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    The answer to that is obvious; it's where the ghosts are! But seriously, everyone has their own ideas about that. I have found from my investigations there is no one place in particular. Paranormal claims have come from everywhere, and most are debunked as natural events. And the ratio of explained versus unexplained have been about the same for any location you choose to visit.

    That being said there are a few considerations before you set out on your ghost hunt. Please note, I am using the term "ghost hunt" for this discussion. The fact is there is no proof what we consider ghosts has a thing to do with death or dying. The fact is we don't know what we are dealing with. So neither the background on a particular location nor its current use has been shown to affect the probability of finding a ghost.

    But that theory flies in the face of the common ghost theory of the spirit being some form of a departed human. So for the sake of this discussion I will assume this is your theory as well. If you are true investigator who has, like myself, discounted this as the only explanation you can stop reading now. But for the sake of those who choose to believe in the traditional ghost explanation, here are a few thoughts that may help you decide where to go ghost hunting.

    Cemeteries, Graveyards and other Memorials.

    So where will you find the best chance of a paranormal encounter? How about your local cemetery? Ask yourself, why would a ghost be in a cemetery? It likely didn't die there so what holds it to that spot? A look at the stones in a cemetery reveals an interesting fact as we compare dates. Traditionally the thoughts were it wanted to be around past family who may also be buried there. That might have held true back in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century. Back then family plots were quite common. It was normal for the family property to be passed on from father to son and on down through several generations. When people died they were buried in the family plot. Often you could find several generations and numerous related graves in the same cemetery.

    But starting in the mid 20th century we became more mobile. The family farm was subdivided and sold off. Children moved to diverse locations and started their family there. The large family plot became a couple headstones in many different cemeteries near where each family lived scattered around the country. So if Grandpa Joe died what would draw him to a strange place where one member of his family was buried? Especially if he had 4 children and each was in a different cemetery in a different state? The ghost of Grandpa Joe would have a hard time haunting 4 different cemeteries to be near his children's ghosts!

    So maybe he decided to stay near his own remains. Why would he do that? Especially given the fact more and more people choose cremation and their ashes are scattered to the winds! Seems kind of pointless to haunt a large stone monument with only your name carved in it.

    Why are so many drawn to cemeteries? Because the ghosts are seen there! But are they really? Let's look at the basic cemetery itself for a possible answer. Many cemeteries are designed to look like a peaceful garden. Trees and open areas are intermixed. Some areas are exposed to bright sun during the day; others are shaded causing temperature differentials. Plus, trees discharge moisture from their leaves. This creates areas of higher humidity near areas which are also shaded. On a cool calm evening just after dark (Isn't that the time most ghost hunters go out?) the cooler, damper air drifts into warmer pockets where sunlight earlier heated the ground. Warm air holds more moisture than cool air, so when moisture is suspended in dry areas it remains invisible. But when this drifts into another cool area condensation can occur. The moisture becomes a visible vapor and we have an instant ghost!

    But that's not all. Cemeteries also have many large monuments scattered around over the graves. And ghost hunters love to go out and take pictures using flash on their cameras. Camera flash has a limited range, usually only 15 - 20 feet depending on the camera. But the large open areas over the graves allows for visibility to extend some distance, maybe even 100 feet or more. Anything beyond the flash range will not be properly illuminated. And when one of those monuments or a shrub is dimly lit, artifacts are created by the camera's inability properly render the picture. What a great situation to create pareidolia!

    Finally consider your own pre-conditioning. You are out there hunting ghosts aren't you? You expect to find one. Even if you are not taking pictures, you have been conditioned to expect to find ghosts in the graveyard! That means your mind is conditioned to expect such a sighting. So add a bit of pareidolia and you have just experienced a graveyard ghost! This is further amplified if you, like many ghost hunters, have sneaked in after hours and you know you're really not supposed to be there. The heightened awareness and threat of arrest only makes pareidolia more likely.

    Then what about those famous haunted locations? Any ghosts

    Are any ghosts to be found there? You might stand a better chance than a cemetery, but they have their own problems. The first issue is they are open to the public. It is difficult to do a serious investigation if there are many people also present and wandering around the place. The probability of some contamination of your evidence is high. Of course you might buy the place for a private investigation, but that can be expensive! But let's assume price is no object and you and your small team get together a private investigation. That might raise another problem.

    Depending on the location, do you have enough investigators to cover it? Many of these locations are large, former prisons, asylums, hospitals or hotels. It would take many man-hours to completely cover the location. There is a solution though, do your homework before showing up. You might find a few key spots in the location you can concentrate your team on. Do a thorough background investigation on that spot and concentrate your efforts to that small area. Too many try to do the entire place and fail to do a proper investigation of any of the place.

    Another consideration is the vested interest the owners have in promoting the site. Many are historical locations run by various institutions. They need the money ghost hunters bring in. So obviously they do whatever they can to make the place as attractive as possible. They push the legends that have built over the years. Some have even been known to fake evidence so ghost hunters can "find" it. And to make matters even worse, they want ghost hunters out for a Saturday night thrill while discouraging serious investigations that can throw water on their operation if something is debunked.

    Finally, if we allow for the traditional ghost theory of a deceased person, we must also ask why would that spirit hang around the location? Would our spirit choose to stay in the hospital he passed away in? Or the asylum where he was confined? Or even a hotel where he took his last breath? Of course based only on a theory we can't refute or support this possibility. But I wonder... Would our spirit stay in a place like this or choose a location more familiar to it or with a happier history? Just a couple thoughts for your consideration.

    Hanging Trees, Battlefields, Cry-Baby Bridges and other Legendary Sites

    Another type of location some visit are the sites of various traumatic events. They include battlefields, scenes of disasters, or legendary death sites. Many areas have places associated with tales of deaths, sometimes by hanging, some by murder, others by illness. Some involve children. For these locations, do your homework. Many places have tales where a mother loses her child, "cry baby" bridges, runaway horses, etc. These go back sometimes over 100 years or more. While each case must be evaluated on its own merit, I would point out that many times when one attempts to find historical records of the event, they do not exist. Some of these are simply folklore built up over the years. There never was any truth to the story, thus no ghost to hunt.

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    Lastly we have sites such as battlefields, accidents, disasters, or death that can be verified by the records of the day. Those you may want to investigate, but ask yourself, why would a spirit hang around here? Or would it be more likely to just return to what it knew as home? Why choose a location this traumatic? The rules of any investigation would apply here. Just be aware that since you know the back story, you are conditioned to expect to find a ghost. It is critical to use a skeptical approach where you discount all natural explanations before considering the paranormal. But that's the same approach any serious investigator takes with all the cases he works. Just apply a bit of reasoning to your study. Happy hunting!

©    May 2024 - J Brown