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.