Michael Pierce is the founder of the Network of Paranormal Investigators based in Michigan. As a leader in his commitment to creating a network where paranormal investigators can work together to shed light on paranormal truths, Mike serves as the main administrator of the NPI team. He’s the point person for investigations and is personally committed to bringing his passion for the field of paranormal science to NPI.
Interview with Michael Pierce:
What is your paranormal investigation organization ‘about’?
NPI is a paranormal research, education, consultation and investigation organization. It’s a bit of a mouthful. At the heart, we’re a group of like-minded people that are fascinated with the paranormal. Our members have a wide range of different beliefs which vary from full on believers to extreme skeptics. It wouldn’t be any fun if we all screamed “GHOST!” at every creak, knock and blurry photo. The diversity of our group is one of our very best advantages.
As a whole, we chose the name of “Network of Paranormal Investigators” because we are exactly that. As “ghost hunting” has become a craze, groups have become borderline hostile to each other. We aim to help reform the paranormal field into an area where groups can interact, discuss, and help one another. A network of people that are working together is much more beneficial than any one particular group aiming for stardom. We like to say that our organization is the difference between “ghost hunters” and real paranormal investigators.
What are your thoughts on the status of “ghost hunting” today?
Personally, I’m still weary of the term “ghost hunter”. I think it makes it sound like we don’t know what we’re doing. It’s funny but I find myself frequently correcting people when they refer to us as “ghost hunters”.
Overall, the ghost hunting or paranormal field today is unlike it’s ever been. A few years ago people would give you looks when you explained to them what you do, whereas now it’s almost an admirable field. People are simply more interested in the paranormal now. There are even statistics out there documenting that more and more people are stating that they are not completely sure or fully believe, as compared to those who flat out don’t believe in the paranormal. It’s really exciting.
As silly as it is, I have to give credit to the media for this change. While many investigators may not be fans, shows like ‘Ghost Hunters’, ‘Most Haunted’, and ‘Ghost Adventures’ have brought the paranormal field into the public eye and has really raised interest and awareness. At the same time though, with investigations of the paranormal in the public eye, it has grown tough to keep your group unique or free of stigmas as well.
What does your team do which is unique to your group?
I don’t know if it’s anything unique, but I know that our instant reaction isn’t to jump directly into an investigation. When we are contacted by somebody, they are usually just looking for somebody that understands, somebody to talk to. Above all else, our goal is to educate, consult and help these people.
Don’t get me wrong though, because investigations play a key role in researching the paranormal. The more experience an individual gets of actual paranormal phenomenon will always trump anything you’ll read in books or receive from interviews. In some cases all people really want is somebody to talk to, whereas in other cases they prefer us to come in and do a physical investigation of the site. While an investigation can be effective and can provide additional data to the ever growing paranormal field, the main goal is to help the people that are concerned by the strange happenings.
During an investigation, what can a client expect?
All investigations are preceded by an in-depth interview with the client (or clients) which is then followed up by research on any information provided by the client. Research consists of looking into any available public information and history about the location.
On the predetermined day of the investigation, we will arrive and do a run through of the premises in order to establish full awareness of the location as well as establish a plan for setting up our equipment. Once fixed elements such as cameras and audio recorders are put in place and secured, we will establish a baseline of electromagnetic field readings and note the different variations throughout the site.
We then prefer to clear the building, though that’s not always possible. We then secure any entrances and exits to the location. For the investigation, we enter the location in small groups. We usually have two teams of two to three individuals. Each team will conduct sweeps consisting of a walkthrough with documentation of observations and experiences, as well as timestamps and locations of EVP recordings and irregular EMF data gathered. When each team has completed their walkthroughs we will have a brief meeting to discuss and compare each others documentation. We then do one final walkthrough as a group. Based on our collected data from each team’s prior walkthroughs, we investigate any potential anomalies. After the final walkthrough, we gather all of our materials and equipment and make sure everything is the same as it was when we arrived.
