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The Entity

In this fascinating 27 minute video, parapsychologist Barry Taff discusses the beginning of his career and subsequent involvement in the famous 1970s poltergeist case of Doris Bither, the story of which was adapted into the film The Entity (which Martin Scorcese listed as #4 on his list of the scariest horror films of all time). Taff himself experienced paranormal phenomena as a child, but retains skepticism about the majority of cases that he has investigated. But this particular case he describes as one of the highest peaks from his casebook.

Barry Taff’s latest book is Aliens Above, Ghosts Below. You can read more from him at his website.

(via The Eyeless Owl)

      1. LOL, to say the least! It’s
        LOL, to say the least! It’s also a bit more personal than I had anticipated. Take a look at his posts “A Demon’s Lair” parts 1 and 2 – kind of strange, don’t you think?

        1. I just read excerpts from his
          I just read excerpts from his book “Alien Above, Ghosts Below.” I think he is kind of full of crap. He has that righteous runaway ego that just turns me off very quickly. His breezy dismissal of the entire genre of paranormal reality TV strikes me as being juvenile.

          1. I agree! I was initially
            I agree! I was initially excited about this guy after having watched the video – but then I read the preview of his book on Amazon and got the same impression you did. Also, you’ll notice that he drops links to his book in his reviews of entirely irrelevant products on Amazon, like the soundtrack to the movie Predator (LINK:

            …and also a pair of New Balance training shoes (LINK:

          2. He may have some wonderful
            He may have some wonderful insights, and he has worked up a lot of good methodolgy that the ghost buster crews themsleves use, but I am turned off by his air of superciliousness. A lot of the researchers are frankly jealous of the splash that paranormal reality TV has made. They feel a bit upstaged and left out which can take the form of categorical dismissal of the genre. The popular shows are to me most valuable when they accumulate raw data via cameras and EVP’s. They have the money and hence the luxury of being able to cherry pick the most spectacularly haunted places and to have production crews that can coordinate real data on the fly. It can be very impressive, and I think it can provoke professional jealousy too. No doubt a lot of the crews are pretty goofy, and they may have an unsophisticated idea of what is happening, but they are doing real science and some of them are doing real good science almost in spite of themselves.
            Amy Allen of The Dead Files probably has the most sophisticated sense of what is going on. She often determines that events are poltergeistic and are projections of emotionally disturbed people within haunted households. She is very good at spotting that and also sussing out who in a household might be attracting phenomena and for what reason, but she also knows that there are entities which exist entirely independent of the observers. Her “shadow people” are the scariest things she detects and analyzes, and she quite frankly is afraid of them because she knows not from whence they come and why they are so destructive and homicidal. Point being that paranormal reality TV is not always superficial or shallow, and not always in pursuit of the most raucous and photogenic stuff. Allen is always worth watching for the academic analysis alone.

          3. jealous of paranormal TV
            If this guy, a credentialed scientist who’s been making field research before most of the people starring in ‘paranormal TV’ shows were even born, finds reasons to critique those shows, maybe we should pay attention at what he has to say.

            I listened to the interview Greg Bishop did with him at Radio Misterioso. The thing that struck me as odd is how, for a man with such an open-minded and undogmatical take on the paranormal, he seemed to have a rather stereotyped view on UFOs.

          4. Barry Taff
            Taff’s take on ufology is totally in step with current research in the field, and his theories and conclusions are superbly supported by more than a half-century of evidence gathered by dedicated ufologists throughout the world. How much serious reading have you done on the subject of ufology? Perhaps more needs to be done on your part?

          5. Serious Reading

            How much serious reading have you done on the subject of ufology? Perhaps more needs to be done on your part?

            I’ve read a few 😉

            Maybe I’m mistaken, but during this interview, which is the one I was referring to, Taff mentioned the book The Day After Roswell, which is generally considered in the field to be highly unreliable.

            To me all the theories about alien reverse-engineering, which he seemed to consider as credible, are still anecdotal at best.

            Plus, he seemed all too certain that aliens are extraterrestrials, which, given his own research in spectral phenomena, sincerely struck me as odd. Why not consider the possibility that aliens, ghosts and other liminal entities originate from the same source? Especially given how much of what he described in his Entity case seems somewhat similar to the events reported at the infamous Skinwalker Ranch.

            Maybe ghosts are just Luddite aliens 😛

            PS: I hope you understand that overall I find Dr. Taff to be a superstar in parapsychology research, and his theories are IMO the cornerstone of what eventually could revolutionize our entire corpus of Scientific understanding.

