Posts Tagged ‘Investigating’

Paranormal 101: Ghost Hunting Vs Paranormal Investigating

September 14th, 2022

Anyone with an interest in ghosts, spirits and the paranormal has probably heard the terms “ghost hunter” and “paranormal researcher”, and wondered if there was any difference between the two and what those differences are. What makes you one or the other? From my experience, I would argue that there are some very key differences between ghost hunting and paranormal research. I won’t say if one is better than the other, or even that one is right and the other wrong. There are numerous schools of thought when it comes to spirits and communicating with the after life. Whether you relate to be a ghost hunter or a paranormal researcher is up to you – your personal preferences and beliefs. But consider these differences in the practices and motivations of each. Some ghost hunting Web sites offer these definitions of the two practices*:

Ghost Hunt – Going to a place were there have been no sightings of ghosts and trying to catch some on film (video and photos), sounds, eyewitness, etc. (graveyards are the number one place to start, churches, schools and older buildings too)

Ghost Investigation – Going to a known haunted place and recording data (video, photos, audio, temperatures), notes, interviews and other evidence to prove/disprove the haunting and to assist the owners and the spirits in moving on and leaving the place if they want that. The assistance can be either you directly assisting the owner with the situation or putting them in contact with experienced groups or individuals that will try to resolve the situation. Your assistance can be something as simple as educating them on what is going on and their options.
Honestly, those are two really great definitions. I would add that very often ghost “hunters” tend to be more aggressive in their investigation. Their motivation is clear: Ghost hunters are there to find and document ghosts. To that end, they may use techniques such as “provoking” to achieve their ends. They may hurl insults at spirits, swear at them, command the spirit or entity to touch or even hurt them, and demand the spirit show itself. Are these tactics successful? I’ll have to say they are sometimes successful, but they also can be dangerous. It doesn’t matter how experience a hunter you are, ghosts and spirits are still an unknown quantity – you never know what will happen. This sort of behavior could evoke extreme violence, increase spirit activity in the location – not a great result if this is someone’s home or work place, and even lead to possessions and evil spirits showing themselves where they otherwise may not have.

Paranormal researchers (PRs) on the other hand tend to condemn this sort of aggressive posturing. PRs don’t even use the term “ghost”, preferring the term “spirit”. Even though offers the following definition: “Ghost, specter, spirit all refer to the disembodied soul of a person. A ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person, which appears or otherwise makes its presence known to the living: the ghost of a drowned child. A specter is a ghost or apparition of more or less weird, unearthly, or terrifying aspect: a frightening specter. Spirit is often interchangeable with ghost but may mean a supernatural being, usually with an indication of good or malign intent toward human beings: the spirit of a friend; an evil spirit,” PRs prefer “spirit” because it tends to signify something a bit broader than “ghost.” Additionally, PRs believe that the spirits themselves prefer to be referred to as “spirits”.

PRs tend to be more interested in the history and roots of a haunting. Many approach each investigation as an opportunity to debunk or disprove a haunting and see a disproved haunting as just as much a victory as a proved one. The motivations of the majority of paranormal researchers is to find the truth and to assist those afflicted with hauntings to find solutions about what to do about what they are experiencing. Those who refer to themselves as paranormal researchers will not use provocations to lure out spirits. Their methods of drawing out spirits are much less aggressive. They may use trigger object (also called era cues). The tone of their investigations are more polite, respecting the spirit’s desire to participate or not.

PRs do historical and other pre-research before each investigation and can use information discovered to create a friendly atmosphere in which the spirit will feel safe and/or comfortable coming forward. This is not to say that PRs never have bad experiences, never meet unfriendly and even evil spirits and never experience possessions or get hurt. Anyone seeking out spirits runs these risks – this is important to know for anyone considering joining or conducting an investigation. As I said earlier, spirits are an unknown quantity – you never know what will happen – regardless of whether you consider yourself a ghost hunter or a paranormal researcher.

Whether you consider yourself one or the other, or you’re not sure which you are or which you prefer to be, be careful about the paranormal programming you watch on TV. Keep in mind that television shows have to be dramatic. Real investigations often come up empty – with little or no evidence, or perhaps some not very exciting evidence. Not every investigation is going to be like whats on TV – if they want good ratings they have to make it very dramatic. I probably don’t have to tell you that life is not like TV – but remember that when it comes to the paranormal as well.

*definition source: