Janet Moses, a mother of two, was held under water in an attempt to drive away a makutu, or Maori curse. Containers holding an "extensive amount" of water were brought into the lounge of the house, in Wellington, for the ceremony.
The woman had been dead for nine hours before her family contacted police. She had been placed on a bed and was found with grazes to her upper arms, forearms and torso.
Detecxtives initially treated the death as unexplained until a post-mortem ruled out natural causes and revealed the woman had drowned.
Detective Sergeant Ross Levy, leading the inquiry, confirmed that a "cultural ceremony" had taken place, and said police were treating the death as a homicide. The exorcism took place on October 12.
Moses, who had daughters aged one and three, stayed at her relative's house in the week leading up the ceremony. A woman living next door said she heard loud noises on the night of the exorcism, "like banging on a wall", adding that a large number of people had entered and left the building.
Detectives have now interviewed 100 members of the woman's family. "The family has always been the central focus of the inquiry ... this has not changed and won't change," Det Sgt Levy said. "Our task is to identify those responsible for Janet's death."
The exorcism ritual was held because the woman's relatives believed a curse had been put on her after another member of her family stole a taonga, meaning treasured artefact, belonging to someone else.
Dr Hone Kaa, an archdeacon of the Anglican Maori Church, told the New Zealand Herald that he was last involved in a makutu-lifting ceremony 12 years ago, but said they were still commonplace.
Dr Kaa said water was used to cleanse the victim during the ceremony, and expressed surprise when he heard the amount of water alleged to have been used.
He added that such ceremonies were "very emotional, very intense", but said he had never heard of anyone being badly injured.
"You may have to hold the person down because the spirit may fight within the person to stay, so you need others around you to restrain them," he said.
The victim was buried in a traditional Maori funeral ceremony.Guardian Unlimited
26th Novemeber 2007
Soon after his election as U.S. President, Ronald Reagan demonstrated an apparent "rigid" belief of the nature of an Extraterrestrial (ET) threat, and laced many of his public statements referring to the ET presence and its threat to humanity.  According to Dixon Davis, one of the two CIA agents appointed to brief Reagan when he was President-elect: "The problem with Ronald Reagan was that all his ideas were all fixed. He thought that he knew about everything -- he was an old dog." 
Reagan’s anti-communist rhetoric and massive build-up of military forces was a cover for Reagan’s true desire to militarily confront ET races.  His first major public comment on an ET threat occurred at a 1985 US-Soviet Summit meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev at Geneva when he said:
I couldn’t help but - when you stop to think that we’re all God’s children, wherever we live in the world, I couldn’t help but say to him (Gorbachev) just how easy his task and mine might be if suddenly there was a threat to this world from some other species from another planet outside in the universe. We’d forget all the little local differences that we have between our countries and we would find out once and for all that we really are all human beings here on this Earth together. Well I guess we can wait for some alien race to come down and threaten us, but I think that between us we can bring about that realization. 
If his unscheduled comment at a U.S.-Soviet Summit were not itself a provocative enough expression of Reagan’s views on the possible threat of an ET presence, then his speech to the Forty-Second UN General Assembly of the United Nations on September 21, 1987, was even more provocative and disturbing in its implications:
In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside of this world. And yet I ask -- is not an alien force already among us? 
For Colonel Phillip Corso, and other conservative military officers, Reagan was a hero who knew how to best respond to the ET presence -- a global defensive shield that could shoot down ET craft anywhere around the planet.  The Strategic Defense Initiative had little to do with shooting down ballistic nuclear missiles, and really was part of a planetary shield desired by clandestine organizations in the military wanting to militarily confront the ET presence.
MOSCOW -- The future of U.S. anti-terrorism technology could lie near the end of a Moscow subway line in a circular dungeon-like room with a single door and no windows. Here, at the Psychotechnology Research Institute, human subjects submit to experiments aimed at manipulating their subconscious minds.
Elena Rusalkina, the silver-haired woman who runs the institute, gestured to the center of the claustrophobic room, where what looked like a dentist's chair sits in front of a glowing computer monitor. "We've had volunteers, a lot of them," she said, the thick concrete walls muffling the noise from the college campus outside. "We worked out a program with (a psychiatric facility) to study criminals. There's no way to falsify the results. There's no subjectivism."
