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Paranormal Tourism

PSI’s Dave Wood looks at the curious moral indignation about paranormal tourism, and asks if tourist spots can really be defended?

Paranormal investigators are frequently almost puritanical when it comes to the subject of ‘charging monies’. This view that an investigator should never charge is often misguided but essentially correct. If one is claiming to be scientific then one cannot extract money from vulnerable people based on practices that are not proven to work, and where ‘evidence’ cannot be guaranteed. However this central view has developed a curious sub-thought, that somehow linking ghosts and money is somehow in itself immoral.

This brings us neatly onto paranormal ‘tourist spots’: those famous (as seen on TV) locations that make a commercial activity of charging investigators large sums to sit in the dark overnight. Those outnumber those who find this activity morally reprehensible indignant that they are being priced out of the market. This view should not hold much water. If you are serious about investigating the paranormal is it not better to go to an untouched location? These are hardly in short supply. PSI’s Haunted Swindon project takes place in a medium-sized town, but has already identified 75 allegedly haunted locations; many of these ‘live’ cases. Contrast this with the fact that Swindon has no ‘tourist spots’.

Conversely if you are not serious, then what is the problem with paying for a night’s ‘entertainment’. If one does not have the commitment to research, to work with venue owners and allay their fears then is £30 not a reasonable price to pay for an ‘easy ride’. From the perspective of the ‘tourist spots’ themselves, the demands of some investigators is just unrealistic. Some of these locations book in ghost hunters every weekend

night of the year. Why should they lose money and sleep 50 times a year, year in year out, for people to look at their ‘ghosts’? The untouched location will often do this for nothing, but why should we expect places whose doors are being beaten down to lose out all the time?

So the message is clear. If you’re a ghost hunter or thrill seeker then put your hand in your pocket for the easy ride, and accept that this is a market-driven economy. If you cannot afford it then grow a bigger team; variable control is probably not at the top of your list of priorities and these places are used to large numbers. If, on the other hand, you’re serious about investigating you probably avoid these locations already.

I, myself, am a converter defender of the tourist concept. But why? Do I believe in money making? No. The reason is ethics; the old favourite. A lot of people genuinely are only interested in thrills and pseudo-science. I cannot stress strongly enough the damage I have seen inflicted on unsuspecting and sometimes vulnerable locations by groups of thrill-seekers. Paranormal tourism not only fills this niche in the market but provides a safe place to go for the ethically unaware where they can hunt ghosts and not do anyone any harm.