For many Ghost Hunters, Paranormal Investigators and the general spirit chasers amongst us, October has become our busiest time of year. Halloween was very much a big affair in the states for as far back as I can remember and certainly that was what the movies told us as we grew up; with films like ET making it a pinnacle scene within the movie. However here in the UK where I live the concept of Halloween was a little more, well British when I was growing up. For example, there were unwritten rules to guide us, like you only knock on doors with a pumpkin or decorations. A very civilised affair – form an organised queue kind of evening, rather than the trick or treat havoc we often see on TV.
However, that’s all started to change over recent years with the explosion of the paranormal hobby into mainstream. Now TV channels have always given us some kind of Halloween horror related viewing during the month of October and even more so during the week of Halloween, but that now seems to be on the increase. We all remember the Most Haunted live shows and since we have seen Ghost Hunter specials, Ghost Adventures specials and more. The live show concept being one of the most popular of course. So, as ever you can ensure that there will be a spree of paranormal related TV shows hitting your screens throughout the month of October this year.
The point here being, that the paranormal is fast becoming a growing industry with many people interested the world over. In fact there are hundreds of established groups out there now heading out to public locations to ‘investigate’ on a weekly basis. There are also a number of paranormal event companies that will be cashing in on the increased influx of interest in the paranormal this month too. Then there are paranormal conventions too, whilst these are more popular in the states, they are beginning to gain momentum in other countries like the UK and Australia too now. However, they do not just occur in October, they pretty much happen all year round now.
In my opinion these are actually all great elements of the paranormal as they drum up a lot of interest and bring new people to something that I have been very passionate about for a long time now. Something that for many of us that love to ghost hunt were originally inspired by the books we once read in our youth. I certainly know that was the case for me to begin with, but later something that was amplified by TV shows and a keen interest in trying to understand why stuff happens.
However, for a few like myself that stumble into the paranormal circus through books and TV shows, this isn’t quite enough and the thirst for knowledge and understanding can often take you on a greater journey than you first realised. It can also present you with information that allows you to be less excited about some elements of the paranormal than you first were too, but that’s another story.
Many are happy heading out week after week, trying the same approach at different locations in order to experience something paranormal, which in all honesty used to leave me with mixed feelings. Nowadays though I am beginning to feel that this has its relevancy too, as these individuals utilising that approach are doing something they enjoy and makes them happy. In which case – good for them. Of course there are some that believe their experiences quantify as hard evidence of the paranormal, but in my opinion they are anecdotal accounts of experiences at best. Accounts which are equally important though in gaining an understanding of the bigger picture here, thus shouldn’t be discounted.
Equally, we are often presented with varying types of what is referred to as ‘evidence’ by many individuals, groups and investigators from TV; the problem being that this evidence needs to be properly understood for what it is and why in many cases that it’s not as valuable as its owner may believe it to be. I personally learnt this the hard way many years ago when a group I was investigating with captured what we referred to back then as a ‘Class A EVP.’ The problem soon came about when this was given to others to listen to, I even purposely didn’t tell them what we believed it said. In many cases even though they heard what we heard, they would give explanations that discounted it as something paranormal. They would say it could be one of the group messing about – it wasn’t. That piece of amazing audible phenomena we had searched for was continuously discounted. This lead me to look more deeply into what us ghost hunters class as ‘evidence’ and that soon revealed to me that it was a very vague concept of evidence. This and the Royal Oak case I was working on lead me to re-evaluate my own approach to the paranormal; with a discovery of the Scole Experiment and then the SPR, my perspective soon changed and I learnt a great deal more about psychical research very quickly.
Have you ever heard of the term transliminality? It’s okay I hadn’t either. This refers to a psychological trait involving hypersensitivity to psychological material, but is also linked to a belief in paranormal phenomena. Whilst there is a lot more to it than that and I am most definitely no expert in this area, I will leave that to my parapsychology friends from various UK universities; it is a term that does raise questions in what us Ghost hunters do and also how we conduct our investigations.
What I find interesting about this term though is the concept of belief in paranormal phenomena. Over the years I have seen this first hand on various investigations, many investigators often approaching with the belief that they are seeking the spirits of the dead. Whilst this may not seem like an odd occurrence in the field of ghost hunting, the point I am making is that more often than not we believe that the source of phenomena is from someone that has passed. The curious thing is that this is often the least likely explanation, but our own beliefs lead us to this because it’s the answer some of us are seeking. It’s a confusing scenario that is for sure and equally one I must admit I may have found myself in during my early days as a ghost hunter. This hidden bias is not only one that most ghost hunters do not acknowledge during their investigations, but some are not even aware of its existence.
The problem is likely to be down to the TV shows in all honesty, well and general belief systems too. However, TV shows play a huge part in defining that belief system these days especially with paranormal shows hitting mainstream viewing throughout the week. The month of October is also that month in the year when we see even more of those shows hitting our screens, with numerous specials and live shows too. Of course many ghost hunters understand that those shows are made in a format that entertains, hence the obligatory; “for entertainment purposes.”
I guess the point here is that whilst those paranormal TV shows often generate mixed feelings, they do have their place. In fact there is not a lot of difference from the ghost story books that started me off to the TV shows hitting our evening programming. Granted most of those shows present themselves as investigating claims of paranormal activity at various locations, but the problem is that in order for them to continue to keep broadcasting they need ratings. Increased ratings mean that they have to be able to cater for a more widespread audience from show to show. Now this doesn’t mean that all ghost hunters that hit our screens are only interested in the ratings of their own shows; something I know personally from conversations with a few that I know. Some ghost hunters have explained to me that they headed down the route of paranormal TV so that they could do more of what they love. As someone who is passionate about the paranormal I can certainly understand that reasoning.
Our beliefs and understanding of the world around us have a great impact on how we approach a paranormal investigation. They can often create an unrecognised bias, which impacts our understanding of what we experience during those investigations. As you can imagine, how we perceive the world around us is dependent on the information we receive as we move through it. This is no different for ghost hunting either, but that information comes from various places. It is simply how each individual ghost hunter interprets that information and applies it to their own investigations that really matters.
Next time you’re out negotiating the darkened hallways of some haunted old building drenched in history and stories of spooky activity, have a think about your experiences when they occur. Is it paranormal that your experiencing or perhaps your beliefs are confusing your point of view. Sometimes you need to question more than just the phenomena you seek, sometimes you need to question yourself.