Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Quality Over Quantity in Paranormal Investigation
I still feel that way, but the more I think about it and the more I interact with groups out there, I've redefined my answer to be a little more all-encompassing. Now, my answer to that question is...
Quality over Quantity!
This really applies to ALL aspects of the paranormal investigation/ghost hunting process, but I've broken down some of the key areas where this concept is essential.
1. Strive for Quality Evidence--You want to collect evidence that will hold up to peer review and scientific scrutiny. You might have hundreds of photos or EVPs that you believe are proof of the paranormal, but if they cannot hold up to analysis, they're essentially worthless. This is an area where the education component does play a big role. Educate yourself on the many, many false positives that can occur within these and other mediums, and how to spot them. Learn how to eliminate or reduce variables that can negatively impact the integrity of your evidence. Where applicable, try to correlate evidence---a drop in temperature might be easily dismissed, but a drop in temperature combined with a spike in EMF might be worth further consideration.
2. Invest in Quality Equipment--You don't have to have all the new toys out there. In fact, its generally accepted in the paranormal community that many of the gadgets specifically marketed to the ghost hunting field simply don't work. Instead of spending all your money on devices that operate on conjecture only, invest the bulk of your budget in good, quality basics. A high-end camera, DVR system, and voice recorder are my top picks for most important gear...and then from there, you can research and consider some of the more interesting gadgets available. Just remember, even high-end, quality equipment is only as good as the operator. Learn the ins and outs of your devices, their limitations, how they work, how to properly interpret their data, and anything that can cause false positives.
3. Develop a Core Group of Dedicated and Committed Team Members--It might be awesome to have a huge family group covering multiple states, or having multiple members for your own state as a part of your team. However, you have to be careful that each and every one of those members is representing your organization with the utmost professionalism and with a shared sense of ethics. A team is only as strong as its weakest member, and if there's even one bad apple, it can affect the whole system negatively. Get to know your team and extended paranormal family well. Also, all team members must be responsible, trustworthy, committed, dedicated, and open-minded. It's great to have plenty of team members, even in smaller groups, but make sure they are there and ready to work when necessary. This includes being available for ALL group functions and knowledgeable on a variety of investigative topics. A few really good investigators are worth way more than a dozen who are in it only for the occasional thrill.
4. Give Each Investigation the Time and Effort it Deserves--To me, this is the most important aspect. I've seen so many teams that truly were weekend warriors; they would investigate 1-2 locations every week, for many weeks straight. After a short time, they would simply disappear, most likely because they had just burned themselves out. Other than simply burning themselves out, I have no idea how these people effectively made time for the entire investigation process, plus hold down a job and spend time with their families!
Spending a couple of hours in a cemetery taking pictures is not an investigation. Visiting an historic location during normal business hours with the general public does not constitute an investigation. While these types of activities might be a great way to test new equipment and get a little experience, they technically aren't investigations. What constitutes an investigation is really dedicating the time and effort to fully research the location, document potential paranormal activity, explore natural explanations, analyze evidence, try to recreate evidence and submit it for deeper scrutiny and review, and present that evidence which cannot be accounted for. For many investigations, there's also an after-care component, as we work with our clients on how to best handle and monitor their situation. And, for me, many investigations are never really complete--there's always more things that can be learned about a location historically, more theories that can be applied and tested, and more potential evidence to be collected. Don't sell yourself or your clients short---treat each investigation and/or location as a top priority. Your website may not be as full, but you'll make up for it in quality.