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Ghost Hunting: True Stories of Unexplained Phenomena from The Atlantic Paranormal Society Paperback – October 2, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jason Hawes, along with Grant Wilson, heads up TAPS, The Atlantic Paranormal Society. Plumbers by trade, Hawes and Grant are interested in getting to the bottom of everyday, paranormal occurrences. It has been more than a decade since Jason and Grant first met, and since then TAPS has grown in size and scope to become one of the most respected paranormal-investigation groups in America.

Grant Wilson, along with Jason Hawes, heads up TAPS, The Atlantic Paranormal Society. Plumbers by trade, Hawes and Grant are interested in getting to the bottom of everyday, paranormal occurrences. It has been more than a decade since Jason and Grant first met, and since then TAPS has grown in size and scope to become one of the most respected paranormal-investigation groups in America.

Michael Jan Friedman is the author of nearly sixty books of fiction and nonfiction, more than half of which bear the name Star Trek or some variation thereof. Ten of his titles have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. He has also written for network and cable television, radio, and comic books, the Star Trek: Voyager® episode “Resistance” prominent among his credits. On those rare occasions when he visits the real world, Friedman lives on Long Island with his wife and two sons.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

At The Atlantic Paranormal Society (T.A.P.S. for short), we typically start our investigations with a question: Does this case merit our attention? The answer is usually dependent on a second question: Does the person who believes he or she has paranormal activity truly need our help? That's our primary goal -- to help.

If people think they've seen a ghost, heard an unexplained noise, or found things moved out of place and they're concerned about it, we'll pack up our vehicles, bring in our equipment to document the activity, and, if necessary, even bless the place. We do believe there are supernatural entities, both benign and destructive, but before we accept that a house or building is haunted we check out every possible angle.

I'm inclined to be especially sensitive to those clients who see paranormal phenomena and believe they're losing their minds, as I'll explain in a moment. But the decision to go on a job is not mine alone. It involves my partner, Grant Wilson, as well. Grant and I developed T.A.P.S. together, so we rely on each other's perspectives. He's like a brother to me and has been almost from the day we met.

At the time, I was twenty-two, a couple of years removed from my first paranormal experience. At the age of twenty, I had gotten involved with a lady who practiced Reiki, a Japanese technique for stress reduction, relaxation, and healing that depends on the manipulation of a person's life-force energy.

At first, I was skeptical about the idea of life-force energy. Then, after six months or so of exposure to the technique, I started seeing things. Usually it started with a mist, out of which emanated a dim light, and then out of the light came other things -- including see-through animals and full-body human apparitions.

I would point them out to whoever was with me, but no one else seemed to see them. They looked at me like I was crazy, and frankly, that was how I looked at myself. I felt like I was honestly and truly losing my mind.

It was scary as all get-out. I didn't know where to turn. Then a friend introduced me to a guy named John Zaffis, who was known as a paranormal researcher in Connecticut. Zaffis ran some tests and determined that I was becoming sensitive to paranormal phenomena.

That was a whole lot better than going crazy, but it was far from comforting. I was still seeing things I didn't want to see. And Zaffis, who lived three hours away, couldn't work with me as often as I would have liked. At his suggestion, I started the Rhode Island Paranormal Society, which came to be known as RIPS.

It wasn't a ghost-hunting organization like T.A.P.S., at least not at first. It was more of a support group. I was trying to connect with people who had gone through experiences similar to mine, hoping they could help me deal with my sensitivity and shut it off. I ended up meeting people all right, many more than I would have imagined.

But none of them knew how to help me.

Then, one day in the aquarium at Mystic, Connecticut, a woman in her fifties came up to me out of nowhere and asked in a tender, almost intimate way, "How are you doing?"

It was a strange question to ask someone she had never met. Before I could answer her, she continued. "Hon," she said, "you're seeing things, I know. But you can make it stop. Try green olives. I'll see you again soon." Then she walked away. I was too dumbfounded to stop her and ask her how she knew about my problem.

Stranger still, the green olive approach worked. I ate those suckers all day long, a bottle a day, and the visions I'd been having went away. I wasn't cured for life, because whenever I stopped eating olives the visions came back. But at least I had found a way to alleviate the symptoms.

In the meantime, my RIPS group had taken on a life of its own, blustering its way into graveyards and abandoned buildings with a couple of cameras, a tape recorder, and a whole lot of optimism. We caught a few EVPs now and then, but I can't say they were anything of merit.

