Assistant Professor of Psychology
Lucinda Woodward didn’t necessarily
want her class to prove the existence
of such wonders, but rather to explore
the science behind supernatural
phenomena and question their role in
the belief system of individuals.
Her students, like Drew
Echelberger, a senior
psychology major
from Louisville, just
wanted answers –
but to what they
weren’t quite sure.
I wanted to give
some explanation
to what seemed to
be unexplained,”
Echelberger said.
Science, not spirits
This summer was the first time
Woodward offered parapsychology
as the focus of her applied research
course. The class went beyond the
paranormal and also included studies
on voodoo, psychic readings, and
mythological creatures.
Fourteen students signed up for the
class, which included trips to the
Mythical Creatures exhibit at the
Frazier History Museum in Louisville
and reportedly haunted locations
such as Waverly Hills Sanatorium in
Louisville, The Whispers in Mitchell,
Ind., and Bobby Mackey’s Nightclub in
Cincinnati. The class culminated in a
weeklong venture across the “haunted”
South with stops in Durham, N.C.,
Savannah, Ga., and New Orleans.
The class was joined on the local trips
by IU Southeast alumnus Brian Laythe,
B.A. ’98, who holds a doctorate in
psychology from the University of New
Hampshire and is the founder of the
Association for the Study of Anomalous
Field Phenomena (ASAFP).
Laythe is not a ghost hunter but a field
The unspoken rule in psychology is
not to talk about parapsychology,” he
said. “But we’re in this for the science.
We empirically test claims of haunting
or paranormal activity and complete
field research that produces reliable
scientific data.”
Basically, he doesn’t say that ghosts
exist, just whether there is a scientific
reason for the phenomena; and that’s
what he wanted to teach Woodward’s
We’re not teaching them to be a
skeptic or a believer but to test,” he
At both The Whispers and Bobby
Mackey’s, students were looking for
electronic voice phenomena. They
entered into a reportedly haunted
environment, set up equipment
designed to monitor sound waves, and
asked a series of 40 freestyle response
questions into the ether.
They discovered something, Laythe
said, but the exact results of the study
are still being evaluated by the ASAFP.
With electronic voice phenomena,
the researchers attempt to debunk
Gris-gris voodoo dolls at the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. Photo by Amy Basham.
IU Southeast senior Drew Echelberger at the Frazier
History Museum. Photo by Graham Gohmann.