Thursday, July 8, 2010

Interview: PSICAN – A Canadian Based Paranormal Organization based in Ontario

I am doing a series of interviews with paranormal investigators of all varieties from around the world. These are people with various different and occasionally extremely unusual methods as well as more scientific-based and logic-ruled varieties.

This interview is with Matthew Didier from PSICAN. He was gracious enough to take his time and answer these questions for me and I’m not only appreciative, but terribly impressed. There is hope for inventive and forward-thinking investigators in all corners of the Earth.

AUTUMN: Your group covers a lot of paranormal topics. Can you just list off some of them and perhaps which ones you spend the most time studying? Any certain area you wish to focus on more?

MATTHEW: Paranormal Studies and Investigations Canada looks into ghostly phenomena (and related topics), psychical events/abilities, cryptozoology, and Ufology. These areas of study are effectively worked on as separate items within the group by different teams with a special interest or specialty within that particular study... although people can move within the organization, if they desire (a Ufologist can tag in to work with someone doing psychometry if there's an opening, for example,) people as a rule stay with those areas of the study that interest them most and where their strengths (in terms of knowledge) lie.

As we do have so many people acting as volunteers, we don't have any area that is a "focus" at any given time as such, so it's rather liberating that at any moment, there's something new to hear about or read up on within PSICAN's members.

AUTUMN: You live in beautiful country, do you have a lot of hauntings in your neck of the woods? Many sightings of Bigfoot? If so, do you have any ongoing studies that you've been doing over time or places you've repeatedly studied because of findings?

MATTHEW: Per capita, Canada has really no more or less reports of the paranormal in general than The United States of America, Britain, or Germany. (These are the only countries I've seen some statistics for based on polls of belief and/or specific organizations that do keep statistical data of reports of specific experiences... such as articles from members of the Society for Psychical Research, NUFORC, The Canadian UFO Survey, The American Parapsychology Association, etc.)

We have several ongoing studies on several areas of almost all forms of events and experiences considered "paranormal" by popular culture... from first-hand investigations of sightings of Sasquatch and lake monsters, to several experiments with poltergeists and possible RSPK (recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis) phenomena, to the collection and dissemination of UFO sightings... and even some exciting new work with manifestations of apparitions which will be published when completed (probably in a year or so.)

AUTUMN: What types of equipment do you utilize for cryptid searches and ghost hunts? Do you come up with any new methods or technology? Do you utilize just scientific methods or anything unusual or uncommon?

MATTHEW: Although we do have several pieces of equipment "on hand" thanks to volunteers within our organization, for investigations, we find the best tools are simply eyes, ears, pen/pencil, paper, critical thinking skills, and an open mind.

We tend to match up the equipment to the investigation rather than trolling out the same items constantly... so if there is an instance where things are reportedly "heard" more than they are "seen", we will bring more audio equipment... for instances where things are "felt" rather than "heard" or "seen", we'll bring environmental recording and measuring tools. To each situation, especially on the initial look into it, we bring those things which seem, by the team in charge of that situation, to be the "best fit".

We are constantly fine tuning our equipment and methodologies and learning as we go. We are students of what came before us, but try to implement recent developments and knowledge into what we do.

As for "equipment" that we have created/modified, although we do have a couple of items we've tinkered with (such as a focused piezo microphone system and an increased sensitivity atmospheric internal environmental unit,) it's really nothing that people cannot buy in a store or find online and build themselves... and to date, we don't have data to write a paper on these items to recommend their overall use... and, considering the latest news from The SPR on "poltergeist raps" and their sound signature, it may be a while longer for the mics, as we re-tweak things to see what we can find to add to the information within Dr. Barrie Colvin's work... or replicate it to compare and add to the bank of knowledge. (Of course, we haven’t seen Dr. Colvin’s full article yet, but it promises to be a very important document in terms of recording “ghostly” sounds!)

AUTUMN: Ultimately, what drives your group? What is it you are hoping to find? And, have you come to any conclusions about any of the paranormal things you have encountered so far?

MATTHEW: Hmm... Allow me to break this down...

#1: Ultimately, what drives your group? - A thirst for knowledge and understanding. Almost everyone on our team feels that these experiences are genuine and deserve proper study and attention... many of us in the group (but not all) have had our own experiences, but have remained skeptical about the answers we're given by other sources, so we're trying to find empirical evidence to show us what
these things are... and why they are experienced... without prejudice or any preconceived hypothesis or faith within our work.

#2: What is it you are hoping to find? - Possibly answers... more likely we'll only find (hopefully) better questions for the people like us that come next.

#3: And, have you come to any conclusions about any of the paranormal things you have encountered so far? - Yes, that I don't have a decent answer for what's happening or proper empirical evidence that these experiences exist physically... yet.

AUTUMN: If you keep an open mind to all possibilities while studying phenomenon, do you toss in ideas like aliens and other dimensions as well or are there limits to what you're willing to entertain explanation-wise?

MATTHEW: Taking Ufology as an example, we do look into all possibilities... from the ETH (Extraterrestrial hypothesis), EDH (extradimensional hypothesis), and mistaken identities. We do contact airports and other authorities as well as checking through various other networks for possible related sightings and hopefully any proper explanations.

Within "ghosts" it is more tantalizing... as we entertain and work with concepts such as (thank you Eric Ouellet for this acronym) the DPH (or “Dead Person Hypothesis”) to RSPK to PSI to dimensional shifts to time shifts to "environmental recordings" and all stops in between.

We do have a "Code of Presentation" which explains what we do.

...and our mission statement.

In both documents, you'll note we discuss "neutrality" in observation. This means approaching things from an agnostic standpoint of neither belief nor disbelief. This allows us to look into seeing "what" and "why" and avoiding possible slanting towards a preferred belief in terms of the paranormal.

If it isn't empirical, we don't proclaim it as fact... and as such, we're open to multiple possibilities as to causation.

In conclusion, Matthew states that he and Sue, the founders and directors of PSICAN, have made no money doing this... nor do they ever really intend to... in fact, they've lost literally thousands out of our own pockets keeping things going.

They are working towards becoming a registered educational charity in Canada and their goal and aim is to help elevate the study of these events to accredited, post-secondary academia in Canada as more than a one-off "special interest" class... barring that, as an educational outfit for like-minded people within itself.

In conclusion, Matthew says, “PSICAN and it's related sites and groups are truly a labor of love... and something we hope will live on long after we're possible case studies for the ‘Survival of Bodily Death’ PSICAN group!”

I have to say that last statement caught me and made me smile, as I have said that when I get closer to my latter years, I would like to find a group I am comfortable with who will attend my passing-on and hopefully we can try and communicate in the process.

This interview was not only really enlightening, but it made me smile the entire time. This is the kind of attitude and interest and intelligence that I’ve wanted to see more of in groups around the world. PSICAN is a huge asset to Canada, but really a fantastic asset to the entire world’s ongoing research. It’s in these local groups that the really interesting theories and research takes us a step closer to understanding the origins or properties of paranormal phenomenon.

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