In 1997, self-proclaimed “parapsychologists” and demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren gave a lecture in Cedar Crest College’s Alumni Hall auditorium.
Lorraine, who considered herself “psychic,” warned people not to play with a Ouija board because it was treacherous and “can open doors.” The Warrens showed slides of what they called “spirits,” played an audiotape of “demonic” vocalizations, and talked about experiences they claimed they had.
According to Peter Noah’s The Morning Call article, the Warrens’ lecture scared the audience, mostly students. Were the Warrens demonologists, ghost hunters, or just plain frauds?
Scary Audio Tapes and Slides: Part of Warren’s Lecture
Slides of “ghostly images” of the dead made some people leave before the lecture ended. One senior said that, at first, she didn’t believe the couple was genuine, but she started to believe and became frightened. She said she was “going to need some serious therapy now.”
In spite of the frightening presentation by the Warrens, it’s actually easy to fake photos. In 1917, ten-year-old Frances Griffiths and her teenaged cousin, Elsie Wright, took pictures of fairies in Cottingley, Yorkshire, England. They appeared so authentic that they fooled photography experts and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Elsie sketched the fairies, using Princess Mary’s Gift Book as a model.
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When the Warrens played an audio tape of vocalizations from a “demonically plagued home,” almost half of the audience left the auditorium.
Ghost Hunters or Demonologists?
According to Noah, organizations like the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) have doubts about demonology and ghost hunting. He wrote that Executive Director Patrice Keane said the society is primarily involved with researching different types of exceptional human events. Keane added that “‘Ghost hunter’ sounds like something out of a Dan Aykroyd movie.”
Interestingly, when I called the ASPR to talk to Ms. Keane, she told me that she’d never spoken to Noah, and had no idea who the Warrens were.
According to Loyd Auerbach in his book ESP, Hauntings and Poltergeists, although the Warrens are self-proclaimed parapsychologists, the term “demonologists” is a more apt description for them. Their primary stated goal is to battle the devil and demons, not to adhere to the principles of parapsychology. This is evident in their focus on exorcisms and demons.
Ed Warren Claimed he Attended 200 Exorcisms
Exorcism was a frequent activity for the Warrens: One example of an exorcism Ed claimed he attended was the 1986 Smurl Haunting case, in West Pittston, Pennsylvania. As usual, the duo found three spirits and a demon du jour. There was no scientific or psychological investigation. Father Robert F. McKenna, a member of a Catholic order that the Church doesn’t recognize and a frequent collaborator with the Warrens, performed the exorcisms.
The Warrens Debunked
Noah wrote that the Warrens claimed they investigated 5,000 alleged cases of paranormal activity. In reality, they base their major claim to fame on the debunked Amityville Horror, a hoax created to make money that many parapsychologists, skeptics and others debunked.
Ed Warren died on August 23, 2006. According to The New England Society for Psychic Research, N.E.S.P.R., his son-in-law, Tony Spera, is now the director of the organization and partners with 87 year-old Lorraine.
The Warrens have made a lot of money with their act. Ed once said that a cynical public is the greatest protection demons have. In reality, as debunkers’ research shows, a naïve public is the best protection charlatans have.