EVPs, by the way, are electronic voice phenomena. When a ghost hunter enters a room, he always asks any paranormal entity for a sign of its presence. Even if an entity is there, listening, and inclined to answer, its response isn't always audible to the human ear. Sometimes it can only be picked up on a sound recording device and discovered later on, when you're going over your tapes or digital impressions.

EVPs have been part of the paranormal investigator's repertoire since their inadvertent discovery in the 1950s by a man recording birdsongs. To his surprise, he got human voices instead.

The other thing RIPS seemed to capture a lot was orb activity. An orb is a round, translucent, mobile packet of energy thought to signal supernatural activity in some way. However, people often mistake naturally occurring phenomena like dust, bugs, light reflections, and condensation for orbs. It wasn't at all uncommon for someone in RIPS to "prove" a haunting because he had caught some "orbs" with his camera, when in fact they'd been floating particles of dust and there hadn't been a ghost within fifty miles of the place.

RIPS also visited some homes, responding to residents who wanted to know if they were living with supernatural entities. I remember one Connecticut case in particular -- not because of any significant paranormal activity but because while I was there I ran into the woman I had met in the Mystic aquarium. Like us, she was checking out the house for signs of haunting.

It was a strange moment. But then, she had said we would meet again. I made sure to thank her for the olive idea.

About that same time, I got a call from a guy who had seen our rinky-dink RIPS website and said he could improve on it, make it nicer-looking and more functional. In fact, he was willing to redesign it for free. He just wanted to add it to his portfolio so he could get other work in the future.

It was a hard deal to beat. I met with him at a local place called Bess Eaton Doughnuts. I remember him bringing his good friend Chris. I also remember wondering if it wasreally the website he wanted to talk about, because theconversation kept drifting off in the direction of personal experiences with the paranormal.

It was outside the doughnut place, as we were talking alongside my Subaru, that the guy finally came clean. He had had an experience of his own -- a recurring one, from the time he was fifteen until he turned seventeen and went to college. An intense experience in the heavily wooded part of Rhode Island where he had been raised. And every once in a while, the experience still popped up.

The guy was Grant Wilson.

His friend Chris verified everything he said, mentioning tests he and Grant's other friends had put him through to determine if his experience had been real. I'd be more specific, but Grant doesn't like to say much about what happened. It's kind of a touchy subject with him.

Anyway, our conversation left the parking lot and continued in my living room. We sat there for hours discussing our philosophies about the paranormal, and we found a lot of common ground. This went on for days, then weeks. Finally I said, "Screw the rest of what's out there," referring to other ghost hunters and their methods. "Let's do it our way."

You see, most groups then -- like now -- were running around saying everything is haunted. They didn't worry about collecting evidence. They just walked into people's houses, got in touch with their feelings, and decided there were ghostly presences afoot. In fact, they never found a place that wasn't haunted.

Grant and I insisted on a more rational approach. Before we would ever say a place was home to a supernatural entity, we needed to have proof. It was a significant departure. And it was on that basis that we founded T.A.P.S. -- both of us, because the idea was as much Grant's as mine.

Grant said it best: "If you set out to prove a haunting, anything will seem like evidence. If you set out to disprove it, you'll end up with only those things you can't explain away."

Right from the beginning, we found people with similar philosophies. Our T.A.P.S. website (designed by Grant, of course) got two hundred hits a day, at a time when that was a pretty impressive number. And the total kept climbing. Two years later, we were up to two thousand hits a day.

Other groups looked for publicity, seeking out the media on Halloween and so on. We never did that. But we still wound up building a substantial network of like-minded ghost hunters, people who were inclined to approach the supernatural with a certain amount of discrimination.

And soon we weren't just getting calls from people in the New England area. People were reaching out to us from California and Michigan and Louisiana. Unfortunately, we didn't have the money to travel out there and help them, and we also didn't have reliable contacts in other parts of the country to whom we could refer them..

Grant and I decided that in order to extend our contact network, we first had to separate the people who saw things our way from those who didn't, and the best way to do that was by being controversial. So we put up an article on our website that essentially said orbs were trash.

Now, orbs were really popular in those days. Hearing they were insignificant was, for some people, a slap in the face. They railed back at us, telling us we were crazy, and the battle was on. The paranormal field was polarized almost overnight.

But we found the people we were looking for.

