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I’ve seen it all before, the never ending struggle for credibility in the world of paranormal research and the recurring battle of criticism between the skeptics and believers, each with their own definition of reality and logic. Faith against science, heart against mind, probability against impossibility, pitting one group’s methods against the next, each convinced they are among a new generation of logical thinkers. Yea, yea, yea I know, nothing new here, but you know, when you take away the all the printed t-shirts, cookie cutter websites, business cards, radio shows, TV shows and (believe it or not) military titles (eek) that many of the investigation teams use and take a good “scientific” look at their methods rather than their evidence, it’s easy to find areas for improvement. The following are five such areas that I have seen throughout my years of working with paranormal groups across the country. Of course this list is not for everyone (but you know who you are) and obviously there are more than five steps to scientific efficiency, but hopefully this will encourage investigation teams to take a closer and more critical look at their own methods, rather than everyone else’s.

1.) Double Check Your Experiences.

I’ve seen videos of paranormal investigators claiming to encounter what feels like a static electricity field at an investigation site, but yet they never attempt to measure the field with a static meter or electric field meter. I’ve seen investigators claim to feel a cold patch of air in the center of a room, but never attempt to measure temperature in that particular spot and compare it with the rest of the room. I’ve seen investigators walk in to a room and claim to get very light headed and nauseated, but never attempt to measure the room for excessive electro-magnetic fields, excessive positive ION levels, radon, carbon monoxide, chemicals or any other source that may be causing the issue. I could go on and on here, but the point is folks, that if you are not there to measure and research the unusual experiences you have, why are you there at all? There has been very little advancement in the paranormal field in terms of atmospheric and environmental data captured during a paranormal event, and having seen what I have just mentioned, I can understand why. Lack of equipment is really no excuse. There is a host of inexpensive atmospheric sensing equipment on the market and much of it can be bought at the major discount department stores or home improvement stores, not to mention the internet. So my point here is, if you’re not willing to back up your experiences with data (or at least attempt to) your claims of paranormal interaction are really nothing more than a story of “the fish that got away” and no better than the original claims that brought you there.

2.) Double Check Your Equipment.

I’ve seen it dozens of times in the field and unfortunately on TV. The investigators come across an area that makes their KII meters go wild, but never even attempt to put a value to that reaction or double check it’s validity by using other equipment to back it up. What could it hurt to use an “EMF” meter along side your KII? What if the KII was malfunctioning? How powerful of a field are you dealing with? What’s the frequency of the field? What is the origin of the field? All questions that never seem to get answered. Since electro-magnetic fields contain electric fields, an electric field meter might be a good idea to use alongside your “EMF” meter. The idea is that the more samples we collect, and the more we are certain of the function of our equipment, the better chance we have of debunking or confirming claims and experiences.

3.) Turn off Your Radios and Phones

So many groups love the idea that a set of wireless radios will give them a higher level of organization and coordination in the field, and during the set-up and initial walk though of a location that could be true, however, once the investigation begins, radios and cell phones should be shut off (and I mean completely). The key pieces of equipment used in paranormal research involve the measurement of electromagnetic fields in the radio frequency range. The same fields used by those fancy little wireless radios most groups like to carry, and just pushing the talk button, without saying a word can give you some interesting, and false positive, electro-magnetic field readings. Although cell phones generally utilize a higher frequency band when in use, they can and do transmit lower frequency radio signals when communicating with the cell tower and that will give false readings on your equipment as well. It doesn’t matter if you have the ringer off, or the radio off since some phones will still continue to transmit. Your best bet is to shut it completely off. I know what you’re thinking, what about group communication? Well the answer to that involves time synchronization. Pick a time to switch coverage, meet in a particular location or even turn the radios and cells back on for a quick check in.

4. Shut off your flash!

I can’t even begin to tell you how many photos I’ve seen over the past year alone that were simply the result of a camera flash reflection. The biggest offender would be orbs (don’t even get me started on those) and the next would be mists, lens flares, and general reflections off of shiny objects in the room. All of which are very often the simple result of using a camera flash. The problem is you can’t see what the flash is hitting in that split second it’s on, and that leads to many misidentifications. It’s also important to note that flashes were designed to illuminate physical objects such as people and things in the room, they weren’t designed to take photo’s of light anomalies, shadows, or very faint apparitions, all of which would be obliterated by a flash. So how do you take a picture in a dark room with out a flash? Well the first step is to understand the functions of your camera. Most cameras will allow you to change the shutter speed. (check the manual if your unsure how) A slower shutter speed will allow the digital sensor (or film) in the camera to expose for a longer period of time; therefore lower light levels will look brighter in the picture without any flash at all. In some cases the photo will appear better than your own vision allows. The only requirement of this is that the camera has to remain perfectly still, so be sure to use a tri-pod and make sure no one moving in your shot. With this method the common dust and moisture orbs are gone and you can be sure that any unusual activity you pick up is not from a flash. Note: If the area you’re shooting is in total darkness, you can point your flashlight at the ceiling to create an indirect lighting effect while the picture is being taken. This will help the camera expose the picture and not cause any unwanted reflections. Also since you will be controlling the light source, there will be no question of where it comes from.

5.) Take Multiple Photographs

When someone shows me a picture of an “alleged” apparition, one of my first questions to them is “how many photos from this angle did you take?” Sadly the answer is usually just one. When analyzing a photo of something unusual like an apparition, it’s important to have a reference to base it upon, and that reference should be from the exact same angle and position with the same camera and settings. What we hope to see is one or two photos in a series with the apparition and the rest without. This way we can compare the normal photos with the subject photos and identify the areas that have changed. We can also read the “Exif” information (Exchangeable Image File Format) of the photographs to see if the camera had to make any adjustments when the anomaly was in view as compared to when it wasn’t. The lesson here kids is that while multiple photos of the same thing may seem boring and a waste of memory space, you can never have too much information when investigating the paranormal.

Here’s to science!


 


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