Friends and Readers

(Yes, I’ve returned to eerie illustrations after a moment of whimsy.)

Friends, critics, and other readersThis week, I’ve been thinking about my friends and readers. I’m shifting my writing emphasis… slightly.

Times are changing. I think people’s perspectives are, too, including mine.

Here’s how I look at my work and the main interests of my readers.

Though there are few hard borders, I can establish three characteristics of those who read my articles and books.

Often, those characteristics overlap.

The believers

First, there are the believers. (As I’m writing this, I suddenly have the Monkees’ song in my head. lol )

Some people are convinced that all orbs are ghosts, and – at a haunted site – everything odd is evidence of a disembodied entity. (It might be a ghost, a demonic presence, or something else.)

More are somewhat skeptical. Like me, they consider debunking a routine part of any investigation.

This gets back to goals, which I’ve talked about in the Ghost Hunting Basics lesson in my Ghost Hunting for Beginners course.

  • Is your goal to confirm that, yes, it was Great-Aunt Harriet who appeared to you in your garden, one evening, moments after she passed over? If so, you may need only one truly ghostly encounter at a haunted site. No debunking is necessary. You’ve already found your confirmation.
  • Is your goal to see if, say, the Lizzie Borden house or York’s Golden Fleece Pub is truly haunted? That may require a few visits and some minor debunking. (I believe both are haunted, and entertaining to visit.)
  • If you’re more interested in becoming a professional ghost hunter, you’ll spend more time investigating and debunking. That depends on the intensity of your interests, as well as your schedule and budget.

The skeptics

I’ll admit that I love investigating with hardcore skeptics. When something unexplained happens, and they can’t debunk it, I pause my own research. I’m fascinated, watching them try to resolve their inner conflicts.

But also, as a serious researcher, I always start out as a hopeful skeptic, myself.

Of course, I want the site’s ghost stories to be true. I’d love to witness whatever-it-is, myself.

But – keeping my critical thinking skills engaged – I want a good explanation for any weird events.

So, when something odd happens, I always look for a normal (if unusual) explanation.

I try to duplicate the noise, movement, temperature change, or eerie visual effect. “Debunking” anything odd – looking for a normal explanation – is vital.

For example, let’s say we see a “shadow person.”

The case of the spooky shadow personMore than once, that’s happened during an investigation.

The first time was at a private residence. The figure seemed to pace back and forth, at the back of the living room.

It matched the house’s ghostly history, exactly. My team and I were pretty excited to see such vivid evidence.

When the “ghost” returned a few minutes later, we were thrilled and captured some video.

The third time it happened, we realized it wasn’t paranormal at all. The street was busy due to a parent-teacher meeting at a nearby school.

Some parents had driven to the school. Others had simply walked to the meeting.

What we were seeing were their shadows, sharply outlined by passing cars’ headlights.

That kind of thing can be enormously disappointing to discover, but it’s better not to – literally – jump at shadows.

Especially when you see “shadow people,” double-check every logical explanation. For example, with a flashlight, a couple of people could go outside and try to duplicate (and debunk) the figure you saw.

Try to be a skeptic, yourself. It’s the only way you won’t have doubts about what happened, after you’ve left the possibly haunted site.

Your goals can effect your experience

For both skeptics and believers alike: your goals will affect your perceptions and your conclusions.

  • If your goal is to prove that most (or all) “ghostly” phenomena are normal, you’ll debunk a few oddities – a door that seemed to slam by itself, or a flickering outline on a wall – and decide that’s all you needed. You have stories to share about how fake ghost hunting is. Achievement unlocked.
  • But if you’re sorting the wheat from the chaff – separating real anomalies from odd, explainable phenomena – you’ll put more effort into it.

Today, we know that many ghostly anomalies can be explained by bad wiring (elevated EMF), carbon monoxide from nearby highways or a woodstove, or infrasound from nearby bridges, rivers, and underground streams.

Those effects make the issue of “proof” far more challenging for ghost hunters.

That’s why many investigators emphasize the personal aspects of research, such as unexplained waves of emotion, and consider the context of verbal messages via EVP.

The latter aren’t “proof” of anything, but – as researchers – we know they may be the most compelling evidence we’ll find.

I have yet to meet a skeptic – even a famous, snarky skeptic – who didn’t quietly admit that he/she/they wished they could find real proof of ghosts. Every one of them secretly wants to believe. (In other words, please be kind to bitter skeptics you meet during ghost tours or events. They may be more eager than you are, to encounter something truly paranormal.)

My “what if?” friends

My favorite group of readers and friends may be those who have an open mind.

Maybe the investigation site is haunted. Maybe it isn’t. Either way, these friends are eager for an intriguing experience. They look forward to researching baffling and explainable phenomena… and sometimes arguing about potential, “what if___” answers.

Their goals are less easily defined.

  • Like me, they may be interested in the history of each site they investigate.
  • Like me, most aren’t willing to linger at locations where anyone – in spirit form or embodied – has angry or malicious intent. (But some friends – like John Zaffis and Pete Havilandare willing to place themselves in harm’s way, to help others.)
  • Like me, some of my friends wonder if science, including quantum studies, plays a part in what we experience.  (That’s just one of many “what if __?” questions we discuss.)
  • Like me, they may enjoy the novelty and challenge of debunking or confirming whether something paranormal is going on at [wherever the site is].

Many of those friends were part of the early Mandela Effect conversations, too. And, like me, they lost interest when angry people and trolls entered the discussions.

We’re still chatting, and enjoying the ghost hunting scene, as a common “what if?” context. Or just an opportunity to spend time with one another.

What’s next?

As you know, I’m working on making my existing websites as complete as possible. They were created to help new ghost hunters as well as pros.

With that completed – and more books updated and back in print – I expect to focus on two things:

  • Specific ghost hunting techniques, in detail. In many cases, my website articles couldn’t explain every step as thoroughly as serious investigators might like.
  • Specific haunted sites, and the layers of history that make them fascinating to investigate.

Those projects will take me through 2021, at the very least.

Meanwhile, I’m busy expanding Hallowfields’ courses, updating Hollow Hill articles, and – occasionally, just for fun – adding content to GhostHunting.news.