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has gone to many strange places in its search for ways to identify terrorists before they attack, but perhaps none stranger than this lab on the outskirts of Russia's capital. The institute has for years served as the center of an obscure field of human behavior study -- dubbed psychoecology -- that traces it roots back to Soviet-era mind control research.
What's gotten DHS' attention is the institute's work on a system called Semantic Stimuli Response Measurements Technology, or SSRM Tek, a software-based mind reader that supposedly tests a subject's involuntary response to subliminal messages.
SSRM Tek is presented to a subject as an innocent computer game that
flashes subliminal images across the screen -- like pictures of Osama
bin Laden or the World Trade Center. The "player" -- a traveler at an
airport screening line, for example -- presses a button in response to
the images, without consciously registering what he or she is looking
at. The terrorist's response to the scrambled image involuntarily
differs from the innocent person's, according to the theory.
Rusalkina markets the technology as a program called Mindreader 2.0. To sell Mindreader to the West, she's teamed up with a Canadian firm, which is now working with a U.S. defense contractor called SRS Technologies. This May, DHS announced plans to award a sole-source contract to conduct the first U.S.-government sponsored testing of SSRM Tek.
The contract is a small victory for the Psychotechnology Research Institute and its leaders, who have struggled for years to be accepted in the West. It also illustrates how the search for counter-terrorism technology has led the U.S. government into unconventional -- and some would say unsound -- science.
All of the technology at the institute is based on the work of Rusalkina's late husband, Igor Smirnov, a controversial Russian scientist whose incredible tales of mind control attracted frequent press attention before his death several years ago.
Smirnov was a Rasputin-like
character often portrayed in the media as having almost mystical powers
of persuasion. Today, first-time visitors to the institute -- housed in
a drab concrete building at the Peoples Friendship University of Russia
-- are asked to watch a half-hour television program dedicated to
Smirnov, who is called the father of "psychotronic weapons," the
Russian term for mind control weapons. Bearded and confident, Smirnov
in the video explains how subliminal sounds could alter a person's
behavior. To the untrained ear, the demonstration sounds like squealing
GHOSTIES IN THE UK
The UK is full of ghosts. Why is this? Whether we accept ghosts as
existing or not, stories of ghosts persist. Could it be that there is
value in those stories? Could they have a distinct purpose that
guarantees they will exist?
Croft Castle on the Welsh border near Leominster is older than Chingle Hall, being mentioned in the Doomsday Book. During the 1920s a host of stories were told, such as the visitor who saw a spectral man dressed in a black leather coat.
Folklore states that it is the ghost of Welsh folk hero, Owen Glendower. Even in the 1950s stories continued to be told, including a visitor who heard 18th century music coming from the castle when it was known to be empty; and a head teacher who, whilst talking to the custodian, saw a reflection in a mirror of someone walking across the room.
One of the most haunted houses ever was 50 Berkeley Square in
London. Ghosts, here, are said to include an insane man who died in the
room in which he was imprisoned, a Scottish child killed by a servant,
and a woman who threw herself out of a window to avoid being raped.
A terrifying ’shape’ was often seen in the house, inducing a sailor spending the night there to throw himself out of a window. When the writer Lord Lyttleton spent a night there, he fired pistols at the shape.
Burton Agnes Hall near Driffield is occasionally haunted by Awd Nance, the ghost of a woman who died after a beating in the 19th century. Before dying she made her sisters promise they’d keep her head in the hall.
Horrified, they buried her intact. Within days doors started banging, and the sound of people would be heard in the corridors at night. Eventually a vicar exhumed the woman and placed her head in the hall. The haunting stopped, yet occasionally she still flexes her ghostly muscles.
TALES DOWN THE CENTURIES
Few ghosts are as persistent as the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall,
Norfolk, thought to be the daughter of Prime Minister Sir Robert
Walpole. Dorothy Walpole married one Charles Townsend after living a
scandalous life. When Charles found out about her past, he imprisoned
her in a room in the Hall for ten years until her death. However, she
has been seen many times since then.
One famous witness was George III who, staying at the Hall, woke up one night to see her standing by his bed. Another witness saw her in a corridor, and walked through her. In 1835 a Colonel described her brown attire, but also noted the apparition seemed to have no eyes, her appearances becoming malevolent.
Indeed, when Captain Frederick Marryat saw her with a group of friends, she chased them into their room, laughing wickedly. However, the most amazing sighting was when two photographers were taking pictures of a staircase in the Hall in 1936. Seeing a shape, they exposed a plate. The plate showed the vague outline of a woman in bridal costume.
