Paranormal investigations have become very popular these days, mostly due to such popular TV shows as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. Ghost hunting can be a fun, educational, exciting, and sometimes scary way to explore the past and the present. But as in any other endeavour, there are right ways and wrong ways to approach the activity.
Get permission before you explore
It is unwise, unsafe, and often unlawful to enter abandoned buildings or cemeteries at night. Obviously, it would be rude to enter anyone else’s property to “ghost-hunt” without their explicit permission to do so. Always ask before you conduct a paranormal investigation.
Have the right attitude
It is not necessary to believe in ghosts or spirits to conduct a paranormal investigation properly, but it is necessary to keep an open mind. A certain amount of scepticism is good, and will keep you from interpreting every little creak or speck of dust as paranormal phenomena. However, if you are convinced that nothing is going to happen, your mind will automatically discount anything that does, and you will not experience anything. Acknowledge that unexplained things do happen, but debunk whatever you can. Open your mind, be practical and look for the answers. They’re there if you know where to start looking.
Have the right equipment
There are different schools of thought about this. Some people like to work with psychics and mediums and trust the judgement of their eyes, ears, and feelings above any other evidence. Feelings are very important, and so is personal observation, but these things are not provable or quantifiable. The most basic elements of paranormal investigation, are to document the surroundings in which the activity allegedly occurs. Record as much information on the location’s environment as possible, using audio-visual equipment and atmospheric sensors to record data and document the investigation. Use also, your own senses, intelligence and intuition. Your brain, eyes and ears are your most important tools to utilise within a paranormal investigation.
You don’t need to invest in a lot of expensive ghost hunting equipment.
While this type of technology can be a great aid, you may use a camera and recording device for your first few investigations.
Don’t overload yourself with a bunch of ghost hunting equipment or you may find yourself no longer focusing on what is happening around you. Whatever type of ghost hunting equipment you select, there are a few things you can do to ensure your success.
- Learn everything you can about the equipment you’ll be using.
- Test each piece of equipment prior to the investigation so you become proficient in using it.
- Limit your use of new equipment. This will prevent distraction and you possibly missing other types of paranormal activity.
Some equipment that might help catch something closer to evidence would be:
– Audio Recorder: For ‘EVPs’, or Electronic Voice Phenomena. Apparent spoken words which do not belong to anyone present on the scene. Having multiple recorders available during your paranormal investigation will allow you determine the location of sounds, and help rule out possible external sources of audio contamination.
– Cameras: Video and still. The more eyes and lenses on the scene the more chances there are of capturing movement or something that might further back-up the client’s claims. Using digital cameras and video records will make it easier to analyse and share later.
– EMF Meter: For measuring Electromagnetic Fields within the location. Some people believe these fields are present when there is paranormal activity in an area. They can also be used to rule out sources of electrical interference which may be responsible for claims of paranormal activity. Remember, these devices are by no means “ghost detectors”, they are simply a common aid on to help record information about the environment.
– Thermometer: To measure changes in temperature. Fluctuations and sudden temperature drops are often reported to occur when potentially paranormal events are taking place.
Do not take chances with things you do not understand
Read and learn about the paranormal investigation field before you enter it. No matter what you believe, do not taunt or tease or try to anger ghosts or spirits. Be very careful about using equipment and techniques to communicate with spirits if you aren’t fully knowledgeable on their workings and potentials. It is arrogant to assume that we know everything there is to know about negative energy, the afterlife, or any other area outside the normal, which is, after all, what ‘paranormal’ means.
Do not go alone
People have reportedly been harmed by poltergeist activity, although that is extremely rare. More commonly, people may be overwhelmed by emotion or fear and might suffer panic attacks or other emotional episodes during paranormal investigations. Aside from that, many investigation locations may be old or in poor repair and injury or falls can happen. So, unless you are fully experienced, familiar with your surroundings and have taken all necessary precautions, it is recommended you always have a partner and that you have someone trained in first-aid on your team.
Understand that on a paranormal investigation many times nothing at all is going to happen for hours, if at all. You may be interested in the paranormal based on what you have seen on television and documentaries, however remember that these are often heavily edited, in some cases even scripted, and overall designed as a form of entertainment, the reality can be much different.
Paranormal investigations involve sometimes long stretches of doing nothing but sitting quietly and observing. Only embark on this kind of activity if you feel that the possibility of catching something extraordinary is worth a lot of time and effort. Also be prepared to spend many, MANY hours reviewing all the video and audio footage taken at the investigation, as well as examining the hundreds of photos, notes, and sets of data gathered in that time.
A lot of the time, 30+ hours of review time can yield no results or evidence at all.
Study, Read, Watch and Learn
The more you know about paranormal history, other people’s experiences, the available equipment and various techniques, the more rewarding your experience will be. Network and collaborate with other reputable groups, locally and internationally. Every group has gathered information and experiences to share. So, spread the data around. Share and learn with others.
Remember, you don’t have to subscribe to any particular theory to investigate the paranormal; just accepting that we don’t know everything and things do happen outside the ordinary that are unexplainable is enough. And wanting to learn more about those things is a legitimate area of study.
Paranormal investigation is a fascinating field, and with the right attitude, can be rewarding on many levels. The key is attitude.
The Scientific Method
Within the Paranormal Research field, we are often riduculed, belittled and scoffed at by the scientific communities.
What we do is often discarded as being a ”pseudoscience” and not real and valid research. We are told that the research is not valid due to the fact the Scientific Method is is not being followed; therefore our efforts are meaningless. I disagree and agree, to a point. Yes, there are many teams out there claiming to be scientific in their endeavours, but arent. However, there are also many teams that, without even really thinking about it, go about their paranormal investigations with a loose element of the scientific method in action.
