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Andrew Nichols, PsyD, PhD, (Born: June 2, 1956) is an American psychologist and parapsychologist specializing in the psychology of superstitions, paranormal beliefs and experiences, and is an investigator of apparitions, haunted houses, and other purportedly paranormal phenomena.

He is currently Professor of Psychology at City College in Gainesville, Florida, and is director of the American Institute of Parapsychology, which he founded in 1992. He is a board certified psychologist and a member of the American Psychological Association and the professional Parapsychological Association.

He has published more than 50 articles, scientific papers and book chapters and has authored or edited 3 books4,5,6. Nichols has investigated several hundred cases of alleged ghosts, hauntings and poltergeists, and conducted studies on paranormal dream experiences2. In addition to academic activities such as conference presentations, he frequently appears on radio and television dealing with a wide range of alleged paranormal experiences, UFO abductions, ghosts, demonic possession, past life regressions, and so on. His television appearances include 48 Hours, Unsolved Mysteries, Feed Your Mind, Real Ghost Hunters and Ghost Detectives on the Discovery Channel. In the 1990s he was a recurring guest on the paranormal talk show The Other Side.

Nichols is a vocal skeptic of the majority of paranormal claims. He is also skeptical of most of the purported ‘evidence’ regarded by many as proof of the (objective) existence of ghosts and spirits. His analysis of thousands of alleged ‘ghost photographs’ and video and audio tape recorded ‘paranormal voices’ (EVP) suggest that apparitions are subjective experiences, seen only in the ‘mind’s eye’, and that ghosts cannot be photographed or recorded. Nichols does believe that extra-sensory perception (ESP) is possibly involved in some cases of apparitions and haunts, which accounts for the fact that witnesses sometimes acquire information from such experiences which they could not have known beforehand or inferred. However, most ghostly experiences can be explained by psychological factors such as grief, stress, or a predisposition to fantasy and suggestion3.

Under a research grant from the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health (IGPP) at the University of Freiburg, Germany, Nichols (and his collaborator William Roll) was able to demonstrate that some purportedly haunted houses are located in proximity to natural or artificial sources of unusual magnetic fields, and that these fields can trigger experiences such as sightings of ghosts, audible voices and other sounds, and a ‘sense of presence’ as well as other typical haunting-type phenomena. These unusual magnetic fields may be caused by geological features such as seismic faults or underground water sources, or by artificial factors such as proximity to high-voltage power lines. Such houses are essentially ‘hatcheries for ghosts’, inducing dream-like experiences which originate in the subconscious mind of the witness, but are perceived as external 'real' events4.

Nichols’ research suggests that some individuals’ brains are more sensitive to these unusual magnetic fields, which accounts for the fact that not everyone who visits or occupies a ‘haunted’ location has paranormal-type experiences. These findings support the conclusions of laboratory studies conducted by Michael Persinger and other neuroscientists.

Extended exposure to such fields can sensitize certain individuals so that they may begin to experience anomalous occurrences which were not noticed before. Nichols also cautions that extended exposure to these unusual magnetic fields can have detrimental effects on the human brain and nervous system, leading to anxiety, depression, and aggressive behaviors, and on rare occasions even suicide or homicide7.

Nichols has also reported some success in ‘de-haunting’ houses. In one case10 on a US military base, Nichols and his team were able to de-activate a particularly disturbing haunting by shielding the occupants from anomalous magnetic fields using sheets of Mu metal, a nickel-iron alloy6.

References

• 1. Auerbach, Loyd. Hauntings and Poltergeists. Ronin Publishing Co. Oakland CA, 2004.

• 2. Kachuba, John. Ghost Hunters: On the Trail of Mediums, Dowsers, and Spirit Seekers. 2007 New Page Books, Franklin Lakes, NJ.

• 3. Rich, Jason. The Everything Ghost Book. Adams Media Corporation, 2001.

• 5. Krohn, Katherine, & Nichols, Andrew (ed.) Haunted Houses. 2006. Capstone Press, Mankato, MN.

• 6. Martin, Michael, & Nichols, Andrew (ed.) Ghosts. 2005. Capstone Press, Mankato, MN.

• 7. Nichols, Andrew. Psychological and Electromagnetic Aspects of Haunts. (with William Roll) Presented paper, Annual Conference of the Parapsychological Association, Freiburg, Germany. August 2000.

• 8. Nichols, Andrew. A Water Poltergeist in Florida: Neuropsychological and Electromagnetic Aspects. International Journal of Parapsychology, 2001.

• 9. Nichols, Andrew. Discovery of Electromagnetic Anomalies at Two Reputedly Haunted Castles in Scandinavia. (with William Roll) Proceedings of Presented Papers, The Parapsychological Association, 1999.

• 10. Nichols, Andrew. A Haunting at an Army Post. (with William Roll) Proceedings of Presented Papers, The Parapsychological Association, 1999

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