Questioning the Unanswerable
- Larry Hewitt (L) and Dan Sturges go in search of answers, on “The Psi Show.”
BY SCOTT STIFFLER | Until a UFO lands in Times Square for a press conference, Bigfoot consents to a fireside chat or a spirit materializes to dish on the afterlife, “The Psi Show” hosts Larry Hewitt and Dan Sturges will be there to shed as much light as possible on things that lurk in the shadows.
Broadcast live from Hewitt’s East Village apartment, “The Psi Show” uses the medium of Internet radio to make contact with psychics, paranormal experts, academics and the occasional crackpot. You can’t actually see or touch the zeroes and ones that translate the sound created by their voice boxes into the discussion that emanates from your speakers — but the fact that it’s intangible doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Keep that in mind later when they make the case for, or against, things like reincarnation, ectoplasm and haunted houses.
Paranormal is business as usual, on The Psi Show
Hewitt and Sturges have been conducting their Q&A sessions almost every Monday night, from 7-8pm, since October 9, 2011. Call it a chance encounter or a preordained meeting of the minds facilitated by a universe in which past, present and future exist on the same plane. Either way, it’s certainly ironic that the seeds for “The Psi Show” were planted when the two strangers were booked as guests on…a radio talk show. The chemistry (another one of those intangibles that everybody knows is real) was instant, and the two were soon conducting investigations together while occasionally mulling over the idea of providing a forum where informed guests and curious Chat Room listeners could dig into the marrow of paranormal phenomenon.
The show was also created as a way to counterbalance the misleading — and sometimes manufactured — “evidence” uncovered by those cable shows where a night vision camera follows a team of investigators who recoil in fear or cackle with delight when they encounter a sudden change in temperature or an unexplained noise. Lately, the genre has moved from ghost hunting in haunted prisons, hospitals and castles to shows touting ghosts who possess, attack and even murder. From the looks of it on TV, you’d think we’re being overrun by angry souls from the great beyond. If so, who you gonna call?
Hewitt and Sturges would be a solid choice. I say this (in the spirit of full disclosure) based on witnessing several investigations they’ve conducted at the Merchant’s House Museum (29 E. Fourth St.). In last week’s issue of The Villager, Sturges (who has logged dozens of trips to the house) noted, “There is obviously something happening at the Merchant’s House Museum. There is no doubt that people are having experiences. The question is, are people experiencing communication from the deceased Tredwell family and their servants?” The audio and video recordings he’s collected “suggest that there is some kind of communication happening. It’s impossible to say if the communication comes directly from the Tredwell family and others who are connected to the house or is just some form of telepathy between living people who are sharing information. I’m not exactly sure, but I feel that sometimes the Tredwells and others are indeed making some kind of connection to us living folks.”
Sturges refuses to use the word “ghost” to identify the source of materializing objects, disembodied footsteps and bumps in the night he’s personally witnessed. Hewitt is similarly on the fence — willing to acknowledge that something is happening, but steadfast in his refusal to say that anything he’s encountered over the years proves…anything.
That may be very unsatisfactory for those seeking definitive answers. But a healthy sense of skepticism is what makes “The Psi Show” such a compelling listen. It also helps that Hewitt and Sturges don’t take their line of inquiry too seriously. Each show is unofficially sponsored by an adult beverage, and a guest’s comments are often punctuated by sound effects. The light tone is a pleasant departure from shows like “Ancient Aliens” — whose talking heads speak with such authority and certainty that their outlandish claims thrust the proceedings into the realm of camp. There are plenty of laughs on “The Psi Show,” but not at the expense of serious (if not entirely sober) inquiry.
With that in mind, we decided to turn the tables on Hewitt and Sturges, by putting them on the receiving end of a Q&A session.
How many investigations have you been on? What are the most notable experiences, and why?
Hewitt: Maybe 11 or 12? The best one was the Lutheran church in Queens — amazing EVP [Electronic Voice Phenomena], and I was physically attacked. I had a group at the time, the Afterlife Research Group of New York. We were called by someone who worked at the church. At night, they’d often hear voices, footsteps. I arrived with four other investigators. One of them was a psychic, who told us that in the front of the church, there was a spirit, an older man who was angry in life, is angry in death and is angry that we’re there. The church had a mezzanine. I went up the stairs along with two others. We got about half way up, and the guy in front of me suddenly, violently, flew backwards. His feet literally went up in the air. I tumbled down, the guy in back of me tumbled down and the guy in front of me broke his ankle. When we hit the bottom of the stairs, all of the EMF [Electromagnetic Field] meters went off at the same time, which is very unusual. I always say that when you go on an investigation, it’s not like it is in the movies. But this place was. We really felt attacked.
