A Paranormalist’s Journey Through Skepticism.
After a talk on the paranormal in photography presented at the 2009 NZ Skeptics Conference in Wellington, Gilberd says “a young guy from the audience asked me ‘Since joining NZ Skeptics, have you become more or less of a believer in the paranormal?’ I was unable to answer him there and then. Now, after 12 years of cogitation, I have a short time left to pull together my answer.” He says much of his journey has been a balancing act: you can’t influence a community if you’re cast out of it. You have to maintain your platform. This has resulted in a sense of disingenuousness. Remaining agnostic about some of the big questions in the paranormal is also a struggle. Underlying all this are issues of culture. He says he ticks all of the weird boxes, “but many of the people I engage with in my paranormal role see the world quite differently”.
James Gilberd is a professional photographer in Wellington. He co-founded the paranormal interest group Strange Occurrences in 2005 – strange-occurrences.com – and in 2011 co-authored, with Dr Jo Davy, Spooked – Exploring the Paranormal in New Zealand. Most of his work in the paranormal field involves analysing photographs for possible supernatural content, a service he provides for free in response to “many interesting emails from around the world”.