The 2%

1st April 2024. Reading Time: 4 minutes General, Paranormal Investigation, Stuff paranormal investigators need to know. 1411 page views. 0 comments.

Peter Underwood once said “98% of reported hauntings have a natural and mundane explanation … it is the other 2% that have interested me for over 40 years.”. While there are things we can't necessarily explain, we also must remember that not everything is paranormal.

"Whether we like it or not, there is overwhelming evidence that occasionally people with healthy minds in healthy bodies do see ghosts. Having said that, however, one have to add that some 98% of ghosts reported to me turn out to have a rational explanation - but as we have no explanation for the remaining well-attested and well-documented cases, it merely emphasises the importance of always looking for a natural explanation before considering a paranormal one."

Peter Underwood Ghost Hunter's Almanac (1993)

Famous paranormal researcher Peter Underwood is well known for his work within the paranormal field. As an author of over 50 books, president of the Ghost Club and member of the Society of Psychical Research, he had a lot to say when it came to paranormal phenomena. His involvement in the research of the Borely Rectory is probably what he is most well known for to those not as familiar with paranormal research. Like many within the field, you may agree or disagree with his approach, but there is always something to learn we can learn from each other through the art of discussion.

One of the points that is not discussed as widely in the mainstream paranormal field, is the reality behind paranormal phenomena.  YouTube, Tik Tok and content creation have become major players completely changing the landscape of the paranormal field.  While they certainly have something to offer, the 'for entertainment purposes' disclosure is often blurred.  People watch these videos or even some of their favourite paranormal reality shows that seemingly show paranormal activity happening all the time every single time.  The reality is far different.  As many researchers, investigators, enthusiasts or anyone who delves into the paranormal will tell you, not everything is paranormal. In fact, a lot of the time it actually isn't paranormal at all and we are sitting around waiting for nothing to happen. We need to be more honest about that on a public level.  

We cannot deny that we get it wrong sometimes. When you take emotion out of it, clarity can sometimes show us what really happened.  Our brains can play tricks on us or we simply don't know that the thing over there making that noise is really just the wind. Our own bias can sometimes get in the way. It doesn't take away the fact that paranormal research is something that has been taking place for centuries. Belief in the paranormal dates back to ancient times. Regardless of what is out there, there are really those times when things happen that make us scratch our heads. That 2% of the time where we cannot debunk something or we just know from the bottom of our gut that it was something more.  It does happen or we wouldn't be here, but it just doesn't happen as often as maybe people think.  

It is this rational approach to paranormal investigation that every investigator needs to consider. While we wish that everything was paranormal, it isn't and a lot of the time it can be explained. This doesn't take away from the times we cannot explain it. In all honesty, there is enough weirdness out there that people have experienced that is worth exploring where we don't need to pass off something trivial as a rogue knock that is a building settling as paranormal. 


"While I am convinced that in all circumstances there is a good argument for simple equipment being just as effective as the most sophisticated apparatus in the investigation of ghostly phenomena, it must be admitted that some of the ingenious instruments that have been devised are interesting and thought-provoking and perhaps valuable to those who consider instruments infallible. In particular, there is the 'spectre detector', designed and built by Dr Alan Gauld and Tony Cornell which reflects the computer age we live in. This computer-controlled ghost hunting kit records interference with any one of various senses (temperature, infra-red, ultrasonic etc.), triggers cameras, video-cameras and tape-recorders, and is followed by a detailed print-out of the readings on all the instruments.
In spite of all this it should always be remembered that the value of any report is only as good as the investigators concerned and not really dependent upon the equipment used. A lot of ghost hunting and serious psychical investigation is quietly waiting for ghostly activity that never occurs, but just occasionally, very occasionally, something happens, usually at the least expected moment, that is quite inexplicable in our current knowledge and then all the waiting, all the preparation, all the work and worry is quickly forgiven and forgotten."

Peter Underwood's guide to ghosts & haunted places (1996)

The art of investigating has changed.  Instead of trying to validate claims of a haunting, people are now attending any building just because they can and filming to see what they find.  They have an arsenal of equipment and tools and all use different methods.  Some you may agree with, and others you don't as we are all different.  I want to add that I think it is important that we do things differently because if we all did it the same way I also don't think we would get anywhere. As mentioned above, at the end of the day it doesn't matter what you are doing or what equipment you are using because it is all up to the person deciphering the information.  It is up to you and what you think. 

I suppose when you think about it if everything were paranormal, it would become mundane. It is that 2% that keeps us going, keeps us asking questions, and keep searching. Just when we feel it is at our fingertips, we are left with more questions than answers.  We don't need to fake things or make something out of nothing.  There are things out there that I honestly believe we aren't meant to understand, but I will keep trying!


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