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.


  1. Enjoyed reading this & will definetely 'share' the link. Many good questions brought up about the point of protocols & the IMPORTANCE of data!

  2. Don't you think that the problem could be curtailed to some extent by better screening of members BEFORE you include them in the group? To "weed out" the thrill seekers and others who just want to say, "I'm a Ghost Hunter.", and to possibly institute a training program within your group to insure that protocols, evidence chain of custody policies and investigative techniques are learned and adhered to? You bring up some good points that everyone should address. Good post :)

  3. That's why I think the training needs to be improved. I like the idea of mock walkthroughs and investigations. This is a chance fir newbies to evaluate the work involved and decide if they can handle the protocol. It's also a chance to see what kind of a 'fit' the person will be.

    Paranormal investigation is not a game. And yes, more often than not, we don't find anything paranormal at all about a client's complaint. But personally speaking,when that one does come to light, it's a life altering experience. It's not just an obsessive curiosity any longer. I KNOW! For me, knowing how different the 'real thing' felt gives me a baseline and has actually increased my level of sceptic attitude when going into someone's home.

    A true paranormal investigator will understand the need for rules. Every scientic study is based on strict rules and protocol to keep it controlled. How else can you trust that your collected data is accurate?


  4. AWESOME Feed back.

    Bud - I so agree with you and we do our best to screen members and do a long training period. But still some folks expect more once they get out there and nothing happens.

  5. Sorry im new to this research area and your group...are your protocols written down somewhere?

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  7. Great post! My girlfriend and I are independent ghost hunters, and we work with a lot of different groups. Our own protocols are a bit lax, as we are (in all honesty) more akin to hobbyists and thrill-seekers than to scientific researchers. But we do have some strict protocols that we use that help validate any findings we get (no point in investigating at all if your findings are suspect).

    But when we work with other groups we take great pains to find out what their protocols are, and follow them to the letter. If we don't understand them, we ask questions. This also allows us to pass along information about the protocols followed by other groups... they're all more or less the same, but we do run across some very good ideas (running more than one audio recorder in the same area, comparing them whenever an anomaly pops up--this alone has helped us eliminate a ton of false-positives that we otherwise may have presented as evidence).

    We do occasionally come across thrill-seeker types (we basically investigate with anyone who wants to investigate with us) with no protocols in place at all. In those cases, we pass along our ideas and experience. Most of them seem receptive to this, and hopefully go on to become better investigators.

    I think we all start out as thrill-seekers, but eventually experience wins out. My experiences with the paranormal run the gamut of paranormal activity (seeing apparitions, being touched, etc.), but there's really no thrill greater than capturing an awesome piece of evidence and knowing--because you followed your protocols--that there is no earthly explanation for it.