Brian Baker

The Warrens helped steer the cultural shift in paranormal investigation

A staticky ring tone filled the receiver as I dialed up the New England Society of Psychic Research while a student journalist at the University of Toronto.

It was 2001 and I was looking to write my monthly Window column, “Paranormal Frontiers”, on the Amityville Horror.

A calm and pleasant voice answer the phone on the other end. Pleasantries were shared, and I was passed along to an older gentleman by the name of Ed Warren.

The opening conversation was with his wife Lorraine. Say, what you will about the Warrens and their convictions that evil walks amongst us, but they really called attention to the paranormal.

I had the chance to chat with Lorraine’s son-in-law, Tony Spera, some years later.

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There’s always been a draw to the Warrens. As a teenager, I read In A Dark Place by Ray Garton and The Haunted by Robert Curran.

Even though the veracity of the encounters was called into question by critics like Ben Radford in his book Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits, there is something folksy and calming about the Warrens.

Our captivation and intrigue with the afterlife and the possible existence of demons have always kept humans up at night.

I know, as a 13-year-old, In a Dark Place kept me up for a few nights afterward, wondering what lurked beyond our plane of existence.

Incredulity and skepticism are certainly needed, but even in conversations with my neuroscience friend, nobody knows exactly what happens when we die.

We’re too complex of an animal to really have it end when our brain stops firing. our interest in the afterlife has led to great imaginative tales of horror that underscore our innermost fears and dreads.

I have enjoyed the stories that the Warrens have provided us. If anything they have sobered us up to mortality. They have dipped into the uncanny and inexplicable and have helped to stir up investigations from countless many.

They’ve inspired a generation of investigators with their work. Perhaps some good and some bad.

Warranted there is a glut of investigative television shows these days, perhaps through the inspiration of the Warrens, it underscores our fear of the unknown,

As I remember, that aforementioned phone call with Ed Warren came to an end, and I mentioned something about the static.

His response, “You do know who you’re calling?”

File photo courtesy Tony Spera

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