What Cynical Skeptics Get Wrong With Paranormal Investigating

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Some would say I'm pretty brave for writing such a blog post. But, I've always been a big believer in having a balanced view when it comes to paranormal investigating.

Critical thinking is a dying art and I follow many skeptics around the world often agreeing with their comments and research (Hayley Stevens and Kenny Biddle to name a few).

So let's start with the obvious.

Ghosts don’t exist. It’s a fact. And as paranormal investigators, we need to respect and remember it.

Often scientific terms that investigators use are thrown around without the true knowledge of what they mean. Terms like “Stone Tape Theory”. A theory isn’t actually what it is. It’s more a conjecture or as some would say speculation. A scientific theory is a way to interpret facts so it’s not really the correct technical term. And not everyone who investigates knows that.

But guess what – that’s ok.

Why? Because the word theory is used in everyday language as a possible idea. Most people who start out as investigators don’t have scientific backgrounds (SHOCK! I know!) and know it's true correct meaning. Again. This is ok too. All it takes is a conversation explaining this. No one has to die in the process.

And I guess this is where I have my gripe with Cynical Skeptics.

People who investigate should know some basic terms but not everyone does at first. What cynical skeptics also fail to do is actually understand that there are many reasons why people choose to investigate the paranormal. And it’s not through studying any type of academic qualification.

They often point the finger and shout “you don’t know what you’re talking about” and “what you’re looking for is unfounded – you’re wasting your time!”. Rarely is there any constructive suggestions offered, but paragraphs and paragraphs of authoritarian proofs.

It’s no newsflash that we as humans haven’t found the answer to everything. This includes the universe and how our amazing brains work. There is also no evidence that there is an afterlife. But science also said not that long ago that the world was flat.

What does this mean? Things can change. Ok, when the afterlife is concerned it would have to be a pretty big breakthrough. But still. It’s a possibility.

Some things investigators do are based on what some would consider “flaky” conjecture. But people are and will try different things. I often encourage it.

I also find cynical skeptics brand a lot as “pseudoscience” and be done with it. It’s like a “believer” branding an experience as paranormal… being bias to the survival hypothesis. It’s one answer. It’s safe so you don’t have to try and open yourself up to the possibility that there might be more going or in some cases less.

So, cynical skeptics. You know you can't argue with a persons belief. Again, this goes both ways. It's knowing when to hit the ball or when to let it go to the keeper.

Maybe it might be better to not berate people for looking to learn more or being interested in this topic. It's still out of the normal boundaries of what science can explain (so far) and finger shaking at those who may just not be aware of common scientific terms - the unknown is the unknown.

Which means things can change and being encouraging and approachable might actually be the way forward.

4 things to look out for when choosing your next paranormal investigator course

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There are more and more online courses out there than there were even 5 years ago. With so many great options to choose from, its always handy to keep in mind these 4 things before you click that Enrol button.

 

1. It has “ghost hunter” in the title

Ghost Hunting and Paranormal Investigating are in fact 2 different things.

Ghost Hunting is more relaxed and more about the experience and the history of a location. It’s about having fun in a spooky place and learning about experiences.

Paranormal investigating is more to do with researching and looking for answers to possible paranormal phenomena. It really is the “investigating” of the who, what where and why.

So if you are looking for a Paranormal Investigation course, if it mentions Ghost Hunting in the title, then it may not be for you.

 

2. How much is it for and how long

There are many different courses out there that can run for a few hours to 8 weeks. Again, it depends on the information being offered and how long you want to spend studying it.

Pricing also ranges for $60 to $500. But keep in mind if some offer the course as a “Diploma” and it runs for 6 weeks, it’s not really a Diploma.

Yes, although there isn’t an official qualification for paranormal investigating, doesn’t mean that creating one and calling it a Diploma is wise.

Have you heard of a Diploma for Electrical Engineering that runs for 6 weeks? Diplomas by nature are very very in-depth and often a minimum at best to run for 12 months.

 

3. Who is running the course

Does the person or organisation tell you who is behind running the course? Who wrote it? What qualifications or experience do they have? What proof do they have of the knowledge they’ve gained?

If you’re looking at parting with your hard earned cash then you want to know what you are getting for it. And more importantly, that the information you are paying for is correct.

 

4. Is it “Accredited” (and does it really matter)

An Accredited course sounds rather official doesn’t it. But don’t be confused by this term. All it really means is that the course has been structured in a certain way that fits a certain organisations standards. It actually doesn’t mean that the information being provided is any more important or “official”.

For some it gives an impression that the course is somewhat better quality over another when the opposite could be true.

Once in a while, you need to say no

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If you've been around long enough, it will happen eventually.

