Ghosts and Haunts - Find A Group
Many people have asked, "How do I form a group and start investigating?" They saw the guys on TV, watched all the episodes, and decided they can do it too. After all, these guys are professionals, they're on TV, right?
Yes, they are on TV. They have a show and are making money for the network. But as for investigating many of them wouldn't have a clue what to do if they actually encountered something. Consider, here they are, tramping around in a supposedly haunted house looking for ghosts. Something unexpected happens, and the first thing you hear is, "Whoa dude, did you hear that?" They sit there, afraid of what is coming next, or they run out like a bunch of kids afraid of the boogeyman. Now I ask, were they not there looking for ghosts in the first place? Now here they might have exactly what they were looking for and they're running away? A serious investigator in that position might also be running, but it would be TOWARD the source, not away. And certainly an investigator will retain his composure in the face of what he was looking for.
These shows have done much toward making the paranormal acceptable to the public. They have definitely caused a spike in interest in all aspects of the field. This been both good and bad for the field in general. It has also fostered a lot of misconceptions and outright lies when it comes to paranormal investigating. Perhaps the biggest false impression many have is just how common the paranormal is. They assume that all you do is go out and take pictures of ghosts or get EVPs. Two or three captures a night is about normal, right?
WRONG! In reality any phenomena is extremely rare. For instance I specialize in EVP work. I have state of the art recorders, mixers, all the toys. My best guess is that, as of 2015,in 30 years of research, I have analyzed over 7,000 hours of recording. You would assume I must have hundreds of EVPs. Not so! If I told you I had 50 that I consider valid I would be lying. I actually have seven. That is about 30 seconds worth of audio out of 7,000 hours, about one for every 1,000 hours of audio. And I should add, even these I only consider valid because I can't explain them. That doesn't make them paranormal, only unexplained at this time. Perhaps with a more concise analysis in the future they too may be debunked. So when somebody says they got 3 EVPs in one evening I have to laugh!
Now with these facts in mind, are you sure you really want to get into this field? If you are willing to work under these conditions then maybe you really are the kind of person who would make a researcher. If not, then perhaps you should consider another endeavor. But I am addressing this site to those who are serious about the work, so from here on out I will assume you are ready to take on the field as it is and do investigations. So let's begin the process.
Paranormal research, as stated on the main page, encompasses different investigation methods depending on what aspect you are doing. Here we will approach it from a Ghosts and Haunting perspective. (If you are primarily interested in UFOs or cryptozoology, then I would recommend you click the appropriate button on the left and read the page intended for that field.)
The nature of ghost and haunting investigation takes you into locations seeking evidence. It is done in real time, that is, the goal is to find something while it is happening. You strive to gather the evidence and use that evidence to determine what is happening. Often you will be doing so for a client who believes his house or location has spirits or ghosts. It will be your responsibility to either prove or disprove his impressions. Usually you will find a common cause for what he is experiencing and can present this evidence to him and resolve case.
Ghost investigations should not be conducted alone. There are a couple reasons for this. First and foremost, since the locations are often in "out of the way" places there is the very real risk of injury. If you have an assistant you have someone to go for help if something unfortunate should happen. A large number of these investigations are conducted at night, so the chance of accident is increased due to poor visibility. (More about this later!) A second reason is validation. If you see something, and nobody else saw it, it's just your word for it. However if two of you saw it, it becomes much more credible.
Another aspect is that you are less vulnerable when there are more of you. By this I do not refer to the ghosts. Your greatest risk comes from very human sources. There are people prowling around at 2 AM that you really don't want to meet! If they see several of you, you are much less of a target than a single person alone at night. Thus the group mentality is advised.
There are two ways to form this group. Either you can join one that is established or form your own. Unless you are an experienced investigator, the recommended way is to join an existing group. They will be able to show you the proper way to conduct an investigation. Often they do group investigations of public locations which is an excellent way for new people to learn protocols. You will also have access to other members who have various skills that make the team work well.
