Top tips for traveling with Paranormal Investigation Equipment

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With many of us traveling further and further to check out locations that have reports of paranormal activity, some of us are starting to travel by aeroplane more than others. 

But as one can imagine with security at airports the way they currently are, some of the devices paranormal investigators use have chips, batteries and lights. Something airport security is always on the look out for. And then of course the challenge to explain what it is that you are intending to use it for – I’ve had many a funny look! 

So, what do you need to know to make sure you can take your gear with you to the next paranormal investigation? 

Here are my top 5 tips. 

1.       Travel with batteries out of equipment (if bumped when in your bag) 

This is for 2 reasons. A) just in case you bump you bag you don’t then have something that is still switched on and then of course when you get to your location you have a device that is completely flat and needing new batteries already. And B) if you bag happens to be checked into the luggage compartment below, then if it’s on, it’s going to cause a security alert. 

2.       Keep your less pricey items in your checked in luggage and your more expensive items as carry on.

On the very odd occasion that my bag hasn’t made it to my destination, I’ve at least got something to attend a paranormal investigation with. This can also help when going through security since they will often want to inspect your bag and you can be there for any questions. Another thing is tell one of the cabin crew that you have delicate items in your carryon and they should also help you store it properly (particularly if you have an expensive camera). 

3.       Wrap your paranormal investigation equipment in your clothes.

You are going to  want as much space to be able to buy things as well to come back with depending on where you are going. Using your clothes to wrap up your equipment means you’ve still got your clothes packed but you've also got your stuff wrapped up as well and that can be for fragile items like mugs and all sorts of delicate items. Of course when you get to the location you are then going to have to unravel your equipment but then what you can do is put them all in your smaller carry on bag and take that to the location. 

4.       If you can, always use hard shell suit cases to avoid possible damage.

Again, this has been from experience and not a good one at that. When I flew to my first  International paranormal convention I had a sports bag and I bought a couple of  things back and almost all of it got smashed or damaged in some way. And this was even though there was a “Fragile” sticker on it. So make sure that you do have a hard-shell luggage. I bought a Samsonite one but you don't even have to purchase one of those, as long as it's got a hard shell it'll actually keep the in contents in your bag breaking. Baggage handlers have a job to do and often they're in a rush they don't care. So make sure that you've got something that's going to protect your insides of your bag as much as you can if you are carrying items that's going to be fairly fragile. 

5.       Be ready to be questioned by security.

It will happen at some point and is often where the fun stories come from. I personally have had some very interesting looks when I've gone through immigration at LA airport and they obviously see they see my clothing as Access Paranormal. And of course it depends on the Airport. LA is huge and I was never stopped for an explanation for my back yet when I flew to New Orleans with the same bag, they took me back through security to open it again and I almost missed my flight.  

Side tip – keep all the boxes your equipment came in. That way you already have proper packaging when fliying if you don’t want to use an equipment case. Remember… space is way more restricted than driving. 

Ghost Hunting Apps - Do They Work?

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Ghost hunting apps – do they work?

I’m first going to admit I've actually used one originally about six years ago and did so a couple of times. It was the ghost Radar – yes. But we do have to ask the question… do they actually work?

Well, yes and no.

Now, you are probably thinking that isn’t the kind of answer from someone like me, but I will explain.

Firstly we'll look at the kinds of features that ghost apps actually claim to have.

Some say they detect EMF and also “measure EVP”.  But as we know as paranormal investigators you can’t actually measure EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomena) but can only record them. It's a sound that has been recorded audibly that wasn’t heard at the time. If it was heard at the time it's called audible phenomena so for something to be measured that you can't hear at the time is somewhat inaccurate.

This would also lead me to believe that those who are making the technology and engineering these apps aren’t paranormal investigators. For example some apps claim they do “sound manipulation” which in reality is a fancy word for Ovilus. The Ovilus is also an app which is meant to use the EMF fluctuations in the atmosphere and this in turn is meant to trigger words from a built in dictionary. There are even some apps claiming to be temperature gauges.

