Robbins shares University’s hauntings

Devon Daniusis, Contributing Writer

Rich Robbins, certified parapsychologist and associate dean of the School of Arts and Sciences shared his knowledge about ghosts and the paranormal, including the University’s own haunted locations during a speech on Oct. 28 entitled “Ghosts and Hauntings: Decide for Yourself.” True to the title of the speech, he provided the audience with different theories, definition clarifications, and a basis to help them “decide for themselves.”

The portion of the presentation that elicited the most excitement from the audience was when Robbins discussed local and on campus ghost “hotspots.” Some local spots are the Bloomsburg University Haas Center for the Arts, the Bloomsburg Irondale Inn Bed & Breakfast, and the Susquehanna University Degenstein Center Theater and library. On campus, Hunt Hall and Roberts Hall are rumored to be haunted. Hunt Hall has been playfully dubbed “Haunt Hall” and every two or three years a female is reported to be seen wearing a red or green raincoat.

“If you’re a female and you hang a formal dress on the back of the door, she will try it on at night and when you wake up, the dress will be on the floor,” Robbins said.

Robbins said that his interest in the paranormal started as a child living in a house opposite a cemetery. In his house both he and members of his family witnessed furniture move, cupboards open and close, and the television dial turn. As a result he embarked on a path to become a psychologist and certified parapsychologist. Parapsychology is the study of anomalous events, including extrasensory perception, ghosts, and hauntings.

Robbins made it clear that he is not an expert on ghosts as “there are no real experts on ghosts because we can’t even prove that they exist.” This debunks the whole ideal of paranormal investigators or self-proclaimed ghost experts in popular culture. Yet these shows exist because “experiences attributed to ghosts and hauntings seem to be a relatively common part of the human experience” and “people like to be scared.”

Ghosts are believed to be people who have died yet have not moved on or have gotten “stuck between this plane of existence and the next.” Their soul remains on Earth. Similar theories date back to ancient times. Robbins proceeded to show a collection of photos that dated back to times before doctoring technology was developed. These photos depicted unexplainable figures, mists, shadows, etc.

Although ghosts were the main focus, other paranormal phenomena were discussed including shadow people, hauntings (an emotional event recorded by the environment), disappearing object phenomena, and electronic voice phenomenon (EVP). There are a variety of reasons why people believe in these unexplainable spectacles including the fear of the unknown, the need for control, and the need for attention. Something unexpected is that “higher education is positively correlated with greater tendency to believe in ghosts.”

Robbins also provided the audience with scientific refutations to the belief in ghosts and other paranormal theories. These include isolated sleep paralysis, string theory, electromagnetic fields, brain physiology, and infrasound. These human psychological characteristics can partially explain certain anecdotal reports.

“There are neutral stimuli in the environment that we can project meaning on … Humans have a biological tendency towards seeing faces in figures,” Robbins said.  

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