By Jessica Mitchell
Students enrolled in Sean Daley’s anthropology courses embarked on a trip to Atchison, Kansas to seek out any paranormal phenomena the town had to offer.
Daley, associate professor of anthropology, instructs a plethora of courses but specifically instructs a one-night-a-week class called The Anthropology of the Paranormal and Supernatural.
“I’ve been working in paranormal studies for about 15 years now,” Daley said. “The first area I worked in was actually witchcraft and magic … what kind of sparked it and what lead the way to the ghosts and hauntings and things like that was being on a reservation and having access to people who had the knowledge about witchcraft and magic. They shared that knowledge with me so the past 15 years has kind of developed and grown from there.”
Daley, along with a select group of ghost hunters, assisted the students on the academic trip to the Sallie House and the Berry Home, two paranormally active structures housed in Atchison, in hopes of finding any ghostly evidence.
“Atchison is supposed to be one of the most haunted cities in Kansas,” student Alex Yatskevich said. “I think if there is anything, like ghosts, that does exist it will probably be there.”
As far as interest in the paranormal and supernatural goes, student Holly Van Cleve said a firm belief is not a necessity to take part in these adventures.
“I want to go on this trip because I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but at the same time I want to experience it – I think it is cool,” Van Cleve said.
The students attending the paranormal endeavor were sectioned off into smaller more functional groups and then placed with a leader into separate rooms once inside the homes. They were armed with different tools that could potentially detect any entity inside a certain area. The students used voice and video recorders, K2 meters, flashlights, and thermal readers in hopes of finding substantial evidence of any ghostly interaction that may or may not take place.
Daley said that the class has only gone through a portion of the evidence but has already discovered significant findings. One student got a “phenomenal” electronic voice phenomena from the Sallie House.
“[It is] very clear, no questions about what it is saying,” Daley said. “[The student is] asking questions, and you hear a male voice say, ‘You’re asking too many questions.’”
He said there were a variety of different voices caught in the Sallie house, including “a couple very negative EVPs.”
“There’s a female voice, and there’s a male voice, and they are both relatively benign,” Daley said, “[…] but there’s a male voice that is very nasty and aggressive. It’s growling at one point, and it’s cursing at us at one point.”
The course is currently only offered once a year, so it will not be available for students to enroll in until spring semester. However, since the class has been so well received, Daley is currently developing a second paranormal course that will be offered sometime in the near future.
“There’s a lot of people out there who like to support this,” Daley said. “There are also a lot of people out there who don’t support this type of stuff. The thing I always tell them is I can be completely wrong. I can be chasing a dead-end road. But that’s a part of what academics are supposed to be about – exploring new areas.
“What I always tell people is you’ve got to remember that there is a difference between possibility and probability. We don’t have enough knowledge of the universe, of life, of the way things are, to say that things are or are not possible…certain things are more probable than others. But realistically at this point, we as a species and our technology is still all very young and we don’t have an entire grasp on everything out there…you don’t have to like it, you don’t have to agree with it…you can’t entirely write it off.
“It is possible there is an afterlife, it is possible there are aliens, it is possible Bigfoot does exist – again, likely? That’s on you to determine the likelihood of it. But the possibility – we don’t know enough yet.”
For more information on the courses or the ghost hunting trips, contact Sean Daley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Jessica Mitchell, reporting correspondent, email@example.com.