            PPS: Welcome to The Grail to you, as well 😉

          6. Barry Taff’s book.
            I’m assuming that you are not at all educated in science, or you wouldn’t have made such a ridiculous and absurd statement. Do you know the difference between the science of parapsychology and the quackery paranormal nonsense depicted on reality shows? Have you ever read any research published by any parapsychologists over the last fifty years? Probably not. Your ignorance speaks volumes here.

          7. Moderator’s Note
            [quote=psibet]Your ignorance speaks volumes here.[/quote]

            The Daily Grail is a place where people discuss topics with respect. I think multiple people in this thread, with various viewpoints, need to take more care how they address others (and not just those participating in this thread). It’s fine to disagree. But please do so with humility, humour, and respect.

            We are here to learn, not to score cheap shots. To all posting on this thread, please be advised that the tone must improve or action will be taken.

        2. Barry Taff
          Perhaps if you understood exactly what was being discussed here it would make more sense to you? If one’s unfamiliar with the characters, how can they comprehend and enjoy the movie? I’m assuming that you do not know the people discussed in those two blogs? If you did, you’d understand it. Several people’s lives were destroyed as a result of the criminal activity that went on here. But since it didn’t happen to you, I suspect that it’s of no interest.

        3. Barry Taff
          Taff’s blogs were related to a very disturbing situation that devastated the lives of several people. Had these blogs been published earlier, much grief could have been avoided and money saved. But such was not to be.

  1. doris
    maybe it was her own [psycho]kinetic energy causing the activity. and when she drinks or got emotional, the manifestations took form of a traumatic event that happened earlier in her life, case and point the “rape.” persons already sensitive to certain forms of earthly energies have a great power in them, and imagine if they could control it. it would be the greatest weapon of all…

      1. Barry Taff
        Tell me this, do you have any education in science and how real research is conducted? Taff’s book is a cutting-edge discussion of contemporary parapsychology, which apparently you know absolutely nothing about. I strongly suggest that you familiarize yourself with what’s really going on out there in parapsychology, not paranormal reality shows. The theories discussed in Taff’s book are totally supported by more than 40 years of dedicated research. And in science, your theories must conform to your data.

  2. Taff Wrote the Book–literally and figuratively
    I first heard Barry Taff speak about this case, way back when time the Entity film was released. Many years later, I had the opportunity to meet him and get to know and understand his methodology. Do you folks want to know about the paranormal? Or do you just go by your “feelings” and “impressions” of someone’s personality? I find the last comment particularly ridiculous–“nothing new.” Folks, Barry is one of the world’s TOP parapsychologists, and others copy him, not the other way around. Like many geniuses, he doesn’t have the greatest social skills and he doesn’t suffer fools. But he’s one super-smart, outside-the-box thinker.
    He has seen more in one lifetime than all of the so-called “ghost hunters” on TV put together. And as an informed skeptic, his results are more trustworthy.

      1. A Drum “Roll”
        And by “nothing new” there was the potential understanding that at this day and time his methodologies are probably ruling the roost as far as methodology for investigation goes. What may I ask is he now bringing to the table that the so called TV ghost busters” need to know about – now.

        I find statement like this really confused though. I do not understand his critique:

        ‘Unfortunately for reality television, there are no demons, entities or monsters, just the externalization of consciousness of everyday living people. Well, not everyday living people.”

        I don not think this guy really pays much attention or rather he does so very selectively according to the dictates of his overall theory, and I must also say after reading his site that I cannot determine what that theory is other than that a lot of psychokinetic phenomena may be sourced within the human emotional personality. Well, isn’t that an original thought. The mistake Taff makes and I think he does it on purpose is to apply that template to everything out there. What really galls him about the new paranormal TV is that it is finding phenomena that persist in the same form and with the same formal characteristics no matter which ghost busting crew has been brought in to investigate – they share data often. That violates his general theory and that is why he gets irritated. Also, I think he is just afflicted with elitist ivory towerism and likes to sniff t the uncouth appearing investigators. It’s an old, old bias.

        Taff reminds me a lot of the paranormal researcher Dr. Roll about whom I had serious reservations after watching him attempt to overlay his EMF theory of haunting on the “A Haunting In Georgia” episode.

