Thursday, July 5, 2012

Old vs. New

Remember the days when toys were as simple as Lincoln logs, little wooden pieces you could stack up to build little cabins with fences for your matchbox cars. Or how about your basic LEGO blocks, made up of just squares and rectangles, and let’s not forget the lighted box known as Lite-Brite. With this fun item, you poked colored pegs into in order to create pixilated glowing pictures of wonderment. How amazing those things were! These were some of my basic toys growing up in the late 70’s, but the funny thing is, many of you reading this probably didn’t even know what Lincoln Logs were. Back then, toys were simple, basic and didn’t have a lot of moving parts. But they worked; these toys got us through the day by using our imaginations with the fundamentals of basic things. 

Today, my toy box is a whole lot more complex, detailed and even a great deal more expensive. With various EMF detectors, Ion counters, sonic motion sensors and even thermo imaging, you can find yourself lost in the confusion of fancy devices and compound readings. And with the constant growing knowledge in the world of Science, technology continues to surpass last year’s model, paving the road for the next generation of ghost hunters to a better understanding of how our environment works.  However, having the latest and greatest gadgets doesn’t always give us a complete understanding of what’s happening in the spirit world.  

The simple tricks of the trade in recording ghostly voices and producing their spooky likeness are really taken for granted with the works of ghost hunting tools today. With digital technology, we can take thousands of pictures and record hours upon hours of audio throughout the night. It’s so easy. Hell - you don’t even need to be there when it’s all happening. 

But, to better ourselves as ghost hunters, we need to be aware of where of the history ghost hunting and its tools and techniques. How was it we were first able to capture evidence of unseen forces lurking in the dark? Do you know where EVP’s came from? Or even how we were able to seize the idea of what ghosts really looked like, let alone prove it. 

For years I have been working on reminding the paranormal community that even though we are heading to a new world of technical science in ghost hunting, we may be overlooking some of the older tools that worked for us but sadly are becoming obsolete.  I’m talking about those tried and true cassette recorders and 35mm film cameras. (The sounds of crickets fill the room)

COME ON! Think about it! These historic, dust-covered devices have opened the doors to possible and questionable proof that the dead are indeed out there trying to reach us. For decades, paranormal investigators have depended on their basic tools to supports their findings in the not so distant past.
#1 Digital vs. Film Photography: This has been an ongoing debate in the paranormal field ever since digital cameras hit the market in the 1990’s. Starting at less than 1.0 mega pixels, digital photography could not compare to what film could do. Nevertheless, through the years technology improved digital cameras to the point that most professional photographers feel digital cameras outshine 35mm film by reaching up to 200 mega pixels (that’s if you’re looking to spend a major chunk of currency).  Today,  the average digital camera will range between 10-16MP and if you talk to the majority of ghost hunters out there, they will clearly point you in the direction of digital over film, due to cost, plus quick and easy processing. Still, there is a difference in what film can offer that digital cannot and will never be able to. This is how it could affect us in the field of paranormal research.

Digital and Film are completely different media; their goal is the same (capture subject) but how they achieve this is completely unrelated to each other. Where film processing imitates a truer form to the human eye, basically, what you see is what you get. The digital processing method is to recreate the image in the best way it knows how.  Also consider this; film is a chemical process whereas digital is just that, digital.
In the early 1900’s, there was a phenomena called Psychography, where psychics where known to produce images on unexposed film, without the use of a camera. Now I’ve never seen this done myself (keeping an open mind here), but could it be possible that spirit energy can manipulate film to produce the same effect? Just something to think about.

Now in no way am I expecting you to run out and buy the top of the line 35mm camera. Your digital camera is just fine doing the majority of the work.  However, pick up a disposable film camera and keep it handy on your next investigation. Use it when there seems to be increased activity in the air. You just might be surprised with the results.

#2 Digital vs. Analog Recordings: the basic concept applies here as well. These devices capture audio in a totally different way.  Analog is the process of taking a sound and translating it into electronic pulses. Digital on the other hand is breaking the signal into a binary format where the audio is represented by a series of "1"s and "0"s. Remember when digital recorders first came out? The recordings and quality were so bad that you sounded mechanical yourself. Again, through the years digital recordings have been improved and have replaced our old ways of doing things. Nonetheless, analog which has been around for centuries was clearly able to capture more of the natural environment around us. So is it possible for these simpler gadgets of our past to reach out and make contact with the spirit world? Can the ghosts we seek manipulate these devices more often than the new toys coming out tomorrow?