HISTORY AND PLACE
We can, if we choose, discount all of these ghost stories. I don’t,
but let us assume they are all made up – let us be really skeptical.
But even if we do this, we are still left with an intriguing
possibility. Is there any value in the ghost story itself?
One vital element of all of the above is that they record an element of history or culture. Coming at a time before a modern media, could it be that their transmission WAS a valid element of media?
If we accept such a possibility, then the recounted ghost story takes on a life of its own. It is a vital part of the transmission of a sense of identity – it places a person in his historic and cultural heritage.
Read the rest HERE
MYTHS OF FISH PEOPLE
The above is a classic mermaid encounter – a sighting or story
related to a half human, half fish entity. How long such sightings have
been made is impossible to tell, but they are popular in mythology.
The Babylonians had the fish-tailed God, Oannes, who lived in the sea but came ashore to teach mankind. His wife, Damkina, had several fish-tailed children.
The Greeks had a variation in the half-woman, half-bird Siren who’s song used to lure seamen to disaster. Ulysses escaped the Siren by putting wax in his companion’s ears and lashing himself to his boat mast.
The navigator Henry Hudson documented a sighting of a mermaid in
1608 by two of his seamen near an island off the northern coast of
Russia. The size of a fully developed human, it again had long hair and
a tail like a porpoise.
Often, people who disappeared near the sea were said to be victims of the mermaid. Typical was Cornish chorister Matthew Trewhella, who was said to have been lured into the sea, fell in love and had several children to a mermaid.
Such sightings aside, what are we to make of the mermaid
phenomenon? Most logical people deny their existence. Rather, sightings
are misidentifications of sea cows - the manatees and dugong - which
can hold themselves vertically, and suckle their young on clearly
The skin complaint, ichthyosis could also be to blame in the past, creating black fish-like scales on the body. In 1694 the ten year old Italian boy, Peter Consiglio, was displayed in London. He was totally covered in fish-like scales.
Skeletons of supposed mermaids were often put on show in the 19th century. Naturalist Frank Buckland observed one which turned out to be the skull, torso and arms of a monkey fastened to the headless body of a large fish.
One theory supposed to give credence to the mermaid is the idea of Elaine Morgan, who argued mankind developed from an ape-like aquatic animal. Is the mermaid an offshoot of this evolutionary chain?
The writer Dorothy Dinnerstein hinted that mermaids and other
human/animal hybrids such as the minotaur, were actually distant
memories of our evolutionary past. It was a recognition that we are
different, yet similar to our animal ancestors.
Some researchers argue the mermaid has a more likely explanation in the psychology of early sailors. As ancient myths show, mermaids and Sirens lured sailors to their doom. Sea journeys in those days took a long time, and without women aboard ship, sexual urges would be strong.
Could mermaids therefore be nothing more than hallucinations based on sexual urges? Possibly, but sightings by people such as Christopher Columbus suggest not. He commented on how absolutely ugly they were.
A MOMENT OF CRISISA ballad by Sir Patrick Spens highlights the oft mentioned fact that mermaids often spoke to doomed ships, advising of disaster. Such ideas suggest the mermaid is a harbinger of doom. But why did it become so?
The Ministry of Defence has for the first time opened its real-life 'X Files', detailing how its experts have examined photographs of UFOs hovering over the UK.
While the images range from the baffling to the risible, there is no doubting the seriousness that officials reserve for the issue of extraterrestrial life.
Correspondence between the MoD and members of the public who report sightings of strange objects reveals that Whitehall mandarins remain "totally open-minded" about the existence of UFOs.
The letters - obtained by Scotland on Sunday through the Freedom of Information Act - confirm that the MoD has a procedure of scrambling fighter planes to confront any unidentified craft or object that enters UK airspace.
However, there are hints that at least some strange objects seen in the sky are of a distinctly terrestrial provenance.
In one letter, officials admit that military helicopters carry out low-flying combat training missions across Britain, and apologise for any alarm they may have caused.
The MoD has confirmed it receives more than 100 reports of UFO sightings every year, many of which come from Scotland.
Last year alone, the Ministry was sent five sets of photographs and videos purporting to show UFO activity.
One was sent by a concerned resident who last March reported seeing silent superfast "triangular craft" and other strange objects in the skies above the south of England.