        I see now that the entire episode is once again available on Youtube

        In “A Haunting In Georgia” Dr. Roll is interviewed about the famous haunting case which he personally investigated on site and in detail. I found his reaction to the case puzzling. For one thing, the entities with which the little girl had been communicating daily turned out upon research to be people who had died nearby in the 1950’s. She even got their names right and was able to identify them cold in some old photos. The case clearly rebutted Roll’s idea that these phenomenon were “electromagnetic hallucinations” because the entities were obviously engaging the girl in real time and acting intelligently – they were not just some residual memory implanted in local matter and playing back blindly in a loop, and also the entities were seen by multiple simultaneous witnesses who were not likely to all be suffering from the same EMF induce hallucination simultaneously In fact, I think Roll was pretty shaken up by the case. He kept vaguely trying to drag in his EMF theory, but it felt like a face saving gesture, and he mostly sounded confused. He kept saying that in effect “this was explainable by science” but his science was not in fact accounting for it.
        There is plenty of merit to Roll’s idea that stray EMF’s cause brain hallucinations, and such dirty fields are the first thing many ghost hunting groups look for, but Roll’s response to the Georgia event epitomizes to me how scientists will waffle and obfuscate when their pet theories are inadequate, incomplete, or confounded. They fall into what I call the William Jennings Bryan schtick:

        1. Barry Taff
          Are you aware of the fact that in science you must collect data over long periods of time in the hope of observing patterns in such longitudinal data? Additionally, in science, your theories must conform to your data, not the reverse. If paranormal activity was as common as depicted on any paranormal reality show it wouldn’t be called either paranormal or phenomena anymore, would it? Do you understand that? There’s no evidence whatsoever that current sensor technology and instrumentation can detect a ghost or spirit. All these devices can measure is the localized EM/GM environment. The paranormal reality shows are nothing other than pure entertainment and frequently go out of their way to fake occurrence or dramatically embellish the facts to make them relevant. By the way, as a point of reference, Drs. Roll and Taff knew each other for more than four decades and frequently shared data. The major problem in parapsychology has always been with the replication of data, which runs totally contrary to what’s being depicted on paranormal reality shows. I wonder why? One last point, I think that you do not totally understand the EMF relevance here in that it’s far more than simply causing audio/visual hallucinatory reactions. The evidence now strongly suggests that the EMF’s actually trigger real paranormal events by acting as a severe irritant to the central nervous systems of some the experiences if they’re neurologically wired in the right way, e.g., seizure prone or epileptic.

          1. You don’t even sound like you
            You don’t even sound like you have actually watched many of the better shows. Replication of data is common. All of the more classically haunted locations have been examined by multiple different crews who all report similar activity all of which has been recorded and compared. The Ghost Adventures crew often shows footage from other crews who have been through an area they are about to examine themselves, and Ghost Adventures revisits some of the better sites such as Linda Vista hospital where on the second visit the Ur skeptic Michael Shermer who tagged along was forced to eat some crow. IR and UV cameras do not lie, nor do EVP recordings. You are so mischaracterizing these shows that I truly doubt you have given them any view time whatsoever. That I think is why some of these uppity academicians are prone to making such careless statements about them. They can’t bear to watch them because the data collection is so good that it puts their paltry armchair methods to shame.

          2. Paranormal reality shows
            Actually, I’ve watched many of these shows and know many of the creators who have privately admitted that they actually embellish, exaggerate, distort and even lie about their results in order to keep the shows interesting to viewers. Like I’ve said earlier, there are no instruments on earth that can detect paranormal energy or ghosts, for we do not know what they are. How can one detect and/or measure something if you do not know what it is? Along the same line, there’s no evidence that there are any machines that can directly communicate with discarnate intelligence. Much of the footage shown is grossly misinterpreted, especially if there are the orbs detected. The way they interpret their data is absurd as they tend to ignore the principle of Ockhams Razor. They’re practicing junk science with very poor methodology and protocols.

        2. Barry Taff’s research
          It sounds like really have not read much, if any, of Taff’s book or articles over the years. The data collected by Taff and his peers, like Dr. Bill Roll, Dr. Andrew Nichols and Loyd Auerbach, strongly suggest that the phenomena in question here is the result of a confluence inductive coupling between living people and the environment in the most extraordinary ways. In real scientific field research, you collect data over the very long time and look for longitudinal patterns. The science depicted on these shows is junk science, where they only seek data that fits their apiori theories. That backwards science. In real science, your theory must conform to your collected data. These shows will do or say anything to convince the viewers that their actually interacting with ghosts on every single show. That’s like winning the lottery at the hundred million dollar level ten times in a row. If paranormal phenomena was that common and easy to detect and interact with, it would no longer be referred to as paranormal or phenomena. These shows are little more than mindless entertainment for people with way too much free time on their hands.

