Back to the Home Page

Send Me an E-Mail

Back To The Library

Volume Five - A Look At A Few More Concerns You May Have

Send Me an E-Mail

Back To The Lbrary

Back to the Volume 5 Index

Joining A Team or Setting Up Your Own ?

    Once you have done a few investigations and decided you want to actually pursue this you will be faced with a decision. You can join an existing team, form your own group, or do the investigations on your own. There are advantages and pitfalls to each method. This article will take a look at a few of them to help you decide which is best for you. Most likely you have been working with a group up to this point. It is also the one you are most familiar with, especially if you have gone on a few investigations with them. Many times the new investigator just "grows" into the group they start with so you are somewhat aware of how well you fit in. You have made friends along the way, and the group probably has some outside consultants they work with. In that regard some of the work is already done.

    Still, there are a few things to ask yourself before joining them. Are there any personality conflicts? How well does the team work together? Are you willing to work under the team leader's control? Are there financial obligations expected and are you willing to meet them? Who owns any equipment, is it the team or does each member provide their own? And how much freedom does each member have regarding cases they work? What about group activities such as conferences, any obligations about attending those and are you willing to meet them? There are no right or wrong answers, these are just a few issues I have heard others speak of when I have talked with various groups. In some groups they have worked things out and everything flows smoothly. Others have spoken harshly if things aren't what they expected.

    Above I mentioned "Financial obligations".
    This may involve dues or other contributions from you.

    I assume your team DOES NOT CHARGE private clients for investigations.

    Charging to conduct investigations is generally frowned on by most in the field. The only exception would be where you are working with a private client who is charging the public to attend an event they are sponsoring. In those cases you are a part of the show, not actually investigating. In those cases you simply work a deal just like any other performers or guests at the event.

    Another option is starting your own team. Some take this method to allow them to not be under the control of another team leader. They want to do things their way rather than follow what the team leader says. This may be good but it does place additional requirements on you. It's true you are the "leader", but with that position comes additional responsibility. Besides the issues mentioned about joining an existing group, now you have the responsibility of managing others on your team. You will be in the middle of all the group politics that comes with running any organization. That can become a thankless job in itself unless you take care in who you surround yourself with. You will need to seek out your own consultants and those who will assist you at analyzing evidence. In short besides being the lead investigator you will need to perfect your people skills to deal with aspects of the group besides just investigating. You will also need to deal with the financial aspects of your group as well. And you will be the one who determines whether your team attends various conferences and probably the one who takes care of the logistics involved in that. And if you have a website, ultimately it will fall on you to put together how you want your team to be seen online. But if that's the type personality you are then this may be the best way for you to go.

    What About Going Independent? Do I Need A Team?

    This is the method I chose to use. Instead of dealing directly with a group I do my own investigations as a private individual. It still places some of the duties regarding the logistics on me, but I don't have to answer to anyone else directly. This does place limitations on some of my work, especially doing large locations. I sometimes need help just to cover a large location properly, but that is not often a major problem for me. I generally do small private locations that just I and one assistant can manage quite well. The freedom from a large group also means it's not as difficult to set up a time to do the project.

    But it wasn't long before being a single investigator did present a problem. Having a team does have its advantages at times. My solution was to form an Association with a few other investigators. This is somewhat like a team but without the politics most groups have.

    How An Association Works

    It is a very loose group of investigators, each having a particular talent they bring to the table. There is no "Team Leader" or Head Investigator". No officers or positions. If a case comes in any associate is free to take on or reject any case he wants. And if someone takes a case, they can call in any associate as needed to serve as a Secondary Investigator on that case. Consequently any associate is both Lead on his case and Secondary on any case in which he is helping another associate. Independent Research Associates has worked this way since 1984 to 2023 when the association was dissolved not because of any issues. Age was catching up with most of us. We simply had to scale back some of what we able to do.

    Being an independent investigator not aligned with any particular group does have one big advantage. Since the field of paranormal investigation is somewhat competitive between certain groups. the independent is free to work with any group without feeling as though he is being disloyal to another. Of course some groups are very secretive and won't work with anyone except their own members, but those are also usually the teams that are behind a lot of the competition going on. For the most part they are not the ones providing any serious output to advance the field so I have found they are inconsequential to progress. Probably you are better to just not have anything to do with them.

