JB Rhine (1895-1980), the founder of parapsychology, spent the bulk of his career attempting to scientifically investigate ESP, psychokinesis, and clairvoyance at Duke University. While Rhine debunked numerous claims, he also reported on many experiments that he argued were evidence of psi phenomena. In 1952, the US Army consulted with Rhine on their idea to use psychic powers to detect landmines. The psychics weren't people though; they were German Shepherds named Tessie and Binnie. From author Nick Redfern's retelling of the weird tale over at Mysterious Universe:

Although Fort Belvoir was the place from where the work was coordinated, the actual tests took place on stretches of quiet California beaches. A contingent of soldiers, Rhine, Binnie and Tessie hit the beach and the work began. The role of the troops was to bury dummy mines (thankfully!) at varying depths in the sand and to see if the dogs could locate them. To begin with, both dogs were kept in the back of a covered, military truck – to ensure that they couldn’t see what was going on at that same stretch of beach. That is, until it was time for the operations to begin.

Incredibly, it didn’t take Binnie and Tessie long to find the fake mines. The work progressed and the military was impressed. But, was it all coincidence and random luck? To ensure that wasn’t the case, the Army began to make it more and more difficult for Tessie and Binnie to find the mines. Instead of just burying the bogus mines deep in the sand, they took the devices into the water – to depths of about six or seven feet – and had the pair try and find them.

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Hey, Paranormal Activity 4: You're cute, but can we talk about your hot subplot friend?

Paranormal Activity 4 opened this weekend, and it topped the box office. Then, it was announced that there would be one more sequel and a spinoff. But what I want to know more about is the infinitely more interesting witch-related part of the Paranormal saga that is only barely touched on in the movies, but rounds out the creepiness ten-fold. Yes, we've been treated to several moments of suspense and scares throughout the four movies. But I feel like there is a whole other story being glossed over.

It won't be a long discussion, but for the sake not spoiling Paranormal Activity 4, I'll continue after the jump. Read the rest

MTV is making an hour-long "found footage" show inspired by Paranormal Activity

MTV is apparently developing a new series called The Experiment that will be shot in the style of The Blair Witch Project and the Paranormal Activity franchise, incorporating the scary, creepy element of found footage. I'd turn my nose up at this idea if I didn't think it was so groovy -- if it was executed well.

For those of you keeping score, NBC will attempt to revive the '90s through sitcoms, MTV will do it with horror. Advantage: MTV. I never thought that would happen. Read the rest