I'm With Him!

 
I’m With Him!

(Pairing of Experience With Inexperience)
 
    For most of my investigating life, I have been pretty much on my own in one way or another. Although this has given me a fairly unique perspective on the whole investigative process, it’s not the best road to have come down. There are a lot of mistakes that I have made that I might not have other wise. I can only imagine the amount of evidence that I didn’t get because I didn’t know to look for it. This is one of the more obvious places where having an experienced group, or at least  one other person, who knew what they were doing could have made a lot of difference. 
 
    I’m going to try to outline some of the pitfalls of going at it alone here and I hope you take at least some of it to heart. I’m not typing just to hear the keys going clackity-clack!
 

 
From the perspective of the novice investigator…..
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In recent years, that has been an upsurge of people taking an active interest in paranormal research. There are a lot of television shows on the air now that tout the adventures of the paranormal but, very few actually show what all in really involved in the science of it. I could go on for hours about how I am constantly disappointed by the ghost chasing specials on cable. In all truth though, like most other things in life, this new surge of interest is a trade off kind of thing. Of course there is always a big need for serious investigators but, most of what has popped up lately have been people who are only in it because it looked thrilling on TV.
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These folks are referred to by serious investigators as “Legend Trippers”. Primarily, they go to darkened areas at night where the local legends say there is some kind of haunting or whatever and try to see if they can get spooked by a ghost. Although, I have to admit, there is a thrill to getting contact with an entity, there is a lot of work behind it to make sure that it’s safe, legal and that whatever evidence you get is good stuff.  If you’re just out looking for a thrill, go to an amusement park, rent a good horror movie. Do anything else! If you’re just here for the thrill of seeing a ghost, you’re going to get disappointed or worse.
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Still with me?
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Right off the bat, you have to admit that there is safety in numbers. As a novice investigator, you may well be tempted to only investigate places that are kind of out of the way and a lot of good science can be done in these remote locations if you know what you are doing and how to do it efficiently. If you aren’t doing it the best way, all you are in fact doing is “Legend Tripping” and that is of no real value at all. It might be entertaining but, that is about all that can come from it and it can have a lot of bad side effects as well.
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Linking up with an experienced person or group can help you to avoid a lot of the time wasters as well as help you to learn what to actually look for. As odd as it might seem, no one ever seems to know all the tricks their first time out. You will eventually look back on your earlier experiences and realize that you missed out on a lot of good stuff simply because you didn’t know to look for it. If I were to mention some of the ways to gather evidence, many experienced investigators may not even know what I’m talking about.
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If you get off somewhere in the country, which is where a lot of paranormal investigating gets done, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone that can go for help if you get hurt? One group that I was once affiliated with had a sort of unwritten policy that required us to take a minimum of two vehicles no matter where we were going or how many were in the investigation group that night. That way, we could be assured that if one car broke down, we had another to get back to town in. It also came in handy when someone got stuck! If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website
I’m not saying that any one should go to the extremes that I have sometimes gone to but, I do suggest that you seriously consider some of the things that could go wrong and have a back up plan whenever possible. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website
Not all investigations take place way out in the wilds though. As you progress and become more skilled, you’ll start finding opportunities to investigate locations closer to town where you might have a whole other set of difficulties and risks.  Even when a risk can’t be avoided, every attempt should be made to mediate it as much as possible.
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Let’s say that you want to investigate a local cemetery. Do you know who to call that won’t giggle you off the phone? Do you know how to gather evidence? Do you know what real evidence actually is? Tip here, it’s not always what you see on television!
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These are some of the things that you can learn from working with a group of experienced investigators. What makes it even better is that most groups have one or two members that are exclusively responsible for taking care of these often over looked details. This saves you a ton of work and makes it possible to go on more investigations. Let’s face it, some places take months or even years to get into and that’s a lot of work. What’s more is that most people prefer to deal with a familiar face. Are you prepared to work at an investigation for months and months not knowing that you’ll ever be able to investigate there?  A group can have that manpower available whereas, an individual usually won’t.
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On a more simple level, let’s say that you do get all the footwork out of the way and are allowed to investigate some place, like the cemetery mentioned above. Let’s say that you are there by yourself and get the best evidence ever gathered in history. Who is going to believe you? Sure, they could doubt your story if you had a hundred witnesses but, if one other person is there that can back your story up, you have a better chance of being taken seriously. That scratch on your back could have come from anywhere but, if I saw it happen to you, you have a witness.
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Let’s not forget the fact that you can’t be every where at once. More eyes on an investigation means that there is a better chance of getting evidence and it’s always to be able to say that you were with the group the night that they got the evidence than to totally miss it because you were unprepared, unskilled or just in the other room. As simple as paranormal researching and investigating seems at first, there are a lot of subtle things that can make or break an investigation and most of them are things that you just can’t learn from a television show or a book.
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From the perspective of the paranormal investigation group….If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website
A lot of groups don’t realize that there are benefits to having a policy regarding novices and guests on investigations with them but, there certainly are! For starters, it keeps the novice investigator from feeling like the only option is to go at it alone. Although this is often overlooked, it can have a detrimental effect on the science in a local group as well as on a more far reaching level as well. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Imagine what happens when someone gets arrested for investigating where they shouldn’t be.  The first you hear of it is on the news about someone getting busted for trespassing and later, you may even hear why they did it too. Of course, the owner of the property probably already knows what they were doing and that leaves the impression in their mind that ALL paranormal investigators have no respect for fences or the law. This property owner is most likely going to tell his family and friends about having to call the cops to come and get some trespassing ghost hunter off his land. Solitary investigators don’t sound all that bad until you realize how this can give the public at large a bad taste in their mouths, huh? If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
When a group has a policy of allowing visitors or guests to join them on some of their investigations, it doesn’t stop this sort of behavior entirely but, it does help to limit some of it. Of course there is no way that any one or any twenty groups can include every one that wants to investigate but, taking a few of the most interested can have a good effect in the long run for paranormal investigators in your local area.
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Sure, a lot of these “guests” probably will go on to form their own groups. If that happens, you can be proud of the fact that you helped them off to a good, safe and hopefully, productive start. If they don’t start one, no big loss. In fact, you can take pride in the fact that you probably prevented someone from going off and getting hurt or arrested for trespassing. It’s a fact in today’s world that there is no place that can truthfully be called “No-Mans-Land” anymore. No matter where you go, if you don’t have permission from the owner to be there, you are breaking the law.  If you served as a spring board  for someone else to start their own group, you’ve shown them how to do it the right way.  If you prevent someone or some group, from getting arrested, you kept another bad story about ghost hunting out of the local papers.
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We must also consider the “pride” aspect of it too. Sure, I want to be the one that gets the newest evidence, the best evidence and be the one that history remembers as the guy that figured out what ghosts are all about but, no matter who figures it out, it gets figured out. In the end, that should be what you and your group are all about. Not the pride of saying “I did it!” but, the benefit of being able to say “It got done!”. Even if some other group that you’ve never heard of before is the one that makes that break though, it still reflects back on you and your group if only by giving you the ability to say to all the skeptics that chuckled at you that it really is for real. How many times in your life have you put off, or put away, the idea of doing something, simply because someone else thought that it was a silly idea? How many people laughed at Thomas Alva Edison? Think how good it would be to one day be able to put a stop to that laughter. I obviously can’t say that you will or even that any one ever will but, that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth the effort.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.

