How to Become a Paranormal Researcher
How to become a ghost hunter?
"Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense."
Anyone can be a paranormal researcher - there are no laws or codes that define what a paranormal researcher is. However, to be a good paranormal researcher is entirely different. Another idea to think about is - do you want to research as a hobby? Or do you want to conduct paranormal investigations on a more permanent level? There are some paid jobs available out there as a paranormal researcher as well as parapsychologists attached to universities. In addition a lucky few have broken into TV or have become authors that pays for their work. There are also many excellent groups out there who don't charge anything for services and investigate purely out of enthusiasm and a belief that there is something worthwhile exploring
But for the vast majority researching the paranormal is an interest that is studied by the investigators outwith their normal job and working day. This goes to show just how dedicated and enthusiastic some of these people are.
Learning to be a paranormal researcher often means being a jack of all trades
Taking the first steps to becoming a paranormal investigator
Start to form a plan of the knowledge you will need as a paranormal researcher. In addition, think about your life experiences and education - is there anything you already have that would be useful? For example a good knowledge of say photography, science, nature/environment, psychology/behaviour, journalism/writing, nursing/care/doctor, police force. This may surprise you, but all these subjects/professions can and do help within paranormal investigations. Some are self explantory but professions such as nursing/care gives you a good knowledge of people and how/why the may react/believe in some things. The police force gives you an excellent background of course in investigation and planning techniques.
As well as the professions, below is a list of some of the things you should be thinking about:
- What current knowledge do you have on subjects such as ghosts, poltergeists, residual hauntings, spirit activity and other forms of paranormal activity? Read up and study on the subjects that you need to.
- Research local groups and consider joining one. Even if you want to set up your own group eventually, the experience gained by an existing group will be invaluable to you.
- If there are no local groups or no vacancies within a group at the moment then you could set up on your own. You will then need to research and study how paranormal investigations are conducted and what equipment you might need to buy - an essential piece is certainly a camera and/or camcorder.
- One of the best ways to get the knowledge you need is to study a course on paranormal subjects and investigations. There are many to choose from, particularly on-line, where the modules are conducted via the internet. Shop around for the most reasonable costs and the topics that you feel would be most beneficial to you. Courses are discussed in the next section.
Paranormal investigators look for the natural causes before the supernatural
Paranormal Investigators often study parapsychology. (Edinburgh University, Koestler Unit, Seat for Parapsychology Studies.)
Courses available for paranormal investigators
The courses that you should think about completing are those that cover the essential core subjects you need, such as:
- The attributes of a good paranormal investigator
- What parnanormal investigation involves
- The basics of paranormal investigations
- How to prepare and perform your own investigations
- What equipment you will need and how to use it effectively
- The various kinds of paranormal activity - it's also helpful if courses also show how natural phenomena might be mistaken for something paranormal.
- Courses that show video clips and photographs are also very useful
If you want to include a more scholarly study of paranormal events then consider studying parapsychology. This doesn't have to be the the full degree course. Edinburgh University's Koestler Unit for example, has been the seat of parapsychology studies since it was founded in 1985. Dr Caroline Watt currently runs an online course in parapsychological studies that covers elements such as:
- Spontaneous paranormal experiences
- Beliefs in the paranormal
- Theories in Parapsychology
- Lab testing of PK and ESP
- The latest developments in lab research
- Testing people with a possible psychic/ESP ability
The implications that may arise from parapsychology studies
Other subjects that paranormal investigators should at least have a grounding in are physics, human psychology/behaviour, the effects of the environment on the human mind - such as infrasound, emf (electromagnetic fields) etc.
Let's now have a look at some of the equipment you will need for investigating.
It may surprise you to know that an essential piece of equipment for paranormal investigation is a notebook and pen
Essential equipment for a paranormal investigator is a camera
What equipment does a paranormal investigator need?
To conduct a serious and worthwhile paranormal research you don't need - despite what the TV and movies show - to buy expensive equipment. Sure, equipment can help, but it's the researcher who makes or breaks an investigation, not the gadgets. There are however, a couple of pieces of equipment that are necessary such as:
- A digital camera - having night vision capability is also useful but not essential.
- A magnetic tape recorder for recording EVP's - electronic voice phenomena. There is much debate about using the latest digital recording devices as they are held to filter out background noise better. Having said this, there are some excellent recordings that have been made on the older magnetic tape type.
- A notebook and pen. This may sound obvious, but in the excitement of a first investigation, the smaller essentials are often forgotten. Practice developing note taking skills - when you have a few witnesses to interview it might even be a good idea to record the sessions.
- Other items such as a torch/flashlight, flask of hot tea/coffee/soup and maybe even a good book - you can sit doing nothing for hours with no activity, so it can get boring.
- The most important item is you! Paranormal investigations need patience, alertness, planning, and good note taking. Essential information to record is place, date, time, weather, impressions, temperature. It's also a huge bonus if you are good with people in general. You will often have to interview witnesses and getting them to open up to you is a handy skill to have.
- Until you're more experienced and are serious about continuing paranormal investigations, don't spend lots of money on more expensive equipment such as EMF detectors (Electro Magnetic Field) or the latest gadget for recording fluctuations in temperatures. If you do invest, ensure that you know how to work these devices properly otherwise the data collected will be worthless - not to mention an expensive waste of your time.
So I hope you are now excited about your new interest and that it won't be long before you are on your first investigation. Who knows, maybe you are the one destined to find out what all this paranormal stuff is really all about?
Do you think you have ever had genuine paranormal activity in your house?
© 2012 Helen Murphy Howell