But the time I first used a ghost app to now, technology has certainly changed.

So, I got testing!

My main aim was temperature, EMF detection and FM/AM radio. I had these apps open at home, on the train (yes I did have some funny looks) and even at work and luckily because of what I do at work I can have equipment at my disposal to confirm any readings these apps might produce.

For instance, there are FM tuners in an iPhone and of course an Android, although it's digital it's not analogue. You can have the option of having an FM Tuner for your phone but it works as a separate attachment that you plug in.

GPS is also in every smart phone which gives the indication that it can detect EMF and radio frequencies. I also tested out an app claiming to detect EMF by putting it next to my laptop and the reading was 0.5 miligauss. When I put my Mel Meter next to my laptop there wasn’t any readings at all. I moved it away and used the app again, and it had a reading of 0. I tried again with my Mel Meter and it still returned the same result of 0. So smart phones do have the capacity to “pick up” some EMF and they obviously receive RF but when it comes to detecting they aren’t very accurate.

There is also a temperature gauge in a smart phone that is not only temperature but pressure as well which ironically is good for people who are out fishing. Have you ever had your phone overheat and it has a warning message appear? That’s the same technology working right there. As for those out fishing, if there is a decent change in barometric pressure they know a storm is on its way. And although this is useful, smart phones don’t have the technology (yet) to detect “ambient” temperature.

So, I tested one app that claimed to be a temperature detection and as soon as I opened it once downloaded it said that the temperature was 37 degrees Celsius (about 106 F). And, it certainly wasn’t that temperature at all!

There are however little devices you can actually buy and plug into the actual phone.  I think it might even be a certain socket that you've got depending on the make of your phone and you can actually plug that in and it can detect temperature. So that's the best way if you want to use your phone for temperature readings but the apps out there at this point in time can’t detect ambient temperature.

If you are going to use these apps (and it's up to you) I would use them in a social setting with friends and not in a paranormal investigation. Especially the Echo Vox or Ovilus – it can be quite entertaining.

These phones have the capacity to run these types of functions but not at the level and advanced or sensitive nature that investigations need.

I’m a little old-fashioned and I prefer to use a device that actually does just what its designed to do. You are going to get better quality and also more accurate readings. So, for instance, my Mel Meter. It has the antenna as well for the REM function and it has temperature detection as well as the standard EMF (I won’t be using a Mel Meter to make a phone call!).

My biggest concern though, is that there may be people that feel something possibly paranormal is happening in their home and they turn to these apps to help find answers. I wouldn’t advise it if this was the case because they are fairly inaccurate.

And if you are still looking at purchasing these apps, they all claim to be for entertainment purposes only.

But try it out, see how you go. I would use them in a social setting and definitely not during a private/residential/domestic case. Test these apps out for yourself, take notes, do research, repeat the testing in different environments, see if there is a pattern, see if there is a difference of quality, and make your own analysis.

Mulitverse and the Paranormal

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Multiverse and the Paranormal

As paranormal investigators having practical field experience is important. It's often how and where we start gathering more questions about how people experience possible paranormal activity. But what is equally as important is also looking at other ways that these experiences can be explained other than looking at the afterlife.

One such conjecture (possible thought/idea) is taking a glance at physics and the Multiverse theory. So what would this theory be about that might help explain intelligent (interactive) or residual (non-interactive) haunting cases? Let's break it down.

Multiverse is a theory that states that there are many different universes that were created randomly with our universe being one of them. These universes were randomly created and because our universe sustains life this gives a possibility to the fact that life could be existing elsewhere. 

But the most intriguing thing is that life could be existing but in a slightly different way to what is being experienced nowhere in this world. Because there could potentially be billions of universes, there is a likelihood that there may be another version of you doing something similar or very different. 

How you may ask? 

