Ghost Stories – Friend or Foe?

On March 21, 2014, in Guides, by Pete Sexton

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Everybody seems to like a good ghost story.  But, to a paranormal investigator, a ghost story can be a double edged sword.

Most of the time it is the simple telling and retelling of a ghost story that gets the attention of a paranormal investigator.  The story gets more interesting in relationship to the amount of instances mentioned in the story.  And, as a lead to a potential investigation, more information is better, right?   Not always.  It is very common that an investigator can be influenced by the story of a location before any active investigation starts.

If a lead contains a lot of specific information as to events that have occurred, then a person going to that location is almost going to be expecting it to happen to them.  They are willing themselves to experience it.  For instance, if  a certain room of a hotel is rumored to be home to the ghost of a young boy that likes to pinch visitors, then anyone entering that room already has that thought in their mind before they go in and are actively waiting for that pinch to come. Many will even imagine it has occurred to them.  The power of suggestion is very strong.

So is the power of negative suggestion.  If you tell everybody enough before an investigation that it is believed to be a hoax, then the investigation suffers because the group doesn’t look as hard, doesn’t pay close enough attention to their surroundings and equipment, or even discounts legitimate evidence because they were told ahead of time that it was fake.

So how do we overcome this so we can achieve the fairest results of our investigation?  The answer to that is in the preparations leading up to the investigation.  I need to mention at this point that every group has their own way of doing things and this is just the method I used whenever I was the lead investigator assigned to a case.  It doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong, it only means it worked well for me.

As a lead comes into an investigative group, it should be assigned to a lead investigator who will pick his investigative team based on size of the site, needs of the team, strengths of the team members, and, of course, the availability of team members on the date of the investigation. That lead is then responsible for all contact and initial interviews with the client. If the investigation merits it, the lead might then choose to bring in a researcher from among the team to help with getting all the available information possible.  At this point, only the client, lead, and researcher should be aware of 100% of the facts surrounding the case.  They need to know it all in order to set up the investigation so it can have the best possible chance at obtaining evidence.

The rest of the team is not left totally in the dark, but they are only given the basic facts of the incidents.  That helps to eliminate the possibility of the team member becoming predisposed to have a specific experience while on site.

Sometimes, it’s an easy task to accomplish.  It tends to work easier on smaller investigations with only a few team members.  It can be difficult to accomplish this on larger investigations, but with a little preparation and some forethought when assigning duties to team members, it can be done.

Good luck on your future investigations!

3 Responses to Ghost Stories – Friend or Foe?

  1. Johnny says:

    do u really think that ppl will be willing to go into places without knowing where they r going? if it were me, i wouldn’t want to go someplace that i knew nothing about. especially, if it was traveling for over an hour – as most ghost hunts typically going. i’m just saying. i think its a great idea, but I’m not sure how you’d make it happen

    • Pete Sexton says:

      Hey Johnny, that’s a good observation and very legitimate question. To be honest, when I wrote the post I was not sure if I was clear enough on some points, this being one of them.
      So, let me say that the investigative team would not be going into this completely blind. They would be given the location and a general description of reported activity, but not specifics. For instance, the team would be told an apparition has been sited on the second floor, instead of that a ghost of a small girl always appears in the master bedroom. Or, the team would be told that there were always temperature variances in the building, not specifically that the second floor is always ten degrees colder.
      I found that in actual investigations this technique works very well. It encourages the team to do an actual investigation instead of just looking to confirm what other people say. It also kind of helps keep that spooky “fear factor” going that we all kind of enjoy if you don’t know exactly what to expect.
      Let me also mention that I have used this technique successfully on more than a few occasions with great results.
      Thanks again for the response.

  2. Terry Crew says:

    I think that it is a good formula for success. I have found that on the way to the investigation site, everyone wants to know the details of what happened where. Then these spots are focused on, and the rest kind of tossed to the side. I think it makes it productive to spread the attention evenly.

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