    This article provides a few options regarding how you might conduct your work as an investigator. You will need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each and compare that to what you expect to accomplish as an investigator. Are you going to do private cases or are you planning on investigating large public locations? You will need to look at each scenario and determine for yourself whether the best way to do your work is with a group or independently.

Send Me an E-Mail

Back To The Lbrary

Back to the Volume 5 Index

How Do I Disband A Group or Leave The Field of Investigating?

    The question is often asked, "How do I find or start a group?" What is overlooked and seldom considered is, " How do I disassociate from a group or end my investigations?" This article will address that topic.

    When one has been doing investigations, especially if private clients were involved, a responsibility exists to these clients and also to the group to end any relationship in a manner which maintains the respect and confidentiality that was established. There are actually a couple different scenarios that could apply; we'll look at each since the methods vary considerably.

    You decide to Leave The Group

    The first case would be a situation where you have decided to break from a group. We will assume the group itself continues to be active. This is probably the easiest situation to deal with. Both you and the group need to remember, the investigation field is not a turf war. The relationship between you and any previous clients determines the next course of action. If you were simply a member of the group and the client dealt primarily with some other member then that relationship should continue. Any evidence or documentation you may have in your possession goes to the group. You on the other hand must maintain strict confidentiality. If you become involved with another group what you may have heard about previous cases stays with the previous group. Even though you are no longer a member of the group, any confidentiality established while you were involved remains in effect.

    Now suppose you were the primary contact person with that group. In those cases you should notify the client you are no longer associated with the group. The client will then make a determination whether to stay with the previous group or break contact with them and continue with you. Of course if you are ceasing all investigations you can make recommendations to the client of someone to take over their case. That will depend on the circumstances involved. Some groups may take offense at this but it must be remembered the client, not the group, determines who he wants to pursue his case. To any who take offense I say, "Get over it."

    A final situation to consider would be one where a group is going a direction contrary to your beliefs. It could even be something illegal or otherwise a direction that is causing animosity. You may be leaving the group over something of this type. That is fine, but if the problem involves a client you were working with, you have a certain obligation to your client. Points of disagreement should be pointed out to the client. Then it is up to him to make a final determination whether to go with you or stick with the group. Your obligation is to go with his wishes either way.

    One more thing needs pointed out here. The client owns the data regardless of whether you or the previous group is in possession of it. Therefore if the client decides to keep you on the case and disassociate from the previous group for any reason the group is obligated to release all data related to their case to you and they must also maintain whatever level of confidentiality the client demands. Many groups have the mistaken belief they own the data. In fact, in all situations, any data or evidence collected belongs to the client and the client has final say over how this information is distributed.

    The Group Decides to Disband

    The second case scenario would be a situation where your group has decided to disband. This case also applies to independent investigators who have decided to get out of the active investigation field. The first consideration is what becomes of data collected. As stated earlier private client data remains the property of the client. It should be returned to the client. Even though the group is gone confidentiality remains in force to the level the client specifies. Every former member of the group is obligated to maintain this privacy. Only if the client gives explicit permission may such evidence be passed along to others or published.

    Another concern regarding private clients is ongoing support. If the case was active at the time the group is disbanding they might also consider continuing support for the case. This is actually the preferred method since from the client's point of view nothing actually changes. In the case of groups disbanding often one or two members can maintain this support even if the majority of the previous members move on. As for how long this support should be maintained I recommend one year from the time of the last major activity. Any case with no activity for about a year can be considered cold. Subsequent activity would then treated as a new case and could be referred to another investigator.

    Evidence or data that was collected by the group at public or group activities belongs to the group. As such they can determine how to dispose of it. My personal recommendation is to turn it over to another active group where it might be added to a data base and benefit other researchers. Remember this is not a turf war; evidence can be helpful to others even though your group has decided to call it quits.