Analysis of the recordings usually takes one to six days. We then contact the client to go over the results or to schedule a meeting to review the results.
What should people do if they think they are experiencing a haunting?
While it may be difficult to do, they should try to believe they aren’t experiencing anything paranormal at all.
What do you mean by that?
Granted, when somebody is living in a location with a lot of activity, they usually have a better understanding of what’s happening, but the most important thing is to always be a skeptic. While I have been contacted with people with real activity, it seems like most initial contacts explain happenings that are quickly rationalized through natural explanations. This is why our main initiative is to educate about the paranormal.
Anybody experiencing any kind of phenomenon should not be afraid. While unexplained activity may be unnerving, THEY are the people in control. I believe that if they keep a cool head and dissect the situation, they will be a bit more empowered whether there is real activity or not. We are always available to chat and discuss any happenings. It’s actually rewarding when we can prove against a haunting, but when we can’t disprove the irregular happenings it allows us a real opportunity to research and document the situation.
What is your stance on paranormal photography, more specifically on orbs?
Paranormal photography has been a hot topic since cameras were created. Odd images have been popping up for decades. Keeping a little skepticism in mind is a must. Many photos create a big buzz, only to be proven fake days, weeks, even years later.
I do believe cameras are a very important tool for any paranormal investigator. Both 35mm and digital cameras are significant in documenting cases and locations. No matter what, it doesn’t hurt to take pictures. Digital cameras especially have been a hot tool. They’re reasonably priced, it’s cheaper and more time efficient than a 35mm because there’s no film development involved. Digital cameras can also pick up things that the naked eye can’t. When you take a TV remote and push a button, you don’t see anything, yet when you look at the remote through a digital camera, you see the infrared light on the end of the remote glowing brightly. That is the most simplistic example, but that alone shows enough proof to pretty much anyone that a camera can pick up something that we simply cannot see.
In this field, there are countless theories out there. While explanations for the vast majority of “orb” pictures and other paranormal photography are frequently rather straightforward, we are always eager to take a look at anything that somebody cannot explain. Our site provides a series of common false anomaly photos, which features examples of things such as dust, lens flares, reflections, bugs, moisture and breath, etc.
Again, being a skeptic is the most important tool a paranormal investigator has. While a lot of photos and videos are easily written off, there are still some out there that leave me scratching my head.
What was it that led you into the paranormal field?
You know, that’s a popular question, and I never really have that great of an answer. I’ve always been fascinated with the paranormal. I remember being in elementary school and I’d check out books about ghosts and UFO’s from the library. Things just progressed from there. It’s been a life long journey, and when I began NPI I knew I was doing something I was supposed to be doing.
With all of your researching, do you believe in ghosts?
Simply put, I want to believe in ghosts. If you asked me a number of years ago, I would’ve said “Yes” and left it at that. These days I approach the topic very carefully. I believe that we don’t exactly understand everything that is going on around us. I know a person’s nervous system only consciously processes a minute amount of information at any given moment, yet there are millions to trillions of bits of information being processed unconsciously every second which go unnoticed or overlooked. I have some personal theories I’m still working on, but I know there are things that happen in this world that we overlook and that we have yet to fully understand, and that is the kind of stuff I’m fascinated with.
So what does 2009 hold for you?
With our website becoming fully functional over the past year, I’m very excited with everything that is happening. We been getting tons of emails, so I’m looking to get a lot more online features put together. Our online forum has been buzzing with people chatting, we have new articles posted to our “NPI Library” on a regular basis, and we’ve got lots of videos coming soon. The videos have been lots of fun. It will be neat to show us on investigations, but I’m more excited about the educational videos and tutorials we have coming. I’ve heard the phrase “print is dead”, and in the information age, people want videos, so that’s what we’re giving them. I’m also looking into some options of having local paranormal gatherings, and workshops.
Long story, short, it’s going to be a busy year, and I’m really looking forward to it!
[ Photo © Michael Pierce, Founder NPIMI ]