For many, ghosts and spirits are the stuff of Halloween and haunted houses. For Gary Truce, they are his area of academic expertise.
Students, faculty and visitors filled the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) Conference Room Friday to hear Truce, professor of health and wellness at the Decker School of Nursing.
Truce touched on supernatural phenomena he has experienced, ranging from people making tables levitate and metal bend during his time at Kent State University to full-scale hauntings here in Binghamton. He showed footage of people standing around a table merely laying their hands on it as the inanimate object began to jump off the ground without any physical pressure whatsoever, which brought gasps and shocked faces from the crowd.
After the video, Truce gave a demonstration in spoon bending during which all participants were given a spoon, which they attempted to bend with their hands, which Truce said was possible using energy from the universe. Participants were asked to count to three, close their eyes, jump, spin around and collectively shout, “Bend!” One woman was successful in a full bend while another succeeded in half of one.
Truce also described a parapsychology class he taught during the 1970s and ’80s at the University, where students could learn about a variety of unusual occurrences including dowsing — the practice of crossing two sticks to find water and electric currents underground — and psychokinesis, the ability to move objects purely with one’s mind.
The talk focused on one story in particular from the professor’s experience when he visited a house where a young girl named Becky was constantly interacting with and even being possessed by her unborn twin sister.
Truce’s involvement in Becky’s story began when a man called him to tell him that his daughter and dog were levitating. When he visited the house, he said he discovered the claim was true. Becky would often lift off the ground or find herself suddenly in very high places, such as on top of refrigerators. She began to be able to move objects with her mind and tell her father exactly where they had all been moved. The spirit also communicated through typing on Becky’s computer, revealing herself as Becky’s dead sibling. She went by the name of Rhonda — a name that Becky’s family had decided upon if they had any more daughters.
“When I walked into the basement, a paper airplane flew out of the darkness of an adjacent room. I picked it up and saw ‘Hi Gary’ written on it,” Truce said.
After four years of communicating with Truce and Becky’s family, the messages from the deceased girl stopped coming after Becky’s father passed away. Truce kept the conversations and wrote down the story of Becky and her sister, which he plans to publish under the name of “The Becky and Rhonda Story” as soon as it goes through one last reading.
He closed the talk with a few comments about the difficulty of having faith in the paranormal without having any firsthand experience.
“If somebody told me this story I don’t think I would have believed it,” said Truce on his story of the little girl and her dead sibling.
The lecture, titled “Paranormal Occurrences & Spirit Phenomena: Practical Experiences in Haunting & Spirit Investigations,” drew people from across BU campus and the city of Binghamton itself.
The seminar was the first of the “Arts & Minds” lectures here at Binghamton University. The “Arts & Minds” lectures are a collection of programs that have been put together by the Creative Activities and Research Team to expand the range of topics explored at the University.