Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Paranormal Investigator vs. Ghost Hunter

The terms paranormal investigator and ghost hunter are often used quite interchangeably...but there are some slightly different connotations associated with each.  Everyone has their own personal quirks about which word choice THEY prefer...including me : )

I like to call myself a Paranormal Investigator.  To me, a paranormal investigator is someone who literally investigates claims into the paranormal.  Although the term paranormal is fairly broad and we generally tend to focus on hauntings, to me, this label is the most accurate.

As a paranormal investigator, my team and I get called in to find out what is going on in someone's home, or business.  We also seek out cases that have known reports of paranormal activity and ask permission to investigate.  During the course of our work in these places, we literally investigate.  We do background research on the property and when applicable, the clients.  We  document claims, thoroughly try to recreate the claims of activity, assess the situation from a variety of angles, and try to capture evidence.  No evidence collected or a debunking of claims doesn't mean our investigation is over, however.  We continue to work with the client in trying to figure out what is going on, how it can be resolved, and what additional resources and education we can supply to the client.

The investigation process also includes research, but not just historical research.  We're constantly staying abreast of new theories and hypotheses, and applying them to our own work.  We document results, try new things, and work at developing new equipment and procedures.

Ghost hunting, on the other hand, is a label with really different connotations for me.  The term ghost hunter implies that instead of investigating known claims, ghost hunters go out to places with probable activity, such as cemeteries, spooky abandoned sites, and historical locations, and HUNT for ghosts...look for evidence of ghosts, if you will.  If there is no evidence for ghosts, or if there is surmountable evidence against ghosts, then the work is done, and another location becomes the focus.  I choose not to use this term to describe my work, because I don't feel as if what I'm doing is simply looking for ghosts...although that is a very big part of it.  A successful investigation for me personally doesn't necessarily yield evidence of paranormal activity...it ends with a client or location satisfied with the results, at ease in their own residence/establishment, and armed with the knowledge of how to deal with similar claims, whether they turn out to be paranormal or not.

Ghost Hunters are great pioneers in this field.  Often they'll discover exciting new locations that yield interesting results.  By working together with other teams, these locations are able to be investigated with fresh eyes, and fresh points of view. 

There are no right or wrong terms in this field, and no term is better than another..  People enter the paranormal field for a variety of reasons and with a variety of goals, coming from a variety of points of view..  More often than not, those who call themselves ghost hunters actually take on the same work as those who call themselves paranormal investigators...while similarly there are those who call themselves investigators who actually fit more into my personal description of a ghost hunter.  And then, there's the whole show Ghost Hunters that has affected people's decision as to what to "label" themselves and their groups...but we won't get into that!

I'd love to know what others think about this subject!  Do you consider yourself a paranormal investigator or a ghost hunter...or something different altogether? Do you have a team that incorporates one of these titles?  Please share your thoughts!

(Above photo of Wes, HPIR investigator on location at a Kentucky Fire Station.  Property of Melissa Stanley)

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