Fraudulent claims and deliberate acts of deception have been occurring within the paranormal field for centuries. From spiritualist mediums essentially using ‘magic trick’s' to deceive their customers to spirit photographers manipulating plates. In modern society people attribute such fraudulent activity to things like using a ghost app or photoshop to manipulate a picture. Then of course there are the many YouTube videos claiming ‘amazing poltergeist activity’ where a person just happens to be randomly filming their lounge room and a chair suddenly falls over. Maybe cupboard doors open? There are some videos where you can literally see the string being used to open the door, others are not so easy to debunk straight away.
Ultimately it is all a part of an elaborate stunt to get people to watch the video. Regardless of if you think it is the real deal or not, people are clicking and watching the video. News outlets are sharing the video gathering more attention. Facebook pages are sharing the video and even if there are hundreds of comments claiming it is false, the video still got you talking and watching. Every click on that YouTube link increases their views and the possibility they are walking away with some cash if the video goes viral. They don’t care about what this means to the already shaky integrity of paranormal field. They don’t care about reputation. They care about 4 letters F A M E.
There are other ways people are deceived as well. Almost any old building can be marketed as ‘haunted’. Realistically we cannot prove that any building is in fact haunted, but you can make people think it is. Just being old is sometimes enough to get people inside. There are known tactics to make a person believe they are experiencing something paranormal. Some just use the power of their words or add a hint of suggestion. Others go as far as to downright fake activity. I've seen people knock things over and claim it wasn’t them (knowing it was). I have seen people with an EM pump in their pocket to make people feel sick. EM pumps are actually a common way to trick people into thinking an object is haunted. It will give someone standing nearby a headache, make them feel ill and of course if you were to get a K2 or Mel Meter out, you are going to get a reading over the object.
Then there are acts that are more opportunistic than deliberate. A person could be going into something wanting to catch some genuine evidence or activity. Perhaps they catch a photo or some video. Upon review, at first it could seem like a shadow figure or something else. Eventually they are able to piece together that it wasn’t something paranormal but will still market that they have caught amazing evidence as they see it as an opportunity. As someone that runs tours, I see many things that others don't as in a lot of ways you are in an observational role. I also know the sounds of the house (like a fig falling on the roof). I feel it is my responsibility to let someone know if what they have experienced wasn't what they thought. I have been called (affectionately of course) a buzzkill on investigations for doing this. I just cannot let someone walk away thinking they had a paranormal experience when the loud bang was really a fig falling off the tree for example. If I see something happening, I will call someone on it. If people are embarassed or don't want to own up, I will still tell people what I think is going on. It is the right thing to do. There are others however again that see this as an opportunity to 'heighten' the experience for their guests.
I have seen someone flick a rock at someone during an investigation. The person on the receiving end thought it was something paranormal as they felt they were feeling something at the time. I told the group that I felt someone had thrown a rock. I didn't want to put this man on the spot especially if I was wrong as I wasn't completely sure it was him so I gave him or anyone else a chance to own up. He didn't. I confronted him after the tour and he denied it laughing and it was pretty obvious he was lying. Reviewing video footage later confirmed my suspicions and I contacted the person on the receiving end of the rock to tell them. Of course they were dissapointed, but they appreciated the honesty. To him it was a bit of a joke, and his behaviour all night showcased that.
It is this attitude in some that we will never be able to change. A lot of people don’t take the paranormal seriously. They think it is a bit of a joke. No matter how much passion we have for it, there will always be those that want to tear it down or make fun of it. There will always be people that will fake something to make money or get some notoriety. There will always be people that will jump out and scare someone in the middle of a tour. There will always be a person that snickers during a public investigation when people think they are experiencing something. It is not something that we can avoid.
So what can we do about it? I have written about this in the past, well more so having a rant about it in the past. I am sure many of you have as well. What can we really do about it? While we cannot change how other people act, we can change what we do and how we respond. Call people out on shady behaviour. I don't necessarily mean naming and shaming as that too can open a can of worms (especially if you don't have your facts) but confront them and ask them. Put them on the spot. If someone is doing something you don’t agree with, remember you don’t have to be a part of it. Don’t sacrifice your integrity because you think there is no way out. Speak up and use your voice. If it means having to walk away from people or a situation, you can walk out with your head held high.
One of the hardest things in the paranormal community can be when you are dealing with someone that does something differently to how you do it. Even if it isn't necessarily shady, you may just not like how they do things. If you don’t like what someone is doing, don’t follow them. Don’t goto their events. Keep scrolling if they post. Concentrate on your own thing. Do your thing with honesty and integrity. This will make much more of a statement than anything else. Whether you like it or not, a lot of the people you don't agree with aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Instead of getting upset and frustrated on how they are doing things, kick ass in what you are doing instead. Let your work speak for itself. People will listen. Maybe not everyone, but the people that resonate with you will and that is all you need. You will find your tribe. You may even find more than one over your time in the field. Make sure that your values and morals are represented. You don't need to fake something to get ahead. You might get the views, but you won't have the respect.
To thine ownself be true
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