    The next important step cannot be screamed loud enough, GET RID OF YOUR WEBSITE! There is nothing worse than groups who still have websites even though the group has been gone for years. I realize the search engines will still display them when a search is made. The fix is for the webmaster of the disbanded group to change the pages. If arrangements have been made for some other group to take over responsibilities then the best way is for the disbanded group to put a redirect on their old pages. The redirect would transfer anyone who opened an old page to the new group. If no one is taking over then simply delete the pages and close the site. Visitors will get the infamous "404 Page not found" message. But that is much better than having a prospective client attempt to contact a defunct group and never receive an answer.

    The final concern is equipment. If the group is disbanding disposing of their equipment could be an issue. The determining factor will be who purchased the equipment. Obviously if the founder bought everything with his own funds then the equipment remains his. But if the equipment was bought using dues or group funds then it belongs to everyone who contributed. Perhaps the easiest method is to simply sell everything and divide the proceeds. Some groups have already addressed this issue and have agreements in place to cover it. If that is the case then the agreement should be followed.

    In Summary

    In closing I should point out that groups and investigators ceasing operations is one of the problems many are encountering as more and more are leaving the field. If the group did only public and group investigations it may not be such a problem to just close up shop. But if you did private investigations clients who put their trust in you deserve a certain amount of respect. Those who simply walk away leave clients confused and give other investigators a bad reputation. So how you disband becomes in some ways even more important than how you start a group. Hopefully this essay has given some pointers.

Send Me an E-Mail

Back To The Lbrary

Back to the Volume 5 Index

Can An Argument Be Made For Certification Of Investigators?

    Many paranormal researchers have taken the position that certification in the paranormal field is ridiculous. There are no standards established so who can say what should be accepted or rejected? We ridicule the idea that anyone would even consider paying for a course in paranormal investigation in order to attain a certificate issued by the training organization. But is this a valid approach? Are we shooting ourselves in the foot by taking this stand? Might a valid argument be made FOR certification?

    I received a question via e-mail from a fellow investigator who asked me to address the certification issue here on this website. At first I was going to echo the opinion offered by many others, including myself, that certification is simply a money making scam that some have come up with to take advantage of other investigators. But then I began to take the devil's advocate position, might there actually be a benefit in gaining certification? I believe there can be a case made, and I also believe a precedent has been set in other more accepted fields of study.

    To begin, I must emphasize I am referring to those who DO seriously strive to provide training. Certainly, as in all fields, there are those who don't measure up to any kind of standards. These must be identified and exposed for the sham they are. My discussion here is limited to those who do make this attempt, do provide legitimate training, and do keep informed with changes as they develop in paranormal research.

    Consider first of all there are methods and techniques used by some investigators which certainly fail any kind of scientific test. Some of the pareidolia boxes and the misuse of standard test equipment are two areas which come to mind. Using basic understanding of scientific principles these can be identified. Yet the practice continues because many simply don't have this understanding. A properly oriented training program might go a long way toward clearing up this problem.

    Another area which training can address is how to investigate. There are accepted methods related to evidence handling and record keeping which are used by anyone who deals with such materials. Police and detectives are well aware of these methods. The same protocols can be applied to paranormal evidence as well. An investigator can also be shown the proper way to interview witnesses. How and when to ask and not ask leading questions is one technique that can help get to the bottom of a case. Certification of one who has successfully completed courses in these areas is certainly warranted.

    Those who investigate unusual or strange events also need to know certain things about the environment where these events take place. Everything from weather patterns to building construction can affect the case. The investigator needs to know how to identify ways these may influence his observations.

    The proper use of equipment is another area where training is essential. Too many have no idea how their measurements are generated and what they mean. As a result much false data is created, all of which simply serves to make serious researchers look like amateurs.

    The point is that every one of these areas is something where definitive training and methods already exist. There is nothing subjective about them. Consequently the debate about who determines the standards do not apply here, standards already exist. It is simply a matter of a training organization setting up a curriculum that teaches them. And there is not much of an argument that can be made against granting certification to anyone who successfully completes a training program that covers this type of information. Other institutions grant such certification to students daily in their particular fields of endeavor.

