Are We Just Misunderstood
If I look through my own notes over the years and equally the blog posts on this very website, I know I can see the changes to how I think about the paranormal. Those changes are big in some places, but most of the way through they are only simple small tiny changes that most will miss. Change is a part of life and something we all encounter at work, at home, in relationships and as a part of everything around us. This is also apparent in my own paranormal journey and in that of others too in the field. I know that over the last ten plus years I have seen investigators come and go, teams appear and disappear like the apparitions we seek and also many adapt and evolve as their own journey through the paranormal helps them to grow as an individual. Sometimes these changes are met with negativity and through the keyboard warriors of social media, we often lose some great people before they reach their true potential in the field. Their personal passion for the paranormal is extinguished by a narrow minded individual that possibly doesn’t think about the consequences of their actions or comments. Not cool, and not paranormal.
Personally, I have made mistakes during my own journey too, yes I am human too. Relationships have come and gone, friends found and later lost, disagreements had and arguments engaged in. Life, not unlike our ghost hunts is full of choices and like all of you I’ve made choices during this paranormal journey that I have been proud of and some I regret. However, in all of my paranormal research and writing I have always done my best to look at alternative possibilities to why something paranormal may have occurred, rather than simply resting on the generalisation of a ghost haunting a location. Hopefully, in doing so I have expressed these as alternative possibilities worthy of thought and even discussion, but not seemed to state them as the answer. As these are ideas, theories that I provide; a possible answer to the ‘why’ or the ‘source’ of the paranormal activity. These ideas are formulated from my own investigations over ten plus years, but also from extensive reading of the subject. Reading which has taken me from ghost stories to apparitional theory to morphic resonance to quantum theory and other dimensions. When the answer is always out of reach, the possibility of that answer becomes endless and fixating on one alone is surely a foolish pursuit best related to eggs and a single basket.
However, it was one question that I stumbled upon years back that possibly changed my direction away from the source itself being simply that of ghosts and spirits. What if our understanding of the paranormal was all wrong and the source was our own minds? This alone provided numerous possibilities beyond that of ghosts or even spirits capable of intelligent communication. In fact as I began to read more on this and delve deeper into the SPR library, I found more and more supportive literature that suggested our own minds are much more capable than we could even imagine.
When I began to think about all this new information in relation to the ghost hunts and/or paranormal investigations I had done in the past I began to realise that on many occasions they were highly driven from a spiritual perspective. This even included some where I had conducted mini experiments and used technology as much as possible too. In fact, one particular experiment hinged all this in a single sitting and presented something more philosophical than scientific or even psychological. I am of course referring to the Psychic Projection Experiment, where we sat around a table as a group and for about one minute directed our thoughts towards a digital recording device. In this instance our thoughts focussed on a singular key word. To our surprise the digital recorder we had directed our thoughts towards picked up a sound similar to this word. Yet no other recording device around the table did on this occasion. Of course we must state that in the environment of a ghost hunt, with so many people present and bearing in mind that the recorders were not inspected prior – there is the possibility of both fraud and also that the event wasn’t as impressive as I remember it to be. However, it was significant to place the philosophical thought in my mind that would later become framed better ironically in a spirit communication via a medium; ‘is it power of spirit, or is it power of mind?’ Oddly a communication that occurred at a location that also provided me with the equally philosophical; ‘perception is communication, communication is perception.’ However, although supplied via spirit according to the two mediums; both these phrases point directly towards a connected unconscious and ones own unconscious, perhaps the realm where spirits exist is within us all and amongst the reservoir of consciousness.
How Do We investigate
Whilst it seems like an almost a pointless question these days, I think it is one perhaps many ghost hunters should ask themselves. Investigation to me means looking into a specific situation based on a question. Look it up and you’ll find that most sources talk about the term investigate meaning to conduct a systematic inquiry, sometimes formal; and to examine the facts related to a particular incident or even allegation, so we can establish the truth. Which for all intense and purpose is what most attempt to do, well almost.