Now there’s no question that digital media has been able to apprehend ghostly encounters. All I’m saying is please consider the fact that you may be limiting yourself from another way of collecting more odd pieces of evidence if you so choose to focus on what tomorrow’s technology has to offer. Progress isn’t always about moving forward, it’s also about remembering those Tried and True ways of the past that are just as good as or possibly better than those that the future may bring.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The ANGRY Ghost Hunter Show Premieres Thursday June 14th @ 8pm. Hosted by yours truly, Tod Kertz & Edward Kenneth Sears. I hope you will all tune in on

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Para-Drama, is there a need for it?

“Witch! Witch!” is shouted from the crowd, raising their pitchforks and torches as they chase down the accused for the public witch burning. Witch Hunts demonstrate how greed, jealousy, fear and misunderstandings lead to many misfortunes of those involved.  Unfortunately, this kind of behavior still occurs today. Now, Western Cutler no long tolerates witch burnings (too messy), but we still can be labeled accusers, as we point the finger and do the name calling. There are still followers, those who chant out wrong doings with pitchforks and torches in hand (well, maybe not pitchforks and torches, more like cellphones and ipads) and lastly, the victim, the individual tied to the stake. 

We know what it’s like to have the aching feeling of a knife pierced in our backs, or to have participated in the whispering taunts when that person leaves the room. And kept the rumor mill spinning as we spread the juicy gossip of the he said, she said crap. We all have been a victim of it or even in some way a part of it. Drama, drama, drama! Even when we have both hands on the wheel, we just can’t steer away from it. It’s in our homes, workplaces and even our best of friends can dish us up a good heaping pile of it. So it’s no surprise we find it even in the field of paranormal. “SCREAM!!!!!”

In fact, it’s so common that we have given it its own word “Para-Drama.” Now, it’s nothing you’ll find in the dictionary, and it still comes up underlined in red when using Spellcheck, but it’s becoming a popular word among us ghost hunters and paranormal investigators. It is nothing more than conflict regarding any given situation or series of events caused by individuals or groups in the paranormal investigation field.

Throughout my years in this field, I have experienced betrayal, rejection, ridicule, and heartbreak. I have been witness to plenty of drama played out in several groups (including my own), usually ending with folks leaving a group, being excluded or even termination. I have witnessed emails and online fights break out among members and other groups. These conflicts can be the focus of investigation methods, interpretation of data, psychic impressions, protocol, territory, personal conflicts, equipment used or obtained evidence, investigation location, media and even becoming a popularity contest just to name a few.

Let’s be frank here, is this level of immaturity and unprofessionalism getting completely out of hand? Has investigating the spooks sparked our inner children? And now we take our toys and run when things don’t go our way? 

With overwhelming amount of people chasing ghosts, many groups and individuals have been known to display egos, competitiveness and jealousy targeted at those they simply disagree with or don't understand and in most cases, don’t even know personally. It’s the belief that if we make others look bad, we make ourselves look good. But who really has the time for this type of behavior?

Are we so prepared to go to war with our fellow ghost hunter, when we may not even have the facts straight? We call ourselves investigators, yet in most cases we have not even taken the correct steps in finding truth to what’s happened when dealing with the situation. Could all this simply be nothing more than wrong assumptions, misinterpretations which lead to multiple opportunities for misunderstandings in our community, all due to the lack of communication we have with one another? Remember, every tale has two sides to the same story.
Take this example for instance: In the casino you spend $20 on a slot machine that just didn’t pay out. As you walk away, some stranger jumps on the same machine and pops in a nickel and hits the jackpot. How does this make you feel? You’re pissed, even furious at the person who just won big. It’s human nature that effects our reactions and influences our behavior towards perfectly innocent and random events.  

Just like in ghost research, we can spend hours investigating a haunted location and get nothing, but when another team goes in and walks away with something amazing, we tend to respond with “We didn’t get anything there; so it wasn’t haunted, so that group must have faked their evidence.” This type of thing happens all the time. And the term for this is simply jealousy. Remember with ghost hunting, it’s all about being at the right place at the right time.

