Being a paranormal investigator I believe is different to being a ghost hunter. Sure sometimes I tell people I am a ghost hunter or advertise it in that way as to people outside of the paranormal community, it is the easiest way to explain to them what we do. I personally believe that there is a difference between the two and this is my interpretation of it. To me, a ‘Ghost Hunter’ is someone that does just that. They goto a haunted building and they are trying to find a ghost or have some sort of paranormal experience. That is where it ends. There is nothing wrong if this is you. If that is what you are looking for that’s great, own it and be honest. To me a paranormal investigator is someone that delves a bit further. They are not just looking for a paranormal experience, they want to try to get to the bottom of why it is happening. They are gathering data to see if there are certain trends that happen around the same time as activity. They are trying to debunk their experiences with natural explanations. They are researching the history of the location to see who it is they may be communicating with. Why are they still there? They are ……. investigating.
The definition of the word investigator means: “to examine, study, or inquire into systematically; search or examine into the particulars of; examine in detail.” Add the word paranormal to this which means: “of or relating to the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific explanation, as psychokinesis, extra sensory perception, or other purportedly supernatural phenomena.” In a nutshell a paranormal investigator is studying, examining and searching for answers that cannot be scientifically explained in relation to supernatural phenomena.
My favourite word above is ‘study’. (Its OK I am not going to start posting definitions of every word.) I don’t believe that you can be a proper paranormal investigator without some sort of study. How can you investigate something you do not understand? There are elements of science that need to be understood, first and foremost. You don’t need a degree in science and frankly the majority of paranormal investigators would not have a degree in a science. A basic understanding is all that is needed. Most of the things you have probably learnt in high school and if you need a refresher, we are so lucky to have this thing called google where you have access to basically everything (just make sure you are using a reliable source and not something like wikipedia). You could even go a bit old school and get a book. You know those heavy things that smell musty and have lots of pieces of paper inside with lots of words in them? There are some great books out there that are specifically written for people looking to learn more about the paranormal. I actually suggest a book that has been written for the paranormal as it will be a lot easier to understand than a lot of the science books out there.
It is not just science you should be studying. HISTORY!!!! This is my favourite thing about the paranormal. This doesn’t just mean researching the history of a location you are investigating. You can look at the history of paranormal investigators (If you do, you must look into Harry Price. He is the original Ghost Buster and led the way as a paranormal investigator defrauding a lot of the scammers at a time when there was no paranormal reality tv shows – there wasn’t even tv!). Study the history of techniques used, the history of equipment. Study how equipment actually works. This is actually really important and something I covered previously. If you don’t understand and know how your equipment works, how can you interpret the data you collect? Study the theories that are out there. Look at how different faith’s deal with the afterlife. Look at the spiritual side even if it is something you don’t believe in. The more information you are armed with, the better. Get a grasp of the whole paranormal spectrum. Remember it is not just limited to spirits. Paranormal covers a vast area. I personally focus only on the spirits, but some people more focus on UFO’s or cryptozoology there are a lot of different areas you can look into.
Examining. I like to think as investigators we are collecting data not evidence. As investigators we examine our data and effectively try to explain it scientifically which is where the science part comes into it. Its not just a matter of reviewing some photos and evps. Take things a step further. What were the environmental conditions that day. What was the temperature, the humidity. Build a database of this kind of information. Are you noticing a trend on certain weather days or moon cycles. You are not just trying to prove you have had an experience. You are trying to understand why does it happen. Are there certain conditions in which it is more likely to have a paranormal experience? This is where that word systematically comes in. It sounds repetitive but it really helps you to understand what is going on. I run data loggers in the same room at every investigation to collect the data. When I studied the ovilus device I not only defined every word in that dictionary, I started a log at the same location of every word that came up in each room over the course of a few months. I noticed that the same words were popping up in the same rooms. Is this paranormal or is it because it is picking up the same atmospheric readings in that room causing the same word to spit out every time? It may seem boring and long but I assure you that you get to a point where you have that break through moment where you finally are able to interpret your data. In most cases you may be a bit disappointed because you have debunked months of work but you end up being more informed and more knowledgable without even realising it.
We are always learning and I don’t think even someone that has been doing this for 30+ years could sit back and say "I know everything there is nothing else left to learn." It is not just books or the internet we can learn from. We can also learn from each other. A lot of the paranormal is based on theories and beliefs. Everyone has a different take or perspective on things. Being open to learning not just in general but also from each other give you the potential to be the best investigator you can be.
Wear the paranormal investigator badge with pride. The majority of investigators put so much work in behind the scenes not for money and not for fame but for the love of it in the pursuit for answers. Remember there is no formal accreditation to being a paranormal investigator, anyone with an open mind and a willingness to learn can be a paranormal investigator. If you are looking to make that leap from ghost hunter to paranormal investigator now is a better time than any. You have a world full of resources at your feet and a community full of experienced investigators that will be willing to pass on their knowledge if you go about it in the right way. You never know what you might learn!
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