"...Now, when convention and science offer us no answers, might we not finally turn to the fantastic
as a plausability?"
Mulder, The X-Files
The West Texas Paranormal Research Society (WTPRS) is an organization devoted to the study of paranormal phenomena primarily in,
but not limited to, west Texas. We are a group of researchers hailing from various backgrounds with a vested interest
in the paranormal. Our aim is to study unexplained occurences that happen in the west Texas area with the aid of a variety
of scholarly approaches: anthropological, cryptozoological, folkloric, historical, parapsychological, religious, sociological,
and a number of others. In summation, we approach the paranormal from a Fortean perspective, while maintaining the open-minded
attitude necessary for such research.
The WTPRS began in the summer of 2000, with the vision of four friends. Matthew Cravens, Cliff Owen, Wesley
Burton, and I, Judd Burton, came to the conclusion that there was quite enough paranormal activity in the area to
warrant further study. We have been friends since childhood and have been interested in folklore, religion, and history
from an early age. After college, we decided to continue to pursue our interests with the same zeal we have always
had. Hence, the WTPRS was born. Sadly, our beloved comerade Matthew Cravens passed away July 27, 2001. We
honor his memory by continuing the work he was so passionately interested in.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT THE WTPRS WEBSITE BY CLICKING HERE
CONTACT US: ATTN WTPRS
What do we study?
There are a number of phenomena and subjects that fall under the rubric of our studies. Our universe is filled
with strange phenomena. The following list (not comprehensive, of course) includes items meritting study in
What is the paranormal?
Paranormal....the very word brings to mind ESP and sightings of ghosts. In general, the phenomena of paranormal nature
do indeed seem to, for the most part, escape scientific scrutiny. Hence, we dub these events paranormal. But what exactly
is the paranormal?
Webster's Dictionary defines paranormal as "of or pertaining to events or perceptions occuring without scientific explanation,
as clairvoyance or extrasensory perception." Thus, we may surmise that a great many phenomena fall under the vast category of
the paranormal. This page is devoted to describing and relaying those things that fall into the category of the paranormal.
How do we study the paranormal?
Serious scholarly study of the paranormal invovles a multidisciplinary approach, just by virtue of the nature of paranormal
phenomena. Unlike laboratory science, these phenomena are seldom (if at all) reproducable in an experimental setting.
This characteristic naturally raises some questions. Since the matter and methods of this branch of study have
difficulty rendering objectifiable data, is the pursuit even valid, or worth it? The answer is yes. The study
of the paranormal renders qualitative data that is of great anthropological, folkloric, historical, paraspsychological, religious,
and sociological import. Generally, the phenomena have ramefications in all of these fields. By recording the
stories that people relate, investigating sites and phenomena of a wide variety, and conducting historical research on such
sites and occurences, a great corpus of information may be produced that may give insight into aforesaid supernatural happenings.
The basis of any sound investigation is background research. The genesis of an investigation may come from a lead,
a story that is related to the investigator, or a headline in a news paper--any number of things could generate it.
Upon discovering a particular phenomenon to study, one should extensively pursue historical and anthropological avenues
concerning the case. Every effort is made to secure contacts with persons willing to cooperate and participate
in the investigation. This methodology involves locating and interviewing persons directly involved with the phenomenon,
or those who have knowledge of it, and research of the history and folklore of the area in which the phenomenon is taking
place. Investigators keep detailed notes in a journal or notebook and interviews are transcribed, to facilitate
synthesis of data in the case. Hence, the first step in any case, should involve this type of preparatory research.
The next step in the process of paranormal investigation is field work, which has been mentioned to some degree concerning
interviews. However, fieldwork often involves actual on site investigation, especially in the cases of hauntings and
possessions. At this point, the methodolgy of paranormal study becomes very eclectic. Depending on research questions
about the case, any number of disciplines may be utilized--hard sciences and humanities. The usage of various audio
and video recording devices, electromagnetic and radioactive meters, cameras, and other such devices is common in cases involoving
spiritual beings, especially when attempting to record hard data. Use of such devices and the guaging of the results
in relation to spirits is still somewhat experimental, but often helpful nonetheless. However, such things as Christian
exorcism are also implemented in the case of malevolent spirits. In any investigation, the approach is tailored to the
particular circumstances of the case, and the research design of the project.
When field work is complete, researchers must confer with one another and persons involved with the case. Investigators
should be mindful and absolutely respectful of persons directly involved. Their wishes should be taken into account
and executed. Once a consensus is reached about how to proceed with collected data, the results should be synthesized.
This process invovles taking field notes background research and producing a report of the case and any conclusions
Ideally, the resolution of the investigative project is twofold. It involves the sharing of findings and giving
aid to persons in the case if it is needed. Results should be made available to three main groups: the
persons involved with the case, the general public, and the academic community. This object may be accomplished
by publication in a journal, via the internet, newsletter, or other appropriate method. The monograph should
be exacting, accounting for methodology and theory, details of the case, conclusions, and careful citation of all sources
utilized. The aid that persons involved in the case may need will be dictated by circumstances. It may be as simple
as sharing findings, or as drastic as an exorcism.
The method of paranormal investigation outlined above is the general method that we in the WTPRS
utilize. As mentioned, each case is unique, and demands a certain amount of tailoring. For example, studying the
sightings of a folkloric creature will necessitate a different approach than that of investigating a haunting. Whatever
the case entails, we here at the WTPRS address it with an open mind and careful methodology.
NEWS AND UPDATES:
* 2/15/02-I presented a paper on the Anson Lights phenomenon at the Mosaic of Texas Culture Conference held at Hardin-Simmons
* 9/15/03-I began collecting and conducting research for a book on the paranormal history of West-central Texas.
* 2/1/04-During a winter research meeting, a symposium was held in which presentations were given on the topics
of Biblical prophecy, the Nephilim, and Vampirology.
*3/1/04-Discussions have begun concerning the possible move to non-profit educational organization status, as well
as finding an office in the near future, and one day...the West Texas Paranormal Research Institute. More on that to