He enclosed a picture that appears to show a ball of light moving at speed across the sky with an illuminated trail in its wake.
A lengthy official response from the MoD's Directorate of Air Staff is at pains to reassure the individual.
It states: "We remain totally open-minded, but to date we know of no evidence which substantiates the existence of these alleged phenomena.
"The MoD examines any reports of unidentified flying objects it receives, solely to establish whether what was seen might have some defence significance; namely whether there is any evidence that the UK's airspace might have been compromised by hostile or unauthorised air activity."
The letter claims the Ministry could not justify spending public money on being an "aerial identification service", but stresses that every precaution is taken to protect the integrity of UK airspace.
It adds: "I should inform you that low-flying training takes place throughout the UK.
"In the event of conflict, helicopters are vulnerable to ground fire, and one of the vital skills that must be acquired by pilots is flying as closely as possible to the nap of the earth so that the aircraft is shielded and camouflaged by the features of the terrain.
"This type of training is spread as thinly as possible throughout the UK, so as not to concentrate activity over one area. I am sorry if this training has caused disturbance to you."
The MoD also received a succession of images of objects in the sky above Portsmouth harbour last July.
And in one decidedly eccentric letter last May, a concerned citizen warns the MoD that she and her husband are being menaced by invisible craft, the grey alien inhabitants of which have already abducted her in the past to "extract her DNA".
To support her case, she enclosed a photograph of an all-too-visible object (possibly a Frisbee or a satellite dish) "hovering" over a church.
In an impeccably polite response, MoD officials come to the sober conclusion that: "With regard to your particular observations, we are satisfied that there is no corroborating evidence to suggest that the UK's airspace has been breached by unauthorised aircraft."
In another response to an individual who claimed to have provided film evidence of UFO activity over the Clyde in Glasgow last year, an official states frankly: "I have viewed your video and I am content that it contains nothing of defence concern."
The MoD confirmed that in 2006 it received more than 100 reports of UFO sightings, including 12 from Scotland.
The previous year around 150 sightings were reported, with again a dozen coming from north of the Border. These included six reported sightings on the same day (September 14, 2005) in Fife and Perthshire of "bright white lights" in the sky.
The unidentified objects were sighted in Lochgelly, Glenrothes, Crieff, Letham, Blairgowrie and Kinross.
Nick Pope, who headed the MoD's UFO Project between 1991 and 1994, confirmed that reported sightings were taken extremely seriously.
"The MoD wants to know everything flying in the UK's air-defence range and investigate all sightings," he said.
Pope revealed that 95% of UFO reports turned out to either have obvious explanations or to be so vague that any investigation was impossible.
"The remaining 5% of cases were pretty interesting and remained unexplained even after a very thorough explanation. It doesn't prove that these objects were extraterrestrial, but you can't rule any option out."
The former MoD investigator even claimed that officials tried to copy the advanced technology of unidentified vehicles.
"A number of reports were of silent triangular aircraft travelling at considerable speed," he said. "These and some other reports suggested some sort of propulsion system we would be extremely interested in.Email MARC HORNE
Staff at the next door Camera Obscura use the bottom two floors of
the long-neglected Ragged School, but admit no-one goes up to the top
So when Edinburgh medium Ewan Irvine, of Scottish Paranormal, and his team carried out a recce of the building recently in preparation for an event at this month's annual Ghost Fest, they weren't quite sure what to expect. But on a bright Saturday afternoon, with the happy chatter of Castle visitors clearly audible from the street outside and sunshine streaming through the cobweb-covered windows, it became clear that they were more likely to uncover health and safety issues than ghostly encounters.
"It was a bit dusty but really it was quite clean. And it was a lovely sunny afternoon," says Ryan O'Neill, founder of Scottish Paranormal. "But once you got upstairs it was quite strange, quite eerie."
The discovery of a Victorian doll's pram on the top floor only added to the atmosphere. And it wasn't long before the three mediums among the team of nine began to pick up on some ghostly vibrations in the main classroom and the upstairs dormitory.
Ewan says: "I picked up on some of the characters. There was a lady in her 50s who was a nurse there, who went by the name of Eaddie Watkins and we picked up on how stressed she was. And I picked up on a minister who used to visit once a week, and felt a woman who had been seen in the building with a brown dress."
