Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Midas Touch in Evidence

With the press of a button, we can capture some of the strangest things creeping around us, fog-like images conquering the grounds of a forgotten cemetery or a flicker of darkness darting by with the turn of a head. These strange light formations, shadowy figures, misty forms and spheres of energy have also been known to sneak into our shots. We find similar strangeness in our recordings that ghost hunters can pick up as we journey through dark-filled rooms with eerie voices whispering in the background. As these oddities make their personal appearances, as if to greet us or even warn us of a line we are about to cross into the unknown, our curiosity, excitement and determination grow. These types of interesting findings can be amazingly credible bits of evidence or simply demonstrations of human error that play with our beliefs.

When it comes to seeking out ghostly beings that haunt the vast corners of the world, we find it takes a certain type of person to filter out the truly unique from the ordinary. It becomes so easy to pull nonsense out of our hats and label it “PARANOMAL” but to truly find that rare supernatural event requires more of a skeptical outlook. As I venture off to the world of the internet, I see so many ghost hunting websites making mistakes in how they filter their evidence. COME ON! Really? Are we to believe that all of this crap is proof of ghosts? Or could it be the other team members chatting about last night’s episode of Ghost Hunters who won’t shut the hell up during an EVP session!

With the popularity of ghost hunting and the gadgets that follow, many are too eager to find something strange in materials from their personal investigations. They analyze their evidence to death and are willing to accept just about anything as proof of the paranormal. But before we go into the topic of reviewing, we must understand the importance of how to capture the phenomena in the first place. Answer the following questions:

#1 Am I in a controlled environment?
#2 Do I understand how my equipment works and am I using it correctly?
#3 Do I understand established protocols and obey them before proceeding with the investigation?

Example: So many groups are focused on having the BEST and most sensitive recording equipment (and believe me that’s great), but here is where we run into problems. By using sound sensitive equipment or microphones that pick up the slightest sound of a pin drop, we begin to make errors in how we process the recordings. We must understand that these recordings are going to pick up sounds we normally don’t hear with the human ear (such as the before-mentioned pin drop). But even when you are in a room with everyone being quiet, you can still pick up sounds of movement, fabric rubbing together or even pops or creeks (normal house noises), and let’s not forget the sounds that appliances and other equipment can give off, that we would not normally hear. So when these sounds are recorded and we don’t recall hearing them during the investigation - BINGO! - we now believe we have a ghostly sound or voice telling us “You will DIE”.

To better ourselves as paranormal investigators, we all need to be willing to be more skeptical in reviewing our evidence. Just because we believe the location is haunted, doesn’t mean we are going to find something every time we investigate. As we review the oddities we discover, we need to be willing to allow others to review them as well.

A good many of my group’s members have gotten mad at me just because I personally didn’t believe the evidence they captured was paranormal. We all have to be willing to accept that what we believe are true findings may be our own psychological misinterpretations. In the field of science, we must allow our personal findings to be debated. Sometimes we even have to be the guinea pigs in our own psychological tests. I must ask myself: Where do I personally stand on my beliefs? What will it take to convince me I just captured something paranormal? And how much do I really want to believe it has to be a ghost, enough to cloud my judgment?

I have tested my members’ abilities to review evidence and encourage anyone in this field to do the same. I modified a picture so that it appeared to be a possible paranormal image. I then passed it out among the members to see what they thought of the image. To my surprise, many accepted it as proof of the unknown without further review. Few questioned it or wanted to analyze or discuss the contents of the photo. At the next meeting, I revealed the photo as a fake only to find disappointment from many of the members. HOLD ON A SEC! - just because I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I’m the president of a research group, does NOT make my evidence gold.

Just because you saw something on TV does NOT make it proof. We ALL need to be willing to have ANY and ALL evidence questioned. We are all humans who can make the same simple and psychological mistakes. Unfortunately, proving the paranormal becomes a guessing game when confronted by the strange. No one has the Midas Touch - no matter how credible their previous findings. As investigators, we must maintain distance from our personal prejudices and beliefs and embrace the analysis, reviews and criticism of other investigators. Only through the process of debate and discussion can we find the true meaning of paranormal.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

R U willing to put your life on the line?

Ok, I said I wasn’t going to do a blog this month due to working on my upcoming books. But I received a phone call this afternoon from my other half asking if I had read the news about a ghost hunter being killed? No, I hadn’t, so curiosity drove me to the website, and I proceeded to read the tragic story.

