Friday, October 23, 2015

Ghost FAQs: Investigating Alone

There are many different theories and many different methodologies that are employed in the name of paranormal investigation and research. In such a dynamic field where very little is actually accepted as science, it can be difficult to discern what truly is the right way or wrong way of doing things.  However, one of the few constants in regards to rules of paranormal investigation seems to be this:  NEVER INVESTIGATE ALONE!

But why should you never investigate alone? There are two main reasons why this piece of advice is important to investigators:

1. Safety---Paranormal investigation can be a dangerous activity. Many of the allegedly haunted locations we visit have environmental dangers that are often either the result of neglect (giving the property a definite LOOK of being haunted) or are issues that might actually even cause one to perceive a haunting. As investigators, we're more likely to encounter loose floorboards and rotting foundations, mold and rodent dropping, broken glass, poison ivy, uneven walking surfaces, animal infestations, poor lighting, and the ever present threat of unstable clients or trespassers who are up to no good. These threats increase dramatically when investigating 'abandoned' properties and/or outdoor areas, even WITH proper permission from the owner. For example, a person with bad intentions hanging out at a dark, isolated park is less likely to approach a group of people as opposed to a single person. Also, if you were to fall and twist your ankle (or otherwise injure yourself), its good to have someone there to assist you. There's always a chance that your cell phone won't work or you'll be otherwise incapacitated to the point where you cannot call out for help, and thus, would need someone actually there with you.

2. Evidence Integrity and Witness Verification---Two sets of eyes (and ears and other senses!) are always better than one when it comes to tracking down and collecting evidence of potential paranormal phenomena. Two or more people can better observe and assess a situation and having more people around offers the potential for more equipment and more points of evidence collection. It's great to catch something or have an experience...but if more than one person experiences the same thing or more than one piece of equipment captures it, it makes that potential data all the stronger. Plus, having additional people around keeps you in check---you're less likely to have your imagination running wild when you have others around you remaining calm and rational.

I think as a paranormal investigator myself, I'm ethically required to advise others that investigating alone is never a good idea. It certainly is a rule that we employ in my group's investigations, especially when the public or new investigators are present. Not only does it assist with safety and evidence integrity, but its practical---we need to know where everyone is at the location at all times so that their movements aren't accidentally mistaken for ghostly activity and that they aren't inadvertently contaminating our potential evidence.

Stick with Your Buddy!
But, is it REALLY necessary to stick with a buddy at all times?  There are a lot of freelance investigators who prefer to work solo and there are many sensitives who seem to work best when they are unencumbered by the the energy of living persons surrounding them during their observations.  There is also an argument that having too many people at an investigation is a bad thing---as mentioned earlier, it can lead to evidence contamination, but it can also be intimidating to any potential presences to be bombarded with so many different strangers. So when is it okay to ditch the team and go solo?

Again, I ethically don't think I can advise anyone to ever go completely alone on a quest for paranormal answers, but as one adult to another, I just strongly urge everyone to just practice good common sense and use their best judgment. Don't go alone to a location that you normally wouldn't go to alone for other reasons. For example, if you would normally visit a safe, public cemetery during the day by yourself to visit a loved one or do genealogy research, adding in a little investigating isn't much different. However, you might not want to visit a cemetery you've never been to, out in the middle of nowhere, during the middle of the night by yourself.  Thoroughly research the area and do a few daytime visits with friends to look for potential hazards and to get a feel for the area.Whether you go to a location alone, with a partner, or with a whole team, ALWAYS alert someone who isn't going exactly where you'll be and when you are expected back. Keep your cell phone charged and accessible at all times. And, most importantly, listen to your instincts. If you feel unsafe or uneasy, or if you observe another person who shouldn't be there, leave immediately.

For me personally, I like to investigate with a small group or with a partner. That way, you still get the safety benefits without many of the problems that come with a large group. When on site, there are times when you might feel the need to be alone in a specific area, and that is usually perfectly fine. I would suggest that if you have the resources of a multi-cam DVR system, to put a camera in the area where you want to be alone, and make sure you are visible in frame the entire time. Let everyone on site know exactly where you will be working and for how long---including instructions on how long they are to wait before coming to look for you! Keep your cell phone and/or walkie talkie handy so that you can keep in touch with your partner or team the entire time and make sure that someone is always close enough by that they can reach you within a minute or so if need be.

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