Those that know me, have been reading my blogs for a while or simply remember from a few years back; may remember a common phrase of mine; “zoom out.” It was something I used to advocate greatly and hoped very much that many others would join me in trying to look at the paranormal from different perspectives. Especially as it was so easy to label events as being paranormal when in reality they had logical or even simple explanations.
A combination of watching a few paranormal reality TV shows late last year and getting back into reading; has once again highlighted the need for ‘zooming out.’ Especially as many of these TV shows provide what could be considered to be a very unrealistic representation of what true paranormal investigation should be. At least that would likely be the case if many paranormal groups were actually investigating rather than simply mirroring the approaches of TV Ghost Hunters. This got me thinking, obviously, and wondering if more people Ghost Hunt these days for fun and due to an interest in the subject which is originally from a more fictional source. Something, which may I add is perfectly acceptable, but perhaps we need to start to define those in the paranormal community. Although there is an obvious issue, which I am also impacted by; sometimes I enjoy a good overnight ghost hunt for fun, whilst other times I am conducting personal research.
It is not strange to think that within this vast subject it can be difficult at times to define one’s involvement and commitment. Something that is equally confused by the individual as they try to understand how they may fit into the community. Often this can be highlighted by how we interpret the very phenomena we investigate, and when we zoom out a little, we can often see more than we thought we were looking for originally.
I have recently been reading; ‘The History of Spiritualism’ by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This book has helped to bring to light many older cases of Spiritualism that had slipped my mind a little. Something which shows how different things were back in Doyles day, but equally had many similarities to today too. Some of which may require a little perspective, but are still there, just sometimes they may not be exactly what we may expect.
At one point in the book Doyle discusses early Mediums like the Fox sisters using raps as methods of spirit communication. Something I am sure many Ghost Hunters of today are familiar with the simple technique of asking for one rap for ‘yes’ and two raps for ‘no.’ Although back in those early days this would also extend to the group counting the raps to represent letters in the alphabet. Simple techniques used by those involved in order to establish what they believed to be intelligent communication with entities in the afterlife.
If this all sounds a little familiar then you would be right. These days many Ghost Hunters still use these techniques, but we now have a huge amount of similar methods and even technology that advocates similar aspects. The most obvious in my opinion is the use of gadgets like REM Pods, KII (EMF) Meters and even various temperature measuring devices. However, rather than actually measuring environmental changes; Ghost Hunters acknowledge the changes as responses to questions. Something that used to be identified by raps or taps, has now evolved to be represented by environmental changes. Just because the method or delivery has changed somewhat does not mean this has evolved at all. What is worse is these approaches to spirit communication remain highly subjective. One could equally argue that slight changes to the environment that investigator is unfamiliar with should never be considered to be a form of communication. Let alone one that could be suggested to be intelligent.
However, let us ensure we review this scenario properly here. As I am happy to admit that it’s not simply that the ‘spirit’ is communicating using these gadgets or perhaps using raps; it’s likely to be that the information provided appears to have relevance. For example, it may appear to answer a question that was asked or provide information connected to the location or individuals present. Whilst convincing as it may be, as the adrenalin of the ghost hunt flows; we must also consider that we are interpreting this information how we want to. This is often where we may find a narrative relating to the spirit quickly building. Admittedly there are cases where the information and communication received is very interesting and even found to be true. This is more rare than we realise though; and certainly not a weekly occurrence during Ghost Hunts.
As someone whom has been a part of many Ghost Hunts; the experience of receiving a rap in response to a question or a change on a gadget can be exciting. Especially during a long cold quiet night at a location. Then even though some of these instances may be paranormal, it’s often very hard to sustain them as such as there are lacking logical explanations. Obviously over the years there have been many possible suggestions put forward for the likes of the Fox Sisters raps; like the cracking of joints or someone within the seance room rapping for them. Whilst on the surface it may seem harder to receive false EMF or temperature changes, there are actually a number of simple ways to impact these readings. For example, walkie-talkies or mobile phones can fluctuate the EMF, and of course an alarm system too as we have seen before. Temperature can often be misinterpreted greatly.
Simply put then, there are explanations we must consider first before believing we have established contact with the afterlife.
The thing here is that it presents the possibility that some methods in Ghost Hunting have not changed at all in well over one hundred years. That is a slight bitter pill to swallow. Whilst the technology is there, it’s not being utilised properly by the masses. We need to be gathering lots of data and analysing it much better. “Data, data, data,” sure that was another phrase of mine.
Whilst interest in the paranormal had grown greatly and we could consider ourselves within another great spiritualist movement right now; we need to show some progression within our methods. Maybe it is time we properly investigate cases looking at all the data available rather than jumping based on whats exciting. Sure it makes great TV, but we need to seek reality now. If we are to provide proof of an afterlife, we have a long way to go.
Remember, just because the TV Ghost Hunter tells you the REM Pod is reacting to a nearby ghost, it does not mean that is the case. If an EMF meter or REM Pod goes off it means the environment in that area has changed, thats all! I am not trying to be a skeptic or place a negative spin on potential spirit communication; I just want us to ensure we as investigators are chasing things properly.
So, next time you get a rap or a ping on your gadget, take the time to investigate its source. Understanding the strange has always been key.