Fellow medium Fiona Williamson felt a spirit called Andrew, a young man who used to be a chimney sweep, while feelings of being locked in cupboards were also noted. The surnames of Turner, McDonald, Galbraith and the dates of 1826 and 1709 also came to the mediums. And then fellow medium Heather Taylor began to feel a "negative energy" that wanted the group to leave the school.
The information gathered is being researched by Scottish Paranormal historical researcher, Rachel Atkinson. The Ragged School's founder, the charismatic preacher Thomas Guthrie, is remembered as one of the city's most noble characters - his monument with one of the ragged boys beside him faces the Castle from Princes Street Gardens.
The Brechin lad was little more than a child when he first came to Edinburgh to study at the university. As a 12-year-old, in 1815, alone in the city, he would have brushed shoulders with many slum-dwellers as he set out from his lodgings on the fringes of the Old Town. In 1837, after studying in Paris and working at his ministry in Arbirlot, in Angus, Guthrie returned to the city and its slums, taking up a position at old Greyfriars and frequently preaching at the Magdalene Chapel in the Cowgate. In his autobiography he noted how his wealthy parishioners were often seated next to beggars. And after joining the Free Kirk of Scotland, he gave sermons at what was the Free St John's Church.
Being surrounded by so much poverty - the Old Town was notorious for its slums in those days - the committed Christian could hardly have failed to be moved to act. While out walking in Holyrood Park, he sat down by St Anthony's Well and began chatting to some of the beggar boys.
Their conversation convinced him that what was needed was a free school - which included food. So the idea of a ragged school was born, where poverty-stricken scholars received their meals, basic education and some industrial training. He continued to pull juvenile beggars off the street and send them to the school with the words: "Not a sixpence, sir, not a penny, you go to the ragged school and say Dr Guthrie sent you."
Andrew Johnson, manager of the Camera Obscura, which owns the adjacent school, explains: "The Ragged School movement was to do with taking destitute children off the streets. Dr Guthrie published a booklet called the Plea for Ragged Schools in 1847 and he got public support for it.
"He raised about £2000 that year and he opened up the Ramsay Lane Ragged School - you can still see on the outside of the building a carved bible."
He continues: "The Ragged schools cleared the streets of juvenile beggars and it reduced the children in the city's prisons by 75 per cent. The constitution of the school was to reclaim the destitute, and give them the freedom to earn an honest living."
So on the surface it seems unlikely that the Electronic Voice Phenomena workshop which takes place on Wednesday May 16 at Camera Obscura, from 8pm, when investigators will use their scientific recording equipment in an attempt to capture spirit voices, will uncover anything in a place where so much hope and faith in the future was fostered.
But even Andrew, while paying tribute to Guthrie's achievements, admits there is something eerie about the empty sections of the building. He says: "I will be going along to see what goes on in the investigations at the Ragged School. Even here in the Camera Obscura building, we've had eerie things happen. One of our cleaners once saw a lady in a brown dress which really spooked her. In one room, a workman just wouldn't go into it. He just felt it was oppressive and scary.
"We've heard giggling children on our third floor too. And on the back stair, footsteps have been heard. In Camera Obscura we've had visitors who've just had to leave, and somebody has been seen a lot - a man in a grey coat. We didn't tell Ewan this beforehand, and he actually found the man, who is called George."
Ryan says: "On the footage we have, we have a breath which comes into the camcorder - it's right next to the microphone. It was eerie, especially as there were no investigators there at that time."
• The third annual Ghost Fest will take place from May 11-20. For more information on individual events visit www.edinburghghostfest.com. To join one of the Camera Obscura and Ragged School events telephone 0131-226 3709 for a range of times, dates and prices.
To read the rest of this acticle please click Here
The researchers found that, compared to control subjects who dismissed the idea of reincarnation, past-life believers were almost twice as likely to misidentify names. In particular, their tendency was to wrongly identify as famous the non-famous names they had seen in the first task. This kind of error, called a source-monitoring error, indicates that a person has difficulty recognizing where a memory came from.
Power of suggestion
People who are likely to make these kinds of errors might end up convincing themselves of things that aren’t true, said lead researcher Maarten Peters of Maastricht University in The Netherlands. When people who are prone to making these mistakes undergo hypnosis and are repeatedly asked to talk about a potential idea — like a past life — they might, as they grow more familiar with it, eventually convert the idea into a full-blown false memory.
Past life memories are not the only type of implausible memories that have been studied in this manner. Richard McNally, a clinical psychologist at Harvard University, has found that self-proclaimed alien abductees are also twice as likely to commit source monitoring errors.
