There have been many recent topics regarding what constitutes beneficial evidence in support of paranormal events. With scientific method in mind, I would like to start this discussion around three terms; cause & effect, correlation, and conjecture. I will provide examples of each and hopefully generate interest in how this applies to paranormal investigation.


Cause & Effect – a direct and verifiable relationship between two things; one causes the other.

Correlation – an apparent relationship between two things; one appears to cause the other.

Conjecture – a guess, most likely biased by culture and personal experience.

This is where science gives us answer. Maybe not the only answers but, answers the paranormal community needs to acknowledge to be taken seriously. Cause & Effect is where meaningful conclusions come from verifiable data. These conclusions are proven through repeated experimentation within a given situation and present us with likely cause whenever we experience the same effect/result. However, we need to remain aware that these conclusions may not apply to all situations.

1. Specific particles, lighting, and camera position can result in “orbs”.

2. The omnipresence of radio frequencies can result in EVP.

3. Hair, straps, clothing, or moving particles can result in streaks in photos.

4. The omnipresence of EM Spectrum signals can cause unexpected EMF readings.


This is where some science starts. Correlation may point our research in a good direction but, it can be too broad and completely misleading. Correlation should not be used to support a conclusion. Be aware of people who have carefully chosen specific correlations to support a deceptive agenda. There may be extensive verifiable data in support of each aspect of a correlation but, there may not be a verifiable Cause & Effect between the two. If the scope of the correlation is narrow enough we may be able to take the leap to Cause & Effect.

1. I took a picture at a haunted location; there are “orbs” in the picture.

2. Some EVP seem like direct answers to specific questions.

3. The area history suggests satanic cult activity; I took this picture with the streak in it.

4. I noticed this EMF reading when I heard the noise.

There is no verifiable data here. Some science concepts may start here but, without verifiable data, there is no progress to mature the concept into something more. This is often where bias, driven by culture and personal experience, keeps our emotions tied to ideas we cannot otherwise support. From here we may be able to make the leap to Correlation but, we cannot find Cause & Effect.

1. “Orbs” are disembodied spirits.

2. EVP are the voices of the dead.

3. The bright streak in this photo is a demonic portal.

4. This EMF reading indicates spirit activity.

Rob Hillstrom

Rob Hillstrom

Director / Chair Science at TEPI
Paranormal: Somewhat cliché but, my experiences began at a young age though I don’t recall making the “paranormal” association until the age of 9 when my grandmother died and returned for a visit. Through the years, I have given many phenomena more attention; from subtle dream images to apparent physical contact from “unseen” sources. I have been involved in independent research/study and investigation for about 30 years and began using some equipment about 20 years ago. I have been working with the Colorado based TEPI team since 2010. As a science oriented investigator, I am a bit of a contradiction. I believe the experience more so than the evidence. Simply because there can be many plausible explanations for most evidence. The experience on the other hand, can sometimes be very complex and difficult to explain easily. Professional: I have a Master of Science degree that essentially qualifies me to manage a multi-discipline team in their efforts to accomplish technical activities. (If I say more the MIB might show up.) My engineering background is primarily electronics but includes mechanical, astrophysics, and some aspects of thermal, optical, and audio. Previous careers were medical including paramedics and medical device technology (design, manufacturing, and training medical staff). I also dabbled heavily in photography before the wide spread use of digital imaging. Ideological: I was raised Presbyterian but allowed to find my own path. I studied Zen for a short time and explored many other faiths. In my late teens I attended a seminar on the subject of Quantum Physics and how it relates to our mind and consciousness; this was the turning point in my belief system. I did not become a scientific skeptic, I simply began to view nearly everything differently. I removed definitions I had learned and replaced them with relationships to my personal experiences and observations. Things once clearly defined as paranormal now had a plausible spin to them. Personal: In my spare time I write dark music, dark poetry, and horror/science fiction stories.
Rob Hillstrom

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