When I first joined the paranormal field, I personally held the title of paranormal investigator to a high regard. I actually refused to call myself a paranormal investigator for over 12 months because I felt like I wasn't worthy of the title. I mean I was surrounded by people week in and week out that spoke so confidently about the paranormal and knew how equipment worked and what an intelligent haunting compared to a residual haunting was. Clearly I had a lot to learn. What I didn't realise at the time was, so did they. When you first enter the field, the personalities can be quite seductive. Here you have teams in matching shirts with cases and cases of equipment. They look so damn cool and confident. To some people, they are almost like mini celebrities, especially if they have a large online following. If they have such a large online following, then they must know what they are talking about right? Who was I to question them?
For the first year or so, I was a big follower and went with the flow. I always did what others told me to do and I didn't question a whole lot because again here I was at the time thinking I wasn't even qualified to call myself a paranormal investigator. When someone told me something, I listened. I wanted to fit in and I wanted to feel like I belonged so that one day I too could call myself a paranormal investigator and wear the title proudly. There was so much information to consume it was overwhelming so I listeed to whoever wanted to talk to me. Soon however, my natural inquisitive nature started taking over and being who I am, as I became more confident, I spoke up and I started to ask questions because things were not adding up. A person would talk about what a spirit box does for example. Their answer would be along the lines of "it scans through frequencies so a spirit can talk to us." "How?" - I would ask. "The noise just makes it easier for them talk. We don't know how, it just works." Or there would be the K-11. "Spirits can manipulate the electromagnetic field and light up this device". "How? Who discovered this?". "We don't know, this is what investigators have been doing for years and we get results." My favourite was always talking about the Singapore Theory. "What does it have to do with Singapore?" No one could ever tell me the answer of where it came from or what it had to do with Singapore, it was just something investigators do to trigger interaction with spirits. You can see the pattern here. It seemed that a lot of people all did things in a similar way, but they didn't really know why they were doing it, just that it was the way it was done. I suspect a lot of people were probably like me and just accepted it, not wanting to rock the boat. It can be very difficult to speak up, especially when you are newer in the field. If someone has been in the field for 20 years for example, some people don't like someone coming questioning their methods that have worked for them for so long. Some argue back that they didn't need to know why, it worked and they trusted that.
Ultimately, when it comes to investigating, generally people do things because other people do it and it seems to work. They don't know why it works and why it is done in a certain way, they just know that it is what everyone does so they do it too. I won't deny that yes we hear voices on a spirit box and yes we see a K-11 lighting up. Is it because it is something paranormal though? If we don't fully understand why we are doing something the way we are doing it, how do we know it is paranormal?
While there is no set method to paranormal investigating, there seems to be a lot of similarities in how people investigate. Not surprisingly, it tends to mimic what you see on paranormal reality tv shows. Im not knocking it because I know I do it too. We all start somewhere. If you don't know what you are doing, sometimes that is your only reference guide. You do soon end up investigating in a way that suits you of course. If someone new comes along, they likely learn off you and will mimic the way you investigate until they find their style and so on and so on. What we should pay more attention to regardless of if we are learning from a fellow investigator, from tv or just trying to wing it ourselves is not how to do things, but why we do things. Many of you know for example how a spirit box works, but do you why specifically people work with it? Do you know about carrier waves and how it is a type of high frequency electromagnetic wave that is designed to be manipulated and transmitted as a broadcast signal? and that is why people work with these kind of frequencies? I didn't know about this in this much detail until recently. Once I actually learned about the wave and it being the type of frequency designed to be modulated it made more sense as to why it is thought a spirit could manipulate this kind of wave through the electromagnetic field to speak (as it is a high frequency electromagnetic wave). Suddenly, instead of just knowing how a spirit box worked and how I could use it, I actually knew in great detail why. Of course I knew the loose explanation that we all know from what we are told, but I didn't understand it. That was the difference. Knowing something is completely different to understanding it.
This is why I feel research in a lot of ways needs to accompany the 'investigation' side of things. When I say the word research, I am not necessarily talking about a person or a location that you are investigating. I am talking about researching the act of investigating itself. Modern day paranormal investigating has evolved but greatly changed over the years. In the past, the pioneers did things with purpose. In fact many of them didn't even need to goto a 'haunted location' to do their research. For a lot of people, the work involved was either done at home or even with boots on ground going out there and getting witness testimony and trying not to investigate the phenomena, but to understand it. I think modern day investigating seems to be more about collecting proof of its existence rather than understanding it. While there is nothing wrong with this, we cannot offer something as proof if it is not something we understand.
So this is where we need the rhyme to the reason. We need to not just understand how to do something, but why we are doing it. If we are going to use a K-11 meter, we need to understand why it is that we think spirits can manipulate the electromagnetic field. If we are going to offer evidence as proof of the paranormal, first we need to understand how it can be evidence. Just presenting a photograph or an EVP for example needs to be accompanied with an understanding as to why it is possible. Why is not so easily explained? Why is it that we can hear these voices for example. There is a much deeper understanding that needs to occur than just collecting the evidence. We as investigators need to understand why we do things the way we do. This comes through knowledge and through research.
So all these years later here I am and for the record, I still don't call myself a paranormal investigator. Not because I don't think I am qualified for the title, but it is not where my interest lies in anymore. Not that we need a title to identify what it is that we do but if I had to label it, I usually call myself a researcher. I may have a website and social media pages and even some books with my name on them, but it doesn't mean I know more about the paranormal than the next person. The reality is that no one really knows anything for sure when it comes to the paranormal. We know our own thoughts and our own experiences. We know what we believe. We won't actually know anything until the time comes that we leave this World and who says even then we get our answer? Is it something we will ever truely understand?
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