Are We Too Quick To Follow Assumptions?

Observation can often tell us a lot..

Over the years of investigating I have done you soon begin to observe more than you realise. In particularly I don’t simply keep my eyes peeled for odd paranormal activity, I spend time observing the environment and also the people within it. In a field where you’re dealing with the unknown, anything and everything could be a part of the equation.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not people watching in order to catch them out to accuse them of fraud, I am trying to determine if they react or respond to the phenomena in a certain fashion. This was something I first began to focus on when I witnessed what I call ‘psychological contagion’ during an investigation at Landguard Fort. Something which then made me ask, did they all experience something or did they just follow suite subconsciously.

People themselves can often be the most fascinating element of an investigation, especially as it may be possible that without them, activity may not exist at all. Granted that’s a tough one to prove either way, but fundamentally without someone to witness activity we wouldn’t know it occurred in the first place and without someone there it may not occur as they could be a piece of the equation that is required for it to occur! We are the common-denominator in pretty much every report of paranormal activity. Which is why I keep an eye on the people during an investigation too.

Doing this has actually highlighted some interesting observations around how people react to possible phenomena. This was particularly evident when investigators interact with various items of tech, such as a voice recorder for EVPs or perhaps a KII. This was often due to individuals accepting any kind of abnormality as potential paranormal activity.

Knock knock flashing lights…

This is often seen during an investigation when we try and communicate with probable spirits, the common misconception of events or indeed assumptions of their meaning. These days the advent of various tech has brought this out in a whole new way that is often fuelled by individuals believing the capabilities of a device are far beyond that of reality. However its not only modern times we see this in and certainly not only evident due to technology either, prior to the explosion of tech into the Paranormal field it is my assumption that some of the classical raps,taps and knocks communication probably fell into the same area.

Personally I think this is an excellent way to determine if you’re on a ghost hunt or a Paranormal investigation too. During a ghost hunt, when various knocks are heard or the lights on the KII begin to flash the go to understanding is that there is a spiritual presence trying to communicate. I’ve seen it many time and to be honest whilst in the excitement of a ghost hunt I too have thought the possibility to be there. However over the years you learn stuff and begin to question things a little deeper.

Let’s take the scenario of the KII with the flashy lights communication with probable intelligent spirits as an example for this. Usually a group will gather in a particular room within the haunted location, let’s say its got a little history and there is a belief that a spirit is present in that room. The group will then attempt to communicate with that spirit, in this case they decide to use a KII meter as means of communication. These little devices have become a modern day equivalent of raps and taps. They can be interesting to watch especially in the right context. So the group place the KII on one side of the room and begin to ask their questions; ‘is there anybody there’, ‘can you tell us your name please’, you know the drill right.

After the first question the KII lights up. After containing their excitement, the group ask a second question. Again the KII lights up. At this point they assume communication has been established and throw in the ‘one flash for yes and two flashes for no’ positive negative response system. After all the spirit answered two questions so this must be an intelligence they are dealing with, right?

Wrong! I’ve seen it time and time again, which is why this scenario defines a ghost hunt rather than an investigation. If this was an investigation the team should immediately jump to ascertain probable cause for that KII lighting up. They should first do something we may all find hard, don’t ask another question and wait. If the KII lights up again, then look to measure the time been each of these. Often if the time frame between each time the KII lights up is pretty similar then there’s likely to be an explanation other than a spirit trying to communicate.

During one of my investigations we had something very similar to this and one of the investigators on the team, Graham, managed to narrow this down to a security system wire that pulsed every eighty seconds. Which had been just enough time to ask a question and wait for a response. So, its worth checking out your environment first before assuming each glitch on you tech is a spirit trying to say ‘hello’.

I have also had this where we thought a presence had been sat in a particular chair in the room. As the KII was moved close to the chair it would light up giving the assumption that there was something there. What the group had forgotten was that they had previously sat in that chair and the individual in that particular was wearing a coat made of a material that when moved over this plastic chair created static. So, the spirit in this case was simply a static field much like the one you can create by rubbing a balloon on your jumper.

Tech is fantastic and interesting, but understating of our environment and what you did is paramount. Otherwise you could be sat in a dark room thinking you’re chatting away to a spirit, when its nothing more than a security system.

Say what you hear…

One thing that is often presented in TV shows and via social media as ‘evidence’ of the Paranormal or often the presence of a particular entity, is that of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). These little audio bad boys are quite possibly the most used element of assumption that I have seen. Don’t get me wrong now there is a fantastic amount of interesting research into these which is well worth looking into, but they are equally presented as evidence when in fact they prove nothing. I know that’s a rash statement, but let me explain first.

