Paranormal investigator to speak in Winona

By Cynthya Porter
09/29/04 -  The Winona Post

For Chad Lewis, things that go bump in the night keep him awake until all hours, but not because he's cowering under the covers.

Lewis is a paranormal investigator, a ghost-buster of sorts, and researching unexplained phenomena has consumed a great deal of his free time for the past decade.

Lewis, who calls himself a healthy skeptic, has traveled around the United States and the world performing investigations of unexplained occurrences.  Among his travels are visits to Loch Ness, Transylvania, the reportedly haunted tunnels of London and castles of Ireland.

Many of the situations Lewis investigates come with a tale of tragedy or natural phenomenon that supposedly are the instigator of strange happenings.  Whether stories of murders, accidents or strange gravitational forces, Lewis said most of the time he ends up debunking the story that goes along with the activity.

What he cannot debunk, Lewis said, is that sometimes strange things happen to people, and the quest to explain or even identify those things is a never ending challenge.

Using sophisticated equipment, Lewis will often measure the atmospheric conditions present in an area where people have reported strange phenomena. While he can't tell you definitively what causes it, he can say with certainty sometimes things aren't exactly as they should be.  "We are sometimes able to measure phenomena that can't be explained," he said.  "We are picking up atmospheric conditions often associated with paranormal activity and we believe there is a correlation."

Lewis acknowledged that sometimes imaginations come into play on reports of paranormal activity, particularly if there is a tale of intrigue attached to the location.

But sometimes, he said, imaginations appear to have little to do with it.  "In many cases we find people are legitimately experiencing some unknown phenomena.  Sometimes there are just too many people experiencing it to blame it on imagination" he said.

But the haunting-type of phenomena is just one of the many areas Lewis studies.  Another is the occurrence of crop circles, which may be closer to home than some think.

According to Lewis, many crop circles have been discovered in Minnesota and Wisconsin with little fanfare in the public eye.  "They are appearing literally in our own back yard," the Eau Claire man said.

After a surge of crop circles discovered in Great Britain followed by the confession of a couple of men who said they made them, Lewis said the public may be less inclined to believe the local circles are anything but a hoax.

And some may very well be hoaxes, Lewis said.

But sometimes, he said, investigators turn up data that is impossible to fake.  "We take soil samples and crop samples and look for differences between them and a controlled sample," Lewis said, "and we do find differences."

Although researchers cannot explain why, Lewis said some samples will definitely have chemical or compositional differences from the controlled sample.

Whether it is a UFO correlation or some other earth force, Lewis does not know, but he believes some of the circles he has encountered are not caused by two guys with boards on ropes.

Lewis does do a considerable amount of investigation into claims of UFO sightings and sometimes abductions, as well as research on reports of a Bigfoot-type creature spotted in Northern Wisconsin.

Lewis, trained with a master's degree in applied psychology, said he goes into each investigation with an analytical yet open mind.  He neither assumes a report is true nor untrue and lets the facts of each situation speak for themselves.

His investigative services are all volunteer, Lewis said, and he is skeptical of anyone in the business who charges for them.  "Most researchers are happy to do it because they are advancing the field with research," he explained.  "Most have outside jobs, because this is not really a career option.  There's no money in it; I do it for science and curiosity.

Lewis will be one of the presenters at a Strange Phenomena Conference scheduled for Saturday, October 2, at the Winona Art Center.

The conference is sponsored by the Weird Winonans, a paranormal discussion group that meets weekly in Winona.

The other presenter will be Craig Lang, senior field investigator the the Minnesota Mutual UFO Network.

Together, Lewis said, both men will present research from a variety of unexplained phenomena, including regional happenings, crop circles, anomalous animal reports and UFOs.

The presentation is geared toward those who may not know if they believe in such phenomena but are curious about it, Lewis said, and he strives  to present good facts in and entertaining way.

The conference is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is $8.

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