EXIF is good, EXIF is our friend!

So already this article’s title is going to do one of two things:

Make you nod in agreement -or- shake your head in confusion.

If you’re shaking your head and don’t know much about EXIF, don’t feel bad, many people don’t!

So what is “EXIF”? 
EXIF is the acronym for “Exchangeable Image File Format”. EXIF specifies the format information for sound, images, and ancillary tags used by digital cameras. It also is used for scanners, and other systems that use images or sounds from digital cameras. The formats we are specifically talking about here, is the formats of photos. This information includes the make and model of a camera (including camera phones), exposure lengths, file types, dates taken, dates modified, whether or not a flash was used, and an assortment of other information.

This information is very important in the paranormal field to determine a slough of possibilities for photographic phenomena. EXIF data is especially important when analyzing photos sent to you by others. In order to determine the authenticity of a photo, it must be analyzed in raw form. This means no cropping, no contrast adjustments, or renaming of the photo in question.

Here is an example of an unaltered photo:

As you can see the photo above, has complete EXIF data. You can tell that this photo was taken by a Samsung Galaxy S3 (SCH-R530M). Also by looking at the data you can see that a Flash was used. You can see the software that was used to create the photo, which was R530MVQAMF2, the original Samsung Galaxy S3 Software. File size is 2.4 MB, also note the Resolution is 72.

You can see by this data that this photo is completely unaltered.

Using this article here, you can see a complete explanation of what each format line means: EXIF DATA EXPLAINED

This photo on the other hand, you can see a major difference- and we’re not just talking about that spooky face!

This photo has been saved from Facebook via mobile. It then was put through the Android Application, “GhostCam”. It’s been emailed back to the computer and put through the EXIF Data Website. As you can see there is a huge lack of EXIF data. This is because the information for the camera used is void. It has been put through a 3rd party program. This is an indication that the photo has been modified in some way. You can now see that the photo’s file size is 47 KB and the resolution has dropped to 1. Software to create this photo is Picasa, which is a 3rd party image organizer and editor created by Lifescape and used on Android.

What Phenomena can be explained using EXIF Data?

Many different types of suspected paranormal photographic can be explained using EXIF Data.

Orbs: Was flash used? EXIF data can show the flash used.

Photo was taken in 2011 at a Ranch in the Sutter Buttes using flash photography

Squiggly glows lines: What was the shutter speed? EXIF data can tell you if long exposure or short exposure was used. Many settings that are used for night photography uses slower shutter speeds, causing trails of light.

Photo taken 2012 Valentine construction Company using Night Scenery, Long Exposure, Slow Shutter Speeds. The purple lines are coming from the Infrared cameras being used. The photo taker has lowered the camera before the shutter has completed its action.

“Apparitions” or ghostly images that seem like blurry transparent people: Same as before, check the exposure. Was long or short exposure used?

This photo was taken at the Silver Dollar in 2012, using Night Scenery, long exposure (slow shutter speeds), no flash. One of our investigators was moving out of frame when the photo was taken.

https://completelyfreetutorials.blogspot.com/2012/07/photography-tutorial-shutter-speed.html

There are other factors that will play into how photos will turn out, especially at night. This includes the camera’s ISO. ISO is your camera’s sensitivity to light. Aperture is also important, which is the hole that light travels into your camera. Bottom line: MANY factors play into photos and how the camera itself effects the way photos are recorded. BUT YOU GET THE POINT! 🙂

This does not include ambient room lighting, environmental conditions, and the user themselves. These are only a few examples of how EXIF can help to factor in the authenticity of photos, and whether or not they are paranormal.

If a photo is found to be altered using the EXIF data, it should be thrown out. There is no way anyone can diagnose any photo as being authentically paranormal without proper EXIF data. This goes both ways for people sending in photos in to paranormal teams for analysis, or even for teams who may think they have caught paranormal evidence. The original photo should be available with EXIF data in tact.

The other factor is the photo taker themselves, take into consideration the environmental factors mentioned above. And HONESTY! Always be honest!

There are many FREE EXIF data viewers you can download and some websites that you can view EXIF data online, such as:

exifdata.com/‎
www.exifdataviewer.com/
www.findexif.com/‎
exif-viewer.com/‎

Hopefully this little article helps people understand the importance of these data files. Debunking isn’t always a bad thing, in fact, its essential in the Paranormal Community! Through education we better our chances of producing legitimate photos, making stronger investigators, and in turn strengthening this community! 🙂

Stop The Insanity

A popular saying goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” In the decades I’ve watched ghost hunters featured on TV shows and read about them in books, I’ve seen the same formula, with no new groundbreaking results. The formula has been ingrained in our collective consciousness for decades thanks to popular culture. Ghost Ship from 1952 is an example. Ghostly goings-on prompt the owners to contact a scientist who studies the paranormal. He brings equipment that can detect “vibrations” as well a psychic (the “real deal”) and they discover the secret that helps the ghost “move on”.