    Another argument often used against paranormal certification is that much of the field is uncertain; that is we really have no idea what is happening nor do we understand what forces may be at work. That may be true, but we also have a basic understanding of how many things do work as well. It is also a fact that the majority of so-called paranormal events are not that; rather they have very real causes that, with a little investigation, allow us to identify the force at work. Yet we are called in to investigate by those who simply don't understand what they are experiencing. Thus most of our work involves nothing paranormal at all. The same areas discussed previously apply, and these are very real with definitive standards and can be taught as absolutes. Certification here is entirely appropriate.

    But what of those which seem to defy explanation, those we don't understand? Allow me to draw a parallel with another field where certification and degrees have been a factor for centuries. The medical field has used such standards very successfully. Do they fully understand everything about medicine? Obviously not or we would have eliminated disease and likely would live 200 years or more. Yet the doctors are still considered experts and attain a wide range of certification in their field. What a doctor does do is keep abreast of the latest developments in his field and apply them to his practice. Is that any different than what a paranormal investigator should do? I think not. And as changes and new information comes along the paranormal investigator must adapt to the changes. Just because we don't have the final truth does not negate certification. Keep in mind a hundred years ago the certified doctor practiced blood-letting as medical procedure. Times simply change and all of us must adapt. In fact a certification program might even help promote the exchange of information that brings about that change.

    Of course the scientific side will bring up the more esoteric side of the paranormal; the mediums and psychics. They consider them the fringe, the subjective, with no way to prove their claimed abilities. How in the world can we ever certify them?

    In fact the medical field has its own version of them in its midst as well. Consider the opinion of most western doctors just a few years ago regarding acupuncture. The same holds true today with procedures such as bio-feedback and some other highly controversial areas of health care. They generally may take an interest but consider it outside the mainstream of medicine. Yet each of these areas has those who support it. They may even have their own certification within that particular field. Yet they remain outside the generally accepted medical field. But in some cases the medical mainstream is taking notice. Some things are being accepted, or at least considered. And one reason is because many of these fringe areas have taken a scientific approach on their own to prove their case. Certification has helped them gain validity within the medical community.

    The same applies to the mediums and psychics. They often take the stand against certification because their methods can't be quantified. But is that really the case? Or is it simply because they have chosen not to study what they do from a scientific point of view? They just do what they do, and by taking this approach actually do themselves a disservice. They remain associated with carnival side shows and crystal ball mystics.

    As a comparison, consider the acupuncturist. For years they simply poked needles at certain locations. Nobody bothered to ask why, they just knew it worked. But when modern science got involved and started asking why it worked some reasons became apparent. There was found to be science behind it after all. And that is gradually bringing it to the attention of the mainstream. Might the same thing happen if the mediums and psychics applied science to their area as well? Science involves study, and certification is a result of successful completion of a program of study.

    So the solution might come by several types of certification. Let the scientific side certify those who take a scientific approach based on the use of scientific principles. And let the mediums develop a program based on their beliefs. Let them study what they do and come up with a means of certification based on their effectiveness as mediums. Because even subjective abilities can be tested using scientific methods. Mediums can prove their abilities by their success or disprove them by their failures. Consistent failures simply mean that such abilities don't exist; it's all just wishful thinking. But consistent success is indicative of a scientifically provable fact; and when science can get hold of something that moves it from the fringe area to mainstream. The mediums, sensitives, and those who practice these abilities might, as the fringe areas of medicine are doing, gain more strength in support of their side by educating and certifying those who prove themselves. Like mainstream medicine has started to do with some of its fringe areas, the scientific side of the paranormal may be forced to take notice.

    So it comes down to developing a set of standards for paranormal research. Who sets them? Answer is we all do. We base them on accepted standards in various areas, adapt those as needed, and build from there. They won't always be right, nor will they be permanent. Like in all fields, things do change; adaptations must be made to reflect those changes. People are trained using the current standards in place at the time. Even your doctor has to continue his education after being certified. But that doesn't mean he doesn't get certified when he completes his initial training.

Send Me an E-Mail

Back To The Lbrary

Back to the Volume 5 Index

Should Children Be Investigating The Paranormal?

    The first issue is the most direct and easiest to establish. What kind of investigation are you working? If it is a private client case the answer is definitive, No children under 18. Period. And the answer has nothing to do with the child.