The first one was Al Tyas at D.C. Metro Area Ghost Watchers (affectionately known as D.C. MAG). Al saw things the way we did and became a big part of the T.A.P.S. extended family. We got support from other places as well, across the country and even overseas. People from Europe, Asia, and Australia were contacting us to thank us for taking a stand.

As our network continued to expand and our organization grew, Grant and I cut a deal. He would take care of the creative and technical facets of our organization, areas where he's the undisputed king. I would handle the management and business aspects. Among my responsibilities was making sure we brought... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Original edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416541136
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416541134
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (187 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those not familiar with "Ghost Hunters," it is a TV program aired on the Sci-Fi channel on Wednesday evenings and it has become a very popular program. Two plumbers who work for Roto Rooter, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson from Rhode Island along with several other people run a paranormal investigation team called TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) in their spare time. Both Jason and Grant got into ghost hunting because of some paranormal experiences they had when they were younger which peaked their interests to dig deeper into this fascinating subject.

Since I am a fan of the TV program I decided to order and read the book thinking I might find some new material in it. There were many cases in the book which Jason recalls that happened in the early years when he and Grant first started TAPS - even before the now popular TV program "Ghost Hunters" came to be. So, in that sense I found some very good stories. Their first investigation of The Stanley Hotel is also documented in the book - which was very interesting to read about. Anyone familiar with Stephen King and his books know that The Stanley Hotel was the basis for King's novel "The Shining" which was later made into a movie with Jack Nicholson and later on in 1997 into a TV miniseries. As it turns out, The Stanley Hotel apparently is truly haunted and not just in King's book but in real life as well.

They also talk about some cases where they were "duped" into investing a "haunted" location because the owners of a home wanted to "cash in" on some fame at their expense and the hauntings turned out to be fake. Jason speaks about their approach to investigating a haunting and how they decide whether or not they feel a location or home truly has paranormal activity.
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There's not much content to talk about; one wonders how much fans of the show "Ghost Hunters" will get from the book.

"Ghost Hunters" is on the SciFi channel, hosted by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, members of the paranormal research group TAPS. This book is written primarily by Jason, with some additional quotes and material by Grant. The first chapters briefly deal with Jason's background in the paranormal and the beginnings of TAPS. A few TAPS members are mentioned by name, most notably Brian Harnois, who is roundly criticized by Jason several times. While I'm aware this plays into the drama aspect of "Ghost Hunters", I admit to being put off by the constant put downs.

In the first chapter, there is some discussion about TAPS' scientific methods and the equipment they use with the intent of bringing legitimacy to the field of paranormal research. The remaining chapters recount cases TAPS has gone on, both before and after TAPS became the subject of their "docu-drama" show. As everything is written from Jason's point of view, Grant's view is relegated to a small box called "Grant's Take" at the end of each chapter.

Those wanting more information about the scientific methods and equipment will be disappointed. Nothing beyond the first chapter deals with the scientific aspect of the show. The case chapters are only about 4-5 pages long, enough room to barely summarize the case and nothing more. For being a group supposedly dedicated to using the scientific method, absolutely no description of their use of the scientific method has been included at all, and precious little description of the equipment is included. In several cases, it's obvious that Jason has confused "technology" with "science.
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By M on January 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
Overall, this book just repeats the tv series. There is no new info. There are a few stories in the beginning, but most of the book is just recounts of previous episodes. So if you watch all the shows, as I do, there's no real need for the book. I was hoping for a more of an insider type edge. I am also disheartened by the constant put down of Brian by Jason. Brian certainly wasn't my favorite on the show, but still, their personal problems should not be aired out for the whole world. -Especially without Brian being able to tell his side. I felt that Jason really stabbed Brian in the back. No "family" here.
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I've been a fan of the Ghost Hunters series, and intrigued by the work TAPS does for a long time. When this book was released, I was very excited to read it, but the end result was a little disappointing. The writing is fine, and you do find out something about Jason's personal experience (Grant still prefers not to discuss it), but the majority of the stories are basically re-caps of series episodes, and so if you've seen all their shows, it's like reading a synopsis, without very much additional info. I thought there would be more behind the scenes information, and although there were a couple of stories which were interesting, and took place pre-Ghost Hunters, on the whole, I just felt like I was reading a lot of info I already know. If you haven't seen the series yet, this would probably be a better, more interesting read, and make you want to see the show, to see the footage, hear the EVPs, etc... But if you have seen all the shows, you may be left a little bored.
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