SFU geography professor Paul Kingsbury poses in Vancouver Police Museum's morgue before a paranormal investigation.

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SFU professor finds paranormal investigators are just like us

March 08, 2017
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By Wan Yee Lok

In the last couple of years, SFU geography professor Paul Kingsbury has hunted ghosts, attended UFO conferences and interviewed alien abductees as a part of his research on paranormal investigators.

On Mar. 15, he will share his preliminary findings at SFU President's Faculty Lecture on Investigating Paranormal Investigators: The Lived Spaces of UFO, Ghost and Sasquatch Research Organizations.

In anticipation of his lecture, Kingsbury gives SFU News a brief overview of his research:

What have you discovered about paranormal investigators so far?

Paranormal investigators are just like anyone else in terms of their socio-economic backgrounds, education levels or psychological well-being. Most of them have had profound paranormal experiences and simply strive to learn more. They are driven by passion and do not charge money for their investigative services.    

Why did you decide to study paranormal investigators?

I wanted to choose a topic that will keep me fascinated, and was inspired by an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail. The article criticized how National Geographic TV was showing ancient alien shows and UFO hunter shows. The writer was concerned the shows could damage children’s understanding of the world. I did not entirely agree with the writer because, as a cultural geographer, it is important to acknowledge how aliens and ghosts are significant cultural phenomena and matter a lot in many people’s lives. That’s when I figured I would really like to study the lived spaces of paranormal investigators and find out what drives them to do what they do.    

What is a highlight in your research so far?

During a UFO conference in Arizona, I interviewed a person who claimed he was abducted by aliens. He recalled the abduction occurred in his flat in London. His cat was petrified at something outside the window and jumped down all flights of the cat tree, something his cat had never done before. He then remembered elevating and floating down the hallway, up the staircase and into his bedroom. He experienced an emotion that was off the charts, beyond love, pain, anger and fear. His memory then dissolved and he recalled seeing a being with a strawberry face. Paranormal investigators have observed that aliens often implant what Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud called “screen memories” into the abductees’ minds, which are strange images that attempt to hide or distort the traumatic memory of their actual visible features or to confuse the experience for abductees.

Do you believe in paranormal phenomena?

I always get this question about belief. Personally, I’ve never had a direct experience with the paranormal in terms of UFOs, Sasquatch or ghosts. I am open to the possibility there are things that are beyond the known laws of nature or normal scientific understanding. My research does not try to prove or disprove the existence of paranormal occurrences but rather discover what motivates paranormal investigators to continue their work, as well as how they conduct it in various field sites and conference settings.    

Event details:

When: Wednesday, Mar. 15, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Room 2600, SFU’s Surrey Campus, 250 – 13450 102nd Ave.
Cost: This event is free, but requires you to RSVP. (https://www.sfu.ca/publicsquare/upcoming-events/president-s-faculty-lecture-series/sfu-president-s-faculty-lectures-series-paul-kingsbury.html)

SFU geography professor Paul Kingsbury at the International UFO Congress.
A photo taken during a paranormal investigation at the Vancouver Police Museum.
A photo taken at a Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) Field Investigators Training Seminar.