Some people might think a club investigating the paranormal is weird.
“Some people say weird. But I like to be respectful,” University of Maine’s Paranormal Investigation Club’s President Cory Lemay said.
The Paranormal Investigation Club was founded in 2005. Eleven years later, the focus of the group has broadened. In addition to the supernatural concepts that originally inspired the creation of the club, the group now discusses non-mainstream beliefs.
What exactly is a non-mainstream belief, you ask? Paranormal Investigation Club President Cory Lemay says it’s any idea that could be considered unconventional.
At a typical weekly meeting, members of the club either share a presentation on a new topic or welcome a guest speaker and follow up with an open discussion.
One week, Lemay presented his findings on bigfoot. Although he found that most Bigfoot sightings are actually black bear sightings, he isn’t completely ready to conclude that Bigfoot doesn’t exist.
“Just because these sightings might not necessarily have been Bigfoot doesn’t mean there isn’t a Bigfoot,” Lemay said.
This kind of conclusion is fairly typical for the group — if anything about the field of paranormal investigation can be considered “typical,” that is.
The club’s most recent guest speaker, Rodney Cluff, author of “World Top Secret: Our Earth IS Hollow!” presented his theory regarding Middle-earth. The club debated Cluff’s presentation of evidence that the Earth is hollow and “likely inhabited.” Another speaker, documentarian Gerard White, presented his theory that the moon landing was staged.
“We’re open minded but skeptical at the same time. We’re willing to listen to anyone, but also to question what is going on,” Lemay said.
Victoria Guiliani, the Paranormal Investigation Club’s vice president and treasurer, stumbled upon the group as an incoming freshman.
“I was one of the few people who came and checked off the ‘paranormal’ box on Accepted Students Day,” Guiliani said. “I ended up really liking the group, and eventually, I started dragging Cory with me.”
Guiliani credits her Norse Pagan upbringing for her interest in the unexplainable. She especially enjoys seeking out new indie media sources which detail some of the ideas which connect to her beliefs, but aren’t typically covered by mainstream media outlets.
Lemay, on the other hand, was never really interested in the idea of the paranormal before college. Being introduced to new ideas and participating in open discussions is what made the club fascinating. Lemay believes that debating phenomena on a weekly basis has improved his daily communication skills.
“One thing I learned from the club is that most people are rational and reasonable,” Lemay said. “You shouldn’t say that they’re wrong flat out. You should talk to them openly about the validity of your ideas and of their ideas.”
In addition to weekly discussions and presentations, the group handles reports of strange happenings in the Orono area. Although they are often restricted by university rules and regulations, the club hopes to coordinate a ghost investigation in the near future.
“You don’t have to believe in everything we talk about to join,” Lemay said, adding that the best way to inquire about joining is to post a message to the “University of Maine Paranormal Investigation Club UMaine” Facebook group.