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Here is a copy of an article writtten by someone I know about Paranormal Investigation or Ghost hunting, if you will. I found it pretty basic but on target and worth the read for all, especially the person starting out.
With the recent surge of paranormal reality television programs like Ghosthunters , Paranormal State, and Ghost Adventures, interest in the paranormal is on the rise. Ten years ago the title of “ghost hunter” or “paranormal investigator” would have raised some eyebrows, but now it is hip to be a ghost hunter and it is a sure way to spark some lively discussions at dinner parties.
So why are we so fascinated with the paranormal? Psychologists suggest that our belief in the paranormal is closely tied to religion. The finite nature of our existence pulls us toward a hope of continuity after death. Other experts claim that superstition has always been employed as a means to explain that which has no immediate explanation. Whatever the reason may be, our interest in the paranormal has shaped many aspects of our modern culture – finding its way into literature, radio programs, and television.
In the past, many paranormal enthusiasts were content to read ghost stories or engage in some in-depth discussions, either in organized groups or during casual conversation. However, The Atlantic Paranormal Society, also known as TAPS, showed the world that anyone – even a couple of plumbers from Rhode Island – can conduct a paranormal investigation with the right tools and mind set. So how does one become a ghost hunter?
While anybody can walk into an alleged haunted location and call themselves a paranormal investigator, as in any other profession, there are certain skills, qualities, and assets one must possess to be a successful ghost hunter or paranormal investigator.
1. Define your objective. This is a crucial step that many budding ghost hunters overlook. How you conduct investigations, how much time and money you invest, and who you select to team up with are all determined by what your objectives are. While it may seem obvious, many ghost hunters enter this field for various reasons. Many decide to pursue ghost hunting because it looks fun and entertaining. There is a certain thrill associated to entering a location that has been rumored to be haunted. People who begin ghost hunting as a thrill seeker may become easily disenchanted and exit the field just as abruptly as they entered it. Some investigators begin their study in the paranormal out of an eager thirst for truth. These investigators will not be easily dissuaded by a lack of activity. Their interest is firmly rooted in research and study which they may use solely for their own personal enlightenment or to educate society. There are also the investigators who have experienced a certain amount of paranormal activity throughout their lives and want to use their experiences to assist others who are experiencing similar situations.
2. Keep an open mind. You will hear this phrase uttered repeatedly within the circles of paranormal enthusiasts. However, “keeping an open mind” does not only imply that one should consider the possibility that some type of conscious intelligence exists after death, but one should also consider the possibility that it doesn’t. This is where many less-experienced investigators and ghost hunters miss the boat. By clinging to the concept that ghosts must necessarily exists, one rules out all other reasonable possibilities and taints the analysis. By remaining objective and avoiding any preconceived conclusions, you are more likely to see the big picture.
3. Set reasonable expectations. Those who enter this field expecting to witness chairs flying, full-bodied apparitions floating past the camera or cabinet doors opening and shutting by themselves will be sadly disappointed. Paranormal investigators and ghost hunters spend many hours in the dark listening to the steady click of the wall clock. It can be tedious and boring. After the investigation has concluded the real work begins. Reviewing the audio, video, and any other readings captured during the investigation and initiating the analysis, requires more of your time than the actual investigation does. Many first-time investigators don’t realize the amount of work that goes into the post investigation analysis and may lose patience after the first couple of hours of review.
4. Know your basic science. You don’t have to be an astrophysicist to study paranormal anomalies, but if you can’t recall any of your basic laws from your grade school science courses you are going to encounter a number of obstacles when it comes time to analyze the evidence. Paranormal events should be defined as any anomaly that cannot be explained by any known physical law of science. If it can be explained – it’s not paranormal and should not be classified as such. It isn’t uncommon to see an amateur ghost hunter use an electromagnetic field (EMF) detector during an investigation without fully understanding what the EMF spectrum is actually comprised of. If you can’t recall your basic science then it would behoove you to do some research and understand possible scientific explanations for alleged paranormal events.
5. Find a team with common objectives. One only has to search the internet to locate the nearest paranormal group. Most groups are comprised solely of volunteers and do not possess the funds to purchase any print advertising or directory listings, but nearly every group has a website. A good way to find out if this is something you are really interested in before you plunge head first into a serious investigative team is to find a local group on Meetup.com. In Austin there are four paranormal groups open to accepting new members: T.R.I.P – Texas Researchers and Investigators of Paranormal, Texas Spirits Research Team, Austin Ghost Hunters, and Austin Paranormal Investigators. Most meetup groups will frequent the cemeteries or will visit a location that charges a nominal fee to investigate. These groups are a great way to get your feet wet and decide whether you want to invest any more of your time and money into your ghostly hobby. Other groups in the Austin area, who are more focused on serious private investigations in which clients contract them (usually for no charge) to investigate claims of paranormal activity either in their home or business, are more exclusive and careful in considering who they invite onto the team. They usually recruit the best talent from the meetup groups. As opposed to the meetup groups, joining a team that conducts private investigations is much like taking a second job. It requires commitment and professionalism without the benefit of a paycheck. Some of the private groups in Austin include: Austin Paranormal Group, Aether Paranormal Team, Texas Spirits, and Ghost Hunters of Texas.
6. Invest wisely. Many people will enter a ghost hunting group and be tempted to invest hundreds of dollars into equipment. Unless you are committed to this field of research and understand that years of investigation may still yield very little if any results, then it would be wise to limit the amount of money you invest into equipment. Despite what is being depicted on many paranormal television shows there is no equipment which can prove the existence of an afterlife. What you can do is document certain events which you may or may not capture during an investigation. A simple camera, camcorder, and audio recorder will suffice to record any anomalies that you can witness with your own eyes and ears. If you are truly committed to researching paranormal anomalies and are more interested in the subtle anomalies that are increasingly difficult to explain, you might decide to invest in data loggers. Data loggers record a set of data and plot them either into a spreadsheet or a graph to easily track deviations and trends. The sensors that accompany the data loggers usually measure environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, magnetism, light, and pressure. By tracking certain environmental factors, one might be able to either attribute a certain anomaly to a natural source or one might be able to identify certain environmental factors that are present during a paranormal event.
If you are naturally curious you might find ghost hunting extremely rewarding. There are many experiences that you might encounter during your paranormal endeavors that will leave you scratching your head. At the same time you will be challenged to think and remain rational while attempting to solve the puzzle – is it paranormal or not. But be forewarned, if you go in seeking answers you may only end up with more questions.
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