Some things to look out for with a novice…
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Every rose has a thorn. We’re all familiar with that old saying and are familiar with the meaning being conveyed there. For the beauty of the rose, you have to risk the prick of the thorn. Allowing novice investigators to join you or your group on an investigation is just like that rose. There are definite benefits and there are some draw backs as well. I’ve gone over some of the benefits so, it’s only fair that I give a few words of attention to some short comings and how you can mediate them if you have guests joining your group. 
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Firstly, you’re going to have to insure the safety of what ever you do. Most groups have a policy on age limits and as bad as I hate to say it, being that I was an under 18 at one point too, it’s a wise policy to have. If someone under eight teen is with your group and gets hurt, there are going to be lawsuits, expensive one. If the guest is under eight-teen, male or female, there could also be charges of improper sexual behavior as well. Save yourself the potential head ache now and just establish a policy of no minors allowed. I know that it sounds kind of wrong to some folks but, believe me, it’s really not worth the risk. And don’t feel guilty for having this stance. It’s not your fault, it’s the fault of the lawsuit crazy people in the world. You have to look out for yourself and your group first. Believe me, they are too.
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Fortunately, with most older investigators, if they get hurt, they are adults and knew what they were getting into. Still, I would suggest that your group have a policy regarding guests that limit’s the number per member, the number per investigation and also requires them to sign a waiver indicating that the know what the risks are and that they won’t sue you and or the group if they go off with you and get hurt.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
When it comes to the actual investigations themselves, you should have already briefed your guests and novice investigators as to what is expected of them. I’d advise that you give them a rough dry run in a well lit area before taking them off into the dark with you. This gives you the opportunity to see things that might cause a problem later and gives you a chance to correct that behavior before you get in the field and lose time covering something that could be time consuming or difficult to understand. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
I’m not trying  to pick on the new members to paranormal investigating here but, there are a few basic facts that I have seen in my years of doing this. Don’t take them personally.   If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Most novice investigators are anxious to get some kind of evidence. I know that I have been in that boat   myself and that is probably when the temptation to lower your standards for proof is the strongest. Everyone wants to get some kind of evidence to help bolster their bragging rights with the group and have something to show their friends later. Although that is natural, it should also be recognized. A novice investigator is more likely to have low standards for evidence, to lower their standard for evidence, more likely to mistake common occurrences for paranormal evidence and is also more likely to attempt faking evidence. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
The more experienced members of the group should make every effort to demonstrate proper techniques before and during the investigation.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
As hard as it can be to squash someone’s “first evidence“, it may be necessary. I know that even as an experienced investigator, it’s sometimes difficult to tell someone that they don’t have the evidence that they thought they had but, you have to do that. Believe me when I tell you that others are going to be far more mean spirited about their skepticism of a novices evidence than you will be. Besides, as part of taking on a guest or a novice, it’s your responsibility to show them the ropes. Don’t show them the wrong ones or they’d be just as well off doing it without you. If someone is learning from you, it’s your duty to teach them the best that you can and to explain why some things are evidence and why some things are not.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Better to hurt someone’s feelings a little now than to have them go off thinking that they have something, only to let them go off and be shot down when they show their “evidence” to a less experienced friend. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
The main reason for pairing inexperienced with experienced investigators is always for safety first and secondly, to show them the ropes and help them to learn how to determine real evidence from mistaken evidence. Thirdly but, certainly no less importantly, newer people to the field should be paired with an experienced investigator who probably already has evidence and is less inclined to fake anything because, doing so would cast a shadow of doubt across all of their previous work. As unfortunate as it may be, a novice investigator is under more pressure to “produce evidence” than a person who’s been doing this for a while. That pressure comes from an innate desire to prove ones value to a group as well as a strong, sometimes overpowering, desire to actually find something. This enthusiasm can sometimes lead a newer investigator to fake evidence as well as cause them to attempt a hoax.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
 