Just last night on Aug the 27th of 2010, a group of a dozen ghost hunters went off to investigate the story of a ghost train in Iredell County, NC. It seems that these individuals proceeded to wander off onto active train tracks and onto a bridge. Unaware, they were surprised as a real train came barreling down on them causing investigators to jump 40ft for their lives, but one young man was not so lucky.

Due to the popularity of ghost hunting, stories of this nature are far too common. We find many groups going into unsafe environments for the thrill of the hunt. Where most end in foolish accidents of someone getting hurt or others being arrested for trespassing, some in fact are being killed. In Toronto, CA a woman fell to her death from a building while ghost hunting in 2009. The problem is, this crap should not be happening.

TV shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures and others are playing on the viewers excitement of wanting to experience the same types of phenomena they are seeing on these very well edited programs and like the popularity of the MTV show Jackass, where individuals attempt to pull off silly stunts, fans are now trying to recreate what they see on TV. This led to many tragic endings for the viewers imitating their (to be honest) stupidity. Is the same happening with the ghost hunting shows?

Maybe these ghost hunting programs need disclaimers at the beginning and end to tell people that these investigations are done in safe and controlled environments and by somewhat professionals. For there are now too many groups out there who are careless, don’t know what they are doing and are clearly putting their lives and others in danger.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Christopher Kaiser

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Angry Ghost Hunter on the Angry Ghost Hunter

When I started this blog in February of this year, my intent was to confront the problems that are damaging the field of paranormal research. Yes, I’ve talked about the lack of education, training, and professionalism as well as the abundance of thrill seeking and the competitiveness we face every time we set forth to find truth to the paranormal.

The diversity of ghost hunting groups is commendable. We all want and deserve to make our individual mark in the ghost hunting community. However, with the lack of internal communication and/or in helping our neighboring ghost hunters, more and more problems develop around us.

Those who know me personally will agree that I’m really a nice guy. Not so angry. But I'm very passionate when it comes to ghosts and the research. As my group and I continued to work on finding answers, my frustration grew. So many doors were closed, so little participation and hardly any communication with other groups. I wanted to take on these issues, talk about them and bring them to the surface. We need to acknowledge as a society that there are problems with our habits, attitudes and procedures. Are we so afraid to face the monster in the closet?

Discussing these problems may help us to tame the beast. What the ghost hunting community lacks is the unity, standards, and a force in helping us all find a common truth to the unknown. We do need to come together, build upon each other’s knowledge and learn what each one of us can offer the community. Because if we are so afraid of the monsters in our closets, then how can we face the challenge of ghosts in our homes?

Standing Together

Come one, come all and see the most amazing spectacle of strange phenomena that baffle the ghost hunters and people living with the unseen world! Watch as the dishes fly across the room and feel the forces of invisible hands touch your flesh! Could these be what we call ghosts? Venture in and find out for yourself!

It’s pretty tempting to see what all the commotion is about. There’s that tall dark figure lifting the curtain and pointing in on what we might find to be our worst fears or even a satisfying dose of curiosity. I know if I was you, I’d be trying to take a peek into the darkened room. We all want to. So, what if you do walk in? What if what he said was true? There really is something to all these bizarre happenings that we call ghost encounters. Do I run out in a frenzy, trying not to look back to see if something is following me? Or do I face my fears and look a little longer and harder at what might be looking back? As for me, I’m going in and taking in all I can find out. For all I know all the whole, eery spectacle could be nothing more then smoke and mirrors.

I guess it goes to show just how much of an investigator I want or try to be. Throughout my life, I've spent over 20 years looking to see the invisible wires pulling the sheet down the hall. I’ve always been the type to really want to know how things work. How is it possible and what is the reason for all this? When ghost hunting began in the late 1850’s, it was a case of experience outweighing curiosity. Most ventured off to reenact phenomena they encountered themselves. Some looked for proof to claims that mediums were indeed speaking to the dead. Then their were those checking out the wizard behind the green curtain. Stop! Pay no attention to him, it will ruin the illusion!

