[This article originally appeared at HollowHill.com.]
Catching up on the Halloween surge of ghost-related new stories, a few articles caught my attention.
First, I noticed that several popular locations are increasing police surveillance, especially around Halloween.
Michigan’s Northville Psychiatric Hospital is one of them. It has an increased “no tolerance” approach to trespassers.
That article said:
The site is popular with paranormal explorers and ghost hunters. And with the Halloween season in full swing, police are beefing up surveillance at the site.
The property is full of asbestos, broken glass and other hazards, authorities said.
Whether or not a site is off-limits and patrolled, asbestos is always a concern at older, decaying sites. The cumulative effects of exposure can be fatal. Take no chances.
Around Halloween, several ghost hunters provided demonstrations and tours to raise funds for charities. For example, a Racine (Wisconsin) group, Racine Paranormal, held a fundraiser for hurricane relief.
If you’re part of a ghost hunting team, consider a similar fundraiser next Halloween. (Or, schedule one around Christmas. A surprising number of people are alone at the holidays. A fundraising event might be a wonderful distraction for them, and a big help to struggling communities and nonprofits.)
Ghost Hunters: The Next Generation?
I’m optimistic about the next generation of ghost hunters. I really liked an article about high school ghost hunters in Griffith, Indiana (near Chicago, IL).
Here’s part of it:
Fueled by the popularity of paranormal pop culture, such as “Ghost Hunters” and easy access to portable online electronics, the club now has 94 members among juniors and seniors — 25 percent of the school’s upperclassmen.
“When you go out on these things, you go out there expecting nothing to happen,” said Pete Ghrist, “and when something happens, it’s awesome.”
“We don’t rid people of ghosts,” he said. “It’s not a ‘Ghostbusters’ type of thing.”
“Slimer’s not going to come out of the wall and knock you over,” he said. “You’re not going to see some big apparition come out of the wall. Every once in a while, you get surprised. Something really cool happens.”
I especially like seeing cross-generational interest in ghost hunting. And, as I’ve often said, police officers are among our best resources.
Note: In November, the students will be visiting Old Lake County Jail. It sounds like a good investigation site.
Old Lake County Jail
I haven’t watching this video all the way through (it’s around 30 minutes), but the jail looks interesting. (The investigation starts at about 2:53.)
After that, I found a refreshingly skeptical article about ghost hunting tools, Verify: Is there a science behind ghost hunting? The video (and article) from a Dallas (TX) ABC station, WFAA, manages to lean towards skepticism but avoid most snark.
From that article, after mentioning results from a spirit box (or something like a Frank’s Box or Shack Hack):
Biddle says, what we’re hearing are random snippets from ads and DJ’s.
“And if you combine it with the expectations of a paranormal group that’s in there asking questions, over and over. And that’s just waiting for something that sounds like a word. Or sounds like an answer that fits what they expect to hear,” he says.
Kenny’s studied a lot of ghost hunters. His biggest problem is most do not use technology in a scientific way. Mostly, they’re hooked on the thrill.
“You gotta go in and find a cause. If something goes off and you can’t explain it, that does not mean it’s unexplainable,” he says.
That last line changed my mind about what seemed an annoying, “Yeah…? Prove it!” attitude.
The fact is, we do need to debunk every anomaly, if we can. And, if something happens that we can’t explain, that doesn’t mean it’s unexplainable.
But which explanation makes the most sense? It’s not as easy as saying “Occam’s Razor.” We can’t assume that everyone’s on the same page.
Remember that hard evidence — photos, EVP, cold spots, EMF spikes, etc. — aren’t the only evidence.
Personal Evidence Matters
Always consider personal reactions and connections.
On a foggy night, maybe that weird mist by your (late) Great-Aunt Hazel’s favorite rose bush is just moisture.
That’s one explanation.
But, maybe you always had a certain feeling when Great-Aunt Hazel entered the room, or you always knew it was her call, even before the phone rang.
If you had that same feeling right before the mist appeared, or as it arrived, maybe the mist was a greeting from Great-Aunt Hazel.
That’s a personal decision. In our research, I believe it’s important to consider credible impressions.
Those impressions are another reason to avoid total focus on your ghost hunting equipment. If you’re in hyperfocus, studying an electronic device, you might miss seeing a shadow person.
Or, if you’re shouting at a (loud) spirit box, you could miss a ghostly whisper from the darkest corner of the room.
You might easily explain your exhaustion, shoulder aches, or uneasy “gut feeling.” But… what if it’s actually a ghost trying to make contact?
In the past, I’ve spoken about baseline checks.
Routinely repeat them during every investigation, if only to pause and shift your focus away from gadgets.
Also note all personal reactions, no matter how small. When you exchange notes with other researchers, those “trivial” reactions may reveal a pattern that fits the site’s ghostly history.
From what I’m seeing, ghost hunting is still thriving. Even better, new generations of ghost hunters are joining us. They’re genuinely interested, not just copying something they saw on Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures.
Though a few people are still sensationalizing this field, most of us (new and old) are serious about paranormal investigations.
People are more skeptical about ghosts (in a healthy way), but also willing to explore new research techniques. That makes ghost hunting an evolving, exciting field.
It’s a good time to be a ghost hunter.