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Discussion with Sceptical Paranormal Researcher

I came to know of paranormal group RiPA and its founder, Atticus, online through Facebook. As somebody who is immensley interested in the study of the paranormal, I wanted to learn more about the group. Atticus kindly agreed to an interview and here he explains what he has experienced in the group, what has drawn him to the paranormal, and what he thinks of the popular ghost-hunting shows.

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what got you interested in the paranormal?

My interest in the paranormal started from an early age. My first film was Evil Dead. I saw that when I was about 2 years old. From then on. I was hooked.

I remember growing up through early school years looking forward to the next time a Hammer Horror film was on. Then come weekends there would be stay overs. With stayovers come horror films. As this was the 80’s I grew up with Freddy, Jason, Michael, and all the other horror films of that time. Yeah, I guess you could say I was the weird kid at school! After a while I started to think about why people like horror films. What is the cause of fear? Why is it that people like to be scared? Ok so the slasher films were fiction, but what about ghost stories. People always know of someone who has seen a ghost. There must be something to it all. So yeah, the interest was there from an early age, but my research into paranormal study really only took off about 15 years ago.

Your paranormal group, RIPA, has been running for close to ten years. Can you tell us about the group, and why you started it?

Oh RiPA. RiPA’s back story is quite a journey. I returned to Milton Keynes in 2000. There I was, a newbie in a town were I knew limited people. Kinda felt like a bit of plankton in a filter jug. Where do I go, what do I do. So one night I tuyrned on the pc and thought. hmmm I wonder if anyone out there shares any interests with me. This was back in the day of MSN clubs. I made a group page based for people with paranormal interest and sat back and waited.

I then got an email from someone who already had a paranormal group running. Boom! I thought. Then it turned out he only lived around the corner from me, Double Boom! We hooked up, got talking and KAPOW! the birth of where we are today started. Over the years we have had several name changes, turned in many different directions hired and fired and loved and lost many members but that all adds up to the journey.

However. A few years back we were known under a different guise. Things were getting complicated with the co founder. I was busy taking things academic and he was busy taking the completely opposite route. It was tough. Many disagreements came about regarding the future of what we had. Then came the decisive day. We went our separate ways. A name change was in order to encapsulate the research that we now do. Looking upon some of my academia fellows I adopted the name RiPA. Research into Paranormal Anomalistic. and that kinda stuck. Although I have toyed many a time with changing Paranormal to Psychological. This may still happen. But with any branding it costs a lot and can be quite a workload. RiPA is fundamentally a sceptic group. but this is only because its where our research and studies have led us.

Although saying that, we are not cynical. The RiPA mantra is ‘ Its not impossible, just improbable’. Come to us with a claim, we may or may not initially believe you. Show us proof. Give us the evidence. Unfortunately, this is yet to happen.

 

On your website you claim that most paranormal claims can be explained away. Do you believe in the paranormal? Has your group ever uncovered anything you’ve yet been unable to explain?

Most paranormal claims are just tales of ignorance. Now I don’t mean that in a detrimental way. Just because you cant explain it does not mean it is paranormal. You may not be aware of the psychological causes of Hypnogognia (Sleep Paralysis) or the haunting effect that a high dose of carbon monoxide can cause. or the reaction that some geological and environmental conditions can play on the brain. Examples like these make up quite the percentage on paranormal experiences. Do I believe in the paranormal? I would like to. Really I would. And yeah, sometimes I do like to leave the bubble of reality and think about the what if’s. I believe that people DO experience paranormal phenomena. Gee, there are far to many accounts out there for there not to be anything. But I don’t think it is what you think it is. Come to me with a tale of a ghost sighting. I believe you saw what you said. Was it a ghost? Probably not. well, not in the sense of a typical spook anyway. So do I believe? Let me just say that I believe that you believe.

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about serious ghost investigation?

 Certain TV shows do a serious amount of damage to genuine research.

There are many carbon copy groups of MH. They go out, do what MH do and that’s that. That is not a ghost investigation! That is hanging out in place with your mates hoping a ghost will show. and surprisingly enough. It quite often does.

RiPA are certainly doing something wrong as over the years we must’ve covered over 300 locations and we are still yet to get anything! To be honest, 90% of ghost investigation can be explained from the armchair with a bit of research. It is so much more than going to a supposedly haunted location, sitting in the dark and waiting for a machine to go ‘boing’!

 

Have you had any paranormal experiences yourself (or, experiences you’ve been unable to explain away)?

 Yeah, Once. It was a strange account. And to make matters worse it involves the most debunked form of  ‘ghost’ research technique, EVP. Electronic Voice Phenomenon. It happened at a place in Gloucester. We were there for the night based on claims of many hauntings. I had an external microphone on a lead plugged into a dictaphone. There was a boarded up fireplace at this location. We were not allowed to remove the board. However, my interest peaked and there was a gap between the board and the middle of the fireplace archway. This was just big enough to stick my mic in. I had it in place for around three minutes. The room I was in was silent. On reviewing the recording, there was a section where what sounded like a crash of pans followed by a voice saying, quite clearly, ‘She’s DEAD!’ That was pretty cool. And although I have debunked and explained away many EVP recordings, this one is one occasion where I don’t have the answers……yet!

 

What advice can you offer to any individual or group wanting to seriously investigate the paranormal?

My first and main bit of advice would be to work out what you want. Will you be a ‘ghost hunter’ or a ‘paranormal researcher’. Ghost hunting is easy. Paranormal research is not.

Can the general public take part in any of your investigations?

 Generally no. But sometimes we do open our doors in order to let people join us. But when they do it is part of a study. We would monitor how they are in certain situations and look into how they react if they experience effects of a typical haunting. These notes are then put into a paper that is confidential and stored for our records.
Can you share any relevant links so that people can learn about RIPA, yourself or any relevant material?

Of course:
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