The Smoking Gun Research Agency had its origins in a position paper written by Director Jon Nowinski in high school that proposed the potential application of scientific method to the examination of paranormal claims. Having experienced unusual phenomena his entire life, Jon believed that proper investigation could provide compelling data for the support of such activity. While conducting his research, Jon discovered the field of parapsychology which is defined as “the investigation of evidence for paranormal psychological phenomena (such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and other psychic abilities) [Webster Dictionary].”
After completing his research, he was convinced that techniques developed for this type of study could be combined with modern equipment and resources to extend to a wider range of phenomena. As he learned more about parapsychology studies of the past, and continued to research current paranormal claims, he was approached by many people who wanted to share their own experiences with him. When looking for organizations that were engaged in paranormal research, Jon found that very few of them approached the topic with any solid investigational foundation, which resulted in inconsistencies in their investigations.
An editor of the town newspaper heard about Jon and his research, and interviewed him for a feature that appeared on the front page. The article was published shortly before the first meeting had been planned, and when the time came over 50 people turned out. At the meeting Jon was encouraged to form an official organization based on his analytical perspective, and at the age of 16, the SGRA was born. The name “Smoking Gun Research Agency” was a play off of the title of his original paper, which he had called the “Searching for the Smoking Gun.”
In an effort to establish protocols for the SGRA’s investigations, Jon looked to law enforcement and criminal investigation techniques, which was also an interest of his. He believed that these methods could be adapted to provide an efficient foundation for paranormal investigations. Public presentations and media coverage helped the SGRA to rapidly grow and to quickly gain recognition and respect from other paranormal groups, as well as community organizations, including historical societies and academic intuitions. Since those early days the SGRA has been hard at work, and conducts an average of eight field investigations as well as several research investigations each month. With the opening of its Research Center & Library in July of 2010, the SGRA has now become the first organization in the Northeast U.S. that has a location which is open to the public. The future looks bright for the SGRA and each month is witnessing further expansion of the group.