I have been involved with paranormal investigations for a few years now. Longer, if you count the times in high school I went with friends to places that were said to be haunted. I have learned something from almost everyone with whom I have investigated. My biggest criticism of many people I have investigated with is a lack of creativity and ingenuity.
When I began investigating, I had to bite my tongue when I heard people refer to tools of the paranormal investigating trade as scientific, given my respect for the scientific method and what the phrase means. I had read a lot about ideas behind paranormal investigations, such as the energy that spirits produce. People I investigated with would tell me with complete sincerity why certain tools worked and explained the “scientific theory” behind it.
While I appreciated being shown the tools and how they worked, I wondered why everyone who investigated used the same tools. Almost every team seemed to have a checklist of the tools they wanted their members to have. Everyone had the same flashlight (that is one I would never deviate from), a recorder for EVPs, a device measuring EMF, a Spirit Box and a digital camera. Out of the tools mentioned, the only one that I stay away from is a digital camera. Importantly, I would do a commercial for Centex, the company that makes my favorite tool, the EDI (Environmental Detection Instrument) device. It was not so much the tools and gadgets that gave me pause, it was the lack of ingenuity on the part of investigators that I could not understand.
Although I have most of the tools that other paranormal investigators have, I try to think outside the box and I consider the ideas behind why the commonly used tools are believed to work. I was surprised that when I had an idea for something that might work, I would hear the question, “what other paranormal teams do that?” Likewise, when my partner Leah found a place with conditions conducive to paranormal investigating she would hear the question, “are there any reports of paranormal activity there?” That was always the strangest question to me, given how little is understood about the paranormal and the fact that a field that is on the fringes of science is resistant to any innovation.
Verisimilitude is a word I learned in a Freshman science class. Simply put, it is the idea that virtually no major scientific theory is ever completely accurate. It is the idea that every major scientific theory, whether it is Newtonian Physics or the Big Bang Theory, is not entirely accurate but brings the scientific community closer to the truth than the theories before it. Given that hard physical sciences, which are firmly established, acknowledge that there is so much that is understood about the physical world, it should not be a surprise to a paranormal investigator that even less is known about the spiritual world. Knowing that left me frustrated that teams are reluctant to do anything different or that is the product of their own understanding of the paranormal.
About a year ago, my partner and I decided to go out on our own. Not long after that, I began investigating with Mark Walsh, the founder of Rutherford County Paranormal (RCPI), mainly because he lived near Leah and I. I did not know that he had had thirty years of experience in paranormal investigating and had been doing it long before the Ghost Bubble and before Destination America began airing numerous ghost hunting shows. I was impressed that Mark was creative in terms of how he investigated. He used a cat toy that lit up with the slightest touch. He did not scoff when I used a lamp that got brighter with the slightest touch. It became clear that Mark had the same criticisms of teams who get their ideas from ghost hunting shows that I did. Since then, I have seen Mark purchase a Plasma Lightning Ball at Five Below that worked well in our investigations.
Likewise, many of the items I use when I investigate with RCPI, since Leah and I joined, were never meant for paranormal investigations. (Truth be told, very few of the tools commonly used were intended to be used in paranormal investigations). On a regular basis I find items useful in investigations that many people overlook. Recently, while at Barnes and Noble, I purchased a children’s science kit for $25 when I noticed that the box said Motion Detector (with eleven other projects). With this inexpensive kit, you can make a REM pod, a motion detector and a motion detector with touch alarm. That is just one example.
While I acknowledge that Paranormal Investigating is not yet a science, I am reminded of what a Psychology professor told me my Freshman year of college when he saw that Freud did not sit well with me. He explained that Freudian Psychologists did not believe that the Id, Ego and Superego actually exist or that they were something that could be taken apart and studied. Freudian Psychologists use that model because it works with patients in terms of understanding mental disorders. Similarly, no ghost has ever been caught or studied, but ideas or hypotheses regarding energy work and should be applied.
Paranormal Investigating is a study that has only recently gotten attention from the mainstream. Paranormal Investigators should be proud that they are pioneers in what hopefully will be better understood. So be creative and think outside the bounds of the Spirit Box.