When it comes to ghost hunting today, we as ghost hunters have to face that illusion every time. It’s the trick of light, the false impressions and even the lack of education that feed our hopes as well as our fears. So my argument for this month is: Where is the training and education needed to further us along? I find that a lot of groups don’t offer training or don’t constantly feed their minds with new ideas or research old ones. It’s as simple as “here’s a haunted place, lets go!”. With cameras and gadgets in hand, we find that so much can go wrong if you don’t know what the hell you are doing. Come On!! The sad thing really is, there is no standard to what we do as ghost hunters. So how can we help all these groups popping up left and right if we, the more experienced investigators, can't or won't even help ourselves? So many groups do investigating in so many different ways. There’s the psychic ghost hunters, the thrill seekers, the “it’s odd, so it must be a ghost” groups or even the “I don’t believe in you unless you can rip my heart from my chest” type of groups. Each and every one out there has their belief system of how it should be done. But without a standard way of doing things, in all honesty we may never get the chance to advance as paranormal researchers.

Having a standard practice will help us all support our individual evidence. Here we may never have to question one another on how the phenomena was captured. A standard will bring us all on the same page. Here we can eliminate all the human errors that get labeled as ghostly encounters. If we all worked on protocols, standards in reporting and documentation, we as a ghost hunting community would be able to stand together and stand by our own personal achievements. For as I always said, It wont be the work of one or even of some, but of ALL.

Friday, June 11, 2010

And you are NOT it!

When it comes to finding yourself interested or maybe just curious about ghosts and the strange things that lurk in darkened corners, you just might find yourself among several others poking at the same dead corpse. But really, how far are you willing to go in pursuing your curiosity? Are you just going to stand around and gawk? Maybe you’re one of those who want to touch it and see what oozes or you may be one of the rare others who really like to get down and dirty and flip it over to see what’s going on below the surface. For each person, we find their personal interest can vary from the extreme to the shrug of ones shoulders followed by the faint “Hmm”. It’s the heightened level of interest that really makes the ideal investigator.

I find there are three elements that identify someone who qualifies as a true investigator. That is PASSION, PATIENCE, and DEVOTION, or PPD. Each one of these represents the level of work you are willing to commit to in pursuing the truth to this ever-expanding, bizarre field.

Now, when you stand in front of the mirror and look close at that person staring back, ask yourself, “What drives me? Why do I want to know? What am I going to do with the knowledge that I gain?” We all have our own interest in pursuing the many different things that make us go “hmmm”, but it’s the level of PPD that helps us decide how far we are willing to dive into the gooey mess.

Once you have figured out what you are willing to do, now look at the others that want to be a part of the same autopsy that has peaked your interest. How do you develop the perfect team? Here’s where things can become a little more complicated. With eagerness, folks gather together and line up to venture off into the unknown. You can’t help but wonder, who are these people and what are they freaking doing here? With so many of people you’ll find a wide range of diversity which results in a myriad of goals and styles within ghost hunting groups. This diversity can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It really depends on how well you all play together.

Right now, with the popularity of ghost hunting TV shows, we are finding groups that exist only to imitate their television idols. Take for instance “Ghost Adventures.” Here’s a show whose premise is to film a group of testosterone-filled guys getting off by provoking the spirits. Throughout the show they cuss and make demands for the ghosts to prove themselves. Now it’s completely up to you if you so choose to put yourself in that dangerous situation -- remember, these guys are at least getting a paycheck and their 15 minutes of fame to show for their bad judgement. Don’t come calling me, though, when Mr. Dark Entity gets fed up with you and decides to kick your ass every night.

With so many fly-by-night groups running around in fearless mode, more and more popular haunted sites are not willing to give the serious investigators a chance. Why? Because these quickly-formed paranormal clubs are being disrespectful while investigating their homes or place of business. Remember folks, TV is a form of entertainment, not schooling.

The diversity in membership is so vast that within one group you may find that the entertainment value outweighs the passion for the truth; the social aspect has more appeal than the required work load; the thrills dominate the patience or the drama defeats the devotion. It all stems from the organizer(s) driving the force and focus of the group. You can easily spend years running a not for profit organization, only to find you wasted your time entertaining the members and not focusing on the real work needed. If people are not willing to put forth the effort in pursuing the truth, which involves consistent record keeping, reporting and discussion, then do we really need them out there ghost hunting?

Still willing to take on the task of developing a focused, fact-based paranormal investigation group? Then keep in mind that EVERY group (even mine) has their own set of problems. This can be lack of communication, people not turning in reports, people not reviewing their evidence or maybe it’s lack of support. When running a volunteer group you always have to be willing and able to ride the wave of ups and downs. There will be times when things run smoothly, but you find that every once in awhile someone on the team drops the ball and you’re back to square one.

