Ghost stories have long been reserved for camp fire entertainment, movies and TV.

The realm of the paranormal has become mainstream, with more and more people believing that spirits — good or bad — are real and walking among us.

The popularity of all things paranormal is growing in the area, as evidenced by the number of people clamoring to get into Al Taylor’s paranormal investigation class at Ivy Tech Community College.

Students met for their first of four classes on Tuesday. An additional class will be held on Thursdays due to the overflow of students. Nearly 50 students are signed up for the class.

“Five years ago, if somebody said ‘I have a ghost in my house,’ people thought you were crazy,” said Taylor, a member of the Indiana Ghost Trackers. “People are more aware and they’re not as afraid to bring the subject up now.”

He said that attitude has changed, in part, because of cable television series, such as “Ghost Hunters.” He credits the show with the amount of interest he’s received in this class.

“A lot of people out there watch TV shows and there’s a lot of interest. They want to try it for themselves to see what it’s like.”

That’s what Jan Hulet was counting on. As the coordinator for Continuing Education program at Ivy Tech Community College, Hulet was looking for a class that would pique local interest. The Continuing Education program offers classes that are for personal enrichment, not college credit.

“We’re constantly looking for new ideas for classes,” she said. “Right now some of the hottest shows on TV are ghost hunters and other paranormal haunting investigation-type shows. It’s around Halloween and the perfect time to pursue this class.”

Hulet said no one questioned how the class would be received in the educational community. In fact, she was surprised by the amount of people looking to get in the class.

“It’s just amazing,” she said.

Odds are she’ll offer the class again in the spring.

While the class is based on the belief that there are spirits of some kind, Taylor said the point is to make sure there is no other plausible explanation.

“As an organization, [Indiana Ghost Trackers] try to debunk as much as we can so that when we do find evidence, then that eliminates all the what-if possibilities. We can’t explain it,” he said.

To do so, the ghost trackers use equipment they believe prove or disproves ideas about the supernatural. He plans to teach his students those techniques, similar to the ones shown on TV.

Taylor said trackers will use an electromagnetic field (EMF) detector. According to Taylor, when a spirit makes itself known, it attracts a magnetic field into gaining energy. However, electromagnetic fields also form due to microwaves, TVs, electrical outlets and so forth.

Taylor said high amounts of EMF can make a person feel sick and paranoid. He said finding high amounts of EMF may be just one way of telling people they need to rewire their house.

They also use digital voice recorders or tape recorders to see if the spirit will leave them a message. There’s also the use of video cameras and motion sensors to watch an area believed to be haunted.

People who believe they are experiencing a haunting contact IGT for an investigation.

Most calls, Taylor said, can be explained without considering paranormal activity.

Despite the many dead-ends, Taylor has witnessed a few events that made him believe in existence of paranormal activity.

“Until about a year or year and half ago, I was kind of skeptical,” Taylor admitted.

Then he joined a group of ghost trackers on a trip to a Kokomo warehouse, allegedly a spot of paranormal activity. After witnessing events he couldn’t explain, Taylor came to believe that paranormal activity was more prevalent than he realized.

He said his thoughts on the supernatural were backed in the Bible.

“You’re going to read several times in the Bible that talks about spirits and demons and how Jesus and his disciples cast out demons and heal people,” he said.

Not all his beliefs are founded in biblical tradition, such as the belief there are souls of the deceased wandering about.

“In my opinion, I believe there are spirits of people who feel a need to stay around, that they just haven’t moved on,” he said.

“I know there’s a lot of people out there that think, ‘You’re nuts. Why are you doing this? You’re crazy,’” Taylor said. “The reason is ... I just want to know for sure.”

Aided by the Indiana Ghost Hunters and his students, Taylor said he will continue to seek answers.

“There is something out there. It can be explained and that’s why we’re working on it the way we are. We’re working to explain the unexplained.”

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