    Private client cases involve liability and dealing with a client. In most jurisdictions a child under 18 cannot sign a legally binding contract. Since a private investigation generally involves going onto a client's property most investigators sign a release from liability agreement to cover them in event of injury. This is all well and good. But a child's signature on such an agreement means nothing. And even a parent cannot sign away a child's right to compensation . While it may be fine for now, many states allow a child a period when he may reopen any such claim upon reaching the age of 18. Thus the child may press a previous client for damages years after the fact regardless of any waiver signed by the parents. And who wants to deal with that sort of grief? So if you are doing a private case, the definitive answer is no children involved. And if you are considering contacting an investigator and they want to include a child under 18, find another investigator.

    There is one exception to this age restriction that may apply in some cases. If you are an investigator like me who directly involves the client in the process AND the child is a factor in the case, it may be appropriate to include the child. The reason for this is that the parents are present with the child at the time the investigation is going on. Unlike most teams who prefer the client leave while the investigation is being done, I encourage them to be present. It provides a means of direct real time feedback on the process between the client and the investigators. If the child is involved in the case in some way, the additional input from the child can aid the process. And since the parent or legal guardian is present that makes them responsible for the child's welfare.

    So where can I take a child to introduce them to the paranormal?

    Consider public locations. While most of these are not that great for serious investigations due to the inexperience of the general public attending they can serve as a good introduction for a child. Younger children may find the stories offered by guides quite scary at times so you would have to know ahead of time how your child will respond to a classic type of ghost story. Older children generally have no problem with this so more graphic stories and history may be presented. Scope out ahead of time whether the location you are considering is appropriate for your child.

    And avoid cemeteries. Why? Because they are centered around death and dying. This serves to provide an unbalanced fixation relating death to ghosts and the paranormal. In reality that connection has been neither proven nor disproven. Investigation is about finding answers. If at some future time the traditional ghost theory is proven false, and ghosts turn out to be something totally unrelated, this preconception would be false. Why promote something that has not been verified. Better to remain unbiased keeping all possibilities open until such time as they are proven.

    Now that that is out of the way, the question remains, Should children be involved in paranormal investigating? The short answer is it depends on the child. It also depends on the manner they are involved and the ability of someone to mentor them. Paranormal investigating has many things to offer in the positive. It also has a few negatives.

    How young is too young?

    There is no magic age, it depends on the maturity of the child. If a child can spend hours simply sitting waiting for something to happen, fine. If not he's too immature.

    My Child is Ready. What Do I Need To Know?

    To begin with it is a fact that much of what is claimed to be paranormal is not. A child observing an unbiased investigation has much to learn about deductive reasoning, logic, science, and how to apply each to find answers. It can give the child an opportunity to examine clues and solve a mystery. As such it provides a sense of accomplishment.

    But in the wrong direction it can be detriment. If the child is following an adult who accepts things without question, who claims spirits are responsible for everything, finds demons around every corner, or even fails to question if a rational explanation might resolve the case, it leads to blind acceptance. A child learning in this manner is easily deceived by things he may encounter in an investigation. He accepts by appearance, never questioning the "hows" or "whys". So not only is the child an issue, who he goes with is also a major consideration.

    A child going on a group investigation can learn teamwork. He learns to work with other members of the team and how to conduct the research in an organized manner. He is also exposed to how data is evaluated and how to find answers.

    What About Something Attaching Itself To The Child?

    I have been investigating for over 40 years and to date I have never encountered anything attaching itself to, or following anybody home. Some have made that claim but I really don't see a problem there because it is so rare. Consider first of all that 95% of cases are in fact not paranormal at all. Obviously nothing is going to attach itself if the cause is a squeaky door.

    But there is one consideration here, and it goes back to the mentor. If the child is conditioned to believe spirits are present, and that they do such things as attach themselves, then the thought has already been planted in the child's head. So there is a possibility the child may think something has attached itself even if the facts are otherwise. So conditioning is a definite concern, but seldom is a problem if the child has been taught to question everything. His own deductive reasoning will serve to prevent any such problems.

