A typical ghost hunt

 What happens during most ghost hunts.

What doesn't happen during most ghost hunts:

Ghosts in sheets.  Despite the images presented by Casper, graphic novels, comic books, TV shows, and movies, ghosts rarely appear as floating sheets. 

Gory ghosts.  Ghosts generally appear as they think of themselves.  Usually, they're young and attractive.  Sometimes, they appear exactly as they did the day before they died. I have never seen a ghost dripping with blood, or anything gruesome.

Ghosts that you might confuse with a real person. Few ghosts appear as full, solid, real figures.  They're sometimes fleeting images seen out the corner of your eye, or a reflection in a glass or mirror. Or, you'll see evidence of them (photos, EMF readings, etc.) but not see an actual figure.

Harmful spirits. Most ghosts are very weak and have difficulty communicating with the living at all.  No ghost has killed anyone.  If a poltergeist or ghost hurts someone, it's usually accidental and a minor injury. 

[Note: Photo at the top of the page is a real, unretouched ghost picture, (c)Hollow Hill and used with their written permission.]


Every ghost hunt is different.  However, there's a pattern to many of the most successful ghost hunts. 

1. Meet in a public place.  Ghost hunters usually meet at a coffee shop (usually a 24-hour restaurant) or other relaxing location.  There, they chat over (non-alcoholic) beverages, and share any last-minute information about the site, the ghost hunt, or the research equipment. 

2. Go to the investigation site.  People often carpool or follow each other to the site. 

3. Double-check all equipment--including cameras and cellphones--before entering the site.  If the equipment is fine outside but then stops working at the site, suspect interference of some kind.  (This can be a good indication of a haunting.)

4. Review research plans.  Confirm which teams of researchers are working in which areas and with what equipment, if any.  Check watches, and announce when to meet back at the entry.

5. Do a baseline review of the site.  Especially if you're using EMF meters, do a walk-through of the site to establish what's 'normal' for that area.  Even if you're not using these kinds of research tools, it's good to do a general walk-through--with a flashlight if it's dark--so that everyone knows what's where.

6. Split up into teams and begin research. Follow your plans for the investigation.  If anything especially odd happens, report it to the team leader immediately.

7. Conclude the ghost hunt.  Whether you're working with a specific schedule, or simply ending your research when things stop happening or your too tired for accurate observations, stop your research.  If you're the guest of a homeowner or business, thank them.

8. Meet back at the coffee shop, or another planned location.  Discuss what happened, share copies of digital photos or recordings if you're working with laptop computers.  Make plans for a follow-up visit.

9. During the follow-up visit, double-check areas where normal things could explain anomalies in photos, sound recordings, or other observations.  It's vital to eliminate every possible normal cause of unexpected phenomena, before concluding that a site is haunted.

10. Share your results.  This is usually done in person, in an online forum, or at a website. If the research was conducted for an individual or business, present them with a written report, or at least a verbal briefing.

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