Deal with private/residential cases?

Been able to attend to each and EVERY case inquiry and solve it?

Been able to help EVERY client retain some sort of normality in their life?

Has EVERY client been thankful for your free service?

If you have answered yes to every question, you've either:

  • Recently started
  • You're lying
  • Or at one point in time you will come across a person who contacts you regarding possible paranormal phenomena but that isn't their true reason.

It often starts off harmless. Something like "I've got stuff going on. My draws in the kitchen move on their own and I hear scratching in the walls. I desperately need your help!!!!!!!".

Sure, no problem.

You give it a day, have a think and if you have a team or a case manager you refer the query to them.

You start emailing back a few simple questions around frequency and witness collaboration and if they have possible photos or video that may have been taken (again to verify the reported activity).

The next email is often very revealing. Or, more to the point what isn't revealing. Something like "yes my sister has seen the draws when they are out and it’s been happening for 5 months now but no footage”.

What happened there? Very little. Barely any of the questions you asked were answered and when they were it was vague.

Then... the kicker.

Another text, facebook message or email from a potential client can read: “I need a response back from you as soon as you can. I have a child and they are being attacked and I’ve contacted you multiple times. We need assistance NOW – this is no hoax!”

Something as demanding as this rings alarm bells. Yes I can understand how awful it can feel when you are afraid in your own home. But unless the standard investigation protocols haven’t been communicated to the client at this stage, when this behaviour erupts it’s not a good sign.

If you don't respond in 24 hours or more? (more than likely due to the fact you work in a job and/or look after a family or you could even be away on holiday/vacation) the following can be sent.

"Fine. Don't reply. No one has been able to help and you haven't either. When I die from suicide because of this, I hope you help the next person. Thanks for nothing".

Extreme isn't it. And yes, I've received emails like this. And although I take suicide very seriously, an email like this is a threat. Or more accurately a grab for attention.

How can you tell? The timing of an email. Its only been a day and I haven't said anything apart from asking further questions. Not once did I in that time suggest I would not be helping further.

Think about it... If you truly wanted help or advice from a person you wouldn't attempt to attack or threaten them before they have had a chance to confirm or decline a full paranormal investigation sequence.

As horrible and unfortunate as it is, suicidal thoughts don't just "occur" and generally the act of suicide isn't used to threaten a person.

Side note - If you feel you know of someone going through a very difficult time, this link is a great resource

https://www.sane.org/mental-health-and-illness/facts-and-guides/sane-steps-how-to-help-when-someone-is-suicidal

  If you yourself is going through a personal hell, this link can help.

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/are-you-feeling-suicidal.htm

You will at some point receive an email in a similar way to this. So what do you do?

1. Have a good screening process for inquiries.

This can be a lengthy contact form. For someone to fill one of those out, and I mean ALL of the information in detail then they take their current situation more seriously.

2. Attend a Mental Health First Aid course.

It can give you valuable insight into helping those suffering mental illness - and valuable insight into other mental health illnesses. They are available all around the world like Australia, UK and USA. More info can be found via http://www.mhfainternational.org/

3. Don't just focus on the information provided by the person.

Look for the information they don't provide as that can give clues. Sometimes what is missing gives more answers than what is said.

But... always have respect. Regardless of what is going on, respect the fact they have made contact regarding their situation even if it may appear to not be genuine.

So, if you do get a response email that is similar to the one above - don't reply. It's unfortunate but the reason such extremes like suicide are mentioned in this context is to elicit a response – rare but it happens. To help or assit with another persons mental health is out of your area of expertise.

And  you just need to... let it go

As Paranormal Investigators, we need to make sure the precious time we do spend working with private/residential cases focus on those who genuinely DO need help with possible paranormal phenomena. We are there to help detect if activity is occurring whether it’s paranormal or not. Our area of expertise isn't counselling those dealing with Mental Health issues.

Bonus tip: You can always provide information to people about mental health symptom, but advising is a BIG no no.

When your reason for paranormal investigating changes ~ 5 Ways to Figure it out

You know that feeling. That excited feeling when you’ve just joined your first paranormal team. Finally you get to head out and get some practical experience, and hopefully, see if something does happen to you that could be paranormal.

Months go by and each time you venture out with your team, you discover more ways that phenomena can be explained. You think “cool, this is what it’s about right?” all the while a part of you is disappointed that most things you come across – might just not be paranormal at all.

You then start to realise that you are spending almost every weekend investigating. The enthusiasm as at its all time high. But, people in your home are starting to wonder what you look like. And those graveyard shift hours on the weekend? They start to turn you into a grouchy, tired zombie during the week.

