Saturday, April 27, 2013

What I Am, And What I Am Not

I admit it. When I started on North East Paranormal Society around four years ago we were just like all the other teams out there. We all watched the TV shows, read the books written by people on the shows and those wanting fame in the paranormal world, and took what was presented to us as a guide to how to “properly” investigate the paranormal. We did it all…the team acquired the multi-channel DVR system, the mel-meters, the KII, other EMF detectors, the grid, the thermometers, the night vision hand held cameras, the spirit box, and the other random things touted at “ghost hunting equipment.” We would rent vans, set up command central and be TV investigator clones. When asked why we use such equipment we would give the generally accepted answers such as “when spirits are around they can cause a spike in EMF,” and “If a spirit walks in front of the grid it will block out some of the lights,” or “well THIS orb is special because it doesn’t look like any dust we’ve ever seen.” Also in the paranormal world the more equipment you have, the more “professional” you look (and feel), and you don’t EVER want to be behind on the latest and greatest “ghost hunting tool”.

So what happened? Experience and a little critical thinking.  It started with seeing how many people claim they are scientific and me, who has actually has two bachelor degrees in science and have worked for many years in laboratory research, thinking how silly that is because you cannot use the scientific method when you can’t control your main variable (the ghost). However, folks think they are scientific because they have “instruments”. NEPS was the same way, claiming to be scienfic in how we do things so I promptly changed that on the website.
From there I was to the thought of “who the hell came up with this idea that ghosts emit EMF and how could they have ever done any kind of real studies to prove such a thing?” Well, no one of course. Thinking rationally and critically snowballed in to questioning pretty much how we did everything up until that point.  Next was  “Well, how can ghost block out a light from a laser unless they are physically manifesting and if so what the hell are they made of to have a visible, light blocking structure?” And how can people say that are doing “research” and are “scientific” when they have no background or education IN science? Would you seriously get a job working in a laboratory if you had no science education and your only experience was using your toy store microscope to look at dead bugs up close? Of course not. So why should anyone take a person serious who says they do “scientific paranormal research” when they a) have no background in science, b) because they have no background are clueless to the fact that what they are doing is NOT science and c) refuse to see that they CANNOT do “scientific” research of the paranormal to begin with? And if they still insist they are scientific ask to see their protocols, their experiment designs and their data. They should be MORE than willing to provide you with all of that if they are truly looking to increase knowledge about the paranormal world. That is why REAL scientists publish their findings in peer reviewed journals.  But I’m getting off topic…

 So then what happened with me? I realized how misguided I was. Seriously. What we were doing was not necessary to help people who think they are being haunted. If anything it fed into the previously held believes about ghosts and hauntings and not the truth of the matter.  Also, we were inadvertently being fraudulent by telling people these myths about EMFs and ghosts, or that spirits can do this or cannot do that. How could we possibly know anything about what ghosts can or cannot do when we cannot even prove they exist? 
Now, am I saying the personal experiences people have had are wrong and that I don’t believe them? No, not at all. I cannot dismiss their personal experiences as fabrications from their imaginations, or them accidentally being too concerned with a noise that has a rational explanation, but I can’t say it was a definitely a ghost either. Also, maybe the reason they have experiences with this spirit is because it’s a personal thing between their psychic mind (should such a thing exist) and the spirit.  Working under the assumption that spirits ARE real, how do we know that the experiences that happen between them and the spirits aren’t completely a telepathic connection and thus the spirits is never actually tangibly IN the room and thus cannot be sensed or captured by any kind of equipment? But my point here is WHO THE HELL KNOWS? No one, but I firmly believe that we are never going to get any answers by sitting in the dark with a KII, a EMF app on your tablet and some audio recording equipment.

What about EVPs? I have to say that I am starting to doubt them more and more. I mean, I have captured voices on audio that I could not discredit as one of us in the building or any noise outside of the building due to the rigorous cross checking we do. However, can I be certain that my recorder didn’t have the ability to pick up some errant signal from something else that causes a voice sound at that time? No. And if I can’t be certain of that, then I cannot be certain that what I captured is an “EVP.” So from now on I am going to call them Sounds of Unknown Origins or SUO’s. I don’t care if anyone uses this term because I didn’t come up with it for anyone else, only to ensure I am not being fraudulent by claiming something I think at the time is an unexplained voice, only to find out at some point that it was something else. Also I am getting sick of people using the acronym “EVP” in an odd way. For example today on a show where they "collect" haunted items I heard someone say “let’s try some EVPs in here” and then recently on a ghost story telling TV show I heard people say “we are taking EVPs” and “We are doing EVPs.” What? You are doing Electronic Voice Phenomena? Does that mean you are creating them if you are “doing” them? And you are taking Electronic Voice Phenomena? Where are you taking them? To the movies? It just goes to show that any person, any IQ level, and any common sense level can call themselves paranormal investigators and take myths and misinformation and regurgitate them as fact. 

So I have changed. I no longer embrace the myths and misguidance from TV show ghost hunting and decided to use critical thinking and logic instead. Unfortunately that means we have a lot of useless toys and also it means that we have actually discredited a lot of the things we used to consider “evidence” such as slow shutter light streaks, hairs that look like orbs with trails, and other audio and video clips that we either figured out was something else or is too questionable to be considering anything interesting. What I am left with are things that are SUO’s that we cannot find obvious explanations for at this point.  But who is to say that won’t change? Or maybe we will find some crazy amazing evidence or have that life-altering encounter with a spirit that will change us forever. Who knows…but at this point we would like precede using best practices and logic. 

What does that mean for people who call me in for help figuring out what is going on? It means you will not get some EVPs that I “know” are EVPs because “I just know what to listen for” or pictures of orbs, or anything else that can be proven to be something non-paranormal. You will get from me is kindness, compassion, and the truth of what we think is going on. No hysteria, no demons, no crazy stuff.  I often work with mediums who I have found to be very impressive but they do what THEY do and we do what I do. I will also never give you definitive statement about what ghosts are or are not, and what they can or cannot do because no one, no matter how experienced or impressive they seem, can know until they are dead. End of story


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