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P.R.I.ME investigators-in-training explain a piece of ghost hunting equipment at the Blue Hill Library on Thursday, June 28, while the P.R.I.ME co-founder looks on. From left to right: investigators-in-training Charles and Emily Reinstein, Joyce Powell and Sean Thompson, and P.R.I.ME co-founder Scott Sinclair.
by Gigi DeJoy
The group P.R.I.ME, or Paranormal Research in Maine, is very intent on distancing itself from such ghost hunting shows as Ghost Adventures or Most Haunted. Its members are dedicated to maintaining its reputation as an entirely objective, empirical organization, and during their recent talk at the Blue Hill Library co-founders Nomar Slevik and Scott Sinclair continually reiterated that they were not in it for fame or profit and would never take money for an investigation. Instead, everything from consultations to the June 28 talk are what Sinclair called “community service,” intended to comfort those who have experienced hauntings and educate those who never have.
P.R.I.ME’s talk at the library had a turnout of around 30 people representing the whole spectrum of believers, from total skeptics to those searching for scientific explanations to people who have had vivid paranormal experiences themselves. After an overview of the group’s mission, methods, and equipment, Slevik and Sinclair showed examples of evidence they had collected throughout their two years as a formal organization. This included inconclusive evidence such as pictures of “orbs,” which are often just specks of dust on the camera’s lens, as well as unexplainable phenomena like an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) of girls’ talking and laughter in an unoccupied attic. Two of P.R.I.ME’s “investigators-in-training” had attended the talk, and then passed out pieces of ghost-hunting equipment to the audience. The floor was opened up to questions and people’s own ghost stories.
According to Sinclair, P.R.I.ME enters investigations with the goal of disproving all claims of paranormal activity. “We try to find a logical explanation,” he said. Slevik added, “We are what they call open-minded skeptics.”
Everything that the group cannot explain away, they send to a third-party group member for unbiased evidence analysis. They do thorough background research on whatever home or business they are investigating, and document all evidence to share with the client and use for future reference.
“We have a very disciplined and methodical way of doing it,” said Sinclair. P.R.I.ME does not stop at ghosts; the group can also cover UFO sightings and cryptozoology. With Slevik’s 10 years of in-the-field experience and Sinclair’s five, the relatively short existence of P.R.I.ME does not do justice to the group’s apparent expertise and down-to-earth professionalism.
The ghost hunting equipment that P.R.I.ME uses is a mix of gadgets made specifically for paranormal pursuits and hardware intended for other avocations. The team relies heavily on infrared DVRs, camcorders, audio recorders, and hunters’ motion detector cameras for recordable, demonstrable evidence.
“Our digital recorders are able to pick up noises that we can’t audibly hear,” said Slevik.
They also use thermometers, a tool Sinclair called “very underrated,” because according to P.R.I.ME ghosts draw energy out of the air in order to communicate vocally or visually. However, changing temperatures are what the group labels as “personal experiences,” which cannot be used to prove paranormal phenomena in the scientific community.
One of the few tools P.R.I.ME uses that is actually intended for ghost hunting is called the K-II meter, which detects electromagnetic fields, or EMFs. Many ghost hunters believe that ghosts give off an EMF higher than their surrounding area. When the aforementioned orbs are not just dust or bugs, said Slevik, they are spots of this increased EMF, “almost a visual representation of what our K-IIs are trying to debunk.”
When P.R.I.ME is contacted by people who are looking to get their home or business investigated for paranormal activity, the team first instructs them to keep a log of what they believe to be these paranormal experiences. After this, one of the group members will conduct a phone interview with the potential client and attempt to find a reasonable explanation for their experiences. If their complaints cannot be accounted for after that, the team will make an on-site visit. Only if they cannot then explain what is going on, will P.R.I.ME hold an actual investigation, which can last up to eight hours.
One of their most well-known cases which made it all the way to the investigation stage was the original Pat’s Pizza in Orono, that was widely said to be haunted by C.D.“Pat” Farnsworth. This high-profile investigation took place on Halloween and was reported by WABI’s Carolyn Callahan, who smelled cigar smoke and felt her face touched in ways no one could explain.
Unlike the ineluctable Ghostbusters, P.R.I.ME does not catch or dispel ghosts. According to Sinclair, they can “refer” worried clients to people who do profess to get rid of ghosts, depending on their “theological beliefs,” but the group’s own goal is just to offer explanations and reassurance to their clients. Slevik said, “We’re not there to make money; we don’t want a TV show.” Sinclair agreed, reinforcing that all they want to do is help. “It sounds funny,” he said, “but who ARE you going to call?”