This wasn’t what you signed up for - right?

There can be a disappointment that maybe not all that happens could be something paranormal. You may then also start to spend more time with family and friends on the weekend and after a while, you start to withdraw more from investigating. Sometimes completely fading away from it.

If this has happened to you or you know someone that this has happened to, then please know – It's really common.

I too started out my paranormal investigation journey with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a person in their very first job (ok, I still have the enthusiasm). But I also know what it's like when you thought investigating the paranormal would be filled with spontaneous activity – at least some of the time – and it isn’t.

I also know really well about spending hours, days and even weeks away from family (often using up your own annual leave) to explore not just local locations but international ones plus hours of work that doesn’t receive a paycheck (in fact, you end up spending your own money to do it).

So what happens when the paranormal passion, slides? Your beliefs have changed and your knowledge has grown so how do you keep going when your views vary so differently to what they were when you first started out?

Here are 5 ways to help navigate through these uncertain times:

1)      Work out where your new “style” sits with investigating.

How much has it changed? Do you think there could be a possibility of an afterlife? Sit and think about where you might see yourself on the “paranormal investigator” scale. If you’re leaning more towards critical thinking/sceptical and not so much a believer based investigating, then that is completely normal. But knowing where your new “angle” is will help you with point 2.

 

2)      Work out if you want to continue being a part of the team/group you are currently with.

Are they a team of predominantly “believers” and you’re more leaning towards critical thinking/sceptical? If so, think about whether or not you want to continue on with them. It’s horrible to contemplate I know. And sure, differences of opinion and investigation style is great for any team but if it's starting to have an effect on your motivation to investigate, it might be something to consider.

 

3)      Start finding ways to look for other like-minded investigators.

Explore organisations, Facebook pages or other paranormal teams/groups who have a very similar way of investigating as you now do.

 

4)      If joining another team makes you shudder, think about going solo.

Yes, it’s completely doable. All you need to do is build networks with people and other teams and see if there is a chance from time to time to investigate with them or help them out with private/residential cases.

 

5)      Work out with your family and friends a compromise about time spent away investigating.

What is too much… and what is ok. It varies differently for each and every person and if heading out once a month or once a week fits you and your lifestyle, then everyone in the house will be on the same page.

 

Paranormal Investigators don’t have to stay in the same boat going in the same direction all the time. We are meant to grow and learn along the way, and that may mean you change your views greatly from what they originally were.

Don’t be disappointed if this happens. Just means you are learning along the way and helping carve out your own answers about the paranormal.

 

What's the go with EMF Detectors for Paranormal Investigations?

We can often use methods and devices for paranormal investigating, like static detectors or UV lights with some sort of reason as to why. Most (if not all) investigators learn from each other more than any other way like further reading or enrolling in courses – and this is totally fine too.

But what about when it comes to EMF detectors? We all use them when investigating, right?Everyone has one? They appear to be the most popular devices - but why? Is there any truth behind using them and, well, do they actually work?

What IS the idea behind using an EMF detector for paranormal investigations?

Generally, there are 2 reasons:

1)      Ghosts/Spirits emit their own EMF

This idea is based on the First Law of Thermodynamics. Sounds heavy, right? But hear me out.

Technically there are 4 Laws in total but the First Law of Thermodynamics means that energy doesn’t die, it changes form.

We emit a level of EMF which is actually ELF "Extremely Low Frequency" or as some call "Bio EMF", and is so low that our devices don’t pick it up. So hypothetically when we die, where does that EMF go?

 

2)      EMF disturbances in the environment

Sometimes levels of EMF are in the environment and can affect a person physically.

Some of those symptoms are feelings of paranoia, restless sleep as well as aches and pains in the body. Those kinds of symptoms can often mimic something that might appear to be paranormal, when in fact it’s not.

People can also be more sensitive to EMF than others, which makes their symptoms appear more severe.

 

So this would make it legit right? Well. Yes and no.

The yes:

Energy doesn’t die, it changes form so the energy we do have in our bodies has to go somewhere right? 

The no:

Our bodies emit such a very very low level of EMF that the devices we use currently aren't able to detect it. Hence why would it be possible to pick up on any left over EMF from a spirit/ghost if the EMF was so low in the first place.

Aaaand if you wanna go one step further, the Second Law of Thermodynamics kinda explains that the energy of a possible decomposing body gets used up... doing just that. Decomposing.

But don’t throw your MEL Meter out the window just yet.

Some groups are having some fascinating results with EMF detectors and it’s still worth having one to even rule out high EMF levels physically affecting a person. Really, in a nutshell, give it a try.

