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A question concerning the paranormal....

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A team member recently announced he was considering dropping out of our investigative group. He is a relatively new addition to the team, yet had conducted his own personal research into the paranormal for many years. He is also a critical thinker, growing disillusioned with the whole process. He found it rather “frivolous” to spend large amounts of time—nursing lost sleep, time away from the family, and often the financial drain on the wallet—devoting his energy to proving the existence of something that he already believes exists.

There was mention of the fraud that is prevalent in paranormal evidence…and he’s right. With today’s technology it is very easy to manipulate photographs, videos and audio to arrive at a ‘haunted’ scenario. We see this happen everyday.

And…regardless of genuine evidence that you gather and are excited about, there will always be someone in the wings waiting to shoot it down. Always!

I understand where he is coming from because frankly, I have been there myself.

Throughout the years I have been putting together these paranormal themed articles for the Examiner I have mentioned the word motivation numerous times. What exactly is an investigator’s motivation for spending long hours in the dark; losing sleep that only seems to get harder on us as we get older; spending the wee hours of the morning away from your spouse or children; and often at a long distance away, just to prove the existence that ghosts exist and dwell in certain locations for reasons of their own choosing?

We should all ask ourselves these questions.

Individuals participate in this ‘hobby’ for various reasons; and all of their own choosing. The top seven are:

One) The number one response is—to validate for themselves the existence of paranormal happenings. Often this drive is generated from a childhood or teenage experience that planted a seed. And at the end of the day, they don’t much care about any criticism of their results. You weren’t there…you don’t know what really happened or what I experienced. So shut up! Their original intent was to prove the paranormal, yet, when they finally arrive at that goal and do just that, do they then walk away satisfied? Very seldom. Because when we accomplish something we set out to do it’s just our human nature to strive on for something even bigger! We can’t let go. Let’s face it…paranormal investigating gets under your skin, and our drive dictates we expand beyond our original intentions.

Two) The adrenaline rush associated with what may happen. And then when it finally does. There can be long periods for a new investigator when absolutely nothing happens to them personally. This may go on for several investigations or several years. But when it finally does happen—watch out!—you are hooked. It all boils down to the fun associated with the pursuit of the hunt.

Three) The social factor of gathering with those of like mindset. Many times these are our closest group of friends, and what better people to spend first, a dinner, then long hours in the dark with? It’s a group devoted to a ‘cause’ per say. Bonds are developed…sometimes romance. They can’t help but happen. And different investigators bring different things to the table. It’ always learning experience.

Four) To get famous. These nitwits need to be weeded out as soon as possible and sent down the road. If their motivation and aspiration is to become a “paranormal celebrity” then only heartache lies in their future and you can’t save them. They really need to get a life and a new hobby.

Five) The historical aspect. If this is what motors your boat, paranormal investigations will give you the opportunity to visit and touch locations that have made their mark in the past. Suddenly you will find yourself playing tag at a point of historical significance that may have defined a locale, or very well brought it to its knees. (These will most likely be paying venues—lovingly termed “Paranormal Amusement Parks”—that can have serious ramifications on your wallet). Try a couple of these in a row and you will be scratching your head and anxiously awaiting your next pay check from work to do another.

Six) A desire to help. This involves private individuals who are seeking your help in dealing with paranormal situations in their homes or businesses. They are looking for answers and solutions to their problem. They are not looking for your grand stories of past investigations. While the paying venues are for fun (they rarely want your intervention or synopsis…only your proof of the existence of ghostlies at their establishment to boost future interest), the private places are of a more serious nature. You will need to not only utilize your paranormal investigating skills (hopefully honed during the paying gigs), but also put on your psychologist and counselor cap. Unfortunately, they do not teach this on the television ghost shows.

Seven) A combination of all of the above.

There are certainly variations on these motivating factors on why we do what we do, but these seven seem to be the bedrock. As with my team member, many will at one point stand at this fork in the road and make the decision to either continue or quit. I encouraged him to ride this train to the end of the tracks. And only because I feel different days are coming….

Change in paranormal investigating will lie in not only our motivation, but also in how we do what we do.

Several years ago I was a member of the Indiana affiliate of Everyday Paranormal. The founders, Brad and Barry Kline, were based out of Texas. Their show Ghost Lab ran for two seasons on the Discovery Channel. The series première was innovative—lifting the aspect of paranormal investigation out of the doldrums of predictable television fare to a new way of looking at the things audiences had taken for granted viewing other shows. They took the paranormal into a scientific realm—way beyond the typical repetition of asking inane questions on EVP audio recordings, pointing a camera down a hallway that an apparition had appeared in ten years prior, or demanding that the spirits perform stupid ghost tricks like banging on a wall or knocking something over.

Were the Klinge brothers perfect? Certainly not. But they gave it all they had for better or worse. They were initially all about the contributing causes of paranormal activity: storms, barometric pressure, weather ionization energy, moon phases, water influence, to name just a few, and the subsequent effects on a “haunted” location.

This was great stuff! And far beyond Jason and Grant stumbling about in the dark and arriving at predictable conclusions.

The Klinge brothers were a refreshing change of pace on a subject of study that had grown rather stale throughout the years. Paranormal television was the greatest contributor to this, seemingly keeping groups locked in the stone-age. In many ways the current run of shows still do.

By the second season Ghost Lab had all changed. Sadly, it became a parody of all other ghost-programming running at that time. The scientific approach was laid to the wayside, as I can only guess that the Discovery Channel wanted more entertaining fodder and restructured the look of the series. It didn’t work. During the first season of the show I was proud to be a member of the team. During the second I was only dismayed. The show was cancelled and never saw a third season. The affiliate teams of Everyday Paranormal across the country were consequently cancelled as well.

I acknowledge there are groups out there which rise above the norm in their investigating technique. They have gone far beyond what the Klinge brothers started so many years ago. To those I say Kudos, and as the late Casey Kasem would say-“Keep reaching for the stars.” Your efforts will ultimately produce respectable results, but it all takes time.

For those groups and individuals who follow the investigative pattern of paranormal television, one last observation may suffice: We have done it [investigating] a certain way for all these years and yet are no closer to the truth than when we started.

Should we be handling it in a different manner?

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