Sturges: I guess I’m closing in on the triple digits, in terms of investigations. For me, the most notable experiences are the ones that multiple people witness. It’s so educational to get “takes” on the same experience. It’s amazing how different people can perceive the same event. For example, the loud, “bang” or “door slam” that happened in 2011 [at Merchant’s House Museum]. Some people thought it was angry, some thought it wasn’t. But we all heard the same noise.
- He wrote the book on it: Dan Sturges says Loyd Auerbach is his paranormal go-to guy. This book is available as a pdf, at mindreader.com.
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR
What guest said something that significantly changed or expanded your opinion of a psi matter?
Hewitt: Professor Stephen Braude [Oct. 14, 2013 guest], who has done research on ectoplasm, really added credence to a subject I thought was complete fraud.
Sturges: Stephen Braude. I’ve always considered some aspects of Physical Mediumship to be too good to be true. Here is a tenured professor for 40 years and past president of the Parapsychological Association, who says he has witnessed levitation, bookcases bouncing across the room and has even photographed and video recorded a medium producing Ectoplasm. If someone as credible as Dr. Braude says he has seen this type of phenomena, I’m inclined to believe him.
What guest was clearly a looney, and how you did deal with them for a whole hour?
Hewitt: The UFO guy and the dog psychic woman.
Sturges: We did have someone on who had written a book about a possessed dog who clearly wasn’t happy with Larry and I asking too many questions. Especially Larry, who doesn’t tolerate loonies so well. We also had a UFO fella on this past summer who was interesting for the first 40 minutes or so, and then went on a long rant about religion, ancient languages and who knows what. Larry and I turned our microphones down, had a drink and just let him go until we finally had to cut him off to end the show. Even the people in the Chat Room turned on him!
What investigative equipment is, and is not, helpful?
Hewitt: Not helpful: spot thermometers. Helpful: EMF meters and, although Dan scoffs, I’ve had interesting results from the Ovilus. It’s basically an EMF meter. But instead of lighting up or showing how powerful the field is, it has an onboard vocabulary of words. The theory goes, ghosts can pull words out of the device to express themselves. I was using one at this location where a psychic started telling a story about a friend who was a Catholic priest, who gave up the priesthood to become a witch. He’d do cleansings using a hybrid of Wiccan and Catholic prayers. Right after she said that, the Ovilus said three words in succession: priest, witch and prayer. You could say it was a coincidence, but it was contextually accurate. A few minutes later, we were going room to room and the Ovilus kept saying “angel” and “stairs.” It repeated those words a few times. After the second or third time, they psychic and I went down the stairs and were talking. She turned and said, “Look.” There was a two-foot tall statue of an angel. It was as if something was saying [through using the Ovilus] that I’m here, and I can tell you things.
Sturges: I see a lot of people who like to, “go dark,” and shut out the lights, which just isn’t very practical. What if you trip over something? How are you supposed to see if something happens or moves? You’ll hear a lot of people saying that spirits or apparitions can only be seen in the infrared or ultraviolet (non-visual) light spectrum. I always ask, where’s the proof? First, we have to determine if consciousness can survive bodily death before we start setting rules and deciding what it/they can and cannot do. How were people experiencing apparitions before the ability to see into different light spectrums was even developed? C’mon! Also, I see a lot of people running around with AC (alternating current) EMF meters. Anybody who has the slightest knowledge of science knows you can’t detect ghosts or even living people with a device that measures man-made electromagnetic fields. They can be used to eliminate man-made sources of EMF, but that’s about it. I think the best piece of equipment you can have is a levelheaded approach and a good, reliable psychic medium — someone who has been tested and examined (they’re out there) in a scientific manner. I feel that science should be paying more attention to people who seem to have this type of ability.
- Dr. Ian Stevenson is Larry Hewitt’s choice for authoratative research on reincarnation.
IMAGE COURTESY OF MCFARLAND & CO.
What books do you most often consult, or refer to and/or recommend?
Hewitt: My specialty is reincarnation, and Dr. Ian Stevenson is the real expert. His book, “Children Who Remember Previous Lives,” is the one I often refer to, or refer other people to.
Sturges: Anything by Loyd Auerbach. I go back and read his books often. There is also a great book called “The Quantum Enigma.” I think people starting out in the field should read up on the history of psychical research. It would open their eyes to all the research and techniques that were happening before the current crop of ghost hunting shows started airing.
“The Psi Show” airs Mondays, 7-8pm, at thepsishow.com. Email questions to dan@thepsishow or larry@thepsishow or call 347-2011-BOO. Visit sturgesparanormal.com.