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20 Questions Interview with Dave Sircom
1. Where do you see ghost hunting and paranormal groups, web sites or Ghost information, tours, Books Paranormal Radio and Television in 10 years?
The recent explosion in ghost hunting is due mainly to the vast number of aging baby-boomers beginning to deal with their mortality. The popular ghost hunting / paranormal television shows don’t fuel the growth they are a bi-product or refection of it. I believe you’ll see a drastic decline in Interest over the next five or so years.
2. What would you personally consider to be the definitive proof that ghosts are real?
This depends on your definition of “ghost.” The residual haunting has always been with us and is here to stay without question. If you are talking about a spirit or entity that is cognizant, intelligent conscious and aware of itself, well, this is a different animal. Electronic Voice Phenomena, to me, is proof that “something”, or some part, either survives this life or there is an entire level of being we are not familiar with. In any event something answers!
3. What is the most real evidence you personally have uncovered so far?
At the New England Society of Paranormal Investigators we have the state of the art gear but concentrate heavily on EVPs. This is where the true evidence lies in my opinion.
4. Are you sceptical of the claims other make of their findings?
I am sceptical of everything. There’s an old saying
"To a believer no evidence is necessary and To a sceptic no evidence is enough." As professional investigators we must approach each investigation with an empirical state of mind and remain sceptics with an open mind.
5. If you could investigate your "Dream Haunted Hot Spot" where would it be?
Actually, here on Cape Cod we are afforded a treasure trove of cemeteries and old homes dating back to the late 1600s. But I would like to go into a few of the famous sanatoriums.
6. What was your first Paranormal encounter?
An EVP caught in my office, on my computer. It’s about 9:00AM in late August 2000. I’m in the office which is a converted bedroom in our home in Yarmouth Port. Our family has lived in this house since it was built so there is nothing strange or spooky here. I’m installing a new software program on my computer named “Cool Edit.” The reason for this stems from a TV show my wife, Ann, and I watched the night before on either The Discovery Channel or The Travel Channel I don’t remember which. This show has a segment with a gentlemen standing in a field, quite alone, in Gettysburg with a micro cassette recorder. He asks “Does anyone remember General Lee?” and allows the tape to record for about fifteen seconds. On playback you can hear the question being asked again followed by a faint but totally discernable “Yes”! I’m genuinely amazed. I had always believed, or hoped, that there was some sort of existence after this life but I was quite certain there was no way to interact with it. Ghosts? Talking to the dead? No way! It turns out that this gentleman standing in the field is author Mark Nesbitt who has written several very successful books on the Ghosts of Gettysburg. The segment following Mark highlights a ghost hunting groups who gather these voices and filter them through a computer program called “Cool Edit”. They call these voices EVPs for Electronic Voice Phenomenon which is the capturing of spirit voices on digital or analog recorders. This whole thing appeals to me even as a skeptic. It’s scientific with little or no subjectivity, it’s inexpensive and it’s easy.
So now Cool Edit is installed, I have a microphone attached to the “Line In” plug on the computer so I can record right onto the hard drive, my headphones are on and I am a real ghost hunter! After hitting Record, Dave, The Ghost Hunter, says “Is there any friendly spirit or entity that wishes to communicate?” Note I throw the word friendly in there just in case, certainly not because I’m afraid. No No. It’s just for safety! I allow about 25 seconds to pass and hit Stop and then Play. The question is heard once more and the hiss of white noise is all that follows. I knew it! Just a bunch of bologna and a huge waste of time. I stomp off to the kitchen, a little disappointed, for breakfast.
After a bagel I’m feeling a little better, I decide to give it one more chance so the fearless Ghost Hunter marches upstairs, dons the headphones and repeats “Is there any friendly spirit or entity that wishes to communicate?” I wait only about fifteen seconds as I know nothing will be there anyway and hit Stop, then Play.
Immediately I hear myself ask the question and then… I HEAR THE ANSWER!
About 6 seconds after the question is asked there is another, adult male voice on the hard drive and he says “Did anybody answer?” The fearless Ghost Hunter jumps up, the chair goes flying, rips off and drops the headphones while simultaneously backing up across the room against the far wall in abject terror. You see I know that no one occupies either of the houses abutting ours, my office windows are closed and I’m totally alone in the house. I also know that someone or something I can’t see answered me.
I went down the stairs rather quickly and the fear was continuing to build. When I entered the kitchen the ceiling light was flashing on and off. The microwave oven display was also flashing eights all across. I ripped the microwave right off the counter and headed out the door beside the garage. I dumped the microwave and waited for my heart rate to slow down. When I finally pulled it together I went into the house and the kitchen light was no longer flashing but it was another 3 hour before I would go upstairs.
In retrospect I can see how the flashing kitchen light and microwave display were most likely the product of some sort of electrical surge or failure and completely explainable. Not so, the voice on the hard drive.
This was my initiation into the strange world of Electronic Voice Phenomena and I was going to find out exactly how strange and addicting a world it really is. Since that August morning, I have recorded thousands of hours of EVP sessions, investigated may haunted buildings with NESPI and worked with people experiencing EVP disturbances all across the country.
7. What scares you about Ghost Hunting or Paranormal Investigations?
Becoming too cynical or brazen in dealing with something we don’t really know or understand. Letting my guard down.
8. If you could work side by side with one of the Paranormal Investigator greats, who would it be?
George Meek, Konstantine Rodive or Mark Macy, without a doubt.
9. Read any good Paranormal Books lately?
I spend so much on the paranormal that when I read it’s to escape it.
