Month: May 2011

139. Are Ghosts Real? Guy Lyon Playfair’s Thirty-Year Investigation Yields Insights

Noted parapsychology investigator and author Guy Lyon Playfair discusses poltergeists, after-death communication and the telepathy of twins. Join Skeptiko guest host Steve Volk for an interview with Guy Lyon Playfair.  During the interview Mr. Playfair summarizes what he’s learned about the poltergeist phenomena: Steve Volk: What’s your best guess, at this stage, after all these years, on what poltergeists, or ghosts, are. Guy Playfair: The short answer is that there are two possibilities. Either they are some kind of discarnate entity – which I certainly don’t rule out – or else they are an entirely unknown force that emanates from the human mind.  How it works we simply don’t know. We can only observe its effects. I think there’s quite strong evidence that it’s some kind of so-called spirit or discarnate entity, kind of drifting blobs of exo-intelligence, if you like. But that is an extremely controversial opinion and not many people share it. Steve Volk: I do find it interesting that in some cases skeptics have started putting forth more complicated and I would say more interesting theories than the usual, the mind plays tricks, wishful thinking, creaking floorboards, leaky pipes kind of explanations. Guy Playfair: Yes, there’s another possible line of inquiry. Poltergeist outbreaks have got certain features in common with Tourette’s syndrome, where you get these sorts of jerks and muscular spasms and things and also very strange vocal sounds. A poltergeist looks rather like an extension of some super-Tourette’s where not only the muscles twitch but furniture starts twitching as well. But that’s not my idea. That was actually Michael Persinger and William Roll, who is a very experienced researcher. I think it’s an interesting line to follow up. Guy Lyon Playfair's wiki entry Play it: Download MP3 (33:00 min.) Read it: I’m Steve Volk, guest hosting for Alex Tsakiris on Skeptiko. My guest today is Guy Lyon Playfair, a journalist and translator who has been conducting paranormal research seemingly forever. His first book, The Unknown Power, a book on psychical research, was written in 1975. In the ensuing years he’s written about Uri Geller, hypnotism, telepathy among twins, reincarnation, and we’ll discuss some of those things. Today we’re going to focus out of the gate on the topic of Guy’s new book, a re-release really, of a book first published in 1980. The book is called, This House Is Haunted, and it deals with the very famous Enfield Poltergeist case. I wanted to talk to Guy because in my book, Fringe-ology, I kind of out myself, describing what I call “the family ghost,” an old ghost story I grew up with as a child. I was about six years old and have a few memories of the events my family’s described to me. In general, without getting into too much detail, there was a booming and thumping sound that came from the walls and ceiling. It seemed to respond to my parents’ movements in the house. My sisters talked about having the blankets pulled from them as they slept, their beds shaking in unison in the middle of the night, and a female apparition who walked through the room. I’m hoping Guy, in talking about the Enfield case, can give me a little insight into poltergeists, including some details from a new study which used some recordings from the Enfield case, conducted by Dr. Barrie Colvin, with whom Guy cooperated. Hopefully we will get to much else besides. Guy, thanks for being on Skeptiko. Guy Playfair: Thank you for having me.