4 State Ghost Society

Investigating WV, VA, MD and PA

Researcher or Ghost Hunter?

Posted by on Feb-10-2011

Researcher or Ghost Hunter?


     Paranormal research is based on scientific evidence, theories, and opinion.  You have to decide if you want to be a paranormal researcher or ghost hunter.  Researchers do all kinds of scientific experiments. Get into things that are way over my head such as Quantum Physics.  I have heard lectures on this and still don’t understand it.  So why waste my time trying to understand all of the scientific parts of the paranormal. Do you need to know this kind of information to be a paranormal researcher.  I would say that is a good idea.

      Do I need to be a scientist to use the equipment that others have developed and said works well in the paranormal field?.  No I do not, unless I was going to try to make a instrument to use for hunting ghost.   Do you really need to know the background of the paranormal to be a good ghost hunter?  My own theory is no. I personally am not and have not been interested in history.  I was one of those people when you asked in what year did the war of 1812 start, my response was I don’t know.  Of course the answer is 1812.  I am clueless when it comes to any kind of history.  But does that make me a bad ghost hunter?  Now don’t get me wrong, if you are going to investigate it is a good idea to get some background on the area or property.  This way you could get names and dates of potential happenings of the area.   What I mainly am referring to is when did any type of  paranormal research start.  Is the beginning of when research started really going to teach me how to use modern equipment for the purpose of doing any type of ghost hunting.  The answer is no.  And I personally suffer from CRS, if you don’t what that stands for ask around and I am sure you will find someone who knows.  So let’s get to what I call the “Ho Hum” part of the research field.

      Paranormal research has been around since the beginning of time.  Well, maybe not quite that long ago. It depends on your definition of paranormal research.  In ancient times they used crystals.  Is this considered a research tool for paranormal?  Some do believe it is.  I can’t dispute that because I have never tried it.  Is it a scientific method?  I guess that would depend on what year you are referring to.  But really when did paranormal research start? It is said to have started around 100AD when a ghost hunt in a haunted house  was attempted in ancient Athens by a philosopher named Athenodoros Cananites. That also depends on whoyou talk to.  Next major event was the formation of the “Ghost Club” in London in 1862. This group is believed to be the oldest paranormal research organization in the world. Famous members of the club have included Charles Dickens, Sir William Crookes, Sir William Fletcher Barrett and Harry Price.

      In the mid 1880’s, William James, philosopher and founder of the American Psychological Association suggested applying scientific method to paranormal questions. He found allies in England such as Alfred Russel Wallace, Cambridge philosopher Henry Sidgwick and his wife, Eleanor, Edmund Gurney, and others to form the core of the Society for Psychical Research to collect evidence concerning apparitions, haunted houses, and similar phenomena. They gathered case studies, attended séances, designed tests of those who claim to have paranormal experiences.   They became to be known as the Census of Hallucinations, which counted apparitions of  persons who were said to have made spectral appearances on the day they died.

     Harry Price did similar investigations through London’s National Laboratory of Psychical Research during the 1920s .Later in the 1950s and 60s by German and American independent researchers such as Hans Holzer, Ed and Lorraine Warren. In 1970’s and 80’s you had independent  researchers conducting field and lab investigations.  Investigators such as Loyd Auerbach, Christopher Chacon and William Roll.

      We cant forget about the spiritualists movement.  Spiritualism is the belief that the living can communicate with the dead.  It is believed to have started on March 31, 1848.  On that date, Kate and Margaret Fox  reported that they had made contact with the spirit of a murdered peddler. This was done through rapping noises and was audible to the audience.  The Fox sisters became a sensation.

 Early participants in Spiritualism were radical Quakers and others involved in the reforming movement  of the mid-nineteenth century.  Spiritualism provided one of the first avenues in which U.S. women could address mixed public audiences.  Women in the movement became mediums and trance lecturers.  Mediums competed for paying audiences.  Spiritualist organizations were formed not only in the United States but also in Europe.              

      By1853, invitations to tea often included table-turning.  That is what we call today as table tipping.  It is a type of  séance in which spirits would communicate with people seated around a table by tilting and rotating the table. 

        In the 1860’s spirit photography was born.   It was first used by William H. Mumler. He discovered this by accident.  He discovered a second person in a photograph he took of himself, which he was actually a double exposure. Seeing there was a market for it he started working as a medium, taking people’s pictures and added lost loved ones to  the negatives. Mumler’s fraud was discovered after he put a living Boston residents in the photos as a spirit.

       Thus came the widespread fraud. The Society for Psychical Research,  founded in London in 1882 investigated the reality of ghost claimed by the spiritualists.  Prominent investigators exposed cases of fraud, included professional researchers such as Frank Podmore of the Society for Psychical Research and Harry Price of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research.  Even professional magician Harry Houdini in the 1920’s had a well-publicized campaign to expose fraudulent mediums.

 Experimental investigation of the paranormal has been conducted by parapsychologists.  Even though parapsychology as been around for a while, it began its scientific approach in the 1930’s by J.B Rhine.  He used card guessing and dice rolling experiments to statistical validate extra-sensory perception.  In 1957, the Para psychological Association was formed.  In 1969, they became affiliated with the American Association for Advancement of Science.  This affiliation and openness to psychic and occult phenomena in the 1970s, let to increased par psychological  research.

     Of course this is the condensed version.  Once again I will ask do I really need to know all of this to be a paranormal ghost hunter?  My answer would still be no.  Granted some of it is interesting but I still don’t think it is that important that you have to know it.  I was once told that if I was to be a serious paranormal   researcher I should know the history behind it.  Don’t forget in the beginning paragraph I said I was not  interested in history.  But if you have access to the World Wide Web you can find out more on the history of the paranormal by doing your own search if you think it is necessary.  Or visit your local library for an array of books on the subject.

        Investigating or researching the paranormal is serious but you have to have a little fun too.  I am just an ordinary person like so many others that are just looking for answers. I intended my article to be a little light hearted with that in mind.  I don’t use all the big fancy words the researchers do.  I believe in using your common sense when using equipment and rule out all possible causes before I say it is paranormal.  That means checking, rechecking and triple checking my evidence.  This takes a long time but before I go to a client and say they definitely have a haunting I will know that I have done everything in my power to eliminate man made or natural causes. 

      With this said I am a ghost hunter and not a paranormal researcher.  Hum, lets think about this for a moment. Don’t forget I said in the beginning that paranormal research is based on scientific evidence, theories and opinions.  These are my theories and opinions so maybe I am a researcher also.  My scientific evidence would be using modern equipment and making a decision based off of that.   I can create my own experiments with the all the gadgets that people claim can detect ghost.  Well what do you know, I am a researcher after all!

 This article was published in Ghost Tech magazine

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