51. Doubt and Paranormal Investigation (With Dr. Michelle Hanks)

 Dr. Michele Hanks, an anthropologist who does ethnographic work with paranormal investigation groups, joins Matt to discuss the role of doubt in paranormal investigation.

Returning Special Guest: Dr. Michele Hanks

Dr. Michele Hanks is a cultural anthropologist, teacher, and writer. She has taught writing in the Expository Writing Program at New York University since 2015.

She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork with English paranormal investigators and ghost tourists as well as more recent fieldwork with psychics in NYC. Her book, Haunted Heritage: The Cultural Politics of Ghost Tourism, Populism, and the Past, was published in 2015.

Her writing also appears in American AnthropologistNova ReligioEthnos, and Focaal.

She was our special guest in Episode 25 where she provided some thought-provoking comments on the search for evidence, what belief in ghosts means, and how this all ties into larger cultural issues.

This episode featured music by Matthew Armstrong and production assistance from Kaylia Metcalfe.

There is no transcript of this episode. Considering supporting the show so we can pay someone to transcribe our interviews.

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Show Notes and Sources

Organized Skepticism

Archaeological writers we mention (Lewis Binford, Barbara Bender, Ken Feder, Brian Fagan)

The Ghost Club

The Society for Psychical Research

Academic Parapsychology

Thomas Kuhn (Critique of Science)

Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion)


Hanks, Michele. 2015. Haunted Heritage: The Cultural Politics of Ghost Tourism, Populism, and the Past. Routledge, London.

Hanks, Michelle. 2016. Between Electricity and Spirit: Paranormal Investigation

and the Creation of Doubt in England. American Anthropologist, Vol. 118, No. 4, pp. 811–823. 

Hanks, Michelle. 2019. Haunted Objects: English Paranormal Investigation and the Material Mediation of Doubt. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, Volume 22, Issue 4, pages 60–74. 

Hood, Bruce M. 2009. Supersense – Why We Believe in the Unbelievable. HarperOne, New York, NY.

Josephson-Storm, Jason. 2017. The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Il. 

Luhrmann, Tanya. 1989.  Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 

Luhrman, Tanya. 2012 When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. Knopf, New York, NY

Storm – Myth of disenchantment

If you have a story about a ghost, some bit of folklore, or anyting else you want to share, please contact me.

Published by kayliametcalfe

Queer,loudmouth,skeptical-agnostic-pagan,book addict,coffee lover,wine drinker, SAHM,writer,editor,producer,podcaster. -She/her

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