There is no such thing as a perfect team or investigator; there will always be power struggles, conflicts, personality clashes, and disagreements about how others feel the group should be run. In fact, you may not agree with some of the techniques and/or equipment used on investigations, however, we all strive to do our best to learn what works and what doesn’t. 

We don’t need to deal with a rat race to find the perfect evidence or to become the most popular group. It’s almost like geeks vs. jocks in high school. And in this field, we know the geeks are going to win ;-) The best thing you can do to avoid this type of behavior and prevent yourself from becoming a Para-Drama Queen is to leave the negative attitude at home. Always be professional. You don’t have to like everyone in this field, just treat them with respect. Remember attitude is everything.

What we need to do is work together. Learn to develop better ways of having direct communication with the other groups and individuals in this field. Have a face-to-face conversation if at all possible or at least on the phone which offers a more effective way in communication. Here are few good reasons why you’ll want to do this:
1.       Issues can be dealt with faster
2.       Less room for misunderstanding in the content of the text
3.       Builds relationships & communication skills

Don’t allow yourself to be a victim in how your email was interpreted.  Potential damage is done through emails and text, often enough that can never be repaired. 

So get off the Para-Drama bandwagon and motivate yourself and your team to what brought you here in the first place, to have a better understanding of the unknown. For your experience in this field should never be diminished by resentment or our own insecurities but filled with the pleasure of having that encounter you’ve been longing for, an experience filled with the paranormal and NOT Para-Drama.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Fear Factor

The time is 5:18 am as the game hunters, dressed in their pale colored cammo, sneak through the heavy wooded area, careful to avoid making any sudden sounds. They’re fully equipped with the latest night vision scope and their rifles are loaded, ready to take aim as they press on in search of a living target. A distant sound pulls their attention due north. The hunter draws his rifle close to his face as he pears through the scope hoping to see the tender prey at the other end. His vision dances from left to right seeking out what might have made such a sound. Just then, his eye locks on the eye of the small guilty critter. The hunter suddenly drops his gun and screams to his partner, RUN, RUN! As they stumbling over the brush covered ground in their hasty retreat, leaving the furry little beast of a rabbit confused as it scampers away in the opposite direction.

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? However, it is fairly common practice in the field of ghost hunting and investigating. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed this personally and while watching popular television shows, on which some ghost hunters display such an unprofessional reaction to the slightest oddity in their environment.

For those tip toeing into the world of specters, boo’s and spirits, our reasons for pursuing ghosts are as individual as each and every one of us carrying around that faithful EMF detector. Its trusty detection warns us of the unseen world skulking in the shadows. We all want to believe there’s something out there or find proof we don’t sleep alone in the dark. However, why is it that when these unique opportunities of surprising encounters happen, people run away screaming? OMG!!! I’m literally pulling out my hair when I see this happen time and time again.

We are supposed to be professional ghost hunters, and we can’t even deal with the bumps in the night, the quick passing of shadows, or being the first to enter a scary dark room. Do you NOT understand the concept of true ghost hunting? Now, I totally comprehend that it is only human to find ourselves getting startled when something unexpected happens. Hell, I’ve done it myself. So why is it so difficult to take this opportunity to summon the courage to collect data needed to prove the encounter? Instead, we run away from the slightest pops and creaks around us. Maybe we should just redirect the concept of “Ghost Hunting” and call it “Ghost Running”.

Hollywood, the media and even religious beliefs are truly the cause of our fears. They have toyed with our perception of the undead world. We grow up thinking these paranormal forces are only out to harm us or even kill us, thinking that these ghostly beings are something to be feared, leaving us cowering like babies in the corner crying for our mommies.

Ghost hunting has recently become more of a popular sport, just like our game hunters. Everyone wants that deer-headed trophy to hang over their fireplace to show off their achievements. For ghost hunters, that trophy is nothing more than that strange experience they get to share when telling their stories or even that odd recording they might have captured. Nonetheless, due to the attractiveness of ghost shows on just about every network, most dabbling in this field are not really involved for the right seasons. These are what we call the “Thrill Seekers”, those simply needing to satisfy their own curiosities, and to quench their own adrenalin rush when confronted by the unknown. It’s the same thrill that gets the heart pumping and gives us that rush as if we just stepped off the greatest roller coaster ride. If somehow, we could eliminate this need to scare ourselves like little schoolchildren poking around with the Ouija board at a slumber party, we’d be off to a stronger and more respectful start.

