A lot of the debate and problems in this field arise from people claiming that other groups “aren’t doing it right.” Or that they’re using the wrong tools or doing it differently
So for this week’s vlog I want to take a step back and look at the four different kinds of ghost hunters.
This is a topic that I’ve lectured on for a couple of years now. And I think it’s an incredibly important step.
In the last ten years we’ve seen a trend of investigators spring up who were first fans of one of the ghost shows. They think, that’s cool, I want to do that. And so they do. They form a group like TAPS or they head on out and start poking around at the nearest Hell farm or creepy backwoods road or cemetery.
Now this of course has inundated the field with many “investigators” who many say “pollute” the work being done by more “serious investigators.” But this is where we start to break our categories down.
And those three to four categories of investigator break down as follows: The experiential investigator, the technical investigator, and the scientific investigator. The extra fourth classification I’ve recently added is the researcher.
Now, the experiential investigator, as I define it, is a person who’s out there to have an experience. There’s different levels of this, from the tourist who goes on a famous location’s ghost hunt, to the journalist who writes books on the matter, to someone like myself, who studies the experience and the phenomena from an almost artistic and philosophical position.
Point: There’s nothing wrong with these types of investigators. It’s very human and it’s very personal and can translate to a good many different pursuits and products.
The problem that frequently occurs in this category though is that many are uneducated in the field of paranormal study. Which to a certain extent is fine. Sometimes it’s fun to play around in the kitchen. But there’s a certain point where one needs to know to not put metal in the microwave.
There’s a baseline of information that many experiential investigators are missing, especially those using devices to facilitate experience. A prime example of this is the K2 meter. You can watch my vlog on the K2 here. Another example is dust. I’ve seen SO many photos of dust that people have decided is proof positive of the paranormal.
My point: if you want to have an experience of a ghost, take the time to learn what’s not a ghost first. You don’t want to cheapen genuine experience.
The second category of investigator dovetails from the first, and that’s the technical investigator. Primarily speaking, the technical investigators are the guys who do residential type cases, who are trying to debunk hauntings and help people. They use a myriad of tools in order to do this. And so, in order to do it well, they need a strong knowledge of scientific and technical situations and details in order to successfully do their work.
Technical investigators operate, not in the space of the purely scientific, but in the space between hard science and pure experience. They work for clients, where the burden of proof is on debunking and that fine line of the unexplained. They follow the belief that if you can explain as much as you can and the phenomena still holds up, it falls into that category of paranormal.
Any technical investigator worth their mettle should read THIS BOOK.
Many of these types of investigators will call themselves “scientific investigators.” In fact they are not. In western science, primarily physics, study focuses around cause and effect.
The role of the real scientific investigator is to document as much of the environment as possible (this involves full EMF spectrum including UV, Radio waves, gamma radiation, magnetic fields, weather conditions, sound, light). The scientist documents these and studies the situation around which a “spontaneous phenomena” occurs. The important elements being what happens before, during, and after the phenomena.
Theories are extrapolated. Tests are run, rerun, and the situation is set up again. After enough documentation, when consistencies arise, the scientist begins the process of writing a paper, offering a testable hypothesis, and allowing other scientists to recreate her work.
The scientist is not necessarily interested in capturing a cool video, is not necessarily interested in communicating back and forth, and is not necessarily interested in helping homeowners. They’re there to study the situation of a haunting.
To be a scientific investigator you’re going to have to be deeply knowledgeable–bachelor degree wielding engineer type knowledgeable.
Now the fourth type that I slipped in here has popped up on my radar lately that defies these prior three classifications. That’s the paranormal researcher. The researcher can be any one of the prior investigators, but can also exist on her own. This type of investigator is embodied in people like John Tenney. Owning libraries worth of material, research conducted by scientists in the past couple hundred years, and looking into the “facts” of the matters in a way that’s not physical science. They’re the historians of the field.
And if you think that science has never cracked paranormal research, think again. Consider this book for example, Psychic Exploration by Dr. Edgar Mitchell. He walked on the moon, and in this 700-page book compiled in 1973, he edited papers written by some of the world’s leading scientists in the field of paranormal and parapsychological research.
So as for myself? I’d say I’m an experiential investigator with a background in art, technical investigation, a spattering of science, and a more recent serious lean toward research investigation. But what about you? Where do you fall on the spectrum, and what’s the next step? Leave a comment down below!
Karl Pfeiffer is a writer, ghost hunter, and blogger/vlogger. He won the first season of the pilot reality series Ghost Hunters Academy, and went on to work with the Ghost Hunters International team on the same network. Since then he’s lead the weekend ghost hunts at the Stanley Hotel, studied religion and writing at Colorado State University, and published his first novel, Hallowtide, in October of 2012. More can be found at www.KarlPfeiffer.com