Ghost Hunting Essay, Research Paper
?What the heck was that?!?? is a very familiar phrase to many. Was it just the house settling? Maybe it was a friend playing a prank. Or could it possibly have been a ghost? The latter choice is normally ruled out fairly quickly. But for some, it is very plausible. To prove or disprove the possibility of an apparition, a surprisingly scientific and frequently detailed investigation is carried out.
The ?ghost hunt? originated in the 1800?s. In these days, it was not a true ghost hunt, rather an entertaining seance, picture, or ?show.? Many people experimented with the invention of photography in this century. Making an eerie photograph was and is rather simple, but at those times the public was naive and unaware of these techniques. They consistently paid money for fake ghost pictures.
Time has a way of exposing frauds, and such was the case with these deceitful photographers. Over the decades, genuine researchers and photographers sprung up. Because of the beginnings of their profession, they came under much scrutiny and still do to this day. But in the current
century, ghost hunting is almost as scientific as physics. Ghosts are now normally categorized into one of three groups: a residual haunting, a spirit that lived as a human , or a spirit that never lived as a human (Killen, 1).
A residual haunting is what a person has normally encountered when they say they have ?seen a ghost.? What these types of hauntings are, are a past event in space and time that has been ?recorded? onto a specific object or place. They are actually just like watching a movie playing an incident over and over. Because they are just replays of a past event, these types of ghosts will not interact with any surrounding people. Although they are usually visual experiences, residual hauntings can also audio in nature. Even though these types of hauntings are the most common, they are not as easily recognized as a spirit that lived as a human would be (Taylor, 1) (Killen, 1).
When someone mentions the word ?ghost,? the thought of a figure of a person trying to get attention comes to mind. This is what is referred to as an intelligent spirit. It is a spirit who has for one reason or another not ?crossed over? and has remained here on earth. Since these spirits were once human, they can manifest themselves as they once were if they choose to make contact. Unfortunately, this is not usually the way they do it. They
reveal themselves as an eerie feeling, a rush of air, a ball/streak of light, or a smell. Since these types of ghosts are able to interact with surrounding people, some become worried of angry or hostile spirits. The personality of the ghost is determined by the way they were in life. If they were good people in life, they?ll usually be good spirits. Of course, the opposite is also true (Taylor, 1) (Killen, 1). These spirits may cause some trouble, but not half as much as a spirit who has never lived as a human.
Apparitions that have never held human form are sometimes referred to as poltergeists. These are the rarest and most dangerous forms of spirit. They are also sometimes thought of as demons. These spirits are not something one would want to mess around with, as they can cause physical damage and risk to mental and physical well-being (Killen, 1).
When one of these spirits is encountered, a detailed investigation ensues. A team of ghost hunters will arrive on the scene, each with their own ?ghost hunting tool belt.? This is essential to a successful hunt. It includes some rather obvious things, as well as modern, technical equipment.
The first few items one will find are very simple. They include: a flashlight (preferably shockproof as well as waterproof), a watch (if
possible, with an illuminated face), a thermometer (to record cold spots), a map (explains itself) and identification (to deal with the local authorities). These items may seem trivial at first, but prove to be essential in a good ghost hunt (SPIRIT, 1-2). But obviously these are not the only examples of tools necessary. More precise instruments are also brought along.
A camera is a vital part of a paranormal investigation. For obvious reasons, an investigator would like to be able to photograph their given site. There are certain criteria the film and camera should meet. The film should be at least 800 ASA speed or higher. This way you can pick up things that are only there for a moment, but it won?t be so fast that it doesn?t pick them up either (SPIRIT, 1).
A tape recorder is also handy. The investigator may not hear anything at the moment of recording, but often when played back, things are heard that weren?t noticed in person. It can also be used in place of a journal. Using it to record the time, place, and event that are experienced. The two previous pieces of equipment can be substituted by a camcorder, but all three is even better (SPIRIT, 2).
Two of the most technical items that are normally brought along
include an EMF (electromagnetic fluctuations) detector and night vision goggles or a scope. The EMF detector senses changes in magnetic fields. A common product of ghost activity. The night vision gear is handy when someone believes to see something in the dark that can?t be seen by normal human eyes. Both of these pieces remain expensive and are not totally necessary for a ghost hunt (SPIRIT, 2).
Once the knowledge and equipment are gained, a ghost hunt can be performed. Here are the basic steps according to W. Kevin Killen at home.naxs.com:
1) Check with people who have knowledge of the possible haunting.
2) Go to the court house and track the property owners back as far as you can.
3) Use the library to research any news items that could correlate any incidental circumstances. ie. battles fought nearby, homicide, suicide, and other incidents that could be linked to the current situation.
4) Get permission to conduct an investigation from the owners, or whoever has legal authority to grant such permission.
5) Prior to the actual investigation, perform a site survey to determine
any natural causes, ie. nearby construction, jacking ( under ground activity that may cause a building to move ever so slightly, creating noise and other disturbance), drafts broken windows, rodents, etc.
6) Notify local law enforcement of what, when, and where, ( they always show up if something is going on), and that you have permission to be there. ( keeps them off your back).
7) When you get to the site, approach it with an open mind, but with some conserative skepticism. Everything that goes bump isn’t a ghost. Always, let me repeat myself, ALWAYS rule out any other possible cause before proclaiming it a ghost. Your data will come under much scrutiny.
8) Get pre-investigation readings from all your equipment. ( remember that your equipment is just a tool, many things can interfere with the readings.)
9) Document everything, this format works best for me: Date, Time, Occurrence. There are some ghost hunter sites out there that have forms that you can down load, these work well.
10) Be respectful of property, and others. This goes for spirits also.
11) When you have a valid phenomenon, determine one of three things.
1. Is it a residual haunting
2. Is it a spirit of a previous living individual
3. Is it a spirit that has never lived in human form. This is important because the third type of spirit, although very rare, can cause you some problems. Some refer to them as demons. I’ve yet to make any determination of my own.
12) Leave your investigation site as you found it. Word gets around quick, and if the previous owner is upset about how you left his/her property gaining access in the future will be difficult if not impossible.
13) May I also take this time to point out that you are entering a field with a shaded past. My best advice is to be as professional as you can. Don’t make claims you can’t back up, and remember that what you do refelects on all paranormal investigators. We need to maintain crediablity in our field. Peer review is how we acomplish this.
14) If you should decide to charge a fee for your investigations, you will find that there are many of us who disapprove of this. It is ok to ask for travel or lodging expenses if you inquire more than reasonable expenses, but please don’t try to mix profit and science. Many have, and lost their credibility.
Ghost hunting has become a passion for many. From its days of fraud to its current state of technical understanding, the process will continue to fascinate society. Its desire and drive for scientific acceptance will keep this practice and tradition alive and well into the centuries to come.
Hemmel, Jeff. ?BOO!? Boating October 2000: 140-145
Killen, W. Kevin. How To Conduct A Ghost Hunt. [on-line]. Available: http://home.naxs.com/kkpcc/howto.htm. (11.20.00)
Taylor, Troy. INTRODUCTION TO GHOST HUNTING. [on-line]. Available: http://www.prarieghosts.com/intro.html. (11.20.00)
Sellier, Charles E. The Paranormal Sourcebook. Place of Publication: Lowell House 1999.
SPIRIT (Society for Paranormal Investigation Research and Informational Training). www.ghosthunter.org. [on-line]. Available: http://www.ghosthunter.org/toolbox/belt.htm. (11.20.00)