It is always interesting to watch other people’s investigative styles. I’ve followed a lot of groups around as they investigate, and I always ask them a lot of questions about why they do what they do, how they learned their techniques and why they use certain pieces of equipment. I like to ask psychics and sensitives to be very specific about what they see, hear, feel and experience. I do it for two reasons. One is that the more specific information I have, the easier it is for me to write an article. The other reason is that I am just insatiably curious. I’ve often compared myself to the bratty 3-year-old kid down the street who constantly follows you around asking why. Sadly, I never grew out of that phase.
What I have discovered in my travels is that there are some very good investigators out there. They use well thought-out methods, keep an open mind, formulate theories, and don’t believe that every single thing that goes bump in the night is a ghost. They always look for alternative explanations for any evidence, take care what they share with homeowners and the public, and adhere to a high standard of professionalism. Many of these groups have arrived at their methods on their own after years of trial, error and experience. I’ve seen other groups, as well. The ones who have clearly gained their methodologies from one or another television show. You can usually tell which one they watch by the way that they investigate. When I see the “TV” groups, I can’t help but think how totally awesome it would be if the more experienced groups would take them under their wings and do some good, old-fashioned mentoring.
I’m not suggesting that there is a set way to investigate. Although many strive to make it as scientific of a discipline as possible, there are no established investigatory methodologies for the paranormal. But with mentoring, more experienced groups could help challenge younger groups and pull them away from the “I do what I see on TV mentality.” They could teach from their experience the sound principles of critical thinking that they’ve worked so hard to gain. And it wouldn’t just be one-way teaching, because young groups have something to offer more experienced groups, as well. They can help the more experienced groups see things with new eyes. They bring enthusiasm and new methods, theories and ideas that are often fresh and viable.
I love that more paranormal conferences are springing up as a way to bring investigators together and reach out to the public. I’d like to see more symposium-style conferences where groups exchange ideas, share techniques, and generally learn from one another. In my little paranormal utopia, we all come together regularly. And instead of criticizing one another’s beliefs, ideas, and techniques, we all become that curious three year old asking why. Because learning follows an open mind – and all of us could stand to learn more about what it is we do.