    A few may be tempted to bring up the demonic here. But the facts are that demons are extremely rare, and even they have limits as to whether or not one can be affected by them. I won't go into religion here, but one's religious convictions are the primary deterrent for this type of activity should it be encountered. Because it is so rare it should be no more of a deterrent to a child participating in an investigation than the possibility he could get hurt deter him from playing football. In the end it's up to the parent to determine if and when the child is ready and to provide him with a suitable training experience and mentor to show the proper methods of investigating the unknown.

Send Me an E-Mail

Back To The Lbrary

Back to the Volume 5 Index

Why Are You In This Field If All You Want To Do Is Debunk Everything?

    This one comes up frequently, often asked with a degree of hostility, just as presented here.
    So in answer to this question, Read on....

    The answer is simple. I want to find out what people are experiencing. But perhaps the first thing to do is define a debunker. A debunker is one who is seeking answers. A debunker will accept any answer once it has been shown to be correct. A debunker is not one who rejects everything as some imply.

    The general opinion most who believe in the paranormal have of debunkers is we are the enemy; we are out to disprove everything they believe in. That could not be further from the truth. The fact is debunkers want to believe just as those who support all the psychic and metaphysical aspects do. But we want proof as well; we want a reason to believe that goes beyond just a feeling or idea. If something happened, why did it happen? How did it happen? Could some natural explanation account for it? Can we duplicate it again under the same conditions? And yes, a debunker also looks for hoaxes.

    Debunking as applied here involves the analysis of evidence. Most commonly in the paranormal field this comes in the form of photos, audio, or taking measurements of the environment. In the past investigators have also encountered this type of evidence, often submitted by witnesses. The difference was that such evidence was usually obtained as a part of an ongoing investigation. Clients were working with the investigator using certain established protocols. This meant that standards were set, and that the equipment used to collect the evidence was somewhat reliable. Often the client was following explicit instructions from the investigator on how to obtain the evidence. Even then, much of the evidence collected could be debunked as something not paranormal. A small percentage though, could not be dismissed easily; it is this evidence that was worthy of additional study.

    Today it is different. Today we have believers running around taking pictures with phones. They have little or no idea how cameras operate. They take pictures into glaring lights. They use flash which is responsible for many artifacts. And to top it off the phones themselves create issues with pictures. Audio recording is not much better; these same people use low quality voice recorders and pay no attention to their surroundings. They even walk around while recording. As a result numerous sounds get picked up on their recorders. Many also watch all the paranormal TV shows and use these as a basis on how to investigate and what to expect. They assume spirits activate EMF meters because they saw some TV investigator make that claim. And let's not forget all the outright quackery; Ghost Boxes, Broken Radios, etc. that are constantly being touted as the next best ghost detector ever.

    And one more thing we have today is social media. These same people submit all the stuff they captured using all these questionable methods, including a few hoaxes, to an online website. This of course means that the amount of evidence out there today is much greater than ever, but the credibility is practically nonexistent. This leads to the reason why most serious investigators today are considered debunkers by the believers. Since the quality of evidence has deteriorated it stands to reason why more and more will be debunked. One cannot expect more garbage evidence to prove a case. It simply means a greater percentage will be attributed to dust, pareidolia, or wishful thinking on the part of the person submitting it.

    So what is the fix? That is easy, reduce the amount of garbage evidence out there. Learn how to investigate, obtain quality equipment, and know how to use it properly. Question everything, assume nothing is paranormal until every other possible explanation is ruled out. Learn how preconceptions can influence your thought processes. Use the principle of Occam's Razor (The simplest answer is probably the correct one.) when reviewing your evidence. Apply these steps and you will find the amount of evidence you collect will drop substantially. That's right, DROP. But the quality and validity will increase which means there is much lower probability your evidence will be easily debunked. And just like a debunker you will be on your way toward finding real answers instead of a lot of unproven beliefs.

Send Me an E-Mail

Back To The Library

Back to the Volume 5 Index

Cleansing. (How Do I Rid My House Of Ghosts?)

    I get this question often. As a scientific investigator I don't get involved in this area, but I do have opinions regarding this and they don't make a lot of groups very happy. If you are one of them feel free to comment on this article via my webpage. But I will address this question in the following essay, coming from a scientific investigative direction.