Granted that many begin with that allegation or incident; in ghost hunter terms this is our report of paranormal activity. The problem at this stage is that many allow it to remain extremely top level, I know because I used too. Rather than digging deeper into the report of phenomena they simply take it on face value (nothing wrong with that) and dive into a full overnight investigation with little more than ‘I saw a ghost’ to go on. Some groups will even prefer little more than a location is believed to be haunted as their reasoning and will state that they prefer to go in without knowing anything more about the location. This is not investigating – this is ghost hunting in its urban exploring form. It’s unsurprising then that such groups plan for the night is to walk around the location hoping that they capture a ghost on film. Paranormal fishing without bait, for want of a better term.
Now its probably best to mention here, if the paranormal urban explorer ghost hunt is something you find fun and its the way you like doing it for fun, then fair enough that is your call and I would not wish to take that away from anyone. Your choice of how you do things , is of course your choice and I am not here to change that. However, in my book that approach is a ghost hunt and not an investigation and should be labelled appropriately.
We are all probably most aware of the approach utilised by the majority of paranormal TV shows out there. This is the common approach of conducting various vigils throughout a supposedly haunted location using a combination of gadgets and spiritualism. Granted some shows focus more on the use of gadgets than spiritualism, but then others do the opposite. Of course none of the gadgets really do ‘detect ghosts’ and still the shows sell the use of them as if they do. One primary approach being that of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) where many shows will use EVP to provide the audience with almost a real-time response.
It is also these more real-time approaches that have become more popular these days amongst paranormal groups during their ghost hunts. This also shifts what the groups are doing away from investigation in my opinion and firmly into the realms of ghost hunts. Simply as the ghost hunters are trying to obtain direct responses as they make their way around the supposedly haunted locations. Oddly even with the gadgets that ghost hunters use their approach often falls more in-line with spiritualism than investigation.
Looking back at some of my own investigations over the years, I would have to admit that this may be the case for some of those too. Even though I really tried hard to put together investigations that were structured and focused, they were also dependant on one thing – paying the location to access the location for the night. Apart from one or two locations that didn’t charge me of course. However, those that did charge required me to put a team together to help investigate, but also cover the cost of the location. Splitting the cost of the location often presents us with a scenario where as organisers, we want to ensue that those involved get their money’s worth. Otherwise they may not return for future investigations. This financial burden creates a scenario where customer satisfaction appears to dominate actual focussed investigation. In the same way, wandering around the location hoping for an experience, rather than focussing on researched activity, has become the norm.
The Real-time Reactive Approach
This current approach to haunted locations that Ghost Hunters have adopted is something that I am going to call; the Real-time Reactive Approach. The reason for this particular name is as follows; more often than not Ghost Hunters are pushing their approaches to become more apparent in real-time, within the moment; rather than gathering data and then analysing after the fact properly. This is evident in the fact that EVP and ITC has evolved to become something they can interact with on site during the investigation – providing a live response during their time at the location rather than finding it during the trawl through media captured during the night. Such approached as ‘live listening EVP’ and gadgets like Spirit Boxes or ones that provide various words, all provide the Ghost Hunters with a probable response to the questions they ask into the darkness during their investigations. However, the problem lies in the lack of understanding of these gadgets. Many seem to believe that because they are used on popular TV programmes by Ghost Hunters they must be really capturing communications from spirits around them; and to be fair many paranormal TV personalities do not present them as probably working they present them as proof positive of intelligent communication. Don’t get me started on the misconception of intelligent communication either!
Personally I believe that this real-time reactive approach that Ghost Hunters appear to be adopting is related to the their attempt, possibly unknowingly, to recreate their own investigations in exactly the form of the TV shows. I have to admit looking back some of my own investigations followed similar approaches to the TV programmes of the time. Of course one could simply argue that the TV shows have adopted the approach of Ghost Hunters in order to appeal to them on their level and maintain viewing figures – I do not deny this logical possibility.
