Divination or investigation?
These days the paranormal is mainstream with new TV shows hitting our screens on a regular basis and even new streaming website popping up on the internet faster than you can say poltergeist. For a subject that I remember as one that you may prefer not to admit your involvement in; its certainly grown greatly over the years and has become an interest shared by many these days.
However, as Ghost Hunting has become such a popular hobby these days, the social aspect has become an extremely important part of the event. Whilst many advocate a serious approach to paranormal investigation, their actual approach is more aligned with urban exploring than scientific rigour.
This is something I have not only noticed, but previously practiced myself and depending on the Ghost Hunt in question, would probably continue to do so in the future.
The problem is not spending the night at a supposed haunted location walking around in the dark in search of ghost, seeking an experience. As that is now perfectly accepted as a part of Dark Tourism. The issue I hold with this is understanding the difference between seeking an experience, which is what many Ghost Hunters are looking for; and real paranormal investigation.
However, this alone is a huge mine field to wander into and one which could certainly have some criticism find its way to me. So, on this occasion I will focus on how certain aspects of a Ghost Hunters investigation are more like divination and find themselves miles away from any kind of true investigation.
The problem, in my opinion, is that we have now had a great number of years pass where both television and social media have now presented us with a large misunderstanding of what an investigation actually should be about. I experienced this myself over the years as I learnt more about Ghost Hunting and later proper investigation techniques.
The media provides us with a format that has become incredibly popular amongst Ghost Hunters. This is the common standard of heading to a supposedly haunted location and then using either various gadgets or spiritual methods; or both during a number of vigils to attempt to communicate with spirits. Something that often occurs in many darkened rooms, as the dark appears to be a real important part of the method. It is a format that I have used and been a part of in the past, without really considering what it may mean to what I was trying to achieve at the location itself. However, these days some of the format, if not most seems a little spiritually driven.
Whilst many may advocate that they approach their ‘investigations’ from a more scientific stand point because they use gadgets, record audio, measure EMF and listen to a radio that cycles through AM and FM bands; I would say that this is not the case. However, the way in which Ghost Hunters often use these gadgets is less like science and more akin to divination techniques.
Divination is the practice of seeking knowledge by supernatural means; which simple is about obtaining information through beyond normal methods. Ghost Hunters usually associate aspects of divination with things like Ouija Boards, pendulums, crystals and more; but generally they do not make the connection between their gadgets and divination. However, their approach when using things like temperature gauges and EMF meters is to ask a potential spirit to make changes to the measurements These variations are then often accepted as being a form of communication with a localised spirit. The problem is that those beliefs in readings from various gadgets have no true supporting data, its simply a misunderstanding of information.
Often I have witnessed Ghost Hunters call out into the dark, receive a slight spike on a gadget and interpret that as communication. However, from that point that occurrence or change on the gadget is registered as communication without being clearly defined as such. After all there could be a genuine explanation that reveals a more logical source.
I recently watched a TV programme that presented itself as a documentary on Drakelow Tunnels in which several gadgets were used to pick up various changes. Changes which appeared to advocate either spirit communication or a spirit presence in the gadgets locality. The point being, during a programme which was supposed to be investigating Drakelow for the paranormal; the moment their gadgets picked something up it was seen as relating to spirits. As such a good example of the gadgets being used for divination rather than capturing measurements in a scientific manner. I think its important to mention that a REM Pod flashing or some LEDs lighting up on a MEL Meter, are not evidence of the paranormal. It may seem completely adverse to the way we usually approach our paranormal investigations, but this is the confusion caused by many television programmes. They often provide us with loads of subjective information which is given as potential evidence, but has not been properly evaluated for its true relevance or even if it has and explanation of a more logical nature. Often meaning what many of these programmes present and the general Ghost Hunters too, is hugely sensationalised.
A true scientific approach is hardly followed as its not easy and requires capturing huge amounts of data. However, anyone can observe and make simple notes on what occurs, but even using this method means evaluating based on the facts alone. It also means avoiding jumping to conclusions or labelling the case too early, as this may provide a bias before the case is truly understood. Going back to the Drakelow programme as an example, the Ghost Hunters reached the conclusion that they were dealing with an ‘elemental’ early on, but failed to share why or provide any real supporting evidence.
The point here being, many Ghost Hunters that are seeking an experience, present themselves as investigators; but their approach uses techniques more in-line with divination. As such they may be undermining their own seriousness when it comes to the paranormal. Please note though, Ghost Hunting can be fun and seeking an experience is absolutely fine. However, if you wish to present yourself as an investigator then do the leg work and take it seriously. I have learnt this and I am still learning each day I continue with my own research.
Sometimes it feels as if there should be a clearer definition made between Ghost Hunters and Investigators to me, but then I guess I only make the distinction myself after being both a Ghost Hunter and a Paranormal Investigator. What do you think ? Is there or should there be a difference between Ghost Hunter and Paranormal Investigator?