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.