But not all groups are good researchers! The way to determine this is to meet with them. Find out how they do investigations and what methods they use. You will pick up on what to look for as you read through these pages. Apply this as a guideline to determine how close the group adheres to these methods. Also pay attention to how well they work together. Is there a lot of bickering and infighting? If so you can safely assume this group will be hung up on internal politics rather than doing anything constructive. Find another group.
Next take a look at their equipment. Much can be learned about a group's dedication by the level of their equipment. If they rely on cheap hobby equipment like the KII meter and digital voice recorders, be suspect. Of course just because they have some of this stuff doesn't mean they're no good, many of us have some of this junk laying around just for a few laughs! The best thing is to join them on an investigation and watch what they really use and how they do it. The next section of this report will cover the hows and whys of equipment, so for now just be aware that this can be a good way of judging a group.
Also look at WHEN they do their investigating. Most groups for whatever reason think the best way is to turn out the lights and investigate at 2:00 AM in the dark. Why? In fact much investigating is actually done in the daytime or with lights on. Of course that kills the "Spook factor" but it does allow one to use all their senses and be aware of their surroundings. You have every right to ask any prospective group whether they are in it for the research or just for the thrills of a scare or two. And do their investigative methods support their claims?
Finally make sure the group fits your desires. How active do you want to be? Are you satisfied to go out once a month or so, or do you want a group that has something going on about every day? You can find good groups that do either, just make sure you and the group have the same goals in mind.
What About Those Groups that Charge A Fee?
I will leave that to your decision. But consider, most people who bring in any paid contractor expect to see results of their expenditure. Why should a paranormal investigation be any different?
Suppose you charge the client a fee, come in and find nothing? Considering that is a common outcome, will your client be happy paying for nothing? Or suppose you find a common, natural source for the event, what is worth for you to explain it as a creaky rafter or crooked door frame?
And if you actually succeed in finding something unexplained? And the client says, "Remove it." It's at that point some go into their metaphysical mode and claim to "cross it over." To which any reputable investigator would say, "Prove you actually did anything."
How could they prove that? And worse yet, how can they justify taking a fee for doing so? The only way you can justify taking money for doing something is to show proof. This means when you can bottle the spirit, show it to the client, and let him watch as you carry it away, you can charge for a job well done. Till then, charging is no different than the carnival fortune teller who rips people off by peering into her crystal ball.
The other way of finding a group is to form one yourself. Of course this assumes you know what is required to actually run such a group. Even if you have no experience it is still possible to create this group, but it won't be easy. This report will cover only some of what you will encounter, but it is a start. If you choose to create a group many recommend read, read, read. Get whatever references you can find from various authors and study.
Studying others is a good idea, but keep in mind this field has many out there pushing various unproven agendas. A lot of them have written books too! So you will have to gain the ability to separate the hype from the fact. This is generally not easy for the inexperienced person to do. That is where logic comes in to play. Many books make claims that require you to toss common sense out the window. I would instead recommend you toss the book out the window! In short, while you can learn from reading, generally actually doing is a much better teacher.
So even if you are starting your own group, I still recommend you make contacts with other groups. These contacts are vital both as a tool for learning and as consultants. In fact most groups consult with each other. As a researcher I work with groups around the country on various projects, analyzing evidence, and other endeavors. In short, no one does it entirely alone. Even if you are an expert in some field, nobody is an expert in all fields. And one thing any expert knows is when he is outside his field, it's time to call in another expert. Groups that try to go it alone usually go down in flames alone.
One more possibility needs covered while discussing groups, that is the Independent Researcher. I am one of these and the term may need clarified. It does not mean that I don't associate with a group. All the above requirements apply to independents as well. It simply means that an independent researcher has chosen to forego the group hierarchy, there is no founder, no president, no leader or group mentality. An independent is free to accept cases or reject them as he wishes.
But all independents also have associates. We rely heavily on them when doing an investigation. If I do an investigation I will bring in associates as I see fit based on the needs of the case. They are not members of an organized group as such, but rather share resources to do an investigation. Whoever takes a case becomes the Lead Investigator on that case. Thus instead of having a group title as Lead, each case has a lead. All associates are both Leads and secondary investigators on their respective cases. This methods has eliminated much of the group politics that seems to be so prevalent these days.