So when developing your team of righteous ghost members you may have to consider a few things, just to keep your own sanity:
It’s perfectly OK to screen your future members. Find people who work good with you.
Make sure they know what they are getting into .
How much time can they devote to this?
How much do they really know and are they willing to learn more?
What are their limitations?
What can they offer the ghost hunting community?
Can they fill out a report?
Are they willing to step up when things get tough?
Are they willing to be a part of the team and not grandstand during investigations?
Are they a drama queen? (GOD help us all)

Depending on the work load for the group, one member should be willing to offer at least 15 hrs a month. That should include your groups meeting time, two investigations, review and documentation time. So take your time in getting to know the folks you might be working with. If they’re not right for you, there just might be a group out there that’s right for them. New members showing enthusiasm is good, but take the time to find out if they are in it for the long haul or just wanting a weekend hobby that lets them get out of the house once in a while? That lack of commitment is very contagious in volunteer groups. As the old saying goes, “one bad apple can spoil the whole batch,” and that is so true.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Who's better than who?

Here in this corner, with 40 investigations, 8 members and worldwide media coverage, The Ghost Killers! And in this corner, with 39 investigation, 12 members and national television appearances, The Spirit Mongers! By now you can almost hear the sound of the bell ring as we, the ghost hunters, face a very competitive field of ghost hunting. Today. with ghost enthusiasts on the rise, more folks are stepping into the ring for the title of “All Knowing Top Dog” in the paranormal field. Why is it so hard to just get along?

I remember the days, (while shuffling through the 2001 investigation reports) when there were few other, openly like-minded people with whom I could discuss ghosts. There was a time when you could count less then 100 ghost hunting groups nationally. It was a time when we all could chat among ourselves on the latest theories and experiments, share reports and even a haunted location or two. So what the hell happened?

Nowadays you can see that most states easily harbor close to 60 investigation groups all competing for the same haunted sites, members and possible media attention. This fighting for paranormal popularity is just down right ridiculous. Come on folks, cant we leave the childish games on the playground and be respectable working adults here? The fight for who’s got the best equipment, most haunted site, best evidence or even the most investigations is really evident with groups working within the same states.

I believe the competition begins when members of a new group is formed as a result of a split from an existing/established group. It’s at this point where the gloves come off. “Newby groups” feel they have something to prove, know they can do something better/different or can become jealous of another groups popularity. You might find it could also be something as a serious issue of lack in communication between groups or as simple as the “he said, she said” phenomena that starts the rumor mill turning. Next thing you know, members are choosing sides, puffing themselves up like peacocks and challenging people within their own and other groups to show what they can do. This is NOT what ghost hunting and investigating is about and it saddens me that we ALL get pulled into the Ring of Drama. There’s a lot of work needed to fix some of the problems ghost hunters face today and it would be helpful if we could work together in building a better paranormal community.

What has helped me is to focus on my AGHOST's goals and not be bothered by what all the other groups think or are doing. In fact, I don’t even check their websites. My focus is about my group, not how I might be able to out-do another group. They've got their job and I got mine. It’s not like we are getting paid to do all this research. If we did, then I could perhaps understand the madness for the buck. But it’s not, so what’s the point in bringing all the drama and stress to the table? I've got better things to do than go toe-to-toe with groups who focus more on themselves than the client.

I really do hope that there are some like-minded groups out there that would like to have a cooperative relationship within the paranormal community. If we could all come together, think of the amazing things we could accomplish. It is most evident that if two different groups worked on the same haunted location and both groups walked out with the same or similar evidence, how credible our research then becomes. It would clearly show that both groups are on the same path of success in obtaining the proof we are striving for. Ultimately, it’s not going to be the work of one ghost hunter or even the work of one group that will prove the existence of ghosts. It will be OUR hard work as a COMMUNITY that will open the eyes of the skeptics and bring forth the truth we are all seeking. Why would anyone in this field not want to be a part of that?

