A couple of weeks ago, I got a question from a guy named Frank. He wanted to know if I had any religious beliefs and if I did, how could I go looking for ghosts. I have a feeling he is going through a similar situation that I have in my life. He could also just being judging me but I prefer to look at the glass in a half full way. See, I'm a positive person.
Growing up in a religious home, the belief in an afterlife is a given. I mean the belief that we will be rewarded for all of our sacrifices, faith and good deeds is the prize we get at the bottom of the box of our Cracker Jacks we call life. Yet for some reason, trying to prove this leaves me without a lot of friends in the religious community. Why is that? I will try to answer that, and how I have balanced all of this in my mind.
Now the belief that we survive our death is believed by every culture and has been throughout history, but the belief that something stays behind here on earth isn't entirely embraced by the mainstream religions. They believe that this tidbit could muddy the waters so to speak. If we don't die and immediately get removed from this plane of existence, than people may get the feeling that religion isn't very important. That we will live on as ghosts and drive our ghost cars through real traffic making great time as we race towards eternity with no need to live the good faith based life they intended.
The problem is I am sitting somewhere in between these two beliefs. My baggage was packed as a child, so I can't totally shake the feeling that our souls will be judged for how we live this life. I can't accept that Hitler and Anne Frank are sitting down to a nice brunch with Shirō Ishii and Elvis. For my worldview to not allow me to go all vigilante, I have to believe that Hitler and Shirō are someplace very dark and having an unpleasant time too. I'm not asking you to believe how I believe, I'm just thinking out loud. I think the answer to all of the religious quandaries is already answered in the Bible. You see, Judeo-Christian belief is that we were created by God in his image. God is a trinity, composed of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I think being created in His image means we are also made of three parts, and the Bible agrees with me. (See, I think the Bible agrees with me. My ego knows no bounds.) We are made of body, mind and spirit. I think the spirit goes on to judgement. Our body dies. So, this leaves the mind unaccounted for. I think our mind is more than just memories and reason. I think it can exist past our bodies. The how of which, I'm not 100% sure, but I will share some theories in the upcoming months. Just to be perfectly clear, I said THEORIES. I haven't died yet, so even I don't have this figured out 100% yet.
I hope you enjoy my ramblings and will continue to travel with me as I try to make sense of this paranormal field we all find so fascinating. Let me know what you think and if you have any questions, please share.
Special thanks to Frank for this weeks question.
"With great power comes great responsibility." Every true comic book fan knows that these are the words of wisdom that Uncle Ben gives a young Peter Parker to make him the hero Spider-Man. This saying stuck with me from the first time I ever heard it. Responsibility is such a strong word. Its a burden of obligation. Now how does this powerful word relate to our little field you ask, just hang with me, I'm getting to it.
We have quite a few responsibilities as investigators. We have a responsibility to our field to be honest and not fake evidence. We have the responsibility to be careful with how we collect our evidence. We have the responsibility to try to teach others how to collect evidence and investigate in the proper way. Too many of us watch a tv show and think we know everything we need to know. Doctors go to school and spend years to actually become doctors. They don't watch a few episodes of House and hang out a shingle. We need to read and try to work with people who have an understanding of this field. We also have a huge responsibility to not try to run before we can walk. There are too many teams going out to investigate and "clear" homes of their pesky ghosts and they have no clue what they are doing. A couple of Novembers ago, my team and I had to fly to upstate New York to help a family with a haunted home. They were at the end of their rope and just needed some help. Unfortunately, we were the fourth team to come out. Out of the previous three groups, one was a witches coven and the other two groups were completely new to all of this. All three groups had a different goal which was also a problem and to be honest it just made things more cloudy and active. These people didn't need an evp session or someone to come in and say their home is haunted. They needed help dealing with a huge and very real problem. We helped them, but thats because we knew they were our responsibility. See how I brought it back there?
I'm not going to tell anyone to not do something that you love. I am going to give you some "Don'ts" though.
- Don't start a group until you have at least a couple of years of experience.
- Don't just join a group until you have a chance to ask questions and research the group.
- Don't investigate a home until you know beyond the shadow of a doubt what you are doing.
- As a homeowner, if you need help, don't just call the first investigative group you find. This field can draw some weirdoes. These people will have access to your home and family so be careful.
- Don't stop investigating or learning. Just work smarter and learn everything you can. If you are new to the field, try to work some other teams and get some experience.
As always, I encourage you to get educated, then get out there and collect some ghost stories and evidence. If you need help, we are always there for advice and tons of other teams are too. Be smart and be safe.
I’ve been busy recently. Real, real busy and a huge part of that has been writing and looking at evidence on the internet. There is a growing trend that has started to disturb me. That trend is “fake” evidence.
Now “fake” is in quotes because I don’t think the intention is always to be a hoax. I think some people actually feel that what they are posting is real. Usually this evidence is the result of lazy investigators. The rest of this “fake” evidence is dickhead hoaxers. Why would people fake evidence? Fame my friends.
As paranormal tv shows become more and more popular and as we share info online at record paces, regular people are quickly becoming stars. Much like Kim Kardashian, all you need to become famous is a video and the internet. And every day, more and more people crave this fame. They put a video online and sit back and watch the hits, but what to do when you don’t have anything web worthy? Easy, you just make it up. With new features on many cell phones or internet applications, you can add a ghost to any picture. I have already seen several websites with these type of pictures posted on their sites.
