Brian Laythe has a Ph.D. in social psychology, but he’s also a scientifically trained paranormal researcher.
He studies parapsychology, a field that examines the impact of psychic or “bizarre” experiences on human society. With the Indiana Paranormal Group, Brian uses the scientific method to answer some of life’s most mysterious questions: What are “hauntings,” and why do we experience them? Are they really connections to the afterlife? Or are they something else all together?
Explain what it is you do exactly.
Parapsychology. We have an active research program going, trying to measure all the claims people make about ghost hunting and haunting. Which myths are true or not true? We take it from a neutral perspective. We try to take that phenomenon and compare it to electromagnetic fields, that sort of thing.
Using scientific data — that’s an interesting perspective.
It’s kind of necessary — belief is so strong on both sides of the equation in this field that many either jump to accept evidence or absolutely do not accept it. We, as good scientists, say, “We saw 7-foot-tall shadows, yes, but we don’t know exactly what it could have been.” We don’t try to claim it either way. Different members have different beliefs. But we stick with the data. It’s the safest thing to do to continue to explore this stuff.
Is that because you struggle with the misconceptions of “fringe science”?
Parapsychology has an unfair bias toward (fringe science) for a long time. Truth of the matter is, it’s just an unpopular thing to study in my particular field. So we do the best we can. The program teaches students management skills and scientific method, so they do come away having learned something.
What bizarre things have you experienced?
Some of these things are very explainable through psychology, but some things have happened.
People feel like they are being poked or touched. We’ve had handprints appear before, or scratches. We had a meter slide across a case. We had one member personally report a beach ball moved off the bed by itself — we lost the video, unfortunately. So far no direct visual apparition.