So, ghost hunter, are you willing to shake off that anger, put away your pride, remove the boxing gloves and breath in life? You have the power to make your place in the paranormal world. It’s completely up to you on whether you choose to go in fighting or build a stronger community.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Get back on the bus

Over the past five years, the road traveled by paranormal investigators has morphed from a scenic, two-lane street to a congested, frustrating superhighway. A deluge of ghost hunting groups descended on a previously pristine area resulting in frustration due to unearned competition in the investigative field. It would be wonderful to have a traffic cop standing at the crossroads directing things, “Solid, tech-based investigative groups straight ahead; weekend warriors turn left; psychic based groups turn right; folks hoping to get an autograph from Elvis or the Amityville Horror, pull to the side, turn off your engines and take the tour bus back home.” Yes, it would be wonderful. In the absence of this improbable solution, it is up to individuals seeking membership in a group or considering which group to have investigate their home, to do the police work.

In too many cases my research and what I’m hearing from my group’s clients are most folks interest falls under the thrill seeker. Instead of taking the bus back home, these individuals are willing and able to take advantage of private citizens who have sincere concerns or questions about hauntings. They crave to experience the bizarre encounters that can come from lurking around on haunted properties ‘as seen on TV’. Whether it’s for the adrenalin rush or to see if there’s any truth to claims reported on the abundance of TV shows hyping frightening encounters, these folks are crowding the highway like looky-loos at an accident scene.

An investigator, on the other hand, is devoted to better understanding and learning. They are willing to do the work to protect and build credulity to support his or her accomplishments or evidence. This is someone who understands the hard work and sacrifice needed to pursue sustainable, documented data in this overgrown field. So who has the right to carry the title Ghost Investigator or Hunter?

First, I believe people need to be honest with themselves and focus on where they are willing to put forth the work. To be a good investigator, it’s all about passion, devotion, and patience in this field. If you believe you carry those, then you very well could be a top investigator. But if you find yourself bitching because there’s too much work that needs to be done or that it’s no longer fun, then I’m sorry to say you are NOT a paranormal investigator. Do noteworthy scientists sit in their labs crying and complaining because it’s no longer fun to split molecules? Do top detectives leave the scene of a crime because it’s 5pm and they don’t get paid overtime?

To pursue true paranormal research we all need to be willing to step up and face the challenges ahead. If you can’t or won’t, then accept the fact that you may be just a thrill seeker or enthusiast. This is fine, I’m not making a judgement call. Just please step aside and let serious investigators do their job. If you’re looking for thrills, then check into a haunted room at a hotel or venture off to your local cemetery and do all the ghost hunting you want. I mean, you might be a die-hard Mariners fan, but you haven’t gotten together with a bunch of other fans and formed your own team, have you? Haven’t advertised your team as being worth watching and asking Safeco Field for field time? At what point are you going to ask yourself, “Can I really deliver the goods? I’ve seen dozens of games on TV and like what Ive seen, so of course I’m an athlete, right?” Not so much.

Businesses are constantly bombarded by requests for access to the point where they are no longer allowing these types of investigations, even from credible groups. Potential clients truly dealing with paranormal activity are confused as to who to let in and help them with their shared environment. When did it become fair to the clients to have groups walk in uneducated, untrained and hoping only to encounter phenomena for their personal thrills? It ticks me off when those lacking in research and education want to get clients involved in their search for creepy side shows. I’m a very patient person, but I find myself indignant on behalf of my clients past, present and future. They’re taking a big step allowing strangers into their homes and are often being taken advantage of by thrill seekers.

I have been investigating for twenty-plus years and formed AGHOST ten years ago. Being in the field so long, I’ve seen the pattern of groups starting up and falling apart within a few years at best, a few months most often. The reason for this is lack of time, effort, and patience mixed with an abundance of drama and boredom. You will find that when these groups don’t encounter the events they where looking for, they loose interest. It clearly takes a very diverse type of person or persons to be the right kind of investigator or group. So, if you are not sure what’s driving you toward pursuit of the paranormal, ask yourself these questions:

What am I really looking for?
Do I believe it exists?
Do I have the time, energy and patience to pursue this?
Am I willing to learn first before investigating?
Really, how eager am I to get out there and have an experience?

Now, it’s only human to be curious about the unknown, especially with the heightened trend of ghost hunting. We also find that it’s now COOL to call yourself a ghost hunter. But as trends tend to go, we find people will be moving on to next big thing, losing interest quickly in something they believed they were so passionate about. The media and Hollywood’s focus couches us in what should be hot and what no longer is. Right now, paranormal shows are giving way to the supernatural and mythological. I predict an upcoming movement in Vampire Hunting so, Blood suckers beware. You just might get a stake through the heart!

