In a broad sense, there’s 2 ways to go about your ghost hunts. One involves a great deal of research. The other, not so much. Get the scoop on these methods after the jump.
Wouldn’t you know it? Ghost hunters disagree on how to run a ghost hunt. We usually fall into two camps: one researches ahead of time; the other likes to be surprised by what they get. I call this one a discovery ghost hunt.
I’ll spoil this one now and tell you that I’m a researcher. Let’s start with my camp; its pros and cons; and, when researching will probably work best for you.
The Research Ghost Hunt Method
What does it involve?
If you’ve seen my post on research manager duties, that’s pretty much how you get ready for a ghost hunt.
What are you looking for?
Ideally, you want to know what kind of gear to bring, an idea of how the suspected ghost(s) manifest, a cause for the haunting, and what experiments to run.
How do I apply it for my team?
Researching before a ghost hunt helps you understand likely causes for a haunting. Once you know that, then you can set up experiments to test each possible cause. That means you’ll ask very specific, close-ended questions, select sensitive measurement devices, and repeat experiments.
The data collected can be compared to the witness accounts, debunking happens, and you could identify the ghost or state, with some degree of certainty, that the place is haunted.
I’d say the more technical research and evidence collection helps prove a haunted site, but not necessarily identify the ghost.
That’s when you need historical and archival evidence. Photos, audio and civic records will help deduce the ghost in life.
Ghost hunts at well-known haunted places tend to use research-based methods, like at Preston Castle.
The Discovery Ghost Hunt Method
What does it involve?
You’re going to wing it. Many times, you won’t get complete information, so all you can do is guess. The most important thing is to come with gear, gather as many data points as possible, then analyze the hell out of it.
What are you looking for?
Pay attention for DVPs, EVPs, video and image data and environmental factors. If you don’t know much about the ghost, trigger objects may not work. Usually, ghosts have to know what the object is before they’d want to interact with it.
Why do you do it?
Time and the lack of information. Not all witnesses want to talk to you. Sometimes, records are lost to fires and water damage. In other cases, you just have a hunch about a place. In ghost hunting, you need to be flexible: If someone opens their door for you to investigate, you do it. Even if you get a 15-minute notice.
Discovery ghost hunts don’t have as much bias in them. Many research-based ghost hunts go in with some pre-determination: It means the investigators may not be open to new findings.
How do I apply it to my team?
Ask open-ended EVP questions, take more photos and video that you think you need, put EMF detection equipment everywhere. Really, you’re trying to collect whatever you can about the haunt. You can think of discovery ghost hunts as forensic scientists arriving at a murder scene. They come with the most essential gear, cast a wide net, then go back to analyze the data.
After that, you can plan your next investigation at the same spot, and you’ll move into a research-based ghost hunt.
Ghost hunts at private residences tend to follow the discovery method. Here’s an example for The Grand Army Of The Republic investigation.
In reality, you’ll use both methods, but it depends on the haunted location. If it’s not a well-known place, you’ll probably use the discovery method. If it’s a well-known haunted place, then there’s a lot of documented evidence. I’d use the research method here and pinpoint some activity I’d like to measure, confirm the ghost’s identity, or gauge environmental factors that help the ghost manifest.
Now, I also use discovery elements when I’m on a ghost hunt. If I’ve got a Boo Buddy and with a full-spectrum camera pointed at it, I look around the area to see if something else happens. You’d be surprised at how much you can miss when you focus on one test.
The reverse goes with the discovery method. Once you’ve got some interesting evidence, then you have to research what caused it or why the ghost manifested as it did. (Note: Well, you don’t have to: If you just want the thrill of finding some weird shit, then that’s ok.)
The last thing: If you barge into a haunt with full-spectrum cameras blazing and shouting at the spirits, you’re a legend tripper, not a ghost hunter.
Jacob ‘Jake’ Rice has always loved ghosts and scary stories. When he’s not being a tech nerd for work, he’s the gadget guy on the team. He hunts ghosts, spirits and other paranormal entities in Seattle and the Puget Sound area.