Solve the Problem or Chase the Ghost

A Modern Ghost Hunt

Ghost hunts, paranormal investigations or even spiritual evenings; they are presented in many different forms and given many names, but fundamentally I talking about the act of visiting a supposedly haunted location with the aim of either capturing evidence to support such a haunting or maybe simply to have an experience of your own. Our personal reasons for advocating such strange behaviour is as complex as the subject itself, we are without doubt a piece of the puzzle as much as its possible that we are equally a part of the problem. However, there are three primary approaches to ghost hunting that have stood out over recent years, each of which has been highlighted thanks to paranormal TV shows as well.

The first is what I will call the ‘spiritual approach’ and sounds pretty similar to the inventive title. This is purely a spiritual approach, where tools of the trade are mediumship, divination and the ability to sense the possible presence of localised spirits. It could equally be stated that this was the first probable approach to investigating the paranormal, where rather than attending a probable haunted house; individuals would visit with a know spiritualist medium. This would either be on an individual basis for psychic reading or potentially as a group as a part of an organised seance.

Oddly it was these mediums that began to draw the interest of the academics, the interested and those concerned that there was a lot confidence tricksters about. Which is probably where the first element of investigation begins to filter into our modern concept of paranormal. The difference being that back then it was those mediums that came under scrutiny first off. The investigation of possible haunted locations also began around the same time too. Just to be clear this post will be a little fast and lose with the facts regarding the time frame and history of paranormal investigation, as its not the point I am trying to make right now.

Is wasn’t long before technology and science were incorporated into the investigation of mediumistic abilities and haunted properties too. Although perhaps it wasn’t truly highlighted into the public domain until the likes of Harry Price appeared on the picture, when he would use various techniques and gadgets to investigate with during a session. I believe he even had a case he brought them in, perhaps the first to use a case and later sparking the whole flight case trend.

These days we see more tech than anything else use by ghost hunters as they investigate one location after another; with some groups clocking up at least one investigation a week. Of course the tech isn’t just there as a fancy add on that helps us all look the part as we navigate darkened buildings in search of ghostly experiences. That would be down to the branded clothing.

In fact the gadgets available for ghost hunting are varied and often expensive, all with no proven background in sensing ghosts let alone proving their existence. However, some do have their uses and allow us to measure environmental changes to enable us to ascertain if something strange is occurring. This is often something that leads to groups making claims that their approaches are scientific, whilst in reality they are not following the scientific method, gathering good measurements or asking the right questions.

Another popular approach amongst ghost hunters and paranormal TV is to combine both the spiritual and tech approaches, providing something which blurs the lines between belief, subjectivity and objectivity. Often with objectivity being left out in the cold more often than not. In fact, in my opinion many groups are belief driven during their ghost hunts and not objectively assessing the information in front of them.

Why Do We Investigate a Location?

As we now have discussed the how we may investigate, what about the why? Often a question I feel is not asked enough when embarking on a new paranormal investigation adventure. Usually its because we are looking into a spontaneous paranormal event that recently occurred at a particular location, that was witnessed by one or more who believe that event to be supernatural.

Alternatively, it could be because we have found a location (haunted house) that has a history of probable paranormal activity that has sparked our interest. This is often backed up by a lose witness statement from a ghost hunter or group that has recently visited the location, and claims to have had witnessed some kind of paranormal activity there. As this will become the latest witness statement to base the paranormal claims upon and should really the grounds for our latest investigation.

There are of course two other principles too; either the person is investigating due to their personal belief of the subject, which in turn can cause a great confirmation bias. Alternatively, they are truly seeking answers in regards to what is next and if we do indeed survive bodily death. The great and hard question of parapsychology perhaps!

The Problem

The problem, in my opinion, is that we often investigate these places chasing evidence of the ghosts or our personal paranormal experiences; without looking at the problem correctly. Now back in the earlier days of paranormal TV, the likes of Ghost Hunters did advocate what became commonly known as ‘debunking.’ Which was focused on finding logical reasons behind potential events that were thought to be paranormal. Something that actually wasn’t all that new back then, as investigators have been doing this since the early days of the SPR at least. Its more of a investigative approach looking for reasonable explanations above the more out there explanations of ghosts we often hear.

However, debunking isn’t enough as it still focusses on an approach that had begun with the belief that the source was potentially paranormal to begin with, which suggests bias. We need to be more scientific and strict about proper investigations, capturing good data and information in order to properly investigate a location.

For example, I recently spoke to someone regarding baseline readings and even read similar in a book; that was that baseline readings are something that are taken once at the beginning of the investigation. If we are to conduct an investigation where measurements are important, like temperature or EMF for example, then we should be taking measurements at regularly spaced intervals throughout the investigation. This would provide us with a true baseline reading to measure against, as we could then see any fluctuations that may be potentially caused by something paranormal. Although, if we are to do things properly then if there was a fluctuation of any kind we would have to properly investigate it in order to determine its source or cause.

This is the true nature of an investigation, following the information and continuing to evaluate it in order to determine cause. However, having the confidence to admit when you don’t know is highly important.

See this is the problem; rather than truly investigating, many groups do not do that, they just continue to chase the ghosts they want to receive that personal experience from. We should be looking at the bigger picture in my opinion. Each paranormal event that occurs is a unique problem of its own, problems that we should be looking to solve. Of course thats not quite as exciting as chasing the ghosts, I can vouch for that as I enjoy a good old ghost hunt as much as the next. However, understanding and advancement will only come from solving each little problem one by one, and then bringing those findings together to search for patterns.

So, next time you head out on an investigation, don’t do the same old thing. Look at the reports of paranormal activity at the location you wish to visit and then focus on only a few. Search for a way to solve those problems alone. What could have caused the paranormal event to occur, was it something perfectly normal that has been completely misunderstood or is something else at play here. Perhaps you’re not dealing with a spirit after all, maybe its equally interesting like telepathy or psychokinesis. Of course the answer to the problem maybe boring and mundane too, but then at least that one event could be ruled out as paranormal and we as investigators can focus on those that are probably supernatural; bringing us ever closer to understanding survival.

The point being that, we often spend a great deal of time chasing spirits at haunted locations or hoping for a paranormal experience of some kind. That in itself is a gamble, it is like fishing in a river that may or may not have fish, using bait that may or may not be right for the fish, if it even exists in said river. Schrodingers ghost all over again. If you favour going beyond just the potential experience and you wish to know more, understand more about the paranormal; then perhaps look to solve the problem that the paranormal event presents. In doing so we may start to truly comprehend the paranormal, one small event at a time. If capture the information as we do so, then the true picture of the supernatural will begin to present itself to us.

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6 thoughts on “Solve the Problem or Chase the Ghost

  1. Ashley, I agree with your argument, particularly about debunking. Investigators go from one extreme of the bias spectrum to the other. Just because a phenomena may have a natural explanation does not follow that it is the only explanation. We need to test our hypothesis to confirm or disprove our theory.

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