The years I spent as a criminal investigator have taught me one vital lesson. That is; to search for the truth, and go to where the evidence takes me to build a case or find the case unfounded. To do this, the investigator must collect and preserve evidence and information.
It must be available for all parties involved in the inquiry to examine and compare. After all, the evidence has been collected and carefully examined, the case is brought to another party, in this case - a prosecutor. The prosecutor then decides whether or not there is sufficient evidence to file the case and send it to court. It is in court that the case is decided by a jury selected from society. So goes our legal system in theory.
When building a case for the existence of the paranormal, shouldn’t we use the same standards? If we ever hope to prove the existence to the scientific world, and society, should we have a system in place that allows for common standards and protocols? This would allow all evidence of the paranormal gathered to be considered on common ground. For example, a homicide investigation in Tacoma, Washington will be conducted in a similar fashion in Vero Beach, Florida. Yes, there are differences in some laws state to state. Each investigator will have a different style of interviews and investigation, but evidence will be uncovered, collected and preserved in a similar fashion. Done this way, there could be under certain circumstances, evidence used in Tacoma that could be used to help the case in Vero Beach. This is because basic standards in evidence collection and investigation had been adhered.
I believe this is an important concept. That would allow paranormal investigations that are conducted for the purpose of proving the case of life after death, to be accepted by a jury in society. Now many paranormal investigators will immediately take offense to this saying; “Everybody investigates differently” or “Nobody can tell you how to investigate”. Both are actually true statements. This concept is not meant to tell anybody how to investigate necessarily. What this concept does state, is that regardless of how you ask questions, or in which order you proceed with your work, there must be some protocols that are adhered to if you want your investigation to be considered valid to prove your case.
Some examples of this would be that all EVP sessions should be recorded. That should be prior to any questions being asked, there must be a preamble of: Time, Date, Location and the names of persons present during the session, etc. Now this is already the procedure for many groups, but do we consider it standard amongst all legitimate paranormal investigators? Some groups listen and gain possible EVP evidence but, they are using a voice recorder that cannot be transferred to a computer or other storage device.
If the EVP evidence cannot be preserved, then what use is it in an investigation? If these standards are not followed in criminal court. The evidence revealed during that part of the investigation is in danger of being thrown out. Why is that any different in the case of a paranormal investigation. There are plenty of people waiting in line to refute any evidence saying it is contrived in some way or misinterpreted by the investigator. Standards that are universally adhered to - show that the field of paranormal research, and investigation, is moving towards procedures that will validate their investigations and the evidence collected.
Now there will be those that say, that they don’t care if others believe their evidence. They do things their way and who cares what others think. “I know what I heard” or “I know what I saw” and that is all that is important. First let me say that there is nothing wrong with this line of thought! Everyone has the right to feel that way and conduct themselves in a manner, which is helpful, and productive to their goals and needs. This leads to the motives of those conducting these inquiries.
Many of the paranormal teams that exist today - conduct investigations with little or no thought as to what they are going to do with the evidence they get. I have spoken to a number of teams that keep their evidence in some type of computer storage. I have spoken to many others that share their evidence on their websites and very little other than that. Once again, there is nothing wrong with that way of thinking BUT…
Paranormal Investigator vs. Paranormal Thrill Seeker vs. Spiritual Searcher
What is your motive to investigate or research? There is no wrong answer to this, just the inner search to determine your motives for investigating.
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary an investigator is someone: “whose job it is to examine a crime, problem, statement, etc., in order to discover the truth.”
Taking this into consideration, it should be the nature of any investigator to search for the truth through evidence. A paranormal investigator and researcher must use standards that are accepted in the field to put their case together. This includes a systematic way of locating, collecting and preserving evidence.
This evidence then can be examined and compared with other evidence collected by the investigator, (or by other investigators conducting other investigations) in order to find commonalities (I will be discussing this concept in a future article).