In fact, when the typical investigation procedure is laid out, we can see that the average paranormal investigator, (if conducting their investigation properly), isnt too far off the mark when it comes to the scientific method. We research, observe, experiment, document everything, ask questions and seek to find answers. We also review and analyse our findings, form conclusions and compile finished reports. The only unfortunate factor within paranormal research and using the method, is that real paranormal activity, data and evidence is rare and so there isn’t much to work with. Sure, anecdotal evidence is there. We have experiences, see things with our eyes and hear things with our ears. We might also be privileged enough to have a physical interaction; which is great for those that are a part of the experience in question, but to prove and validate scientifically, it needs solid, measurable evidence for it to be taken seriously and as worthy verification of the existence of something paranormal.
The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century.
Scientists use the scientific method in their research, but it is also used by people who aren’t scientists in everyday life. Even if you were not consciously aware of it, you have used the scientific method many times when solving problems around you.
It involves formulating hypotheses, based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as distinguished from a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprises. – Wikipedia
The goal of using the Scientific Method is to discover cause and effect relationships by asking questions, carefully gathering and examining the evidence, and seeing if all the available information can be combined in to a logical answer.
Scientific Method Steps
The exact steps of the scientific method vary from source to source, but the general procedure is the same: acquiring knowledge through observation and testing.
1. Ask Questions – The scientific method starts when you ask a question about something that you observe, such as: why/how is this thing occurring? Why/how does it happen this way?
2. Research – Conduct background research. Write down your sources so you can cite your references. In the modern era, a lot of your research may be conducted online. Scroll to the bottom of articles to check the references. The more you know about a subject, the easier it will be to conduct your investigation.
3. Hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess to explain the phenomena occurring based on prior observations. It is an attempt to answer your question with an explanation that can be tested. A good hypothesis allows you to then make a prediction:
“If _____[I do this] _____, then _____[this]_____ will happen.”
State both your hypothesis and the resulting prediction you will be testing. Predictions must be easy to measure.
4. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment – Your experiment tests whether your prediction is accurate and thus your hypothesis is supported or not. It is important to note that a hypothesis must be testable. That means that you should be able to test your hypothesis through experimentation. You should also repeat your experiments several times to make sure that the first results weren’t just an accident.
5. Analyse Your Data and Draw a Conclusion – Once your experiment is complete, you review your data and analyse them to see if they support your hypothesis or not.
Scientists often find that their predictions were not accurate and their hypothesis was not supported, and in such cases they will communicate the results of their experiment and then go back and construct a new hypothesis and prediction based on the information they learned during their experiment. This starts much of the process of the scientific method over again. Even if they find that their hypothesis was supported, they may want to test it again in a new way.
6. Conclusion and sharing – The last step of the scientific method is to form a conclusion. If the data support the hypothesis, then the hypothesis may be the explanation for the phenomena. However, multiple trials must be done to confirm the results.
Conclude whether to accept or reject your hypothesis. Note accepting a hypothesis does not necessarily mean it’s correct. Sometimes repeating an experiment may give a different result. In other cases, a hypothesis may predict an outcome, yet you might draw an incorrect conclusion. Communicate your results. The results may be compiled into a lab report or formally submitted as a paper. To complete your project you will communicate your results to others in a final report.
If you experience something unusual, DOCUMENT everything!
While the event is still fresh in your mind, document as much information about it as you can. If you have a video camera or audio recorder, state the details there. Better still, write it all down in a notebook.
Note the date, time and place of the event. The room you were in. What floor? Perhaps you were outside when it happened?
Note environmental details, even if they seem insignificant at first. Those little details may come in handy with your evidence review and analysis.
Was there a heat pump or air-conditioning on? Was it sunny, cloudy, or overcast? Was it humid, raining outside? Lighting conditions?
Write as much detail as you can of the visual detail that what you saw. Note its approximate size, shape, and colour. Was it clear enough you could tell if it was a male or female? A child perhaps? Did it move, make a sound? The answers could be in the details, so be as descriptive and thorough as you can.
Do you think the apparition in question was aware of you, or did it feel residual; like a memory or recorded snippet of history replaying itself? Did it speak? Did any gadgets react when it occurred? Note down data levels etc.
Did you experience anything touch you at that moment? Any unusual smells? How did it make you feel? Did you feel threatened in any way or was it more of a comforting feeling?
Note any details of possible interaction you might have had.
Do a full photographic sweep of all areas in the building. Take pictures of the area you had the encounter; from all angles in the room. The more photos the better. This may help trigger a memory of what you saw or felt. It may also give clues to help debunk or confirm something you might have missed doing that session, or forgotten about.
Were there other people with you that saw the same thing? Write their names down and have them write their own experience down just as you are doing.
Ensure the details are accurate, honest and factual. Dont exaggerate or over play the encounter.
While recording audio and video, don’t whisper.
Whispering is viewed as a taboo in the ghost hunting community. Yes, you may view it as being polite while someone is recording, but it can become somewhat of a nightmare when it is time to review the evidence back home. On a voice recording, whispering, even though you may know that it came from a team member, throws off the evidence reviewing process because it almost sounds inhuman, like a faint, spirit-like noise. When wanting to communicate thoughts or questions to the team during an EVP, just talk normally.
Keep your eyes, ears and mind open
Look and think outside today’s conventional mainstream science, whilst using what science has already given us. Work hard, know your field, be honest, respectful and responsible.
Be prepared for anything, everything… or, a lot of the time, nothing!