Cleansing. . .or How Do I Rid My House of Spirits?

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    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.

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© FEB 2014 - J. Brown . . . . . . .