All in all, with amateurs provoking spirits, screaming in fear at every little creak, and running away from all trivial oddities, the sincere paranormal investigator is left in a difficult place. Those clients who really want to know if they are experiencing a haunting are finding it more and more difficult to reach out. We seem to be getting swallowed up by the lack of professionalism required to find true paranormal evidence. For the truth to be found we all need to remember that in this field, credibility holds true and you are only as good as the evidence you can back up. So if you aren't supplying written follow-up to clients who allowed you into their home or business, if the only answer you have to offer your client is, "Yep, the place is haunted. Goodnight," then I’m sorry,. You are NOT a Ghost Hunter.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Who Ya Gonna Call? Seriously, Be Cautious!

Wheather strangers come calling and offer to investigate your home or you seek out the assistance of “Hunters of the Spooky Stuff“, please be cautious before opening your door to them. There are so many out there seeking entertainment in the field of paranormal research -- and I mean “entertainment”. These people are not really educated or helpful in any way within the ghost hunting community. In most cases we find thrill seeking or uneducated groups making their way into peoples homes or business for a night of ghost baiting, bantering and screams. These groups add more trouble to the paranormal pot then those with a better understanding in this field can bring to order.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to be a thrill seeker or even just a hobbyist in this field so long as that is made clear to anyone coming in contact with you or your group. It really frustrates me, though, when these folks start to get clients involved; when they have no skills, training or possibly intention to help with what the client is dealing with. If you want to go looking for the specters of the night, then check into a haunted room at a hotel or go prancing along in your local cemetery. Thrill seekers, weekend hobbyists and such folk should NOT be seeking clients. There is so much damage that can be done when these folks make their way into the client relations department.

What can go wrong? Untrained thrill seekers:
· don’t know how to correctly deal with the situation
· offer false information and evidence
· confuse the clients
· don’t do controlled experiments or investigations
· Don’t know how to determine if an anomaly is mundane or paranormal
· encourage those dealing with false paranormal events to believe it to be real phenomena
For example, AGHOST went to London and investigated the ancient Rams Inn. The Inn is run by a single older man who has lived there for many, many years. In fact he raised his family at this very location. Throughout his life in this tired, run down inn, he himself experienced many strange events. Most of these encounters where of your basic phenomena such as sightings of shadowy figures, things disappearing, odd noises and so on. Now here’s where it gets crazy. Throughout his long run at the inn, the owner had opened his door to numerous ghost hunting groups and enthusiasts. Each time one of these groups investigated the site, they each added more theories and stories to his encounters, making the tales of the old Inn more and more bizarre and strange. Claims ranging from children buried under the Inn to a succubus molesting him through the night...all things told to him by “investigators”. Whether or not these claims are true, the fact is, the stories go on and on. What this shows us is how much the investigators (legitimate or not) can influence the client in a negative way. The theories we offer or the stories we tell to the clients can effect current and future investigations in so many ways.

What to ask and look for in a paranormal investigator:
1. How long have they been researching in this field?
2. Ask where they got their training
3. Review their past evidence
4. Ask for references
5. Check their protocols
6. Do they seem credible?
7. Do they train their members?
8. What equipment do they use?
9. What are they researching?
10. What is their primary goal?
11. What do they offer the ghost hunting community?
12. Feel free to question their methods
13. What do their reports look like?
14. What do they offer to back up their findings?
15. And last, keep in mind “Details only build more credibility in this field”

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When it come to reviewing possible evidence you need to understand that so much of the evidences revealed can be as much human error than true paranormal evidences. We tend to see this a lot on many websites today. Find out how the evidence was recorded and the conditions at the time it occurred. Another thing to ask is “Are they willing to return if they don’t get anything on the first run?” This clearly separates the thrill seekers from the true investigators. If the group is bored, they tend to lose interest and forget that in the realm of paranormal research it’s all about being at the right place at the right time. This is where some groups don’t give a client a fair chance at proving their claims. This shows us why many of these groups don’t last for more then three years on average.

Now if you are a client and you are finding so many groups in your area and you don’t know who to choose, just keep in mind, like in the medical field, it is okay to get a second opinion. This also helps to see if there are any comparisons to both of their findings. With the simularities it goes to show that these teams are on the right track in doing the investigation and building the credibilty needed in this field. All in all, the best thing for a client is to educate themselves as to what they are looking for in a research group and what that group can offer them in return.