Are you interested in learning more about finding other explanations to possible paranormal experiences? I know a very simple 3 step strategy to help figure out what is REALLY going on when out on an investigation or when helping someone else with their experiences. Sign up to the free 3 day Email course on Phenomena Analysis right here!

5 Ways to set boundaries for private/residential cases, without feeling guilty

5 Ways to set boundaries for private/residential cases, without feeling guilty.

Hearing a person talk about their fear can be hard sometimes. When a person feels so uncomfortable in their own home or place of work and wanting answers it’s hard to ignore those feelings of empathy.

It takes a special kind of paranormal investigator to look at private/residential cases. A persistence to find answers, skills in dealing with people, the respect of the clients private information as well as keeping a good code of ethics - even before you've entered their home.

But (yes it was coming) you still need to put boundaries in place. Just because it's a "love job" doesn't mean you have to wear yourself thin or be answering calls at midnight. Self-preservation is ok! Yes, you can be of service and still have boundaries. Here are 5 ways:

1) Set up designated "work hours"

Just because it's a free service doesn't mean you have to be available around the clock. Set which days and times you take calls or emails and stick to them. If you are in a team, make sure you are all in agreement with them.

Maybe you can split the days and times between different members if all are available at different times. Of course, it depends on how you run your team.

So if they demand to speak with you right now (and yes, it can happen!) you can politely tell them that you have set “open” or work hours and can respond at within those times. You can also go that one step further and suggest a time that suits them within your open hours = win/win.

2) Have a really good interview process

This will help when it comes to investigating. And yes, although we love it, we only want to do it if it benefits the person in question. No point investigating a location for 10-12 hours when you know the activity reported is down to the structure of the building and nothing more.

Even if the client is wanting an investigation, if it doesn't warrant one, don't do it. It takes hours of planning with floor plans, organising of the team, collaborating witness interviews just to name a few. Plus the fact you are putting someone out of convenience of their home for 10 to 12 hours at a time and yes, they have agreed to the investigation but it’s a long process.

3) Update the client on a weekly basis (same day each week).

If you're working on a case, pick a day each week to report back to the client. This gives an expectation to the client of any updates even if there isn’t any. Open that day for them to ask any questions or for them to let you know of any possible activity that might have occurred that week.

This helps enormously with reducing any midnight phone messages and can help prompt the clients to write down anything else that may happen that they want to have explored further.

4) Work out an emergency situation process

So what do you do if you do get someone who needs help or information at midnight on a weekday? Sometimes things will go bump in the night unexpectedly and maybe just hearing a person who understands the situation might help.

Make this a rare exception to the rule and work out what constitutes an emergency. A door opening on its own isn’t an emergency. Being dragged out of bed and scratched endlessly is.

Work out with your team and put it in place. Again, it can be down to several members on different allocated nights.

5) Clarify what style of investigating you and your team have

This is a great way to let a possible client know what your style of investigating is before deciding there needs to be one. Are you more of a "debunking" style investigator? Or do you rely more so on paranormal investigation equipment to help give you answers?

If the client wholeheartedly believes that they do have something paranormal going on in their home and want it gone, maybe a team that is spiritually/mediumship focused would be the best option. And if that isn’t your team style, you’ve saved yourself a bunch of time.

 

Remember, you are giving up your personal time FOR FREE to help a person in an area or field that doesn't get the same recognition as other volunteer roles.

Putting in boundaries is important as it helps keep you and your team run on all cylinders and remain focused and without the risk of burning out. 

Wanna learn more about how to look for possible alternative explanations after you've experienced something? Sign up for the free email course on Paranormal Phenomena Analysis and follow the simple 3 step process.

You gotta have faith - But not while investigating the paranormal

Many people in the general public think that if you do investigate the paranormal that you must automatically believe that there is life after death.

And granted, some do. Which is fine. We investigate the paranormal for different reasons and often from an experience that has made us ask questions about the afterlife.

But, you don’t have to believe in it to investigate the paranormal.

Now let me back up for a second here. Having faith in the afterlife is fine. Actually having faith in religion is equally fine. Goodness knows that faith has often pulled many a person out of their darkest hour.

But, that’s where it should stay. “Hang on!” you say. “Isn’t investigating the afterlife investigating the paranormal?” Not necessarily. Not for everyone. Here are 3 reasons why.

1)      Belief clouds judgement

As much as it can be a shining hope when we are in our emotionally heaviest situations in life when it comes to investigating, the less “belief” of anything regarding the afterlife, the better.

Having a belief in any sort of afterlife is fine, but leave it at the door. Yes, when investigating you need to be as objective as possible. Confirmation Bias is rife with investigators and we are all susceptible to it. So recognising this and going into an investigation with a “clear slate” as much as you can help you better interpret the environment and psychological situation around you.