The goal in this case is to find evidence, share with other investigators, and find the answer to question of is there life after death. Solving one of mankind’s greatest mysteries should the goal of the Paranormal Investigator.
Paranormal Thrill Seeker
The term “Paranormal Thrill Seeker” might sound derogatory to some but it truly isn’t. Thrill seeking is a part of our societal make up. Why do people jump out of a perfectly good airplane? Because it is fun and exciting. Why do people swim in the open with sharks? Because it is fun and exciting. This is perfectly acceptable and understood in our world today. Why wouldn’t seeking evidence of the paranormal be the same? All of us in the field have experienced the heart pounding, adrenalin rush of hearing the disembodied voice call your name, a door un-expectantly slamming shut, or the holy grail of “ghost hunting”, the sight of a full body apparition.
Anyone who goes to a possibly haunted location that tells you this isn’t a thrill, I would dare say isn’t being honest with themselves. Many groups who seek paranormal activity simply enjoy the thrill of the event. These teams certainly talk about it regularly, enjoy the camaraderie of those who also enjoy ‘the hunt” and are a vital part of finding evidence. But do they truly use this evidence with the intent of solving the case? For example, how often do groups of this category go to the level of comparing things like atmospheric or solar conditions with other teams that have captured the same type of evidence to find if there is a common link? They know the paranormal world exists. They have theories as to why it exists. But if the issue was honestly addressed, how many actually investigate to “discover” the truth?
Many make it a habit to go to the numerous famous locations worldwide and investigate the already well-known claims but, rarely if ever consider saving their evidence for comparison and review with evidence taken from other investigations. The term “Paranormal Thrill Seeker” should be looked at the same way others who engage in other adrenalin filled activities. There is nothing wrong with being a “Paranormal Thrill Seeker”, we all enjoy the rush. BUT, if the “thrill” is your motive, your goal, are you truly an investigator? This is a question you can only ask yourself, and ask it honestly.
Remember, an investigator is in search of the truth. The final answer revealed in that search, whatever it is, should be the goal of the investigator.
The term Spiritual Searcher is meant to denote those that are trying to find a personal answer to the question of life after death. The Spiritual Searcher is often one who has experienced a personal tragedy or has had a personal paranormal experience and is simply looking for the answers they need to bring order or closure to themselves. This individual has no other investigative goal but to prove to themselves the existence of the afterlife and providing proof to others is of minimal importance.
Everyone in these three categories have a place at the table in the world of paranormal inquiry. Not one is less important than the other. But the motivations of their goals are important to the field. This entire concept I have provided is surely going to create controversy.
The idea of what a “Paranormal Investigator” is has been engrained into today’s society. Much of that credit has to be given to the many shows seen on television that provide an, at times, unrealistic view of what paranormal investigation entails. When discussing this thought, I like to compare a paranormal investigation to a law enforcement stakeout. On television or in the movies, a police stakeout is an exhilarating adventure fraught with excitement and danger. The truth is a stakeout is most often a long VERY boring affair that MIGHT bring about 30 seconds of excitement and danger. The paranormal investigation is no different at all but that’s not generally what television presents to its viewers.
When you peel the layers of this concept away, you will find that a paranormal investigator needs to be a serious student of the question of life after death, dedicated to finding the answer. That’s what an investigator does. Because of how society has painted the term “paranormal investigator”, it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand what this means exactly. Within my own group, we even struggle with the concept at times. Despite this, we are constantly striving to improve our methods and protocols for the good of the field. But it requires work and dedication. This is the message I want to send to those who are seeking the final answer.
Regardless of which category you see yourself as part of, please understand that all are an important part to the field of paranormal research an investigation is. I just ask that you look within yourself and honestly examine the reason you do this. Share what you have learned. Seek training so that you know what you are heading into (You would never sky dive without receiving training prior to jumping would you?). Have fun with it, learn from it, find yourself in it. More importantly, be part of it.