Paranormal activity finds mainstream acceptance
October 27, 2010|
Henry Hanks and Nicole Saidi, CNN
For Peaches Veatch, it started early, after watching an episode of the TV series "That's Incredible!" as a child. "They had an episode on Toys "R" Us being haunted and Sylvia Brown the psychic did a séance."
Veatch, having also learned of her family's interest in the paranormal, began recording "ghostly" sounds by age 9. "I had some experiences when I was a kid that were very interesting," she said.
By 2000, she had heard of formalized paranormal investigation groups and looked for one to join, finally finding her home in the California Paranormal Private Investigations in 2007.
The group, founded in 2006, is one of many such groups around the world (though Veatch estimated the number of "serious" groups only in the dozens). "Paranormal Activity" may have brought in mass audiences to theaters -- for two years in a row -- but stories of ghosts and those who investigate them are becoming more socially acceptable in the real world.
When CNN iReport asked for stories of ghosts that had been passed down through the generations in local communities, many of the iReporters who shared the stories said that they believed these legends to be real.
Just like Veatch's story about "That's Incredible!" mass media is increasing this interest in the unexplained, and especially in groups like hers.
"Due to all the TV shows that have come out [SyFy's "Ghost Hunters," A&E's "Paranormal State," and the Travel Channel's "Ghost Adventures" among them] people are willing to open up about their experiences, and before, it was taboo. No one wanted to talk about the unknown," she said. "We've reached out to people on Facebook in other countries and they're fascinated with it as well."
In the three years that Veatch has been with the paranormal investigations group, she has noticed a growing acceptance of what it does. "Linda Vista Hospital [a supposedly haunted location in Los Angeles, California] is now being opened up to paranormal groups to come in," she said. "Before, it was very hard to go in there."
Veatch said her group investigated Hollywood's famous Comedy Store in September. "It took us quite a while to get in there," she said. "We were surprised that they were willing to let us in, and they even mentioned it online for Halloween."