Obviously, this is something that should be discouraged at every turn but, it should also be done in a manner than doesn’t seem insulting or degrading. Always respond to any “non-evidence” presented by a novice as a case possible misinterpretation even if it is clear that the evidence was faked. This should be done so as to not leave the novice feeling embarrassed or insulted. It will also help prevent them from later showing their faked evidence to others as real proof and leading to more of the public doubting the substantial evidence. Saying things such as “Ah, it’s a common mistake” will work out better for the group, the novice investigator and the science in the long run than saying “Get out of my group, you hoaxer!. It’ll lead to fewer hard feelings as well as help to instill a higher level of standards for the novice investigator. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Since so much of what is gathered already faces the likelihood of being disregarded out of hand, each investigator should hold themselves up to the highest possible level of scrutiny, even more stringent than that which would be faced in the public. We should all strive to e our own most virulent skeptic. This is a habit that should be instilled in every novice investigator at every opportunity. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Some years ago, a ghost hunting friend of mine had a novice investigator with her in the field collecting evidence. This novice was left unsupervised for a short time to try his hand at gathering EVP’s. Afterwards, he commented that he was pretty sure that he had gotten something. Upon review of the evidence, one could clearly hear the words “ghost, ghost , ghost” spoken in the novices best “spooky” voice. The senior investigator just informed him that he would no longer be allowed to go on investigations with her or her group. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Although this solved the initial problem and prevented that individual from ever making that same mistake again, I’m sure, there are ways that such things can be prevented right from the start. Firstly, a novice should never be left alone on an investigation. This should always be for safety reasons first but, a close second is to teach them how to gather evidence. It also removes the opportunity for the novice to fake a any findings. The novice in this case may have felt pressured to “produce” or may have simply not taken the investigation as seriously as he was expected to. In either case, the wasted time, possible missed evidence and the resulting hurt feelings could have been avoided altogether. Someone that may well have turned out to eventually become an excellent investigator was lost to the field over this incident. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Now, I’m not trying to place blame on anyone or second guess anyones actions but, I am using this case to demonstrate how inexperience on BOTH parties led to the loss of a potentially valuable member of the team. In all honesty, both parties here made mistakes and the mistake was an easy one to make. Especially if there is an unhealthy dose of inexperience in the mix. The novice shouldn’t have faked evidence and the  have never experienced investigator should have known better than to leave someone new to the field alone to gather evidence on their own. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
 
Once again though, I’m not talking trash about someone just to be doing it. It’s an easy mistake to make on both parts and there is a level of temptation on both parts to sort of accelerate someone into working independently. Of course, these are the kinds of things that can be avoided by “coming up through the ranks”, so to speak, as opposed to starting off a new group right out of the blue and having to learn the hard way. No insult is intended here though. It’s the sort of thing that I might have done myself at one time. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Every serious investigator should try to keep in mind that training a novice is a difficult task to undergo but, doing so has many rewards of its own. There is just about always a need to have an extra set of ears and eyes to review evidence after investigations and hunts and it’s always good to have a new person with a new perspective on things when it comes to interpreting evidence as well. Although running a serious investigation while teaching a new member the ropes is sometimes a bit of a hassle at first, most people who are truly interested in furthering their understanding will put forth the effort needed and get up to speed in pretty short order. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
 
