Great Expectations

Posted in Paranormal on March 16, 2011 by paranormalteam

This blog post has nothing to do with Charles Dickens’ rather good novel, although I recommend reading it if you haven’t. This post has to do with understanding and setting peoples expectations when it comes to the paranormal.

The following is based around a conversation I had not all that long ago. A local resident had got wind of what I did in my spare time. Somewhat strange as we do not advertise or promote ourselves anywhere (for many reasons, not to be covered in this blog post). Anyway. These aren’t the exact words of the conversation as I didn’t record it but the jist of it is to the best of my memory.

For the purposes of this entry I am going to call the person in question The Enquirer (TE). I am loathe to use words such as customer or client as to me these are synonymous with money, which has no place in the paranormal community.

TE: I hear you are a ghost hunter?

ME: No, I am not a ghost hunter. I do look into claims of the paranormal however.

TE: Isn’t that the same thing?

ME: No, completely different.

From here I had to launch into an explanation of the difference between a ghost hunter and someone who goes in with an open and unbiased mind. The term ghost hunter in itself immediately says that you already know of the existence of ghosts and you are out to get evidence to back this up. In fact you should go in with no predeposed ideas and with a mind to provide explanations where possible and suggest further action if it is beyond your capabilities.

ME: What seems to be the problem?

TE: My house is haunted. I need someone to come in and prove I’m not going mad.

ME: You say haunted. What makes you think this?

What follows is an explanation of their personal experiences. Strange noises, doors closing, things moving (out of sight) etc. After a lengthy conversation we continue.

ME: So you want me to come in and prove your house is haunted?

TE: Yes!

ME: I can’t do that.

TE: But isn’t that what you do?

Again I explain about looking for explanations etc. I have to point out that no-one has proved the existence of ghosts, much as nobody has proved the non-existence of ghosts. For me to come out at the end of this and say the house was haunted would mean I would have captured the ultimate proof. I would be able to present my findings and those would be universally pulled apart, digested and the situation recreated successfully. Even then, would it be the proof of ghosts or proof of something else?

TE: So you can’t come in and tell me if my house is haunted?

ME: No but I can come in and help to find explanations, record what I find and then go from there.

TE: Oh but that’s not what I want. I know there are ghosts here, I need someone to prove it so I know I’m not going mad. Thanks for taking the time to chat but I think I may have to ask another group.

At this point my jaw firmly hit the floor.  I tried my best then to make them understand what I was waffling about but to no avail.  I couldn’t provide them with the outcome they wanted and that was that.  They did indeed have great expectations.

Obviously I have written here the general jist of the conversation, not exactly as it was word for word.  Hopefully I conveyed the points I wanted to successfully.

I don’t know whether this particular person did go to another group or not.  I didn’t hear anything on the grapevine.  Maybe they had a rethink based on what I said.  Oh for that to be true!

Finally here’s a picture of Miss Haversham to fill in some space and make the blog post a bit more visually appealling.

Falling out of love with all things paranormal

Posted in Paranormal on March 8, 2011 by paranormalteam

It’s been absolutely ages since I wrote a blog post. The main reason for this has been a certain apathy with all things paranormal.

Over the many years I have personally been involved with the paranormal my interest hasn’t wavered. Recently, however, there have been a number of things that have “put me off” being involved.

The first of these is the uncredible, unproven and downright lies that come from the various paranormal TV shows. Yes I would be the first to agree that they have pushed the paranormal out of the closet (so to speak) and into the mainstream. This in turn has attracted a lot of attention and interest from Joe Public. Here I am talking about “ghost-hunting” shows in particular.

Now, no-one has a monopoly on the paranormal and absolutely anyone can turn their hand to studying it. It’s a free world and nothing is proven so the more researching the paranormal the better. However my quibble comes in when people base their methods exactly on what they see on TV. A lot of people will believe what is presented to them on TV, this also counts for other forms of media. People will believe a story in a newspaper because, well, it’s in the newspaper! It must be correct. Don’t be fooled into thinking journalists nowadays aren’t out for a quick buck and partial to a bit of copy and pasting just to make a story.

One of the main problems with TV shows is the editing. Well, of course, they need to edit it as who wants to sit and watch hours and hours of locked off camera footage? I would but that’s just because I’m weird. Camera angles never seem to cover events that happen leaving what we see to be not what actually happened. These people have never really given us anything much to think about with regards to evidence, new research methods etc. Why would we want to follow what they do? Just because they have made it onto TV? If you see them using a gadget do a bit of research into what that gadget is actually measuring and why it might even be in your toolbox. Let’s face it, if you bought all the gadgets they promoted you’d be a very poor person right now. It’s expensive and it’s also very exploitative.

