By Carla Zanoni
INWOOD — A group of Inwood residents is in search of "metaphysical, paranormal, or otherwise unexplained phenomena." Just don't call them Ghostbusters.
"We don't fight ghosts," said John Galvin, 41, who founded "Metaphysical Investigations: Search & Test Society" with his friend Tom Vullo, 34. "We are heavily invested in the science of parapsychology."
The MI:ST Society came together several years ago when Galvin's wife, Kristen, purchased a ghost-hunting kit for her husband after listening to Galvin and Vullo debate the authenticity of televised paranormal investigations.
"As a kid I experienced seeing things that adults, like my parents, couldn't see and as an adult I thought maybe I was seeing things," said Galvin, who works as a security officer. "But after learning about the science of parapsychology, I thought maybe I'm not really crazy."
The team works for free and, in addition to using electromagnetic force detectors, light readers, contact and surface thermometers and a donated digital audio recorder and camera, they often bring in someone who claims to have extrasensory perception.
"Then there is the human detector," Galvin said. "Our bodies are much more sensitive, that's why the hairs stand up on the back of our necks."
When 52-year-old May Hempshaw, who splits her time between Inwood and SoHo, called MI:ST to investigate “odd activity” at her parents' assisted living facility uptown, Galvin had a simpler explanation for the disturbances.
“John believed (much) of the activity was due to electrical impulses working on the brains of the residents,” she wrote in an e-mail explaining that the facility then moved equipment and made sure it was not overloading outlets. “He was right. No one has reported any activity since then.”
MI:ST members have conducted several other paranormal investigations in Manhattan, including one at the Morris-Jumel Mansion and one in Inwood Hill Park.
Although neither produced any definitive evidence of paranormal activity, the team did encounter things that left them curious. A lock exhibited different energy readings depending on is location to the body. A fine mist was captured on tape surrounding the group, but it was imperceptible to the naked eye.
"As everyone learned in school, all energy is neither created nor destroyed," Galvin said. "So it stands to reason that paranormal activity stems from natural matter."
Galvin is not the only one for whom the science of parapsychology provides comfort.
At a Halloween haunted hike led by the New York Restoration Group at Swindler Cove this past weekend, 13-year-old Lesley Sanchez stood by as Galvin explained his work to a group of children dressed like goblins and ghosts.
Sanchez stared intently, hanging on Galvin's every word but her eyes lit up when he began speaking about parapsychology.
"Once he started talking electromagnetic energy it made sense, because of the science," she said. "I think I now believe in ghosts."