It was last year’s SPR conference that inspired my trip. Leeds, I thought, what’s near Leeds? Then I remembered: Pontefract. Pontefract is the home of what has become one of the most talked about cases in recent years: the so-called ‘Black Monk of Pontefract’ of 30 East Drive. It is an interesting story because it started off as a poltergeist case before turning into an allegedly recurrent haunting; and so I set out to find out more. What happened next you can read in ‘A Night with the Black Monk’.
‘The Ghost Hunting Issue’ is, of course, a play on words: it is both an issue of the magazine about ghost hunting and about the issue, as in the point to be debated, of ghost hunting. This was something that motivated my own article: what is contemporary ghost hunting and what can we conclude from it? The article is thus descriptive and questioning, but it is not concerned with the evidentiality or otherwise of the things reported at 30 East Drive. The actual critique of ghost hunting I leave to the chairman of the SPR’s Spontaneous Cases Committe, Alan Murdie.
Following up on the last Study Day, ‘New Approaches to Ghost Hunting’, I asked Alan Murdie, who gave a paper at the Study Day, to contribute some further thoughts on the matter. The result is ‘2 Big Mistakes in Ghost Hunting’. Like Sharon Hill in the last issue, Murdie highlights the problematic reliance on equipment that has no demonstrable ability to detect the subject in question, namely, ghosts. Murdie also mentions a lack of focus on witness testimony and so it is especially relevant to have Marcelo Eremián’s article on his analysis of eye-witness testimony.
I was also interested to discover how many members of the SPR, past and present, had written books on the methodology of ‘ghost hunting’. Readers might argue that Guy Lyon Playfair’s influentual text This House is Haunted is missing from the list, but then this book was not strictly about the ways and means of investigation in general and has already been featured in this magazine several times. However, I have bent the rules somewhat to include Richard Whittington-Egon’s biography of Elliott O’Donnell because O’Donnell largely invented the ‘ghost hunting’ genre.
As usual we have our regular features from SPR President, Prof. John Poynton, and collector Brandon Hodge, together with another item from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic presented by Dr Peter Hewitt, taking us from French philosophy to Swedish spirit communication devices to an unusual find made in wartime Britain. Mary Rose Barrington also contributes her paper from last year’s conference, giving those unmoved by ghost hunting more than enough additional food for thought.
Dr Leo Ruickbie
WHATS IN ISSUE 83
A Night with the Black Monk
Dr Leo Ruickbie takes us inside 30 East Drive, reputed home of the Black Monk of Pontefract, with an account of his experiences as part of a commercial ghost hunt.
2 Big Mistakes in Ghost Hunting
Chairman of the SPR’s Spontaneous Cases Committee, Alan Murdie, considers the two biggest mistakes made by ghost hunters today.
Ghost Hunting with the SPR
Six books from SPR members past and present – Cornell, Fraser, Green/Murdie, Parsons, Ruickbie and Whittington-Egan – for those keen to find out more about ghost hunting today.
Recurrent and Shared Apparitions
Marcelo Eremián presents an updated comparative analysis of phenomenological aspects of apparitional experiences, focusing on four case studies.
4 President’s Letter
Henri Bergson is the next philosopher-president of the SPR to be considered by the current President of the Society, Prof. John Poynton.
SPR Librarian Karen Patel details recent library acquisitions, including Erlendur Haraldsson’s Indridi Indridason, and Cardeña, Palmer and Marcusson-Clavertz’s Parapsychology: A Handbook for the 21st Century.
Permanent Paranormal Object
Dr Peter Hewitt presents another unusual exhibit from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Cornwall: the moon rake, a supposedly magical implement discovered by the Museum’s founder Cecil Williamson.
Mary Rose Barrington asks us to reconsider the roles of agent and receiver in the theory of telepathy.
Ghosts in the Machines
Brandon Hodge asserts that we must always be careful of what we wish for and presents his own evidence of what was nearly but not quite an original nineteenth-century Wagner Psychograph.
Details of the SPR’s 41st Annual Conference and 74th Study Day.
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The SPR was the first organisation established to examine allegedly paranormal phenomena using scientific principles. Our aim is to learn more about events and abilities commonly described as ‘psychic’ or ‘paranormal’ by supporting research, sharing information and encouraging debate. The SPR is a Registered Charity, established in 1882.