    We begin with a bit of background and determining exactly what you want and what you want your investigative group to do. Not all groups are the same, so we will first need to differentiate between them.

    Group Techniques

    For the sake of this discussion I will break investigators and groups into two categories, believers and skeptics. If one does a bit of reading on the websites of various groups and investigators the first thing you notice is most groups have a lot of posted evidence. Pictures, audio, video, and witness testimony are found in abundance. It leads one to believe that paranormal activity is everywhere. These groups are the ones I classify as the believers. This is also the type of investigator most commonly portrayed on TV and in the media. They are the ones that get their opinions out to the public. People who read all this get the impression that ghosts and spirits can be found in most houses, including their own. The groups who follow this approach have for the most part taken the position that ghosts are spirits of the dead who for various reasons haunt the location in question. And if your house is that location, someone's spirit is hanging around either by choice or is stuck here needing help to move on to the afterlife. Your house is haunted!

    But there are a few investigators who take a different approach, that is other forces may be at work. They remain open to alternative explanations for much of what is going on. They are skeptical of much that is happening these days in the field of paranormal research. Many believers even refer to them as debunkers in an attempt to discredit them. These investigators seldom post much in the way of paranormal evidence simply because they discredit a lot of the claims made by both themselves and believers. From their research they have come to the conclusion true paranormal events are quite rare and there simply isn't that much reliable evidence to be found. These are the ones I consider skeptics when it comes to research into the paranormal. They will likely find a common explanation for whatever events are taking place in your house, no spirits responsible.

    So, in getting back to the question, who do you want to investigate your case? A group of believers who may be able to offer cleansings and other methods of removing the spirit, or the skeptic who will likely find some other factor which may account for the activity? I contend the skeptic will offer the better outcome based on the results of his open minded approach. This is provided you, the witness, remains truly open to all possibilities and haven't formed a closed minded opinion prior to the investigation.

    How Does Each Type of Group Conduct Their Investigation?

    The skeptical investigator will concentrate on the client first and foremost. He is approaching the case from the direction of the case history and its impact on the client. He may use some specialized equipment but the equipment is secondary to the case itself. often the initial investigation consists of little more than witness interviews and possibly some background photos taken of the area in question. He will go in and attempt to debunk anything he encounters in the course of the investigation. He will attempt to disprove the paranormal until no other option exists.

    The believer will attempt to prove the paranormal aspects. His main goal may be to obtain evidence. He often brings in a plethora of gadgets such as EMF meters, digital recorders, video gear, ghost boxes and other devices often seen on television shows. Much of what he gathers as evidence is vague or unclear until he explains it. He may use some scientific principles but also may include some subjective data in the effort to support his conclusions. The believer will often take the position agreeing with the witness; the location is haunted unless it is profoundly clear that something commonplace is responsible. Only then will he take the skeptical stand.

    Which Type of Investigation Is Correct?

    The answer to this depends on what the witness wants to get out of it. If he wants definitive answers he would be better off dealing with a skeptical investigator. On the other hand, if he wants validation of a haunting the believer would be more to his favor. How do I arrive at this conclusion? Consider the following regarding the different levels of an investigation.

The Early Phase of the Investigation

~ Skeptic ~

The skeptic will begin with an interview and in doing so may offer his opinion of what is being encountered by the witness. He will measure and attempt to debunk everything presented. In many cases this process will uncover some normal cause for the activity. If photos are involved they will be scrutinized to the point that only the very best will stand up to analysis. Fuzzy pictures, muffled audio, and other undefined data will be discounted since it cannot actually prove anything conclusive. His investigation will probably be done in daylight or at least with lights on so he can use all his senses.

Skeptical Investigators and groups will resolve about 75% of the cases they work at this level. This means that there is a 75% probability that your issue is in reality nothing paranormal at all. You can take what was found and either fix the problem or at least know what is causing it.
If so, case closed.