A Warning for Clients:
· Never leave your home or business unattended for the first investigation.
· Never pay for an investigation
· Always be aware of what’s going on
· Don’t let them do something you are not comfortable with them doing

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Truth Needs To Be Faced

Today, ghost hunting is at its all time high. You can't switch on the TV without running into some ghost-related show or log on to the computer without stumbling across a website promoting their ghost hunting expertise. With Hollywood movies ghost stories out to scare us and the media wanting to thrill us with stories of the unknown, it makes the viewers more and more curious as to the reality of what’s really going on in our paranormal universe.

I’ve been in the field of ghost hunting for over 20 years and I have personally seen all the changes. Gosh, in 2000 I would be considered lucky to stumble across someone willing to talk about ghosts! In most cases, folks didn’t open up too much on the idea or weren’t even willing to share their personal ghost encounters if they had one. Likewise the media wasn’t in too much of a hurry to cover the latest ghost encounter. SO... what happened to create the craze? How has it affected the general public and more specifically, the "old time" ghost hunters today? Let's travel back to 2004 to see if we can find an answer to the first question.

When the Sci-Fi channel was about to hit rock bottom, they opened the door to a young team of ghost hunters known as TAPS to start off a new line up. This was the stepping stone for a new media craze. Within a year the ghost phenomena took off. TAPS' first inquisitive glance into the unknown inspired numerous other individuals and TV networks to put together their own groups and programs. What could have been a combined, sincere effort to determine if there is life after death turned into a sideshow carnival. Hold on, boys and girls, as we take a ride on the Amityville Horror Revisited!

How do I and other long-time paranormal investigators view this trend? You would think we'd be grateful to have all this media attention and every Tom, Dick and Harry wanting to jump into the paranormal waters. Sure, the frenzy has opened more doors for those pursuing a better understanding of our shadowy friends, but it has also paved a way for failure. So steps in the angry ghost hunter.

Just because you have a EMF detector in hand and the camera ready to go, it does not make you a GHOST Hunter. I’m sorry, but too many folks are too eager to label themselves without really knowing what’s involved. Don’t get me wrong, it's great to see so many ready to enter the field. But you first have to know how to proceed. As it is, most people are running out there without a clue of what to expect or what to do if they make contact with a pulse-deficient denizen of the dark. It's like going deer hunting with a pork chop tied around your neck. You might find a deer, then again, a bear might find you.

Where are the protocols? The research? The education? We are seeing more and more groups popping up left and right that are just imitating what they see on TV. Of course we all know what’s on the boob tube must be the correct way. Come on folks, TV is made for our entertainment. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes of which the viewer has no clue. It’s such a lack of education at best and an inaccurate source of information at worst. All these shows are basically the same, "Lets throw some folks in a haunted location and wait for them to scream."

Where is the real training, education and research to the claims? What happened to supporting your evidence? Nowadays, with so many claiming a belief in ghosts, we are finding it takes less and less research and data to support ones' evidence. (If I have to explain away one more orb photo...) Does this make it right? More than ever we are finding a lack in supporting evidence. Ghost hunters today are not willing to do the work or don’t know how. In fact, we are finding more groups doing investigations with nothing more than just a camera and a recorder. Does this make you an investigator? To the logical, scientific mind, the answer is no.

I don't want to feel so angry, but it really frustrates me how much the ghost hunting community is willing to accept insubstantial evidence as proof positive to the existence of spirits and not question the resource it came from. It’s okay to be a believer, but let's not forget to keep a skeptical eye open as well. Don’t always believe what you see on TV, hear on the radio or read in a book. You will learn that the best way to face the world of paranormal research is to experience it for yourself, test the theories and research the possible phenomena. After they have been trained.

Where are the goals? The plan on what to do if they encounter something they can't explain away? The follow-through and documentation on their experiences? What benefit have they given or gained in the midst of their jumping at every knock and running from every cold breeze? Once they've gotten their thrill, I like to think they feel a bit let down. I hope that some of them will look beyond the goosebumps and understand that there really is something out there -- something they are disrespecting in their attitudes and actions.

Ultimately, I want to see more groups and investigators do more work, finding better ways to support their evidence and to be honest with the community and themselves.