          1. “Actually, I’ve watched many
            “Actually, I’ve watched many of these shows and know many of the creators who have privately admitted that they actually embellish, exaggerate, distort and even lie about their results in order to keep the shows interesting to viewers.”

            I am calling BS here unless these shows are some I haven’t seen. Your assessment of how many of the better crews work is just fantasy. The only shows I know of that might be accused of this sort of thing are “Ghost Lab” and “Haunted Highways.” Perhaps there are others. I only watch about a dozen different ones, and when I speak up for them I am just speaking up for them not whatever else might be out there, and as I have already written I do not endorse everything I see, but I am telling you that taken in their entirety such as I know it to be – the genre is fantastic and doing real live science.
            I have already written a post that addresses some of the problems with some of these shows some of the time, so it is not like I just blindly swallow everything I see, but there are enough instances of fabulous ghost busting that I have to rave about it when and where it happens, and it happens enough on the telly that I am very excited by how the the field has advanced with the aid of these Reality shows.

            “The science depicted on these shows is junk science, where they only seek data that fits their apiori theories.”

            That is such a nonsequitur I hardly know how to address it. For one thing, most of these crews have no “theory” about what is happening. They are just plunging in and letting things happen while recording it on camera and with voice recorder. Their most common reaction is puzzlement and wonder. They have no “apriori” agenda. Here again I don’t think you have really watched many of the better shows.
            I can’t really take you seriously any more. I think you are BS’ing mightily, but the best rebuttal is to watch a bunch of the shows period, and the only reason I am stringing this out with you is because I hope new readers to the Daily Grail will give it all a try based on the little promotion I give on their behalf here on the forum.

            The SyFy Channel has started a new season with “Paranormal Witness” which always includes multiple interviews with experiencers most of whom report the same phenomena. The Biography Channel has some wonderful shows including Celebrity Ghost Stories which are direct and lingering interviews with people telling their story of the paranomal. Rerunning episodes of “A Haunting” and “The Haunted” also run on such channels as Animal Planet and Destination America. The episodes run on Animal Planet are especially fascinating because it is the pets and farm animals that so affected by the phenomena – “repeatedly” I might add.


            Today Paranormal Witness is offering “The Apartment” for free online. I watched this yesterday and was impressed. There are corroborating interviews with police officers and detectives in this episode as there are in many of the Paranormal Witness shows.

            The Biography Channel also frequently plays “Psychic Detectives” and “Paranormal Investigators.” These are the most solid cases of the use of psychics in police cases, and the detectives and policemen heartily endorse their use after these experiences. They say so in the interviews too. Of course, only a very few of the most effective psychics are followed here, and that is what is so special about these shows. These are the cream of the crop in psychic investigations.
            Another one I watch is “Long Island Medium” which is far better than the cold read shows like “Crossing Over” which was a fraud. Caputo is fascinating to watch as she just roams around in public and randomly bumps into people whose deceased family members are yelling at her to let them come through. The first time I watched this I was suspicious of there being cold reading involved, but now after watching a full season I am pretty sure she is the real deal.


            That I think is the big distinction between the genre now and the genre in the old days – the internet has facilitated linking up with spectacular cases of psi and haunting. Before the net it was very difficult to find the most excellent cases in a manner timely enough to fill a TV season. The internet has changed everything. It is bringing much more of our potential reality to the fore.

          2. “It sounds like really have
            “It sounds like really have not read much, if any, of Taff’s book or articles over the years. The data collected by Taff and his peers, like Dr. Bill Roll, Dr. Andrew Nichols and Loyd Auerbach, strongly suggest that the phenomena in question here is the result of a confluence inductive coupling between living people and the environment in the most extraordinary ways.’

            Why exactly do you think the paranormal reality shows do not agree with this idea? Most of them are just collecting data and many of the groups are cross sharing data over periods of years. the Goldfield Hotel being a case in point. They are not necessarily concluding that Roll’s or Taff’s ideas are not pertinent. I don’t get it. What is the problem here?

