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The Four Types of 'Ghost Investigator'

Thrill seeker, ghost hunter, paranormal investigator or paranormal researcher? PSI’s Dave Wood asks how you eat yours.

I know I’ve been discussing the meaning of science for the last few issues, but I had to revisit it. Science separates one type of paranormal enthusiast from the other – are you really using the right label?

The thrill-seeker is the fairly clear-cut group. Thrill seekers attend ‘investigations’ for fun. Perhaps you go on ghost walks or entertainment-geared commercial investigations – but you’re sure to be in it for the kicks.

The ghost hunter will often talk about science, but they do not know it. The ghost hunter can often be seen as an independent team going to locations and waving around every piece of equipment they can lay their hands on; EVP, trigger objects, seances are the staple diet of the ghost hunter. You talk about theories and science, but none of it adds up.

The paranormal investigator thinks a little more about what it does. It establishes the phenomena in a location and goes to seek it. Your theories might not be sound, but you've done the reading and you only use the equipment and methods you know are likely to seek out natural sources of ghost experiences.

The elusive paranormal researcher – often spoke of, but rarely sighted – conducts paranormal research on the basis of good scientific thinking. Whether or not you attend investigations you can be sure you have a clear hypothesis to test and have a penchant for variable control.

So it’s science that separates the thrill seekers and ghost hunters on one hand from the paranormal investigators and researchers on the other. But these are crude and flawed labels, for all sorts of reasons. But if you’re really interested in scientific enquiry, how do you tell one investigator from the other?

The answer is easier than you might think. The seekers and hunters will find a location with reports of hauntings and use whatever unscientific methods are at their disposal to find evidence of the haunting. The underlying assumption is a) Yes! Ghosts do exist, and we’re here to find them, and b) all these unscientific methods can somehow find proof of the ghosts. One Day. Never.

The investigators and researchers, on the other hand, start with the opposite assumption. The underlying assumption is that so many haunting cases have natural causes, that one has to ‘go in’ with the aim of finding the natural causes of previously experienced paranormal events. What’s left after you’ve done this is what is should be examined more carefully.

Seeking and hunting may often provide personal proof – and there is nothing wrong with this – but if you can to find objective answers you need to genuinely investigate and research.