Are You Looking For Ghosts or an Experience?

Over the years I have conducted a number of my own investigations, joined many different groups on their ghost hunts and of course watched numerous paranormal reality TV shows; encountering many instances where potentially I have to admit some Ghost Hunters could be seen to disregard the ethics they should be mindful of in those situations. Granted the type of investigation we attend does impact how those ethics should be observed, but often even the more relaxed public ghost hunts can provide a display of poor behaviour.

There are of course extremes of unethical behaviour that we have all been aware of in the past. Those few, but dramatically impacting events which often hit the media causing much negativity towards the paranormal community. Such events like when some very poor Ghost Hunters take the foolish decision to embark on a quest to hunt spirits in various purported locations that do not allow paranormal investigations. We have all seen them hit the tabloid newspapers that report on the outrageous breaking and entering of some ghost hunters, which shows a complete lack of respect for the location and people connected with it.

The problem with this kind of behaviour is that it presents the whole community in a poor light and immediately suggests that all ghost hunters operate in this manner; which is not the case at all.

Within the last couple of years I have even heard stories of groups not only showing disrespect for the location, but equally for each other too. One story, as I recall, covered two paranormal groups that had double booked a location. Rather than attempting to possibly work together, friction between the two groups quickly escalated and that resulted in violence. A situation that by all accounts meant the local Police were called out to help resolve the situation. Some really disgusting behaviour that all presents the ghost hunting community in a very poor light.

Ghost-hunting vandals damage historic Wilcox County site

These of course are extreme situations that occur rarely within the paranormal community, but they do occur and have a hugely negative impact on the greater community. If we were a large organisation then those few that caused such upset, would likely be excluded from an organisation like that for the damage they would have done to the wider community.

In most though the paranormal community behaves themselves and respects the locations they visit. Understanding simply that by respecting the locations they visit and the people they meet along the way; they will continue to retain access to those locations. I know that those I have worked with have been respectful and I have not heard a huge amount of comments that refer to groups not being so.

However, there is a slightly different angle on this which does concern me and is likely often missed. I don’t know if its a case of honesty (or lack of honesty) or perhaps a misunderstanding of what people really believe or even a misunderstanding of what people seek. Still though when I meet people on ghost hunts many advise that they are searching for ghosts, spirits of those that have past away. That they are searching for evidence of the paranormal to help prove their existence. All of which is perfectly acceptable of course and makes sense in relation to what you would believe ghost hunters to be seeking. This is most likely the truth in many cases, but in others there are so many out there that are without doubt simply kidding themselves of this pursuit. As they are truly only looking for an experience of some kind for themselves.

Now, I must explain that personally I do not have an issue with individuals seeking only a personal paranormal experience. In fact I have known a few people that have, during ghost hunts, admitted exactly that to me and to be honest I have been pleasantly surprised. They have been honest enough to admit that they really do not know what they believe in or if they believe in anything paranormal at all. Hence, they seek an experience to help them find out what they believe.

I have to admit that this very concept is one I personally went through in my early days as a ghost hunter. I think I could be categorically defined as a non-believer back then, who truly thought that logical explanations existed for all potential paranormal experiences to be had. I had been on very few ghost hunts and read considerably less than I have now remember. Whilst attending a ghost hunting event at Salisbury Guildhall, as we stood in the court room calling out to the purported spirits; my digital camera appeared to vibrate across the table in front of me for no apparent reason. I spent some time investigating and attempting to comprehend these strange events, but I was left with no definitive explanation. That’s important to recognise, no definitive explanation doesn’t necessarily mean paranormal, it just means that we could not explain the events there and then. Looking back, there still is little to explain those events, but I also know that there is more possibility of the cause being us rather than the locations spirits. This could simply mean that our group rapport or even individual abilities allowed us to unknowingly use psychokinesis, and that moved the camera. This explanation is equally paranormal as ‘it was a spirit’ and as such still very much what I would call an out there explanation. However, I am reminded of; “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” – Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

Of course, there is a slight problem with Doyle’s statement when it comes to the paranormal. He’s statement relies on there being a singular remaining answer; if I can not explain these phenomena then the cause must be related to spirits. In reality though there is also the distinct probability that the paranormal events being experienced are psi related or ESP; which means the source of causality is not just spirits, but could be the common-denominator in all paranormal experiences, which is us.

So, if that improbable element remaining actually has two possibilities; spirits or us, then how can we determine true causality. That, in my opinion is where the work of the academics comes into play.

Years ago I had my experience paranormally speaking that changed my viewpoint, it did not make me a believer in spirits, but equally it did not make me a non-believer either. That experience at the Salisbury Guildhall and a few after that, actually helped me to realise the importance of seeking an understanding of these strange anomalous events. I guess to me it was a great undiscovered frontier that I wanted to explore and understand. Belief is important to us all and can help us through some really troublesome times, I am sure we have all recognised that during COVID, but when it generates bias in our understanding of a field that we then deliver as truth’s, then we become a part of the problem that prevents the field from moving forwards. This is similar when it comes to our memory too. Many Ghost Hunters will claim to remember the events of an experience precisely as it happened, regardless of when it occurred; last week, last month or even ten years ago. This is highly unlikely though as our memories are completely fallible.

Interestingly enough, I confirmed this to myself recently, whilst doing a little research and writing a new book I am working on. As I love to journal and keep many notes on my investigations or even visits to locations purported to be haunted, I took some time to refer back to some to help begin the book I am working on. I even dug out some old interviews and used a cool online app called Sonix to gain a transcript of the recordings. I quickly realised that what I remembered of the events that occurred ten plus years ago now, were not exactly right. They were similar, but under scrutiny the memories in my opinion would have been a false representation of the actual events. Something I have seen on numerous occasions throughout the paranormal.

This issue with memory may have also led to many the social media argument I am sure, for many Ghost Hunters out there. Especially where one ghost hunter remembers events differently to another. However, this does offer up another point that provides confusion around paranormal experiences; that of perception. We each have a different perception of the events we experience in everyday life, so that would naturally occur in a paranormal experiences too. As such how we perceive various events in a paranormal setting would equally provide us with differing experiences. Something widely forgotten and something often argued about.

There is without doubt a complex recipe to a true paranormal experience. The question remains; can the ingredients of that recipe be discovered, understood and recreated. Sometimes it sounds more like an occult ritual than a random event.

2 thoughts on “Are You Looking For Ghosts or an Experience?

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