It all comes down to dealing with our own responses, our fight or flight syndrome and whether the unexpected encounter was a legitimate paranormal phenomena or not. We need to face our fears and confront what it is that makes us fearful in the first place. Is it that knocking noise from behind us? If so, then we must find out what caused the sound rather than running from it. For a true ghost hunter will need COURAGE, DISCIPLINE and even INQUISITIVENESS to truly face the world of the unknown. These skills help us when faced with challenging and scary situations, helping us to resist the temptation of giving in to our personal fear factors. We must remember that we are doing serious work, collecting data in pursuit of our ghostly encounters. This is the true calling of the ghost hunter!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Who’s afraid of the big bad skeptic?

You find yourself alone in a mist-filled cemetery as dawn breaks. Fading light traces the beautiful etchings on the tombstones around you. You’re at peace, surrounded by the dead with your digital recorder in one hand and a camera in the other. Wait a minute. What’s that? You hear the sound of a breaking twig from somewhere nearby. You suddenly realize you are NOT alone. Next, you hear footsteps, drawing closer and closer. Oh no! It’s the Skeptics. You can’t run, for Doubting Thomases are hot on your tracks. You can’t even hide, for their rolling eyes always seem to find you. They appear out of nowhere, reaching for you with their sharp pointy fingers, piercing your balloons of evidence with a sudden POP! It’s like waking from a zombie-filled nightmare.
It’s one of the many fears most paranormal investigators face every time we bring forth new ideas and evidence to the ever growing debate table. We learn it’s not the dead we need fear, it’s the living. Those who question our beliefs, strategy or even our findings have no problem passing judgment. They seem to find no trouble ripping down our walls of confidence and poking at our bellies of theory.
Through the ages, the idea of ghosts has come a long way. Ghost enthusiasts no longer have to hide in the dark along with our ghostly companions. Our numbers have grown such that we can now march in our own parade. However, we still fear those who stand on the sidelines, picketing and chanting against us.
Now, I know I’ve just painted a really ugly picture of those BIG bad skeptics out there. In fact there very well could be one in your own family (SCREAM!!!!!!). In all honesty, they are not as scary as some might imagine. Have we become less tolerant of them as they sometimes are of us?
A few years ago, a local skeptics group contacted me to arrange a speaking engagement on ghost hunting. I replied “Sure, I’d be happy too.” There was a silent pause on the phone, and then, the voice answered back, “Really?” I reaffirmed my answer, “Sure, why not?” To my surprise, I discovered the caller had been trying for months to get anyone in the ghost hunting field to speak to his group but came up with rejection after rejection from all the local groups. No one wanted to submit to appearing in front of a bunch of skeptics. WTF! We ghost hunters can hang out in cemeteries in the middle of the night with no fear but cower to a healthy debate on the discussion of paranormal activity? COME ON PEOPLE!
Just because someone calls themselves a skeptic, does not mean that they are closed-minded or they’re in search of the odd-man-out for next week’s public hanging. These people had valid questions, and I delivered answers. They were just as curious about the world of strange encounters, as we ghost hunters are. Sure, some may not be big believers in ghosts, but who’s to say that they can’t believe in the possibility of the unexplained events we encounter.
“SKEPTICISM” seems to be a big scary word for those in the field of paranormal research. But yet we try to encourage those who seek ghosts to carry a fair share of skepticism with them when they venture out into the dark. This is to keep anyone in this field more level headed and not so eager to label everything they encounter “paranormal.” Yet, I feel we have failed if paranormal investigators are not capable of being confident enough in their findings to face a skeptical review.
Now, granted there is a point when you can be too skeptical. Here the debate can go on forever with no conclusion, and you have to walk away agreeing to disagree. However, skeptics are not our enemies; they often challenge our observations while presenting different ways to view material. These views help us peel away the mistakes today’s ghost hunters often make in producing evidence. When the skeptics themselves cannot come up with an answer to support or refute data, then we’ve done our job properly. It’s those puzzling findings that show the world we are NOT wasting our time. When we enter the debate without first examining those elements we want to call PROOF POSITIVE with a skeptical eye, we fail to engage in the true science of our investigations or prepare ourselves for the larger debate. To avoid wasting time in the discussion of paranormal activity, ghost hunters should acknowledge and make use of skepticism as one of our most useful ghost hunting tools, which is too frequently lacking in most ghost hunters’ toolboxes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Angry Ghost Hunter featured in Ghost Voices magazine.

