A Conversation with Parapsychologist Stephen Mera
From the producers who brought you The Woman In Black and Let Me In comes the unnerving tale of The Quiet Ones. Tucked away in an estate outside of London, Professor Coupland along with a team of university students conduct an “experiment” on Jane Harper, a young girl who harbors unspeakable secrets. What dark forces they uncover are more terrifying than any of them expected. Inspired by true events, the film stars Jared Harris (‘Mad Men’ and Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows), Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), Olivia Cooke (‘Bates Motel’), and is directed by John Pogue from a screenplay by Craig Rosenberg and Oren Moverman and John Pogue, and based on a screenplay by Tom de Ville.
Stephen first became interested in the subject of UFOs and the Paranormal at an early age and after leaving secondary school he studied at North Trafford College and GEC Electrical for 5 years and obtained a Degree in Electrical Engineering. During this time Stephen began conducting research which lead to numerous investigations which he carried out on in own, until opening Cheshire UFO Group.
Here The Fan Carpet talks to renowned Parapsychologist Stephen Mera about the science behind the supernatural…
The best place to start is by asking how you became interested in Parapsychology?
That generally comes from reading my father’s books at an early age having the interest and wanting to learn about this phenomena about paranormal disturbances are they real or is it TV hype? Or what you read in the newspapers but to properly understand and to investigate things you have to first learn and understand psychology how the human mind works, how our perception works have I seen anything out of the corner of my eye? Peripheral vision there are lots and lots of explanations and how we perceive things and rationalise and how our eyes work. I have been involved in the subject for 31 years having studied degree level in supernatural experiences.
Can you recall when you first became aware of paranormal and psychic phenomenon? Was it through film, television or literature?
As a child the first paranormal television series was Scooby Doo and they always found an explanation at the end of it I loved Scooby Doo as a child, it got me interested and then there was RentaGhost and a few other television shows. But it was my father’s books which led me down this path. I followed my interests and I have been doing this for the past 31 years and I love my job very much.
In The Quiet Ones there is a belief that people can be or are the source of this activity – if we cure the individual then we cure humanity. It is an interesting talking point as the depiction of paranormal and psychic phenomenon in films and literature has been cast as an external threat – something to torment us by external forces. Your thoughts on the way our perception of paranormal and psychic phenomenon has been shaped by art over the years?
The problem that we have is what is seen on television, in films, shows etc. and what is really go on in the field. Very rarely is the realm of parapsychology looked at, in the movies it’s just the paranormal phenomena and not the study of it. The Quiet Ones sort of takes us in a different direction entirely, There are, and have been reports that certain people do manifest experiences around them; be it that they have some connection with the phenomena and can manifest apparitions to the movement of objects, some people have often reported the movement of an object, is that them or the presence of an external force? We look at both sides of the coin, and look at how the phenomena takes place and where it has come from and how does it work. And in some cases, we find that people are responsible, we do not have all the answers.
Axelle Carolyn in conversation of Soulmate offered, “I’d say the reason I was drawn to a more classical approach was the fact that I believe ghosts are in essence tragic and sad characters; lost between two worlds and unable to communicate.” I’d be interested in your response to this perspective, and whether paranormal and psychic phenomenon is easily defined as opposites: good and evil, calm or disruptive?
A ghost is a sighting of person believed to be a spirit, a lot of people get that wrong because the terminology in films is wrong. The sighting of certain ghostly figures that have been reported, most of them are associated with haunting phenomena, long term and residual, in other words it is tied to the location, it’s a recorded event that plays back and sometimes people who are in the right place with the right environment will see that played back, like watching a television programme and say ‘oh god, I’ve seen a ghost, it’s haunted.’ It’s not really a haunting because a haunting is interactive. Many cases could be something tragic when residual phenomena takes place, a recorded event, it tends to be something traumatic. There are different types of haunting.
Loosely based on the 1972 Philip experiment in Toronto, how much responsibility is placed on the shoulders of the filmmakers to ensure that a true depiction of such research is transmitted?
I’m aware of Dr Owen, and their results from that where they manifested and generated a ghost that never really existed. he believed that they made contact with him, they saw the table rock, they believed that if you believe strongly enough in something then you can manifest it, just like stigmata.
There was another experiment, called the Scole Experiment in Norfolk in 1993, where they did a similar thing, where evidence suggests that something did go on. These experiments do go on, how correct they are in the films depends on where thy get the information from. I’d suggest going to the Parapsychology departments to assist and help.
In regards to The Quiet Ones, a lot of what was depicted in the film was accurate, but some of it was not.
Personally, when you watch a film like The Quiet Ones and Jared Harris’ performance, do you find it easy to accept it as a dramatic interpretation of research into paranormal and psychic phenomenon or are the dramatic elements a source of frustration.
I’ve done a lot of work overseas for television and they have this image of a Parapsychologist to smoke a pipe, have a beard and a tweed jacket, but it’s very much far from the truth; Parapsychologist range from about nineteen to ninety.
His performance in the film was brilliant, he was the perfect guy to get for that role, last time I saw him, he was playing Professor Moriarty in Sherlock, he suits those kinds of roles.
Parapsychology has been forced to confront the label of being a pseudoscience. From your point of view how vital is the ongoing research of parapsychology into helping us understand our own world which we are still far from fully understanding?
In this country, unfortunately, it doesn’t deal with Parapsychology very well, it doesn’t accept it at all. However, in America, Parapsychology is accepted more. I’m always being asked ‘How do you become a Parapsychologist? And does it pay?’ To be a Parapsychologist you have to do everything; you have to write, you have to teach, you have to lecture, you have to research.
But in this country, we do need to move forward, bring in new forms of evidence. We want you to perform now but unfortunately it does not always works like that.
Why does paranormal and psychic phenomenon continue to be a compelling subject for filmmakers and audiences alike?
It’s a natural instinct that humanity has, we want to learn about something unusual this has been going on for hundreds of years. If we put humanity in a room and said ‘don’t push the red button’ they would. We’ve got to know how it works and what it does. It’s a natural inclination to learn. Do people believe in god or demons, and there are reports of angelic and demonic encounters, but unfortunately there is little evidence to support, but they make for fascinating reading. The truth of the matter is, that is evidence to support paranormal activity, the unfortunate side to it is that there is little evidence to support the accounts of it.
How important is the presence of paranormal and psychic phenomenon in the media and art to parapsychology?
The media are responsible for the escalation in interest in parapsychology. The television shows like Most Haunted, encourages people to ask those questions and pry.
If you were to recommend two lists of films and/or books – one that comprises good dramatic stories about paranormal and psychic phenomenon, and the second which offers a more authentic representation, what would they be?
In regard in television the best TV program, a TV movie I believe called The Haunted from the 80’s I believe, it was based on a true story of this family who were haunted in their home. A true depiction of what took place and also quite scary and accurate information.
With books, there are thousands of reference books out there. I would suggest obtaining books from people who have written them.
I’ve got a couple of books out, my second one was a best seller called Memoirs of a Paranormal Investigator.
Unfortunately I don’t see many films that do it for me, but a scary film with a good storyline is The Haunting, the 1963, panoramic, black and white version, that required no special effects. There was a remake but it was nowhere near as scary as the original. Fantastic film.
THE QUIET ONES IS OUT NOW ON BLU-RAY AND DVD