Meet the real ghostbusters (

No longer are tales of things that go bump in the night restricted to whispers around the campfire.

Stories of the paranormal are fairly screaming to be heard on prime time TV shows and late-night radio shows, from A&E’s “Paranormal State” to the Travel Channel’s recently premiered “Ghost Adventures.”

Tourists and locals are signing up for nighttime lantern tours of cemeteries and historic buildings in places as diverse at Gettysburg, Pa., Savannah, Ga., and Cape Cod. Colleges are sponsoring lectures on the paranormal, in which ghostbusters and skeptics spar over the quality and meaning of electronic voice phenomena.

But before people start running around supposedly haunted locations and calling on spirits to give up their secrets, a couple of ghost hunters with Cape ties urge caution.

Ghost hunting “is not a game. It’s not a toy,” said Keith Johnson, co-founder with his wife, Sandra, of New Anomalies Research (NEAR) in Rhode Island, who is teaching a course on the Cape next month.

“If you call for something to come in, it might answer. It might not leave when you want it to. There are forces beyond our control, and a lot of people don’t understand that.”

Johnson, who has been on the SciFi channel’s “Ghost Hunters” and, with his wife, on “Paranormal State,” is teaching at the Sandwich Community School. His Nov. 14 class on “Ghost Hunting” will address orbs, apparitions, EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) and demonology.

Negative energy

Not all paranormal energy is benign, said Derek Bartlett, founder of the Cape and Islands Paranormal Research Society (CAIPRS).

In the process of ghost hunting, he’s been followed home by a black cloud of negative energy, Bartlett said. “I’ve been punched and choked and pushed to the ground.” (the rest)