Calgary

Sociology prof shelves personal beliefs gathering ghost stories for book

David Aveline may not believe in ghosts or the paranormal, but he’s parking those beliefs, while he listens to and collects the stories of people who do.

'If it brings you a little closure and makes you feel better, then why not?' asks ghost tour operator

'I am a skeptic. I think the existence of ghosts is highly, highly unlikely. But my views on it are quite irrelevant, because what I am actually studying is other people’s experience,' says Mount Royal University sociologist David Aveline. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

David Aveline may not believe in ghosts or the paranormal, but he's parking those beliefs, while he listens to and collects the stories of people who do, for a forthcoming book.

And the Mount Royal University sociologist says, that's the only way you can approach this project.

"If you believe in ghosts, then ghosts are going to be real in your life," Aveline told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"I am a skeptic. I think the existence of ghosts is highly, highly unlikely. But my views on it are quite irrelevant, because what I am actually studying is other people's experience."

Sometimes, it could just be a feeling, rather than something you'd summon Ghostbusters for.

"People would say something like, I smelled roses in the bathroom but there were no roses around, therefore I knew that it was my mother who loved roses, sending me a sign," Aveline said.

Johanna Lane owns Calgary Ghost Tours, now in its 14th year. (Mark Wiseman/The Press)

The owner of Calgary Ghost Tours, says she has had that exact experience.

"We do Deane House tours and in the gardens, sometimes people will smell something and say, 'I think it is such and such,'" Johanna Lane told CBC News.

"It's my aunt or my uncle. They say they smell cigar smoke. They feel great about it, so who am I to say, 'You're kind of crazy?'"

She wonders, within reason, who is harmed?

"If it brings you a little closure and makes you feel better, then why not?"

And in Lane's line of work, she also puts a pin in her personal belief system.

"I am an open-minded skeptic. I absolutely want to believe, but I haven't seen anything that has made me. However, we get people on our tours that are 110 per cent sure, if not more, that they have had an encounter. Who am I to tell them, that's not their reality? That's what they believe."

Meanwhile, Aveline says, it is exactly that, that he hopes to capture.

"I have managed to suspend my own thoughts about what's really going on," he said.

"The only thing that is relevant is what the people believe. What they believe, guides their actions."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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