          3. Here is an episode of The
            Here is an episode of The Haunted that probably typifies what drives people like Taff and Roll crazy. In this instance a child spirit is manifesting in a home and after lots of creepy misadventure a paranormal team is brought in to help. The first thing many of these teams do is a local historical research to see if any insights can be gleaned. In this instance it was discovered that about 150 years ago a small boy had drowned in the pond behind the house. What tipped them off that this might be pertinent is that the child shared the same name that a child in the current household was calling the child ghost in the house. There were also hints that the ghost had drowned, so the drowning of the young male ghost in the current home was yet another strong indicator that what they were dealing with was the spirit of this child. What they finally determine is that the ghost in the home was distressed at the loss or covering over of his original grave spot which had a stone marker according to the old map of the homestead the research team had found in the local town records. Subsequent generations of owners had gradually defaced or forgotten about the old grave marker, or sperhaps someone had just decided they didn’t want it on theproperty any more.
            The paranormal team and the current home owners then hold a ceremony to rededicate the child’s grave and erect a new commemorative plaque according the the gravesite “X” they saw on the old map. The paranormal activity promptly ceased after that.
            In this case, no one in the current household knew anything of the distant history of the house, so there is no way they could be psychokinetically projecting onto the home. The details of the ghost turn out to line up perfectly with the details of the small child who drowned in the lake many, many years go. Many of the paranormal reality shows do this sort of historical due diligence and come up with the same uncanny parallels between the current haunting and past events at the home while the current residents haven’t even the slightest knowledge of these past events.
            The chief problem with Taff and Roll is that the regard their induction theory to be total – a sort of grand unified theory when it is nothing of the sort. It certainly accounts for some of these manifestations, but it does not account for all of them, and there is the problem. Rather than admit that their theory might be incomplete they just categorically throw out the other evidence. That is why they wholesale disregard and mock these newer investigations. They cannot abide the thought that they may have only part of the story. At least that is what I have to conclude. I can’t think of why else they would be so disparaging of the data being collected by these teams.
            (The pertinent episode “Dead In the Water” spans the first two segments and a slight bit of the third. Thereafter another investigation begins elsewhere. That is why there are only 3 of the total of 4 Youtube segments linked here.)

          4. Dr. Roll and “A Haunting In Georgia”
            Holy synchronicity. Batman. The TV channel “Destination America” is tonight rerunning the episode of “A Haunting” called “A Haunting In Georgia” which features Dr. Roll at the end. He comes in with his equipment measuring ions and EMF’s and peddling his theory that such fields have everything to do with hauntings, and they surely do in some instances. All of the better ghost busting crews on TV spend a lot of effort waving EMF and ion meters around and are always looking for that to explain potential brain disfunction and hallucination. There is indeed a lot of correlation between such spikes and paranormal activity, but here is where Rolls’ theory falls short, and he as much admits that on the show. His theory is that such fields create “hallucinations” which the paranormally afflicted mistake for reality, but in this case the little girl who was interacting with a spirit was handed a bunch of photographs and asked to pick out the one that resembled her “friend.” To Rolls’ amazement she correctly picked out the photo of a long dead relative she did not know who also bore the name of the spirit which was her “friend.” To further confound Dr. Roll’s “hallucinations only” theory several of the member of the family received deep and very painful scratch marks on their bodies during some of the phenomena. Rolls here again admits he cannot explain what is going on. but then later on he lapses back once again into his “science can explain this” spiel as if he has forgotten the contradictory evidence that does not fit his pet theory. He shows up at the tormented family’s homestead some moths later as the spirit entities are growing more malicious and less friendly and he just keeps on with the “science can explain this” stuff and reassures then that if they will just “put it out of their hallucinatory minds” it will go away. This is really bizarre to watch, and the poor family seeking help get quite peeved at him and dispenses with his services. At this point the medium Amy Allen is called in by Roll, and she I think probably has the best overall theory of hauntings though it is interesting to see how she has developed in subsequent years as she got more experience. She is now much more amenable to the idea of there being “demonic” entities whereas in the Georgia experience she was somewhat reticent about that. Watch her current show “The Dead Files” and you will see her occasionally encounter beings she has no reservations about calling “demonic.” Dr. Roll cannot abide that idea. You can see him choke on the word demonic because it has religious connotations. That is I think one of the conceits of the average materialist paranormal researcher. They have absolutely emptied their minds of any such notions, and it does not serve them well. They are not really deserving of either idea – that there are demons or that there are not demons. It is not a decided question yet, and their science only has an inkling of what is going on.
            This episode is really good at explaining the shortcomings of the various theories in explaining everything. No one at this point has any right to claim they know exactly what is going on all the time and in every instance.

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