As for what might make people more prone to committing such errors to begin with, McNally says that it could be the byproduct of especially vivid imagery skills. He has found that people who commonly make source-monitoring errors respond to and imagine experiences more strongly than the average person, and they also tend to be more creative.
“It might be harder to discriminate between a vivid image that you’d generated yourself and the memory of a perception of something you actually saw,” he said in a telephone interview.
Peters also found in his study, detailed in the March issue of Consciousness and Cognition, that people with implausible memories are also more likely to be depressed and to experience sleep problems, and this could also make them more prone to memory mistakes.
And once people make this kind of mistake, they might be inclined to stick to their guns for spiritual reasons, McNally said. “It may be a variant expression of certain religious impulses,” he said. “We suspect that this might be kind of a psychological buffering mechanism against the fear of death.”
Romanian Priest Sentenced for Exorcism
Monday February 19, 2007 4:01 pm
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - A Romanian priest who led a dayslong exorcism ritual for a young nun that ended with the woman's death was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison. Four nuns were also sentenced in the case. The dead nun, Maricica Irina Cornici, believed she heard the devil talking to her. She was treated for schizophrenia, but when she relapsed, Daniel Petru Corogeanu - a monk who served as the priest for the secluded Holy Trinity convent in northeast Romania - and the four other nuns tried exorcism.
Cornici, 23, was tied up for several days at the without food or water and chained to a cross. She died of dehydration, exhaustion and suffocation.
The court in the northeast city of Vaslui convicted Corogeanu and the nuns of holding Cornici captive, resulting in her death. One of the nuns, Nicoleta Arcalianu, was sentenced to eight years in prison, and the other three - Adina Cepraga, Elena Otel and Simona Bardanas - received five-year sentences.
Dozens of Corogeanu's supporters packed the courtroom and prayed for the priest; several burst into tears when the verdict was announced.
The defendants' lawyers plan to appeal.
Cornici's death prompted Romania's dominant Orthodox Church to promise reforms, including psychological tests for those seeking to enter monasteries.
The Orthodox church, which has benefited from a religious revival in recent years, condemned the ritual at the convent as ``abominable'' and banned Corogeanu from the priesthood and excommunicated the four nuns from the church.
In 1999, when the Vatican issued its first new guidelines since 1614 for driving out devils, it urged its priests to take modern psychiatry into account in deciding who should be exorcised.Orthodox churches also regularly perform exorcism rituals, but Corogeanu's methods were criticized by church officials as excessively harsh, noting that he had dropped out from the church's religious education program.
THE spooky goings-on at a Mid Devon pub are to be investigated by the county's lea-ding paranormal team, Haunted Devon, over the next few weeks.
The Exeter Inn near Bampton is well known for its ales and food but it apparently also boasts several former residents, who have decided to stay on in the inn after their deaths.
The Haunted Devon team visited the inn late last year to carry out preliminary investigations.
They felt the presence of several spirits, and so have decided to return for more detailed analysis.
The team, led by Byron Jack-son, will use a variety of methods in order to confirm or negate the presence of the inn's former residents.
Byron said: "We had some good results at the Exeter Inn in 2006 and the venue was worthy of additional investigation.
"The spirit of an old man and his granddaughter were just two of the many spirits who have chosen to remain in this delightful building.
"We will be concentrating our efforts on the more technical aspect of paranormal investigations and deploying additional studio quality digital sound recorders, thermal data loggers and infrared cameras in order to provide technical support to our resident medium Caz Parnell."
Haunted Devon has covered many of the key sites around Devon and has worked with English Heritage, BBC, ITV and American TV.
The investigation has an additional twist in that this event will be filmed in its entirety for the release of the team's DVD to be released later this year.
TO see how the team got on at the Exeter Inn last year visit http://haunted-devon.co.uk
8:30am Friday 19th January 2007
Since the early 1990s, Sparks, a professor of communication, has been researching how the media affects the public's belief in the paranormal.
"I had done a number of studies early in my career on the effects of frightening movies on emotional reactions that children had. I was interested in the sorts of things that scared children in the media at different points in their development and what parents could do to help children who were scared," said Sparks.
Sparks noticed most of the programming, which caused the frightened reactions, were shows that involved ghosts, aliens and other similar programming. Around the same time, Sparks noticed an increase in paranormal programming.
