October 29, 2014, BY Maureen Harmon

Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences Rich Robbins won't say ghosts exist, but he doesn't rule out the possibility.

Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences Rich Robbins grew up in a house in Bloomsburg, Pa., that many believed he and his family shared with ghosts. Cupboards opened and closed on their own. The Robbins family would head out for the evening only to find the dining room furniture moved about upon their return. And all four family members witnessed a tomato seemingly float from the kitchen window to the living room, landing gently on the floor.

Even with all that Robbins witnessed as a child, he's still pretty skeptical when it comes to paranormal activity — everything from orbs in photos to EVP recordings in basements to floating tomatoes in the family living room. As a Ph.D. social psychologist; a highly regarded leader in the National Academic Advising Association with state, national, and international awards to his credit; author of dozens of higher education professional publications; and a certified parapsychologist, he's trained to question such phenomena.

Robbins brought that training and experience to the campus community Oct. 28 with his annual lecture on the paranormal: "Ghosts and Hauntings: Decide for Yourself," in which he encouraged students and community members to think critically about the evidence when it comes to ghosts. (That shadow you saw from the corner of you eye? It could be a "shadow person," sure, but it also might have something to do with the way the rods and cones in your eye operate.)

You'll never get Robbins to say that ghosts exist — not without some concrete evidence and the ability to rule out all other natural possibilities — but that doesn't mean he's not willing to see what might turn up in a ghost hunt. For those of you who just can't help but set off to seek spirits this Halloween season, Robbins offers up a few tips for a successful ghost hunt.

  • Head to places where alleged sightings have occurred, and remember that doesn't always mean a graveyard.

  • Gather multiple forms of evidence. A single photo isn't going to cut it, but a photo with a video and a voice recording? Well, now we're talking.

  • Use a digital camera. The higher the resolution, the better. Take video when no one is around.

  • Get baseline data. Record the room when you don't have any paranormal activity so you have something with which to compare the creepy factors.

  • If you plan to do audio recording, have at least two people present and maintain absolute quiet. If you ask questions, leave at least 30 seconds for a "response." Note the weather and any normal outside noises, so they can be ruled out as paranormal later. 

This story originally appeared in Bucknell Magazine. To read more from the latest issue, click here.

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