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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Interview with some Forteans (no garlic required)

This past Saturday (Oct 2, 2011) I had the distinct honor and privilege to talk for an hour and a half with the always entertaining and enlightening Greg and Dana Newkirk of Who Forted? mag. The topic of the interview was essentially; Why Forteana? But more than that, it was a chance to get to know some fellow Forteans that are fighting the good fight against the way too serious Believers and Skeptics who, more often than not, muddy the proverbial waters with all of their posturing and ego stroking. While we had an amazing talk, due to some technical difficulties, I was unable to actually record the conversation that we had. But fear not dear readers for I took copious, at times confusing, notes of the interview. So if are willing to stay with me, come as we journey inside the minds of some “Gen-x debunkers”.

Both Greg and Dana's interest in paranormal phenomena grew out of the 'Ghost Hunting' craze that struck television in the late 90's early 00's. Greg's group GHI (Ghost Hunters Incorporated) came about through the efforts of a prank on a friend and contributor to Who Forted? Nick Foust. Meanwhile Dana was busy with a ghost hunting group of her own, the Kitchener-Waterloo Paranormal Research Society, which would eventually become known as
The Girly Ghost Hunters. Under this incarnation Dana's group went on to have an internationally syndicated TV show. After a fallout between the two groups, I know shocking that in the paranormal field people can't get along, Greg along with members of GHI and Dana joined forces to create the Who Forted? that we all know and love. (For those of you at home keeping, it was Dana that came up with the amazing name “Who Forted?” rather than Greg's “The Knights of the New Fortean Right”)

Greg's interest in the paranormal grew out of a desire to scare one of his friends in a graveyard, but quickly became more than that. For Greg, even today, there exists a reality to the Ghost phenomena. What that reality may ultimately prove to be exactly? Well, Greg is the first to tell you that he remains unconvinced that “ghosts” are in fact the disembodied souls of Aunt Linda or Uncle Keith. Yet something is still going on in some of these cases. Going quickly from  this, Who Forted?  became (in)famous for their not always so serious approach to the paranormal. But honestly that's what I find so refreshing about them .While they realize that there is some reality behind the phenomena they investigate, they don't get bogged down by being too serious. Nor do they have any time or patience for all of the posturing and grandstanding that many in the field have made their livelihood off of. Best of all they are still looking for the story behind the story, or the human element that comprises it.

One of the topics that we spent a good amount of time discussing is the height and popularity of the so-called “Paranormal Media”, i.e. Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters International, et al. The show that dominated this portion of the conversation, wasn't one of these however. It was Paranormal State. The show has definitely been a polarizing entry into the paranormal world. As both Greg and Dana were quick to point out it definitely lead the way in the possible exploitation of persons who were likely dealing with serious issues, paranormal reality aside. Many of the people whose homes the investigator's entered needed some actual help, but from psychological professionals and not some undergrads from a college.

The main topic, however, was what exactly is important in paranormal research or the Fortean field. The shows that we discussed and the “field” in general, all seem to suffer this need for proof and perhaps, most depressingly, a lot of it is politics or a “pissing contest”. But they may be missing the most important part, namely the person at the heart of the incident. All too often people in this field are more worried about catching Bigfoot, seeing ghosts, or stroking their own egos, when maybe what's equally (if not more) important are the people involved. After all when I asked how much they thought any of these things were real, Greg said that the event is a real as the effect it has on the person. More often than not the story is the only thing that investigators have to work with. Hard evidence is often just as elusive as the phenomena itself.

At the end of the day, the time I spent with Greg and Dana was equal parts riveting, entertaining, and at times downright hilarious. They are some of the most level-headed people that I've had the pleasure of interacting with in this crazy field. I asked about their plans for the future; for the site, for their group, and ultimately for themselves. They want to continue producing better and better products, and most importantly continue entertaining other's and themselves. Before the conversation was over, Greg and Dana left a few words of wisdom for the rest of us. For Dana, success in this community is to always continue being curious. Greg wanted us all to remember that something is only paranormal until someone explains it.

The interview with Greg and Dana of Who Forted? was a nice change of pace. It's good to know that there are still some people out there who can walk that thin line between looking at something humorously, while not outright mocking it. Be sure to check out their site daily for some of the best commentary on the Fortean this side of Charles Fort himself. Additionally, be sure to check out their latest project that will be debuting soon, “The Bigfoot Hunter: Still Searching”. You can find my review of the film here, but be sure to head over to the Facebook page to keep up to date with all of the latest news about the film. 

Promotional movie poster.


Kandinsky said...

What a pity about the recording not working! I heard them on the recent MU interview and they were funny guys. The movie looks like it could become a sub-culture classic and I hope it does.

I agree with your points about humour. We're all neck-deep in some of the most absurd subjects known. We stand side-by-side with people who are sometimes ridiculous and often crazy. With all this going on, we should all laugh more.

Tony Morrill said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. The people involved in the various paranormal fields take them selves way, way too seriously.

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