"I've always been interested in how media affects what people believe. I just became interested in how (paranormal) depictions were being framed and what their effects might be on the viewing public," said Sparks.
Sparks said he has done about seven studies on the subject and is looking forward to starting his next project. Sparks' next research project will be studying ghosts, particularly how the media depicts ghosts and how that affects what people believe.
"Ghosts are very commonly represented in the media," said Sparks. "Ghosts and psychics are two that I would like to look at."
He has found that a large percentage of the public admits to believing in ghosts or have not decided whether or not they believe in ghosts. He would also like to look at whether or not a person's prior belief in ghosts can predict the emotional reaction a person might have to a movie about ghosts.
"(Researching the paranormal) has opened up so many different realms of exploration," Sparks said. "As a result, I've become familiar with a lot of the skeptical societies out there and their publications."
The magazine Sparks enjoys the most is the Skeptical Inquirer, which is published by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.
Benjamin Radford, managing editor of the Skeptical Inquirer, said the paranormal stories the media present is just a reflection of what the public is interested in.
"The amount someone believes in the paranormal more or less goes up and down," said Radford. "Paranormal shows have always stayed around because there is always an interest in what's out there."
Sparks hopes his research will help to advance theory and understanding about media effects on the public. He thinks the research could help to sensitize people to their own beliefs about the world and the role media plays in helping to influence those beliefs.
"It is important to be able to evaluate evidence for or against a
claim as students," said Sparks. "As a culture, if we're not able to
discriminate between what's true and false we're in trouble."
The five two-hour evening lectures, conducted by medium Sharon Gound, begin this week.
The archdeacon of Cheltenham, the Venerable Hedley Ringrose, said he feared "vulnerable" students may not be able to cope with the experience.
But Ms Gound said: "This is a fabulous opportunity to clear up ignorance and misunderstanding about the paranormal."
The course involves Ms Gound contacting her "spirit guides" to whom students can pose questions.
But the Venerable Ringrose said: "There are many bereaved people who are at a vulnerable stage in their life where they might not be able to handle something like this.
"My message to the college would be to be aware that the Christian churches offer ministry to those who are bereaved - not through contact with those they have lost - but pastorally."
The college said its role was to open up educational opportunities.Read more HERE
Not only are they backing the shamed ghost-hunting series, they are going ahead with medium Derek Acorah's new show.
Acorah was accused of faking possessions by the show's own parapsychologist Ciaran O'Keefe.
Yesterday experts and members of the psychic community called for the programme to be taken off the air. And TV regulator Ofcom is looking into 22 complaints.
Clive Lloyd, spokesman for the Spiritualist National Union, said: "For me the programme is sheer showmanship, an act all the way through."
LivingTV said: "We are looking into the Daily Mirror's claims."29/10/2005
Resident parapsychologist Dr Ciaran O'Keeffe has sensationally lifted the lid on the ghosthunting series, Most Haunted ... and claims that the public are being deceived by "showmanship and dramatics."
He accuses the show's medium Derek Acorah of hoodwinking viewers by pretending to communicate with spirits and obtaining information about locations prior to filming.
The Mirror has also obtained unedited footage which appears to show presenter Yvette Fielding and her husband faking 'paranormal' occurrences such as ghostly bumps and knocks.
Most Haunted has quickly achieved cult status since it was launched in 2002 and is LivingTV's most successful programme.
Millions of viewers tune in regularly to watch Ex-Blue Peter girl Yvette and her team of ghost hunters spend the night in some of Britain's most haunted locations.
It has made Acorah - who claims to be guided by an Ethiopian spirit guide called Sam - into one of the country's best-known psychics.
Tonight the show will start its biggest ever live vigil, a four-night Halloween special from East London following the murderous trail of Jack the Ripper.
Yvette Fielding has said of the show - which is made by her husband Karl Beattie's production company Antix Productions: "There is no acting in this programme, none whatsoever. Everything you see and you hear is real. It's not made up, it's not acted."
But our investigation reveals how the programme uses careful editing to mislead viewers and, on at least one occasion, has even lied about the location of filming.
Ciaran, a lecturer in the paranormal at Liverpool's Hope University, knows speaking out will probably put an end to his media career... but he believes viewers should know the truth.
He says: "I think it's time to open the dialogue about what I've experienced on Most Haunted. There have been many incidents with the medium that have been brushed under the carpet.
"I was put in the show to give a professional slant to it, to give it an element of credibility, but the sceptical argument is just swept away.