Due to The Angry Ghost Hunter being picked up by Ghost Voices magazine, I will be withholding my new blogs until after their publication. Sorry for the inconvenience to my followers. However, feel free to keep updated with what I’m doing through my new website at

Thanks again for your support,
Ross Allison - The Angry Ghost Hunter

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Too many rules and not enough fun

3, 2, 1 ready or not, here we come! To most, it almost feels like a game of Hide & Seek. The ghost hunters or investigators are always wandering through creepy darkened rooms, searching under the beds and in the closets looking to find that hidden proof that spirits roam about. As you peer around corners you find yourself expecting to hear that startling “BOO!” to be uttered at you from the ghost himself. But most ghost seeking adventures leave us empty handed with no evidence to show we had found what we were looking for.

It is with this popular Hide & Seek concept that so many choose to venture off in search of ghosts. For most it appears to be a game, an adventure, a thrill ride, that feeling of reconnecting with our childhood. Ghost hunting takes us into a different realm, where we can easily cross that line between our own imagination and reality. Unfortunately it’s these ideas that make us question, "Where’s that fine line when it comes true scientific research or just simply child’s play?"

Throughout my years of running a volunteer organization I have found many people who wanted to join AGHOST looking for that exact thrill seeking experience. "When is the next spook show going to start? Will I be touched by a ghost? I can’t wait to see a ghost tonight!" When folks go into the field of paranormal research with this kind of attitude, their focus will not be on the bigger picture, but on that single, anticipated encounter and, sadly, this is where we as investigators begin to lose ALL credibility.

There has always been a gray area in how we proceed in the field of paranormal research. Due to this, we are constantly struggling to produce better ways in supporting or disproving popular beliefs. In doing so, we have to put protocols in place to help us produce better investigations and even better evidence. However, many groups don’t have rules of conduct in place or, when they do, members bitch and complain that there are too many rules and not enough fun. (insert record needle sliding across a record) WHAT THE HELL! If people are pursuing documented proof that ghosts could very well exist, then why can’t they understand the reasoning and purpose in having rules and protocols in place? It all goes back to the false ideas, due to television shows and media, which most people have in their heads when walking into this field.

Protocols were not created to satisfy the whims and desires of those who created them. Protocols are a necessary evil. Although many members do not enjoy following established protocols or perhaps do not understand their purpose, we must continue to follow them in order to ensure the credibility of our findings.

Following the rules is not about telling people what to do, but rather they are to regulate how we do things, ensuring that how we get from the beginning to the end of an investigation adheres to the practices agreed upon by specialist such as professors, scientists, crime investigators, and some of the big names in the paranormal field. Their research has made clear what is expected to produce solid evidence to support the idea of paranormal encounters. One thing these professionals ALL agreed on is you need data, data, data. There is no such thing in having too much data.

Due to the lack of protocols in our line of work, the ghost investigators are not collecting enough data to support any and all evidence. It is so important to note that protocols are not about how we run the group. Protocols are about how we present ourselves and our data to the world. This limited resource in protocols only continues to allow us to constantly question one another's evidence any time we encounter the oddities out there.

So what if members are not having enough fun when going out and doing investigations. If that’s the case, do you really need them assisting you in trying to produce evidence? Really think about it; are you really trying to learn from it all or just experience it all? That really is a question only you can answer.

Also ask yourself: Are you spending more time entertaining your members or are you truly focused on the research? Do you find yourself making sure your members are happy and willing to bend the rules just to make it easier on them and yourself?

If people are coming to you to learn on how to be a paranormal investigator, should you be redoing the protocols to fit their needs? If so, then you are basically taking people who watch COPS (the TV show), and allowing them to tell the police how to do their job. Unfortunately, living in a society that offers us so much freedom, we tend to do this in just about everything we do. We, as individuals have our own ideas in how things should be run or how we’d like to do them and have no problem expressing our opinions. But in all honesty, I believe we tend to forget why these rules are there in the first place.