2)      Your aim is to investigate phenomena

Yes, phenomena. Not whether a place is haunted or not. Of course, this also is a little different when exploring public locations since the basis for going is due to the well-known reports of activity. Your focus though is on things like witness experiences, not if there are trapped souls who haven’t made their way to a version of “heaven”.  There is also the argument of being careful of negative and demonic entities. Understandable to hear this often, yes, but how are we to research something while avoiding it at all costs? So much can be explained by other means.

Think of the 3 knock example. One person hears this and believes it's mocking the holy trinity of Christianity. Then they may start to think that there is a case of a negative entity. Or maybe another person hears 3 knocks and see’s it as a sign of their pagan faith (power of 3). And they begin to think that their faith is there to protect them from what possible harm may come to them during the investigation. Neither situation is right or wrong. But either scenario's may have nothing to do with the 3 knocks which could have very well been a window shutter banging in a breeze.

3)      Afterlife clinically doesn't exist regardless of belief

As much as many of us have had experiences that we still can’t explain till this day, the fact of the situation is that “the afterlife” hasn’t been proven – yet. And, there is no evidence that anything spiritual has anything to do with the paranormal. It is, quite often, used to explain what science hasn’t proven.

If you really want to, go “old school”. Observe the environment inside and outside the location only. No “asking out” or trying to illicit communication. Just seeing and making notes on what is happening around you at the time.

So if you want to adopt this way of investigating, start by leaving your belief of what happens after we die at the door. Again, having a belief is completely acceptable, but when you step foot into a location, leave it at the door.

A Rational Approach

Debunking to me sounds like something you do to dissemble a bunk bed. It doesn’t sound like a term you would use in the paranormal at all.

But it’s one, if not, the most important words when investigating the paranormal.

We’ve all been there at one time or another. Something happens…. Something occurs that at the time you can’t figure out how. Say for instance a door slamming when there is no breeze or maybe a whisper is heard from a part of the room that no one was in at the time.

It’s exciting! Could this be it? Could this be THE time where you can confidently turn around and say “THIS is paranormal”?.

Mmmmm…. Not just yet.

If you’re interested in the paranormal, getting familiar with how possible phenomena occurs is really important. That loud bang? Where did it come from? What can cause loud bangs in walls naturally?

Doesn’t sound very exciting does it? But, there is good reason as to why you need to do this.

Paranormal Investigators are meant to observe potential paranormal phenomena first and then look at what could cause it — that is NOT paranormal.

Imagine hearing a whisper in the other room to immediately declare “it’s a ghost!” and then only to find out months later after reviewing any video footage that it was in fact another person that caused the whisper. It can happen to the best of us and not because someone is trying to be deceiving.

Sometimes as humans we forget when we murmur under our breaths. It doesn’t mean malice, just the fact that one has forgotten at that time that they had whispered. You see, we don’t generally keep track of all our movements consciously all the time — it’s just being human.

So how do we start ruling out explainable reasons before we look at paranormal ones?

A good place to start is looking at whether the phenomena could be environmental or psychological.

What does this mean?

Let’s break it down.

Psychological: You heard a whisper in the other room, what could it be? Our minds are amazing instruments but are yet also programmed to get us out of danger and know our enemies from our friends. So being able to recognise a voice meant the difference between friend or foe.

If a whisper is heard then we start to look at why we as humans would hear a whisper when there wasn’t one. If you started initially researching this then you would come up with the term “Audible Paradolia”. Audible indicating sound and paradolia as in where we sense something and our brains turn it into something familiar, when it wasn’t meant to be in the first place.

Think about it, voices are the most common sound we hear so if there is a sound, we will try to categorise it as something familiar.

Environmental: A loud bang was heard in a room next door with no one in it. What could naturally cause this sound? Was it a thud or a knock? Go into the room and see if you can re-create the sound by looking for objects that may have fallen or even knocking on different parts of the room. Yes, you will feel like a right idiot walking around a room knocking on surfaces and saying “did it sound like this?” but being able to debunk naturally occurring phenomena is important.

Debunking isn’t exciting — I get it. But if you are interested in investigating the paranormal, arming yourself with knowledge of how non paranormal phenomena occurs ultimately saves you time and much needed energy.

How?

Because having a good background on explainable stuff means if something does occur, you aren’t wasting your time by being under the impression its paranormal when it’s not. You can actually focus on the things that do happen that can’t be explained straight away — and THAT is exciting.

Wanna get ahead of the game and learn the 3 key areas to focus on?

Find out via a free mini course video — only a click away.