10. What Question do people ask you most when you tell them you’re a paranormal investigator or personality?
It’s always “What’s the scariest thing that’s happened to you/”
11. In your opinion, where is the most Haunted city in America?
I have no idea but would venture a guess at either Gettysburg or New Orleans.
12. Do you feel more people should get involved with Ghost hunting or Paranormal Investigation?
If a group wants to experiment with ghost hunting such as EVP or ITC that’s one thing. My problem is when a weekend ghost hunt group holds itself as a professional, experienced team and offers to help those who are suffering a serious paranormal disturbance. This is a formula for disaster, in my opinion, for both parties.
13. What does the future hold for you?
At NESPI.net we are moving into ITC and are in the process of building our own “Frank’s Box. In any event, here on Cape Cod I stay plenty busy with the paranormal.
14. Paranormal Conventions do you see them growing? And which ones are the Must go to ones?
It’s a great way to meet others interested in the same thing you are and, who knows, even an old ghost hunter like me might learn something.
15. What is your most favored paranormal phenomena or subject?
Capturing Class “A” EVPs in way of a non-real-time conversation with something that remains unseen. Sure beats fishing!
16. Tell us about your best moment in investigating or conference attending for you?
Recently, a woman from Utah, who we’ll call Maureen, informed me that she was receiving unintelligible but disturbing messages on her home answering machine. Sometimes there would just be dead air with loud electrical cracking sounds. She went on to tell me that her nephew had been killed two weeks earlier in a sporting accident and she though it might be him trying to “come through” and contact her.
This is an extremely common occurrence and far from the first one I’ve handled. It is a form of Electronic Voice Phenomenon or EVP which is the capturing of the voices of spirits or entities on tape or digitally. My problem is that I don’t believe EVP should be used in the bereavement process. At least, not yet. At the New England Society of Paranormal Investigators (www.nespi.net) we are experimenting with our own electronic apparatus known as “Mike’s Box” which, if successful, would allow 2-way, real time communication with the other side. Until such time as a machine like this actually works, there’s no way to have a meaningful relationship with a deceased love one. The best we can hope for are messages in the vein of “I’m okay”, or “Don’t worry about me.” We can get a sense of peace and some closure.
Maureen also told me the calls come at different times and on different days during the week. She was so unnerved that she would erase the call immediately as she hung up. I instructed her to sit by the phone and place her hand on it. When she felt relaxed pick it up and state into the phone, out loud three times, that she would only take the calls on Wednesdays at 7:00PM. It has been my experience that you can actually make an appointment. I also told her to get a digital recorder as her answering machine used magnetic tape. So, now it’s Sunday afternoon and we have to wait until Wednesday. Maureen promises to call me as soon as she receives the next call. Finally, 7:00PM Wednesday rolls around and no call, 8:00 PM and no call, 9:00 PM and no call. I’m ready to call it a day when my phone rings at 9:30PM. It’s a very excited Maureen who reports she just got the call and recorded the entire 55 second message onto a digital recorder and was emailing it to me tonight. I think I was more excited than she was.
Now, the real work begins. It’s always best to work with EVP when fully rested but I just couldn’t wait. Either could Maureen.
I loaded the .wav file onto Cool Edit and saved the initial copy then played the raw copy. I’ve developed a pretty good ear over the years but I could not make out a single word that sounded intelligible to me. I’ll save you the boring details about peeling the sound back like an onion, noise reduction, hiss reduction, notch filters, etc…
I worked on this file constantly. I tried a different arrangement of editing techniques, pass filters, modulation, Graphic Equalizers; you name it until on Friday afternoon I could clearly make out the very first word “Maureen….” The rest was just a deep male guttural growling sound with no recognizable speech patterns. I felt defeated. I emailed the “cleaned” file back to Maureen along with an apology for my failure but that I would be happy to try again when she received her next call.
I probably got about six steps out of my office when the phone rang. It’s Maureen, and she’s so excited she can barely talk. “It’s my Father; it’s my Father”, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you...” I calmed her down a little and asked how she could tell and she said her deceased father was a German immigrant and he knew a little English but was only comfortable speaking in German and it was definitely his voice. Apparently, Maureen and her sister weren’t getting along due to some incident that happened between them quite a while ago and as such, were not speaking to each other as they could not get past their differences even with the death of her sister’s son. The message from Dad was for Maureen to take the high road and make up with her sister and help her through this terrible time and that the sister truly needed Maureen. She did and some time later played the message from their father for her. They have remained close ever since.
Well, maybe there is a small place for EVP in bereavement after all!
17. What is the hardest part about being a paranormal personality?
Absolutely nothing. I love it!
18. How do prepare for a ghost hunt?
That depends upon whether it’s an inside or an outside investigation and what the circumstances are. I’d need to know a little about the disturbance or entity we are going trying to communicate with. My first goal is to establish why the disturbance is occurring. If there’s something that happened we can change to appease it we might okay. If the disturbance is found to be enjoyable to the spirit or entity, well, this is a severe problem. So it depends on what we are doing as to how we prepare.
19. Have you ever taken a ghost Tour? And, What about it did you not like?
Yes. It was too much history and too little ghosts.
20. What in the field of ghost hunting and Paranormal Investigating needs the most attention?
There needs to be a Paranormal Institute headed by the most respected and experienced paranormal investigators from all over the world. This has to be done so that, without a doubt, it would be the World’s foremost and unchallenged authority on the subject. Then we can talk about courses, certification, etc…