The other reason that I have the huff with the paranormal bubble is some of the people. Here I am referring directly to those that are out to make money from what they do. The people I am talking about are fully aware that they are taking the money under false pretenses. Nothing they say can actually be proved, outside of their own head but they would like to be paid for telling you this. Now this really doesn’t sit very well with me. Full in the knowledge that this house cannot be proven to be haunted they will advertise that it is. Isn’t that like me saying I have an invisible donkey for sale? I can see it, you can’t but yup it definately exists. I know I may have some opposition here but that’s what the comments are for below.

The last thing, and I’ll make it quick as I’m waflling, is spreading disinformation. Chinese whispers are very destructive. All that is said to be fact needs to be backed up with evidence. End of story. Before believing what someone is telling you, do some research to see if the facts fit the story. 9/10 it doesn’t.

Those that follow me on twitter (and have done for a while) will notice I still post but not as much as previously. That being said, recent events have re-sparked a bit of enthusiasm which we hope to turn into something positive and something different. I know a few others that have either given up on the paranormal or taken a long break from it. Unfortunately most of these have been people with their heads firmly screwed on. It would be a shame for them to give up (you know who you are).

Beware…

Posted in Paranormal on February 5, 2010 by paranormalteam

The human being is a funny old creature and the power of the mind is something that is greatly overlooked. How much effect can sub conscious thoughts have on you during a paranormal investigation?

Suggestibility

Do you consider yourself open to suggestions? Person A suggests to Person B that a house is haunted. Will person A be that type of person that will instantly start to think that they see or hear things? Even if you believe you are not a suggestible kind of person you would be surprised the amount of information you store, without even realising. In years to come a piece of information you picked up from somewhere might pop back in there and lead you to take a certain course of action.

Expectation

You are going into a haunted house! Leading on from suggestibility we come to expectation. As above the expectations may be planted via a suggestion, or you may just be a naturally expectant person! The expectation of something happening can lead very easily to something happening. For example, you have heard that people hear disembodied voices in the building. Wind suddenly whistles past the window and you swear you hear a voice. If you weren’t expecting this, would you have heard differently?

I have noticed a very very high level of expectation from people who attend public ghost hunts. They have seen Most Haunted, Ghost Hunters etc etc and they expect that in every place something paranormal will happen. It’s only a matter of time till a random squeaky floorboard or wind whistle has them jumping out of their skins.

Imagination

Well, you can’t beat a bit of imagination! But when it comes to the paranormal it can all go wrong. You see a photo with an ‘orb’ on it, the orb has a face! OMG it’s a spirit. You see a shadow move across the corner of the room! OMG it’s a demonic entity. Or, it could quite easily be (and more likely be) you seeing faces in shapes that aren’t there and your eyes not working very well in the dark. Because our eyes don’t work in the dark, hopefully you’ve noticed that. Stand in a darkened room for long enough and you start seeing all manner of goodies. None of them proof of the paranormal.

Unfortunately this is what makes paranormal investigations woolly. The human being. As in the ways mentioned we can be flawed when it comes to open mindedness and freedom from influence.

“Your house is haunted……”

Posted in Uncategorized on January 21, 2010 by paranormalteam

I put the feelers out about this topic on twitter a moment ago. I was interested by the responses I got. However I can’t say what I want to say on twitter, so the blog post is the best option.

The question I posed on twitter was “Am I the only one that thinks it’s wrong for a paranormal team to say a house is haunted?’

What I mean by the above is when a paranormal group uses the words “Your house is haunted” or similar, after they have investigated a property. I personally think this is very wrong and I’ll explain my reasons for this in the blog post that follows.

For a person to state that a property is haunted is to state that they can prove, without any doubt in the world, that this is the case. From the many, possibly millions, of people around the world studying the paranormal this person knows the answer. In which case I say to them, post your evidence and let’s end the argument over the existence of ghosts forever.

Some people you meet, that believe they are being subjected to a haunting in their home, are scared. They are scared for themselves and they are scared for their families. From a moral standpoint, I see someone that comes along and validates the homeowners fears by use of the words “It’s haunted” as being very much in the wrong. If we lived in a world whereby haunting was defined, it’s reasons known, and it’s ghosts were proven fact then this would not be a problem. However, we don’t. Nothing has been proven. Everything has been theorized. We are no closer to the truth really than we were many years ago.

