The early 1900’s seemed to be the best time to be a paranormal researcher. This seems to be where the ‘real work’ of a paranormal investigator was taking place. As we evolve and technology advances, we do however have to ask the question, why has the paranormal not advanced along with technology?
Quite simply, as awesome and pretty as technology can look (especially when it has flashy lights in the dark), it is also unreliable. Paranormal research and investigating is based mainly on assumptions. For example, when we use an EMF meter, we are assuming that a spirit can manipulate the magnetic field around us to give us a reading. We don’t know if this is even fact. We cannot get solid proof even using this sort of technology because there are so many things in our technological world that can give us a false positive reading. In using this technology, there is no way to definitively prove that a spirit can manipulate the electromagnetic field. The same applies with things like ghost boxes. It sweeps over several frequencies at a fast rate. We are assuming that spirits can work with frequencies and somehow make their voice appear on this broken radio. While I will even admit I have had some questionable things come through that make me step back and think ‘wow’, again there is no way to prove that spirits can speak to us over a ghost box. So why is it that we still use this technology? I can only answer for myself here. The reason I still use it and probably a lot of other people do as well is that they are not looking to prove anything to world. We are not looking to prove to scientists that spirits can successfully transmit a message over a ghost box. Having our own experience with it is enough to fuel our own research to gain our own answers to our own personal questions.
While a lot of people prefer the old school method of investigating such as observing with a note book, using powder on the floor, DIY electroscopes etc, it is not necessarily the technique that they are adapting. Yes equipment can be unreliable, but it is more about the methodology and the approach. Paranormal investigation used to be about actual paranormal research. It was about researching and validating the claims of individuals. It was testing the claims of a person under controlled circumstances to see if there was any merit in their claim. Observing an environment and logging information. Parapsychology was also a big part of the research. Looking at the mental phenomena and what connection it had to the paranormal field. They were wanting their research to be heard to mean something. It for some was even about trying to debunk and disprove claims of others. They weren't necessarily there to have their own ghostly experience.
While I have only been in the field for a few years, in my short time here, I have seen a massive shift and change from when I first started. New paranormal groups are popping up every second. Quite a lot are inspired by the television reality shows. While reality television has been around for decades, in the last 3 years, it has overtaken our mainstream television to the point that this is sometimes all that people watch. People have a misconception about the word reality when it comes to reality television. A lot of shows are actually scripted and manipulated by producers. When it comes to paranormal reality shows, they are not a true representation of the field. We know for a fact that if they were to show what a real paranormal investigation was like, people would turn off. For example, would people like watching Zak Bagans if it showed him sitting in a room with a notepad for 3 hours just waiting to see if something happened? Even I admit, I would turn it off. A lot of people have good intentions when it comes to producing content be it mainstream or even just on YouTube. It would be very hard to find that balance of entertaining and representing what truly happened. Some pull it off better than others and I take my hat off to you because I know it is no easy task.
A lot of paranormal research in the past was to validate witness accounts or disprove wild claims. This sort of research is not done as extensively these days. People are now instead actively seeking the paranormal in order to have their very own experiences. They want to feel something. Maybe they want to try out what they have seen on television. It isn’t as taboo as it was in the past. It is almost the cool thing to do now. They aren’t there to prove to the world if the paranormal exists or not. In their mind, they may not care what could have really set off the K2. Having that experience may be enough for them. You then have people who have a passion for history. We are losing a lot of our historical sites to developers. If a property is not making money, it is sold off and put to better use. It makes me angry and it is sad but it is reality. Due to the popularity of paranormal investigating and ghost tours, it is sometimes these very things that keep a property open. It is about survival. Some people feel they are sensitive to the paranormal. They aren't interested in the equipment. They just want to go into a building and see what they feel. What are they sensing and feeling. They don't care if you believe them or not, it is for them and them only. They aren't looking for anyone's approval. They just want to do it for themselves. I want to also point out that no matter what your reason, there is no right or wrong answer. You look for what you want to look for and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It is this diversity that helps mould our field.
Things change. It is a simple fact of life. We can sit by and say that things are not the same as they were 10 years, 20 years, 50 years. You probably also wouldn’t want them to be. Perhaps they are looked at with a fondness. While our reasons for investigating the paranormal may be different to the past and our techniques are different, the methodology still remains and that is what is paranormal researchers, investigators, explorers whatever we call ourselves are doing. It all comes down to that one word we all talk about ……. Intent. Our intent over all these years hasn’t changed. We can’t let it. Stay true to your beliefs. It is ok to be that person to question things. It is especially OK to ask someone to explain their reasoning behind labelling something paranormal. We do however need to establish the difference to the community between paranormal research and paranormal entertainment. We also need to be less judgemental and not so serious. A lot of people don't care about proving the paranormal to the world. If they just want to have an experience that is fine. Let them have it. It shoudn't affect the way you investigate and do your research. We need to be true to ourselves and keep searching for those answers. Will the field advance any further? Well that is up to you. If you don't think people are doing enough research, go out there and do it. If you think there should be certain experiments done out in the field, go out and do them! No one achieved anything by sitting silently in a corner. Go out and ask the questions you want to know the answers to. As I always say, you just never know what you might find.
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