"In my opinion, we're not dealing with genuine mediumship."
He says he isn't the only member of the crew who feels viewers are being cheated.
"Other crew members have been irked by Derek and what's going on, because it turns what should be a serious investigation into a laughing matter."
And our exclusive footage shows other members of the team occasionally forget they are on camera.
One of our clips, later edited out, shows Karl push an unwitting sound man in the dark and pretend it was a poltergeist attack.
In the remaining footage he says (after surreptitiously hitting the soundman): "S**t, did you feel that?"
Yvette: Are you all right? What's happened?
Karl: I felt something touch me on my shoulder.
Soundman: I felt something hit me.
And in another edited clip with medium Ian Lawman, Yvette is seen on camera making a deep sigh. In the scene that eventually went to air, Ian (after Yvette sighs) says: "What's that noise?
Yvette: What noise? Like a moan?
Ian: Breathing or something.
Yvette: I heard like an 'arrggh'.
Ciaran, who joined Most Haunted in April 2004 became suspicious of Acorah's antics on a shoot at Castle Leslie, Co Monaghan in Ireland where a 17th Century four-poster bed has been claimed to levitate.
Ciaran recalls: "As we walked into the bedroom, Derek touched the bed and came out with extremely accurate information.
"He insisted he got all the information just from touching the bed. But it was the wrong bed."
Antix Productions claims the mediums have no idea where they will be filming or know any details about the history of the locations.
But Ciaran says: "Derek must have had prior knowledge of the locations."
He devised a plan to see if Derek was deliberately deceiving the public.
While on a shoot at Bodmin gaol he invented a long-dead South African jailer called Kreed Kafer - an anagram of Derek Faker.
"I wrote the name down and asked another member of the crew to mention it to Derek before filming.
"I honestly didn't think Derek would take the bait. But during the filming he actually got possessed by my fictional character!"
On the next shoot at Prideaux Place, Cornwall, Ciaran made up another fictional character, highwayman Rik Eedles - an anagram of Derek Lies. Sure enough, Derek made contact with the dead outlaw.
Ciaran says: "In my professional opinion we're not dealing with a genuine medium.
"When Derek is possessed he is doing it consciously - all we are seeing is showmanship and dramatics."
Ciaran went a step further at Craigievar Castle, near Aberdeen.
"I made up stories about Richard the Lionheart, a witch, and Richard's apparition appearing to walk through a wardrobe - the lion, the witch and the wardrobe!" True to form, Derek mentioned all Ciaran's stories - even though Richard I reigned 500 years BEFORE Craigievar Castle was built.
The final straw came last month when Most Haunted presented a three-night special from Manchester.
On the second evening, the show claimed to be broadcasting live from the site of Cheadle's Victorian asylum, a place where - according to presenter David Bull - thousands died in torment. In fact they were in the derelict remains of Barnes Convalescence Home - where nobody died in torment.
Ciaran remembers: "Derek was communicating with spirits that sounded as if they'd been in an asylum, but it was never an asylum."
Yesterday the Mirror confronted Derek Acorah with Ciaran's allegations. He told us: "I've worked with Ciaran for many shows and he's got every right to say what he says.
"However, it does shock and surprise me. Not only do I believe that I am a genuine medium - I live my work 24 hours a day. If I thought that I wasn't a true medium, I wouldn't work as one."
A spokesman for LivingTV said: "Ciaran O'Keeffe has worked as the programme's official sceptic for 18 months and during this time has not brought any of his concerns to our attention.
"LivingTV has not seen any of your filmed evidence, but will fully investigate your claims."By Matt Roper 28/10/2005
The pentacle is an important Wicca spiritual symbol
Relatives of dead soldiers, including one killed in Iraq, are demanding that Wicca symbols be permitted.
Some 38 other religious symbols, including the Jewish star of David and the Buddhist wheel, are allowed.
The Pentacle, a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle, is one of the most important symbols in Wicca.
Wicca, which originates in Europe, is inspired by ancient pre-Christian practices.
It is recognised by the US military as an official religion but military veterans are not allowed to display the symbol on their graves.
"The federal government's discriminatory delay in approving these applications must end," said Daniel Mach, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.
"There is no good reason to deny grieving families the solace and comfort available to military families of other religions," he said.One of soldiers whose family is seeking to use the symbol is buried in Washington's Arlington National Cemetery.