I recently read an article that looked at the results Cognitive Reflection Tests (CRTs) that discussed how lower results could suggest higher paranormal beliefs. Something which could result from a lack of analytical thinking. However, a more recent cross-cultural study provides additional understanding that perhaps there could be a case for there being differing results when we consider cultural mediation.
When we consider the average Ghost Hunter, who heads out weekend after weekend, travelling to various purported haunted locations; it is not often that we also consider ‘why’ they may conclude something to be paranormal. The article touches on a common theme that is often brought into consideration or completely ignored; that of belief. Many Ghost Hunters would believe that certain events that occur during their investigations as being clearly paranormal in origin. However, this could often be associated with the simple fact that they are seeking something paranormal and as such are quicker to conclude in that way, rather than analyse the situation more to find other potential causation.
Whilst some researchers have struck on this and framed it as potentially ‘lazy thinking’ with an eagerness to believe something as being paranormal; there is also the potential of their beliefs and cultural upbringing driving them down the paranormal route.
Oddly this behaviour is often masked or denied by the ghost hunters themselves as they believe they are investigating the location and there is no potential bias present for them. The very nature of how we have evolved as ghost hunters in recent years places us in a position where we whole heartedly believe that our actions are that of analytical investigation, searching for the truth; when in reality much of the modern day ghost hunters approach could be seen as a simple variation on Victorian spiritual approaches.
In recent years, COVID years excluded, my experience of various ghost hunting teams has certainly shown a greater spiritual presence rather than one of investigation. I think the last time I saw pure investigation without anything really related to a spiritual approach goes back many years now to when the TV show Ghost Hunters was extremely popular. Their approach was very much one where they assess the paranormal claim and seek potential logical explanation prior to resting on something being a ghost or spirit presence. Granted that approach softened over the years, perhaps as the drama of a more ghostly finding increased popularity; or maybe they found actual paranormal evidence, who knows. However, recently most, if not all teams seem to carry a spiritual element to them with sensitives assisting the investigations with their gifts. Though a more spiritual approach seems to have equally moved into the investigation approach too.
Let me provide an example if I may. The obvious is where the investigation is pretty much led by a more spiritual approach; where the sensitives in the groups verbally provide information they are picking up on whilst in the location. Often in these scenarios, we see less and less attempts to investigate other aspects of the purported haunting. We must also at this point take into consideration that the information being provided could be wrong or misinterpreted, hence the information could be totally irrelevant. In some case we see the use of various ‘ghost hunting gadgets’ which in reality have no bearing on investigating the paranormal from a scientific stand point. These are more often than not simply a method to increase the reactive element of the ghost hunt. By this I mean, the gadgets are not used to capture data to prove the paranormal, they are more like props that the ghost hunters react to making the experience more interactive. Things are happening and keeping the investigation moving along. On some occasions I have even witnessed ghost hunters follow these gadgets to an extreme. Some are designed, for example, to provide an audible response, a visual response or a word when the environmental measures change slightly. The ghost hunters would have complete conversations with these gadgets and claim it to be ‘intelligent communication’ which it is not.
Could we perhaps then class some of these apps, gadgets and mis-used tools as the modern equivalent of the raps and taps of the Victorian seance room? It is a distinct possibility.
Over the years I have brought various ghost hunting gadgets and even spent a small fortune on a CCTV system too. However, these days I keep things very simple; a notepad, pen, digital voice recorder and maybe a camera are all I really need. There’s no need to to monitor things like temperature or the EMF unless there is good information to support that the phenomena present is directly related to it. Then and only then would I monitor it in one point, but also over a long period of time consistently to gain a true baseline and then any possible fluctuations that could indicate something odd.
The concept of using many gadgets during a ghost hunt has become a major part of the paranormal culture over the recent years, as such perhaps the belief is that its use promotes greater evidence of the paranormal. One element being the use of voice recorders to capture Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), as this has become a main part of many ghost hunts nowadays. Although I have to admit, this is also an area that I am beginning to highly question. This is because it is easy to manipulate and potentially fake, it is often presented in a manner where those capturing the EVP lead others so they believe they hear something (audio pareidolia) and it is often extremely weak as far as evidence goes.
Are we giving the paranormal enough thought? Probably not really as many ghost hunters are simply chasing an experience, even when they claim they are not. We need to be looking at the whole field very differently, analysing the phenomena and trying to understand it, not chasing a similar experience. Of course if chasing a paranormal experience is what you desire then by all means admit that and go ghost hunting. However, if true understanding is what you seek then its time to begin proper investigations and research to gain more from what we do. Learning is key in all this.