So what I am suggesting is replacing the use of the words “Your house is haunted” with something more realistic along the lines of “Currently we don’t have an explanation. This needs more research and investigation.” Because in truth this is where we actually stand. If you can prove it, then prove it to the world without a shadow of a doubt. End the skepticism and convince the scientists.

But then this is my opinion, I am one voice in the many. I just wish sometimes it was a little louder.

Demons and Possessions

Posted in Uncategorized on November 11, 2009 by paranormalteam

There is one thing that I am starting to hear a lot more about lately and that is demonic possession. What really scares me about this is that people are going around stating possessions as fact. We have people now that call themselves demonologists (and other terms). From the study of demons, through to the actual removal of a demon from a person/place, modern demonologists/exorcists say they are the people to sort this out. These people might not necessarily be of any particular faith, they may be of no faith whatsoever.

Untitled-2

I would like to point here that we currently no longer live in the dark ages. Many moons ago a man seen fitting, convulsing, dribbling at the mouth etc would soon after have heard the shouts of “Demon! Warlock! Magic!”. This person would have then been punished/cleansed or whatever else was thought right at the time.

In this day and age, the sensible people of this world would seek medical help for the individual. Whether they are having an epileptic fit or have another medical condition. You just don’t take a chance and you certainly don’t assume demons are at work.

Most people in this world will have, at some point in their life, contact with someone who is suffering from mental health issues. You may even suffer from this yourself. There is a great deal of misunderstanding still about mental health and yes, STILL, we have a stigma attached to it.

My all time worst fear is to see someone suffering from a mental health condition being attended to by someone wanting to cast out their demons! The first thing that should be done is that the person is referred to the correct qualified professional. Where I say professional I mean a mental health professional, not a professional demonologist/exorcist/[insert current term for them here]. A person suffering, who is confronted by someone telling them they are possessed, really isn’t going to be helped in long term are they? No, its going to strengthen their own beliefs and make the whole situation worse.

I have heard directly of a demonlogist saying they were trained to deal with mental health. All I can say is Bollocks. Plain and simple. a) You are trained in the fact you are qualified? Right, in that case you should know better. Go through the proper channels. b) You are trained as in you’ve read some books? In that case, please get the hell away from the “possessed” person and never come back.

This is not intended to be a dig at anyones beliefs. Believe all you want in whatever you want! That’s called freedom, which we are all entitled to. However, please do not go around stating that they are fact. You really have no right. And in the case of the above, you are treading on very thin ice and could be messing with peoples health. Demons may exist, who can really say, but the first thing that should be considered is the person suffering. That’s above and beyond any beliefs we may have.

Ouija Pain

Posted in Uncategorized on November 9, 2009 by paranormalteam

I went out and bought a Ouija Board. I know I shouldn’t have but I couldn’t resist. It was made of this lovely wood and was all soft to the touch and………. anyway I digress.

As we all know (and if you don’t you need a slap), the common explanation for the Ouija board experience is the Ideomotor effect. I could go on and type a load about this but it’s all already here on the Skepdic website http://www.skepdic.com/ideomotor.html

English_ouija_board

So on Saturday night myself, and the other two team members, went out for a nice Bonfire night firework extravaganza. On our return, after consuming vast amounts of pizza, chicken wings and ice cream, we got the Ouija board out.

The session went on for a good hour or so. The majority of the time the glass was just going around and around in circles. The rest of the time it was spelling out things like AZBYCXDWEVFU (can you see the pattern there?). Anyway, just as we were all getting fed up to death with the crap it started to behave.

We get a name Russ. Russ or Russell is a modern name, this guy would probably be about 60/70 now. Russ says he is a homosexual. He likes our male team member and is not too keen on the females, for obvious reasons. Then he proceeds to tell us he committed suicide, as he was either in love or had a relationship, with one of the owners of the factory my flat is built on. On asking if anyone would be able to validate this we get a resounding no. Great.

So what can we make of all this. I can probably go and find out if there was a person called Russ who worked at the factory and committed suicide. I really should but my gut feeling is that this is all a load of hokum. But I wouldn’t be a proper investigator if I didn’t at least give it a shot. We shall see.

Oh yeah, and another thing, I have really strained muscles today from the rampant glass movement!

Premonition Log

Posted in Premonitions, Uncategorized on October 29, 2009 by paranormalteam

As a follow up to the recent blog post I have noticed a number of people have recently tweeted about having a vivid premonition. In what possibly might be a vain attempt to get this stuff written down, I have created a premonition log (link on the right hand side). Please, pretty please, if you do have one then please log if you can.

Please Note: When you comment it may take a few minutes to be approved. This is so that the site is not inundated with sp@m.

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