Firstly, don’t get me wrong I am not saying leave your digital voice recorders at home and stop capturing EVP’s, I have heard some really interesting ones in my time. I think we just need to take on board the realms of possibility here and look at what could be the source of the EVP.

All too often I have listened to someone’s EVP and heard lots of background noise and then the standard questions the group asks followed by that little gap for our spirit to answer. Often once I’ve heard it they say something like; ‘there did you hear it?’ All too often my answer is a ‘no, not really’; then they tell me. However once this has occurred our brain does a little clever messing about and there it is. However this is more like audio pareidolia than actually hearing the voice of a spirit. We are fitting the muffled audio to what we think should be heard. In these situations, I usually revert to the ‘if in doubt, throw it out’ approach. As it didn’t jump out at me the first sweep, doubt is there.

However that said, I have been on an investigation where a member of my team caught what can only be described as a crystal clear EVP on their camcorder. Everyone that has listened to my knowledge hears without cue what is said. However only those of us there at that time could categorically state that none of us said what was recorded, but many who have listened believe that we said it and perhaps don’t remember. Interestingly I didn’t discount this originally as a possibility, but given what is said, it doesn’t fit within the context of our conversation and there is no reaction or response to it. Making it unheard by the human ear in this case. So what does that mean? Well the immediate comprehension is that we captured the voice of a spirit, right? Well wrong again, it means something interesting happened to cause it, but what exactly.

Years after we captured that EVP I took part in a Psychic Projection experiment at the Sage Paranormal D-Day Tour with Brian J Cano, during which the group successfully projected in the space of sixty seconds a chosen word psychically onto a digital voice recorder. Actually two in the same area of the room. However all the other ones in different areas within the room didn’t record this chosen word. As I believe this to be genuine (I have seen the same experiment without success too) it opened the door to a whole new comprehension around EVP’s. It once again becomes a question of; is the most logical or simplest route provable, spirit or the mind? Would it be easier to base our explanation on psychic ability or spirit interaction? In my experiences, more often than not, the mind wins each time. Which isn’t a bad thing, as it means we have more ability than we realise.

Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know…

In my blogs, research and investigations I will often give my own theories on the Paranormal and sometimes watch as people glaze over wondering how we got from ghosts to quantum mechanics. However most of the time I don’t know have the categorical answers or at least ones that can be supported by amazing evidence. The fact of the matter is that weird odd stuff does happen, but we still dont understand it. It’s not understanding that pushes me and so many others forwards though looking for answers to explain the oddities we investigate.

I often see statements like ‘most haunted house’ or ‘this location is definitely haunted’, which are fine as an individual has assessed against their own criteria and made that judgement call. I often get a little ribbing for remaining on the fence on some occasions, but I do this for good reason. Often there just isn’t enough information to support a solid conclusion and I would rather leave the situation open for others to add to or for myself to come back to. One nights investigation, let alone ghost hunting is enough to prove categorically that some people that used to dwell at a particular location have had their consciousness survive death and remain there today to communicate with us.

We need a tonne of data to support such claims and a good solid case file.

Something which I often do, mostly in my head, is run through what it’s not. Basically as we are dealing with the unknown, we cant simply define it as a ghost or spirit especially as we lack supporting data. So, prove what you and show that you’re not jumping to an assumption. Break an EVP down to comprehend those background noises, come up with likely causes for the sound and try to recreate. In the paranormal field we are some of the harshest critics of each other’s work, we have a tough peer review system. So, bear that in mind when you present what you find.

Also, you dont necessarily need to suggest what it is either, say what its not and show why.

I presented our crystal clear EVP as exactly that when we discovered it. However I didn’t look into what it wasn’t until later, which in turn has presented a much more interesting concept. Our minds are complex and capable of some really interesting stuff, your proof of a ghost may actually be proof of one of your teams ability to manipulate audio records with their mind. That just sounds like some crazy Star Wars Jedi mind trick to me. More importantly if this is identified it could be repeated!

Never jump to assumptions…

So, whilst you’re out and about investigating try not to jump to the assumption that you EVP is a trapped spirit or your MEL Meter fluctuations are due to the old Lord of the Manor being angry because you’re there. Seek out other explanations and rule them out first, dont end up talking to the static field surrounding a chair.

Then when you do present what you’ve found, you will have the answers to the questions everyone asks you.

And remember, gather loads of data, because even if you dont use it someone might.

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