~ Believers ~

The believer may also begin with an interview but it will be more geared toward where and how he may obtain evidence. He will set up video gear, cameras, audio recorders, EMF meters and other equipment hoping to gather evidence, usually in the dark. In most cases the believer will collect much more evidence than the skeptic. This is because of his reliance on equipment as opposed to witness testimony. They concentrate on equipment and fail to fully understand their methodology. They are prone to misuse their equipment and incorrectly gather data from it. Then they analyze the results from a position of validating their data rather than dismissing it. This is the stage where much of the bad data enters the field. Orbs, ghost box data, camera straps, water vapor ghosts, KII meter activations, IR light anomalies from improper camera setups are just a few of the problem areas. But even so, some believers manage to review and debunk about 50% of their data at this level.

The Advanced Investigation

~ Skeptic ~

This is where the work begins. The witness interview is scrutinized. The skeptic will try to find anything that may seem irregular about the witness interview. Often witnesses feel uncomfortable at this stage. They feel they are on trial and wonder if they are even believed. But this is also where the details will come out. If the investigator still has data such as audio or video that was not previously discounted he may put it up for peer review by other investigators or experts in a particular field. This stage may take considerable time as everything is reviewed and studied in detail. Only the most compelling data will survive this review process. Of the 25% of the original data which reaches this stage only about 5% will survive. In other words by now there is a 95% probability the case has been resolved as something commonplace and only 5% it is possibly paranormal.

~ Believer ~

This is the point where skeptics and believers diverge. Skeptics, when reviewing the believer's methods can find fault with procedures and methods based on proven engineering data related to their equipment. Consider both believers and skeptics have for the most part dismissed orbs as dust, other areas just as ambiguous are still accepted by many believers. The results of a ghost box for example, the use of poor quality audio methods, photo anomalies and even many cases of pareidolia attest to this by simply viewing posts on YouTube! The problem is the believer is trying to validate bad evidence as opposed to doing serious study. Still, some believers do critique this poor quality evidence and dismiss about 30% of it at this level. Still, too much survives as evident by what is seen on various websites. And one more important factor needs considered. Since the believer started with much more evidence than the skeptic an even greater percentage survives to the final level.

The Final Conclusion - What Is It and How Do I Get Rid Of It?

~ Skeptic ~

If the goal was to explain what is going on by now the probability is about 95% that as a witness you have been given a commonplace conclusion. At the outset I asked "As a witness, what do you want to get from your investigation? Assuming you approached with an open mind, and the conclusion was mundane, you are satisfied with your answer. Orbs in pictures are dust. A squeaky door is a squeaky door. A bump in the night might be expansion of a rafter in the house. Or a mist on a picture is water vapor. In any event you have your answer, the "spirit" is gone or explained, and the job is done.

If you are in that final 5% that cannot be explained away so easily, perhaps you are actually dealing with a spirit of some kind. Most skeptics are not, and don't claim to be qualified as exorcists or clergy so at this point they may recommend you take up the issue with someone who is. They will likely be willing to work with you as a consultant to validate what they have done thus far to confirm something paranormal may be present.

~ Believer ~

Since the believer has much more evidence to show it might at first seem like he is the better choice as a researcher to confirm the paranormal. After all, 20% of his original evidence has survived his review process. But consider the quality issue as well. His data has not had near the degree of scrutiny the skeptic has done with his. Plus, as a believer he has probably done little to discourage your belief that the house is haunted. This support has actually fueled the mind set making it that much more difficult to debunk the haunting. He may even have gone through some rituals which are supposed to "drive away spirits". If these rituals convinced you they work, fine. Maybe all that was needed was a good dose of reinforcement. But what if nothing happened as a result? Are you prepared to take the case to someone trained in dealing with such spirits? Is the evidence presented to you on a par with that of the skeptic? Is the quantity or quality of the evidence paramount at this point?

    Since we assumed at the outset the goal was to eliminate a spirit I would have to go with the skeptic as providing the better option to provide a background to someone who can remove it. First of all consider that by identifying a mundane cause, the "Spirit" has been removed. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part no group, skeptic or believer, is actually qualified as an exorcist or has the training to vanquish actual spirits. So in either case it is the quality of data you can pass along to whoever you bring in that determines the best route to choose. That would be the data obtained from a skeptical investigator. Of course, if your goal was simply to validate that your place is haunted then likely your best bet would be stick with a believer.