However, investigation of phenomena should not be about what happens in real-time and reacting to it, as that is more indicative to an experience rather than an investigation, which in turn places the whole event more within a spiritual approach rather than something scientific. An investigation should involve gather the information and the data, then evaluating it in order to reach a conclusion or at least a probable idea of probable cause. After all we are dealing with the unknown here.
Granted gathering huge amounts of data at a location in order to discover possible causes both natural and unnatural for phenomena is not the most exciting of exploits to many and exploring a probable haunted location in the dark certainly is more fun in that respect. So, let us call it what it is, a search for an experience – a ghost hunt and not an investigation.
I often hear people say how the paranormal field has become stagnant and many are just treading water repeating the approaches of ghost hunters nearly one hundred years ago, just with better gadgets. Firstly, I would say the gadgets are not better as many are more novelty than truly useful. Some are even fashionable in some degree than required. A good example of that being the KII Meter when it first came out. The small EMF detector was seen in an episode of ‘Ghost Hunters’ (I believe) and suddenly took off as a must have gadget for Ghost Hunters in the field, especially as they could use it to ‘communicate intelligently with spirits.’ The reality was not so great though, the device was extremely sensitive and I like many others showed how walkie talkies could be used to show a response on the device. The point being, not every gadget is what it seems and just because you get a response, it does not mean you’re having an intelligent conversation with a spirit.
Over the years, for example whilst investigating and using similar gadgets, I have seen Ghost Hunters have conversations with alarm systems which were pulsing every 90 seconds, which just happened to coincide with questions being asked. The result appeared to be like a conversation. I have also seen mobile phones do exactly the same.
If its too good to be true, then its more than likely it is!
All this said and done research around the world into the paranormal does continue on an academic level, which has become more and more detached from the Ghost Hunters in recent years (in my opinion). The research is pushing boundaries of psychology and other aspects of science; and slowly becoming more accepted in mainstream Universities too. The UK alone has some major parapsychology programmes running that are providing some amazing insights into the paranormal. However, the paranormal isn’t only about ghosts, spirits and hauntings – its is much more wide ranging than that.
So, if you do believe the paranormal is currently treading water then I would encourage you to read more and connect with organisations like the SPR and IONS, to see what they are researching. You will likely be greatly surprised by what you find. The paranormal is more prevalent amongst the academics and the research more wide ranging than you could ever imagine. There really is something for everyone.
Understanding Why You Want To Know
Finally, I wanted to touch on a simple yet complex question I found that I had to ask myself. I simply had to ask why I wanted to know about the paranormal. Was it something I needed an answer to or was attending ghost hunts just something I found fun? To be fair I discovered that I do enjoy the odd Ghost Hunt, without having to capture data and fully analyse the event. Sometimes I just like to have fun with it and enjoy the social aspect of attending an event with like minded people. However, there is a thirst within me to know more and grow my knowledge of psychical research. Whilst it is not so much about the survival of human personality after death for me, I am fascinated by what else our minds are capable of, like telepathy or psychokinesis. Equally the concepts of our mind being separate from our brain; or us having a conscious and unconscious element to us which could be a part of a greater collective unconscious, are all things that are just really captivating to me.
These things often encourage me off down the rabbit hole a little like Alice, but they also all help in a greater pursuit for more knowledge. They have expanded my own viewpoint of the paranormal to include UFO’s and Cryptozoology, but also NDE’s, OBE’s, Reincarnation and much more.
As soon as I began to understand that my own paranormal journey (so to speak) was about a pursuit for greater knowledge, I knew that the excitement of a Ghost Hunt in a dark building was no longer enough. I wanted to understand how all that strange stuff might occur, what its true source may be and to begin to understand it. That’s a journey that I am only just beginning in reality, as I have barely scratched the surface so far.
There is more to the paranormal and psychical research, than mediums, haunted old buildings, ghosts, spirits and things that go bump in the night. More interestingly there are more possibilities to all of those that are not just related to someone trying to communicate after death. Some of which also show how remarkable we humans are in reality – although reality itself may also be stranger than we realise too!