Pioneers before us would focus on one particular area and literally dedicate their life to researching and developing method to this dedicated area. In modern day paranormal investigation, we use different equipment and techniques across many different areas to work with many different theories. Are we spreading ourselves too thin? Should we find one thing to focus on?
The way we research the paranormal has certainly changed over time. Decades ago, it was more about studying witness testimony, investigating certain claims and focusing on trying to understand the different phenomena itself. While this work does continue in a way today, mainstream paranormal investigation is quite different. In general terms, teams pick a location that is old and take suitcases of equipment which in many cases has been specifically designed for paranormal investigating, yet there is no proof that any of it works. We know that it works in the sense of reading changes within the atmosphere, but whether or not it is something paranormal or just own our influence by being there is up to our own interpretations and experiences. While there are people out there that still work to a more old school methodology, a large portion and probably more vocal part of the paranormal field are operating in this more modern way. When I look back at the different pioneers of paranormal research before us, many of them had a specialized area that they focused on. They picked one specific area. They did it and did it well. I have to wonder if this is a direction we ourselves should be looking to go back to?
Many people will argue that a ghost hunter is different to a paranormal investigator. While a ghost hunter typically looks to find a ghost in a haunted location, a paranormal investigator gathers evidence and researches the phenomena itself. With that usually means a lot of different techniques and again in some cases, a lot of equipment. While we call ourselves different terms, in some ways they are similar, especially the part where the investigating takes place. I think the reluctance in using the term stems from the fact that we don't like phrases such as Ghost Hunter or even Ghost Buster as it takes away from the work and research we are doing. While there may be a theoretical different, a ghost hunter is probably still doing research and collecting evidence, they are just approaching it a different way. When it comes to investigating, while some people spend hours in a location jotting down notes and observing, others use their kit of equipment to collect data that may be used as evidence that something might be going on. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I have spoken many times about the fact that we don't need all of this specialized equipment to experience the paranormal. There are ways to investigate without it, however that doesn't mean some of it is not useful. It comes down to personal preference and what you are looking for. In fact, technically we don't even have to travel hours to a supposed haunted location to do it.
When I look at EVP as an example, the pioneers such as Friedrich Jurgenson and Konstantin Raudive didn't drive around to old prisons to do their sessions. They did them wherever they were. Ganzfeld and telepathy experiments took place in a university lab, not in an old asylum. Many people report experiencing the paranormal in daily life and while some choose not to embrace this in their home for many reasons while others do it all the time. When it comes to investigating in your home, it is a personal choice. There are ways to conduct your research however, without having to perform an investigation your home. In fact genuine research looks nothing like an actual paranormal investigation.
I cannot tell you how valuable a book is. I have always loved reading and I try to buy at least 2 paranormal related books a month. There is a wealth of knowledge and information out there that can educate you in a certain area. Pick one area of the paranormal that you enjoy and really focus on that. Whether it is EVP, parapsychology or just reading about other people's experiences, there is really something for everyone out there. There is also a lot of free archived material online if you cannot afford to buy books (some of the older ones are quite expensive.) Ask your fellow investigators if they have any books you can borrow and set up a mini book club! When I was younger, my friend and I used to each buy books and once we finished we automatically swapped. I still do that to this day and lend out paranormal related books and they lend me theirs.
Real investigating is going back to the basics. It is boots on ground talking to people investigating. We have such a higher advantage than what the pioneers had. We have social media. Talk to people about their experiences. If there is a certain phenomena you want to gather experiences on, you can put a call out and literally have people from all over the world answer with their experiences. You can even create free online surveys for people to complete and gather some real data and information. You have a lot of tools at your deposal to reach a large audience. To get started, sometimes all you have to do is ask.
Research is really whatever you want it to be. If you want to research a location or the people that were once in it to validate your findings, then make that your area. If you want to research theories or look at certain studies, then go and do that. Make the research something that you enjoy and works for you. There is no point researching an area that doesn't interest you. It turns it into homework and you may end up resenting it. If it is reading books, watching documentaries, reading studies, talking to others or even conducting your own trials and experiments, it is all a form of research to help you understand something better.
I do think there is merit in going back to a more old school methodology and having a specific area that you specialize in. If there is one piece of equipment you like using and think works well, make that your thing. Learn that thing inside out, how it works, what influences it, have a journal of your readings and educate yourself on what the readings mean. If you like EVP, research everything there is to know about sound. If you enjoy taking photos, learn how a camera works far behind pointing and clicking. Learn about shutter speed and lens flare and all of the things that affect a photo and why. Learn about how lighting works. Once you have a good understanding about your area, the real fun begins because you can apply that knowledge into your investigations.
If I were to look at a team environment, which would be more productive? Having 5 people in a group that know a bit about different areas across the board of having 5 people who each have an area they know really well? It is important to still have a general understanding about different areas of course, but think of the ways in which your research can grow if you focus a large portion of your time in one area? I mentioned above the terms ghost hunter and paranormal investigator but we don't really need these terms. Essentially, we are all researchers in our own little way. It is time to stop throwing shade at others that do things differently to us. Focus on your own thing and do what you do and do it well. Who knows, maybe in years to come people will look to you on a certain topic because you spent your time really educating yourself and doing great research. Who knows where you could take it? It adds an added purpose to what you are doing. Don't underestimate the importance of what you do. You may think it doesn't matter or that people don't care about what you think, but they do. Your thoughts are valid and important and should be put out there. It may offer a perspective someone else hasn't thought of. If someone claims they know it all, they are lying. The reality is that we don't know anything concrete when it comes to the paranormal. We may have an idea, but that idea comes from our own research. So we may as well make sure that we do it well.
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