In 2015, Brittany Ann established Sarasota Paranormal Investigative Science with her husband, Daniel Scott, in an attempt to legitimize the field of paranormalism and teach people how to conduct their own spiritual investigations. “You have to do a lot of debunking in this field,” says Ann, who has been drawn to the paranormal since she was 8 years old. “Everyone wants to catch ghosts, because people get a rush from the unknown.”
This spring, Ann completed a five-year Ph.D program through the Institute of Metaphysical Humanistic Science, and wrote her dissertation on spirits. According to Ann, there are two sides to the paranormal field—the scientific and spiritual, and she harnesses both in her quest for proof that the spirit lives on after the body dies.
Sarasota Paranormal Investigative Science (known as SPIS) is a unique nonprofit that offers you the chance to lead your own investigations at places that experience high levels of spirit activity. Ann takes on the "claircognizance" demands of the paranormal investigations, talking and communicating with potential spirits, while Scott handles the team's equipment and helps analyze evidence. Their friend Riley Dexter films the haunted goings-on to document what they find.
Although SPIS uses audio recorders, electromagnetic field meters and specialty cameras to obtain paranormal evidence, Ann also incorporates less high-tech tools, like spirit dice, into her work, and even uses holy water, especially if her clients are Christian, since the team likes to work within their clients’ belief systems. “I don’t think spending thousands of dollars on equipment will do a better job than a person could,” says Ann, emphasizing the emotional and intuitive side of paranormalism.
Ann often butts heads with others in the paranormal community. “Lies are what’s getting the field to be big,” she says. Many paranormalists believe that cameras can capture evidence of spirits through so-called "orbs." Ann says orbs result from dust and light interference in the camera lens, and aren't evidence of a spiritual presence. Ann also doesn't believe in demons. "Spooky things are most likely just people that weren’t the nicest in the real world," she says.
Ann's goal is to help people find peace. Sometimes, that just means listening to someone, or finding an earthly explanation for what what may seem like a haunting. Sometimes, things are falling off of your counter because of a malfunctioning garbage disposal rather than a spirit.
Ann also likes to solve mysteries and research Old Florida history. She has looked into the case of Ethel Allen, a 19-year-old woman who was found brutally murdered in Rockledge, Florida, in 1934. As a symbolic gesture, Ann and Scott placed an apple on her grave, which just hours later had disappeared. In its place, they found the feather of a dove.
Should you find yourself facing a problem with no mortal solution in sight, you might find Ann’s no-B.S. approach to spirituality refreshing. “Nothing can possess me, because I am self-possessed,” says Ann.
You can contact SPIS through the organization's website or Facebook page to set up an investigation, schedule a cleansing or ask questions about paranormal activity you might have experienced. SPIS accepts donations for its services. “Pizza and Paranormal,” an event during which Ann and Scott will walk you through how to conduct a paranormal investigation, takes place at GoodFellas Pizza, 4571 Clark Road, Sarasota, from 9 to 11 p.m. Reservations are $20 and must be made in advance.