Well, scientists don't really know 100% what shape space-time is. But there is the idea that its liner - a straight line. It is thought to stretch out indefinitely but also it could very well "repeat" because it's infinite. And that is where the idea that there could be another you somewhere in another universe - an alternate reality. 

So instead of that decision you made to move to another country, this alternate life you would have chosen to stay and hence it would play out the outcome of that decision and possibly many others. 

Possibly within this multiverse are what is termed as "Parallel Universes" that are meant to run alongside our universe. This is due to the idea that there are many more dimensions than the understanding of space and time as we know it. 

To add to that, some scientists believe that universes can collide with each other causing big bangs and other universes to be created.

Now, what does this have to do with the paranormal?

Well if people are witnessing apparitions of the past, could it be a time slip from another universe? 

Maybe it could also explain how people have claimed to see someone who is still alive in one location to know that they are in another one. 

And what about residual/ non-interactive apparitions? Could also help explain those too.

Did a parallel universe "cross over" into ours for a moment? Was the apparition of a person who is familiar happen to be from another dimension?

As is often the case, we begin to find more questions than answers but Multiverse and Parallel universes are interesting theories and some that are well worth keeping in mind when researching possible paranormal phenomena.

 

A simple video to further explain the multiverse theory.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNzK3_-nUDg

Should we use the word “Evidence” with paranormal investigating?

Most paranormal investigators use the term “Evidence Review”, “Paranormal Evidence” or “Scientific Evidence” but in all honesty, should we? What’s the harm right? Paranormal Evidence just means you have captured something that could be paranormal. But… is the word evidence the best term to use?

Some may say I am picky, so let’s have a look why this word may not be the best description.

Firstly let’s look at the definition of the word “Evidence”.

According to the website “Wag the Dog” (https://vigornotrigor.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/data-vs-evidence/) Data is factual information such as numbers, percentages, and statistics. Evidence though is data that is relevant and furnishes proof that supports a conclusion.

Oxford dictionary states, “It’s the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.”

So, in a nutshell evidence is supporting something that is true and correct.

And, this of course is where it gets somewhat messy.

Science as it stands today says there isn’t an afterlife, ghosts or spirits. Yes, this could change one day (science also declared the world was flat) but for now, this is what we have to respect and remember. Investigating claims of possible paranormal phenomena doesn’t have to be carried out by those who believe in an afterlife. In fact in some instances it’s almost preferable (for myself though, I’m open to the possibility of an afterlife). But is there any refutable evidence of it? No. Not yet anyway.

Evidence Review

Then there is after an investigation. We begin to review the recordings taken and we often term this as “Evidence Review”. This again is tricky. It indicates that we already have found proof of the afterlife – even before we have analysed any footage.

Paranormal Evidence

Well, after the last point, you can start to see more of why this term seems obsolete. As it stands, unfortunately there is no such thing as paranormal evidence.

Scientific Evidence

For something to be deemed “Scientific Evidence” it needs to be supporting or disproving a hypothesis or a scientific theory

When investigators say they are “looking” for scientific evidence, they are in fact looking for something, an anomaly, that they can’t explain and could possibly be paranormal.

Scientific evidence could be better explained by investigators as the fact we are using parts of science to help explain our environment and what is happening with our minds. But looking for scientific evidence of the paranormal may not be the best way to explain it.

For something to be considered scientific evidence it needs to be studied over time and repeatedly studied too using experiments and gathering data for research.

It also has to be conducted unbiasedly with experiments carried out in a controlled environment and peer reviewed.

So, using the word evidence may not be accurate.

Great.

So what term(s) do you use instead?

If you and your team are serious, you are gathering data to research further.

If you’re using recording equipment to monitor your environment then you are also data gathering.

If you are reviewing recordings from a paranormal investigation, then its footage analysis or video/audio recording analysis.

As paranormal investigators, we deserve the respect for the work we do but to start gaining that respect we can start using the right terms.

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.