As a novice investigator learns the rules of the road and comes to understand why we do things this way instead of that way, they will become a major help to the group as a whole. Also, remember, by taking a novice under your wing, they’ll be learning to do things YOUR way. Make sure that the way your group does things is the correct and most effective way you know how.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
If you ignore everything else in this chapter, take that last paragraph to heart. Trust me, in time, you’ll be damned glad you did!
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Let airing sisters part in peace….
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That phrase comes from before the American Civil War and was a political talking point for a lot of segregationists. The meaning behind it was, if the states couldn’t agree on states rights, they should be free to leave the Union and try out their own ideas. It was viewed as a favorable option to many in both the North and the South when compared to the war that many feared might arise from the disagreement.  In the end, the country split, fought a bloody war and finally, kissed and made up. As a united people, the U.S has every since been a power to be reckoned with and the world hasn’t been the same since.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
 
Of course, during the years and decades following the war, many people wondered if we might not have been better off to avoid the carnage and devastation of the Civil War and just allowed the secessionist states to leave the Union, find out for themselves that the financial model they favored was flawed and at some point down the road, invite them to re-enter the Union. The downside of that plan is that four million Americans would have remained in chains for another twenty to thirty years but, millions might have been saved from dying in distant places and being buried where no one knew their name.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
This same concept should be considered by paranormal investigators today for other reasons as well. In the course of your career, you are bound to run into disagreements with other members over something or another. When you come upon this situation, by all means try to work it out in a mutually agreeable manner. That said, there are indeed times when two minds just can’t find any common ground on an important subject. Often times, even minor differences in methods can lead to huge divisions in an other wise happy group. Before battle lines get drawn remember, it’s oft times best to part ways before a small difference becomes something that none involved will ever get over. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
I’m going to pick on something else that is near and dear to some here. The Ouija Board. Some investigators swear by them, others don’t. As for me, I hate the, I have no use for one on a serious investigation and refuse to use them.  To me they are useless because any evidence that they do come up with is way too easy to shoot down by even the simplest of critics and if they actually do work then, all they’d probably do is anger what ever spirit you’re hoping will be helpful to you. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Rather than get into a big, long drawn out debate over the merits and shortcomings of any disagreements in a group, I’ve found that if a solution can’t be reached in short order, it’s usually just best to part ways. In time, one of the two parties will see why the other is right or wrong and at that point they can make the changes they see fit. If at that time, everyone wants to re-unite, at least there won’t be any hard feelings to work over first. Bad blood is not the sort of negative energy that we can learn from and no one wants to spend days and days exercising that kind of demon. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
It’s sometimes just better for all involved to go your separate ways and let each one try out their own contradicting methods or ideologies. In the end, it’s easier to say: “What I/you wanted to do didn’t turn out to be as effective as hoped. How do you feel about teaming up again?”.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
All that said though, most things will sort of lose steam after a few investigations when whatever proposed technique that was the bone of contention proves itself out one way or the other. So, if it’s something that you can force yourself to grin and bare, deal with for the short term, try to give those members the leeway to experiment with new methods. You never know, that thing that you are dead set against might just pan out and become a useful tool/technique.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Obviously, I would never suggest compromising your personal morals and going along with something that you just flat out feel is wrong or doing anything that is illegal because someone else wants to do it but, try to not be too critical of an untried method when one is presented. When it comes to methods of communication, if you don’t feel comfortable with provoking a spirit, don’t. If someone else in the group would like to give that a try, sometimes it’s alright to give them enough rope to hang themselves with and see what happens. Try to keep in mind that if someone wants to try something that is against your grain, you don’t have to compromise your own integrity. You always have the option of “sitting this one out” and then seeing how it works out in the end. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Of course, if someone proposes doing something even mildly illegal, don’t do it. Skip that investigation. If it works, then they got lucky. If it fails, your point will be made with out your having to raise an eyebrow. In no circumstances should you ever feel the need to break the law to conduct paranormal research. If the group that you are a member of is in the habit of doing so, find another group. Don’t argue with the other members. Offer your side of the matter and if they insist on doing something that you aren’t comfortable with, leave. Believe me, sooner or later, all those bad practices WILL catch up with them. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
 No evidence is worth having the headlines scream “Ghost hunter jailed for trespassing”. That in no way moves the science forward and in no way helps the ghost hunter image.

 

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