Video is even better at being faked. In the UK, for some reason, ghost videos are being faked weekly. As “Most Haunted” became a huge hit, these videos began to spring up all the time. Some are girls with cell phone cameras having friends hide off camera and come out in costume. This video has over two million hits.
Another is the video of a guy’s kitchen in the midst of a poltergeist outbreak. As pots and pans flip around on camera, you begin to feel it is too perfect. Several other groups have torn this video apart. They say there is evidence of someone using green screen technology to fake this video. I actually agree with them. Something just seems wrong with this video and the story of why the video was taken doesn’t add up. One key point is with everything flying around, the precious camera is never touched or damaged in any way.
There are several others, some include tricky editing, ghosts from a hundred years ago caught on film wearing new tennis shoes and even special effects added to normal videos. This all damages our credibility as investigators. We have to remain vigilant and try to stay on top of all these new technologies and cons.
Of course, we also sometimes screw ourselves. We catch a video or evp that we can’t explain and so we really don’t try. I would like to give you a few tips to look for and just bring your attention to a couple of other points.
Things to look for:
–When you take a video or picture, you will focus on a point or person and make them the central piece of your picture. When someone gives you a video and the central figure is off to the side but a ghost pops up in the central point, you should smell the faint whiff of bs.
–When the evidence seems too good to be true, it always is. 99.9% of all ghost photos are caught by accident.
–Beware when the people hand you edited video. If they do edit it first, ask for the original. What they edit out can speak volumes about their evidence.
–Don’t get involved with people who have evidence and seem to want to be famous. Every real piece of evidence I have ever been given, has been by someone who actually seems confused or even shy about what they have experienced.
A quick tip:
When we do evps in groups, we always remember our questions, we never remember our spontaneous outbursts. I was involved in an investigation of a home in Kissimmee, Fl. My associate, Tim, had caught something on his digital recorder after he asked a question. We played the tape, but we all had problems with it. It sounded too good. Luckily, Tim had video recorded his evp session too. This was the key in breaking the case. Tim remembered asking a question, but he didn’t remember making an off the cuff remark to the home owner shortly after that. The video proved that he had and so the evidence had to be discounted. We should get into the habit of video recording all evp sessions. That way, there won’t be any doubts.
I know nothing hurts worse than having your excitement dashed against the rocks of reality, but as soon as you post “fake” evidence, you destroy your credibility. I have always said, the trust that is placed in us is very precious. Once we damage that trust, it will never be completely recovered. So, if there is ever a doubt about your evidence, you really have two options. Don’t post the evidence or post it and explain the doubts you have.
Thanks for reading and I will be back soon.
There is a question I get asked quite a bit. At some point, someone will find out what I do and ask “What do you think about that show _________?” Insert any of the “ghost” shows here. It really doesn’t matter. What they are really asking is “Is ________ full of crap or is it real?” That question is a lot more interesting and harder to answer.
I will answer that for you here today with a few glimpses into the past. I have also realized that it will take two parts to answer this correctly, so part two is coming next week.
Back in the day, I would watch Mark Nesbitt’s amazing “Ghosts of Gettysburg” specials on the History Channel. I loved this show and it gave me some great insight into the ghosts which have spun out of this tragic war.
My other favorite ghost shows were the ghost segments on “Unsolved Mysteries” and “In Search Of”. Both of these shows helped me realize just how strange and wonderful our world really was.
Once again, all of these shows were more overviews of a particular haunting and focused more on the ghost stories than the investigations of those hauntings. (There was a reason for that.) These shows made me want to do what I do and take groups into these haunted buildings and let them try to capture some evidence that a building or location is actually haunted.
Fast forward to now. I have been asked to be on several shows. This isn’t particularly a pat on the back. If you stay in this field for more than a year, you will probably be approached too. I have turned almost all of them down and the few I have done is because someone I know asked me to be involved as a favor.
You are probably asking “Why?” Because almost all of them want to focus on the negative aspects of a haunting. I have been involved in some cases that exposed something very dark or “evil”, but for the majority of my cases, the “ghosts” seem to be more confused than anything else.
Yet, the producers will always say, “We just want to really put a scare in the viewers.” This isn’t true to what I have witnessed, so I don’t feel comfortable doing it.
When I was a kid, a local tv newsman came to our school. A girl in my class told him she wanted to be a reporter too and he gave her some advice. To this day, it is the most honest advice I have ever heard about the news. He said,”You have to be change your thinking if you want to be a reporter. It never rains; it pours. There is never a fire; it is always an inferno. Every problem is an epidemic. You have to be ready to up the drama to draw an audience.” This is a good description of these tv shows now. They focus on the worst case and they have to play up the drama.
The truth is an investigation can be very boring. You sit in a dark room with or without equipment running, and you hope you see, hear, smell or feel something. Most nights, you go home empty handed. This won’t do for a good tv show. So, they have to make a huge deal about every sound or feeling. The investigators aren’t lying, they are just being dramatic and trying to give you a good show.
As they say on tv, To be continued…..
Thanks for reading,