Ghost hunting is fun, rewarding, and important, sure – but it’s no walk in the graveyard. Running and being part of a paranormal investigative research team means facing daily challenges and striving to overcome them.
Here are some of the obstacles we’ve faced, and the facets of paranormal investigating that take consistent and collaborative effort to stay on top of. And the truth is; all these things are well worth it.
What makes a good team? Good members, of course. Carefully planning the personalities and skills to be incorporated into the group is key. Compatibility is the goal, but often it’s achieved not by homogenization, but by finding values and traits that complement the others’. Many times this means finding people who are very different from one another in order to find balance; they fill in each other’s missing pieces.
In a group of any kind you need doers, thinkers, creatives, analyzers, planners, extroverts, etc. A group full of thinkers will idealize the perfect goals but never achieve them, just like a team full of creatives may miss the fine details a logical member wouldn’t. Every part of the brain is better than one. In the case of a scientific paranormal research team like ours, we must expand this process to be more fitting and specific; we need skeptics & believers, observers & bravehearts, talkers & listeners, thinkers & feelers, etc.
We also look for certain values when recruiting to ensure we make a safe and respectful environment for all members, since we prioritize diversity in every way. To be frank, this means we screen for bigoted beliefs and right-wing stances so we can avoid discrimination and conspiracy theorists. Hate and misinformation have no place in this team. Having folks from all different cultures, genders, abilities, sexualities, etc presents many different worldviews and perspectives, which help immensely in investigations.
Finally, we dive into applicants’ skills, talents, interests, and backgrounds to see where they could fit in and what they have to offer the mission. A great scientific paranormal team needs people with backgrounds in business, psychology, investigation, scientific fields (physics, biology, chemistry), research, marketing, filming, electricity/frequencies, history, copywriting, social media, travel, recruiting, technology, etc. We are so lucky to have members with professional backgrounds in all of these areas, so all the moving parts of our team run smoothly.
Finding the right members took a lot of consideration, and balancing so many personalities isn’t always easy, but this group dynamic can’t be beat!
The screening process refers to how we approach client outreach. We often find ourselves with an inbox full of messages, some of which can be outlandish, even for us. We know what it’s like to feel crazy, like no one believes what you’ve experienced; most of us had paranormal experiences that lead us to this field of study. We don’t want anyone to feel dismissed. We also know that mental illnesses and cognitive biases have quite a bit of overlap in these metaphysical fields.
We are burdened with the task of trying to figure out whether the person we’re talking to is experiencing something genuinely compelling and otherworldly or whether they’re struggling with perceiving an objective reality or are just lacking the guidance to do some basic debunking. Decisions on how to proceed are made on a case-by-case basis and with careful consideration and deliberation within our team.
Usually we’ll first try offering some solutions to attempt without us (help with finding rational explanations, asking for references to other witnesses, asking them to command the spirit to leave, etc). Guiding them through these processes can sometimes resolve the issue (perhaps they find it was a pest problem, electrical leak, or other reasonable cause). Sometimes as we continue to converse we will find that their train of thought isn’t coherent and come to understand we are likely dealing with a paranoia or delusional disorder, in which case we gently and kindly let them know we won’t be able to help them with our services at this time.
We move on to an in-person interview if we believe there’s a chance the client is experiencing something we can observe and study. In this phase we must make sure investigating on-location would be safe, worth our resources & time (potentially active), and legally sanctioned.
Sometimes at this stage, being there in person, we can find non-paranormal explanations to the activity they’re describing, which can make the client defensive (some people really want a ghost and not the truth) or embarrassed. Remaining diplomatic and empathetic to their feelings is important to us, but it can be hard to navigate such situations. No matter what the result of our pre-investigation/investigation is, you should never feel bad for reaching out for our help. It is our job to debunk things.
Our job is to present the truth. By this we mean the concrete, verifiable, and objective truth. There’s subjective reality and there’s objective/shared reality. A schizophrenic’s ghosts may be very real to them but they are not shared in the perception of others. The ghosts we are looking for must be witnessed and their (proof of) existence agreed upon by a majority.
When we’re working with objective reality and presenting a “one true truth”, we have to use methods, like the scientific method, to ensure we are remaining unbiased from our personal truths and beliefs and presenting only exactly what is happening as it happens without any persuasion or slanted interference. This means setting up controlled neutral environments and capturing proof of the paranormal in a way that can be cross examined/peer reviewed for authenticity and accuracy by other skeptics. This process is not a small task. Constantly considering all variables and biases is a full time job.
Anyone who tells you that sitting alone in the pitch dark, in a location dripping in dark history and paranormal activity, isn’t scary is lying. Even though someone is always nearby (for safety) sometimes we isolate ourselves a bit in an attempt to reduce contamination and to entice the spirit to interact with someone more vulnerable/less intimidating.
Doing this amps up the paranoia and anxiety. This is something we work hard to combat because it can play a role in perception and cognitive bias, causing hysteria or confirmation bias towards mundane things. It’s a struggle sometimes to keep calm when an environment seems active and when we’re left on our own without one of our senses, but it does tend to get easier with time/practice.
Most of our investigating takes place at night, simply due to quieter surroundings and better equipment performance. This means it will typically run past most of our bedtimes, for some by a lot. Sometimes we’re investigating until 5 or 6 in the morning, pursuing something exciting.
Investigating is so much more than walking around or sitting in the dark asking questions; it’s mentally demanding. We must be using all of our senses simultaneously at all times, alert to our 360° surroundings. Observing, analyzing, and strategizing constantly can be draining, not to mention the adrenaline surges and the potential spiritual drain from supposed entities. By the end of the night, we’re exhausted but fighting hard to finish up. Coffee is our friend throughout the night, and we do everything we can to stay sharp until we can’t anymore.
Getting a good night’s sleep the night before, napping, and eating a balanced dinner helps us to conserve fuel. We have to know when to bow out, otherwise important details can get missed or the drive home could be dangerous.
In any niche field, there will be competition. Any time you achieve success or attention in life, there will be someone who is jealous or ready to take a piece of it. “Paranormal drama” is a real thing and it mostly involves silly ‘turf wars’, where some teams may try to stake claim over a haunted location and close it off to other teams for investigations. Monopolizing property isn’t cool and we would never do that just to hoard evidence.
Other teams may fake evidence for vitality/views or publicly cut others down that they’re threatened of in hopes of making themselves shine brighter. It doesn’t work. Staying professional and ignoring immature insecurities is key. People will gravitate towards integrity and focus.
The conundrum we often face is how to afford to do what we do without charging for our services. We can sometimes struggle to obtain new equipment or to pay fees to investigate public haunts because we don’t generally have a revenue stream, nor investors.
Everything we do is out of pocket because we don’t think it’s appropriate to charge for these types of services and it’s not customary to (if you’re looking into a team that charges, this is a red flag; keep looking). Instead we must get creative and rely on raffle sales, workshop tickets, donations, and fundraising to get us a basic budget. The rest is covered by our personal funding. We’re okay with this; it’s our passion and it’s priceless, but it can be a struggle. Anything helps. If you wish to chip in we have links here and will be forever grateful – plus it helps us to bring interesting evidence to you and the scientific community!
At the end of the day, despite our challenges, we’re humbled to be doing what we do and able to share it with you. The obstacles and investments make us appreciate the journey and triumphs that much more. Thanks for being a part of the adventure! Follow all our socials here for our finds!