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Improving Ghost Hunting Investigation Techniques

Autumnforest left some wonderful comments on yesterday’s post that of course got me thinking about other ways to improve ghost hunting investigation techniques.

JOB ASSIGNMENTS

Autumnforest brought up the very astute point that just as people are assigned certain duties within a ghost hunting group (such as lead investigator, case manager or tech manager), investigators should be assigned certain tasks when out in the field.

It seems so obvious, but I know of very few groups where one person is in charge of taking EMF readings all night, another in charge of monitoring temperature fluctuations, yet another is responsible for EVP work.

But other scientific studies do this, break out the work and have people dedicated to specific tasks. Very good observation on her part. Leads to less contamination of evidence.

BETTER WAYS TO VERIFY EVIDENCE

Another thing she brought up was the EVP she’d captured of a kid. It was of bootsteps I believe, yet the kids at school didn’t believe her. Even now many grownups would be hard pressed to.

Even though I’ve never heard the evidence myself, I’m 99% certain she didn’t fake it. I think Autumnforest was ahead of her time even back then. She might not ever be able to convince the doubters but I think there’s a crucial clue to legitimizing EVPs from her experience.

I believe I read before that she caught the EVP by sitting on the top of the stairs of the home she was growing up in at the time. This memory was triggered by something else Autumnforest said in her comment on yesterday’s post. About how even GH, as much as they strive to be credible, still potentially contaminate a lot of evidence by moving around too much. They operative word is sit.

Now many times I have seen GH and GHI members sit while conducting EVP sessions. But I’ve also seen them start them while walking or while standing. I think a way to produce better, less contaminated results would be to (a) conduct them while sitting and staying as still as possible, and (b) conduct them in front of a video camera.

That means if a two-partner team is in the room during the EVP session, both people are accounted for on screen. That way no one can say it was the person behind the camera murmuring something and “creating” the EVP.

This can be accomplished a couple of ways:

  1. Either both investigators wield cameras and keep them trained on each other the while time, or
  2. If they’re sharing a camera, placing it somewhere and then positioning themselves in front of it together.

Also, I hate to say it, but if it truly is an EVP, it should show up on both the voice recorder and the video camera. However, I also agree if the ghost only approaches the voice recorder and speaks softly into it and the video camera isn’t close enough, I could see how the camera might not get it.

Still, I think evidence is the most legit when you have more than one source capturing it and too often it seems opportunities to do this (or try and do it) are missed.

A MATTER OF CONTROL

Another thing Autumnforest’s comment made me think about is something from my college days: every experiment always has to have a control group. I have yet to see or read about any ghost hunting group using control methods to help verify results.

What made me think this was Autumnforest has a theory (well, a bunch of them really, that’s why she blogs about them at Ghost Hunting Theories), that people can influence an investigation as much as the weather, time of day, or the moon’s phase. It’s an interesting theory, and I’m hoping she’ll find a way to test it if she hasn’t already, but it made me think of something else from my college science course experiment days. People themselves can corrupt data.

How to correct for corrupted data? Why, you set up a control group of course!

But how do you set up a controlled environment when ghost hunting? I’m sure there are other ways, but here’s two I came up with:

  1. The knowledge and background investigators have about each location should be minimized as much as possible. The case manager and the lead investigator(s) should know the hot spots and reports of activity, but the rest of the team members shouldn’t. The lead investigator should assign the other investigators to certain areas but shouldn’t tell them what to look for. Why? Because if you think about it, there’s already a kind of corruption factor to begin with. It’s called the expectancy factor. Investigators who know about a location will have preconceived notions of what they expect to experience and thus up the chances of doing so through self-fulfilling prophecy.
  2. Investigators should not discuss experiences as they’re happening. I’ve seen Jason and Grant do this from time to time on GH, but there’s definitely room for improvement. Say a team of investigators hears something, like a voice. It’s okay to say, “Did you hear that?” but instead of saying, “I thought I heard X” both should write it down on separate pieces of paper and then compare results during evidence review. (Or, in GH’s case, for entertainment value the investigators could hold up their papers for the camera.) And to up the credibility factor, both investigators should be visible on camera, their backs to each other (or somehow make it obvious they can’t see what the other’s writing), and then hold up the paper. This would help validate experiences when investigators hear knocking, bangs, voices, etc. And in the case of voices the gender, whether they heard them laughing, screaming, moaning, or saying a word should be noted. (Example: I remember an episode Jason and Grant were investigating a tunnel, I think at the Stanley Hotel. Even the cameraman’s camera picked up the voice of a little girl. It would really make such an experience even more credible if Jason and Grant wrote down separately what they thought they heard. In this case if they’d both written little girl laughing there’d be no denying it.)
Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her on a tennis court somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.
http://www.courtneymroch.com

2 thoughts on “Improving Ghost Hunting Investigation Techniques

  1. yes, we're in one of those "flux" times where science hasn't quite caught up with our ability to explain it in these matters. It's hard to establish solid methodology when there is doubt as to what results really mean!

    –Lisa
    http://authorlisalogan.blogspot.com

  2. That was a great post! I love to hear people talking about how we can make the industry better and more legit. I'm glad I got you thinking about the field. Yes, everyone should be hands off their recorder during EVP–the microphone is in the device and holding it and shifting it in your hand, turning it towards the breeze, all can corrupt it. If you have a person who's Mr. EVP, he should become an expert in sound, sound programs, and listening. As a medical transcriptionist and married to a person who's a sound expert, my ability to discern words from mumbling exhausted doctors and my husband's ability to know controlled ways to record and play back, I might decide to be a team's EVP person. Each team member should know all about their EMF meter or thermometer and what the variables are when using it and all about temperature and EMF variations. Once you have a team where there's no doubt about the equipment, what it's measuring, and what could be throwing off the findings, then you have a team who's legit. I like your idea of having people writing down what they heard and the time they heard it. Taking notes is very helpful and I always do that so I can refer back to times on the camera and voice recorder. The only difficulty with that becomes the shuffling sounds and scratching sounds from writing, but any good EVP session should include shout outs. That's when someone coughs, moves, shuffles, rustles, you call it out to the recorder "disregard that sound, a person coughing." It helps the reviewer a lot. Sometimes, you get newbie grunts to listen to EVPs and camera recordings because it's tedious, but when you do that you have someone reviewing it who wasn't there, doesn't know what to look for. Leaving verbal notes helps them to realize what to look or listen to. Nobody is ever going to satisfied with a team's findings no matter how impressive they are. The people on the team can know that they covered all the bases, but they can't make Joe Public accept it. It's like hunting Bigfoot and finding hairs or footprints. Until you drag his furry butt out, no one's going to believe it. Until we figure out how to outsmart the phenomenon by learning how to call it at will to us, we won't be able to give proof. I think that method will be based in science, perhaps quantam physics. Until then, we can continue to gather info to further our own research.

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