SEATTLE — From playful pats to angry jabs, tales have been told for centuries of physical encounters with visitors from the Great Beyond.
"There’s something out there. How can you validate these people’s personal experiences?" asked Ross Allison, the Northwest’s only full-time ghost hunter.
Allison is searching for proof of paranormal prodding in the new documentary, “Parasense: The Naked Experiments.”
"How do you prove touch?" he continued. "And to my surprise, I found no one has ever tried."
Allison teamed up with Chad Goodwin, a Seattle scientist and inventor who holds multiple patents.
"Ross called me up one day and he’s like, 'How would you prove touch?'" Goodwin said. "If we could figure out what exactly it was that we were looking for for data and try to sense it, then we could build the instrumentation around that."
Goodwin created highly perceptive motion, pressure, and temperature gadgets for the task. But some brave volunteers provided the most sensitive detectors of all — their own exposed flesh.
"What’s happening to the physical body? What happens to the skin, what happens to the muscles, when people are being touched by an unseen force?" Allison said. "If you’re going to have people wearing clothes and they say, 'Oh, I felt something touch my back,' well, anybody that’s a skeptic or in the scientific field are going to say, well, that’s contaminated. It could have easily been the clothes that they were wearing."
The team’s naked ambition led them to Kuk’s Tavern in Northport, Washington, a former brothel reputed to be one of the state’s most haunted locations.
"It was a little unnerving," Goodwin admitted.
Three individuals on the project claimed to feel the sensation of being touched as they sat in dark. Allison and Goodwin checked their data.
"To be able to see that there was this physical interaction and be able to pick up the data that suggests that something did happen, that was pretty powerful," Goodwin said. "And then be able to take that information and animate it in a way that we can experience it, that’s when it gets real."
Things got even stranger at Tennessee’s infamous Brushy Mountain Penitentiary, where an unexplained presence jolted one test subject.
"Oh my God," he shouted as he recoiled from an unseen presence.
“Like someone brushed me, dude!” he said.
Once again, the data matched the moment, as the sensors detected motion in a seemingly empty hallway and a camera simultaneously picked up a nearly undetectable beam of light.
"Here’s a situation where we prove that something came at them and then left," Allison said.
While testing the equipment, Goodwin spontaneously challenged the unseen instigator.
"Ross had been telling me all along, he’s like, 'Don’t antagonize ghosts. That’s not what we do.' And I kind of stepped outside of that and I thought it’s a prison, right?" Goodwin added. "What would it be to do this if that’s what we’re trying to rile up."
“Are you the one touching people?” Goodwin shouted into the darkness of the former cafeteria, and almost immediately paid for it.
“Ow!” Goodwin exclaimed, grabbing his neck.
"And then I got this scratch with an audible sound," Goodwin said.
When investigators went in for a closer look, the back of Goodwin's neck clearly bore a fresh, minor wound. Thanks to his instruments, that and other moments of perceived physical interaction finally came with some motion data to back them up. The tracking software seemed to show an unseen object crossing the room at the very moment of the assault. After 30 years of searching, it was almost more than Allison could handle.
"And to have that experience documented so well, it was emotional for me."
The scientist and the ghost hunter plan to follow their data wherever it leads.
"We’re not trying to say, 'yes there’s ghosts,'" Allison said. "We’re just saying there’s something happening out there. We’re not done. This is just the first small step."
"Parasense: The Naked Experiments" is now available for streaming.
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