This formula, in various incarnations, is still featured on popular TV ghost hunting “reality” shows and copied by ghost hunting teams today. And yet, there have been no headlines announcing any breakthroughs in paranormal research. Maybe that’s because it’s not working. If we want paranormal research to make any real progress, perhaps it’s time to retire some of the counter-productive notions and practices commonly seen in the field.

Investigating in the dark:
There is no logical reason to investigate paranormal claims in the dark. Yes, many paranormal reports occur at night, but many people report experiences during the day as well. As outlined in my article, “Believing is Seeing“,  there are plenty of issues with visual perception in well-lit conditions. Investigating in dark sets one up even more for misperception and misidentification, because our eyes are not designed to see well in darkness. Since our retinal cone cells don’t function well in the dark, our central vision will be poor and we must rely more on our peripheral vision, which is lacking when it comes to processing details and color. In dark or low light conditions, we don’t interpret the shape of objects accurately or see color well enough, causing objects to look like shadows or even lights. Another optical illusion occurring in dark conditions is autokinesis. If you stare at objects or light sources long enough, they will appear to move. Our peripheral vision’s strength is detecting movement. But without our central vision functioning well in low light, our ability to see what is moving, or how, is poor. It is not difficult to understand how this causes misperception. Also, another common issue is that sitting in total (or near total) darkness for a period of time is a form of sensory deprivation that causes some to see lights or colors (phosphenes). This is something I experienced in my father’s dark room in his professional photography studio.

Putting visual misperceptions aside, investigating in the dark causes misidentification in video and photographs. Slower shutter speeds due to the low light causes light streaks, motion blurs (which can make objects and people look transparent), and grainy, pixilated blobs that can be misinterpreted into just about anything. In video, “shadows” can form from the autofocus trying to work in low light conditions. Night vision video not only is often grainy, but sometimes there are “hot spots” where parts of the picture is blurry. Another common issue is that sometimes reflections from surfaces are amplified, making it appear there is a light that really isn’t there. FLIR cameras, if you can afford them, also have false positives with reflective surfaces and residual heat signatures.

Then there are common sense safety issues. Many ghost hunters like to investigate deteriorating old buildings, which present dangers in bright daylight, let alone hazards hidden in darkness.

Orbs, ectoplasm, vortices, and other photographic effects:
It amazes me that 10 years after the most popular ghost hunting TV show explained orbs are airborne particles, there are still paranormal investigators who go into people’s homes, declaring orbs are paranormal. The orb craze gained traction after the popularity of early digital cameras. While it is possible to capture orbs with 35 mm cameras, it is far less common. The point and shoot digital cameras had a greater depth of field compared to 35mm cameras, because of a smaller focal distance, and with the flash source closer to the lens, it made capturing airborne particles much easier. Despite explanations from camera manufacturers, professional photographers and videographers and mountains of experiments demonstrating how orbs are photographed and videoed, there are those with an agenda, who cling to and promote the false notion they are proof of the paranormal.

Some argue dust or moisture can’t “move that way”. Well, yes it can and it does. The air is not static. Even without an obvious source like an open door or window, there are air currents. Some are caused by change in air pressure, humidity, or the difference between temperature on the inside versus the outside of the building. Even if we could rule out currents, there is Brownian motion to consider. Air is a mixture of gases. If a larger particle (such as a dust particle) collides with a large set of smaller particles (molecules of a gas) which move with different velocities in different random directions, it can change direction.

Others argue they have seen orbs with their own eyes. As explained above, there are faults visual perception. But even if an orb is visible, it is a huge leap of logic to conclude it is the spirit of a dead person or anything paranormal. There are other natural explanations to consider first. For example, despite it being a rare phenomena, I know a few people, each at a different location, who witnessed ball lightning indoors.

Another common misidentification in photos are “ghost mists”, AKA ectoplasm. These can easily be replicated by breath, cigarette smoke, ground fog, humidity or dust. Some have argued with me that they were inside a building, so it couldn’t be cold enough. This is false. I have been in plenty of buildings (including the same ones in some arguments) that get cold enough to produce breath mists. Even if you don’t see it with the naked eye, the camera can. Incidentally, ectoplasm is a term manufactured by mediums during the spiritualist movement. Mediums would hide cheesecloth or gauze (or in some cases, swallow it) and produce it during a seance. Even though ectoplasm was debunked at the time, over a century later, some people still believe in it.

Thanks to popular paranormal shows, bleached out photos of hair have become known as energy vortices. Never mind that energy vortices have yet to be proven and these photos are easily recreated with hair, thread, string, spider webs, etc., there are still ghost hunting groups promoting them as something paranormal.

In my opinion, those who still promote orbs and other explainable photographic “anomalies”as paranormal, are either supporting an agenda (like profitable ghost tours or TV shows) or are so desperate to have “proof” that they abandoned common sense for wish fulfillment.

Psychics:
While it makes for dramatic entertainment to have someone walk in, roll their eyes back, and claim, “There’s a presence here”, it doesn’t do a thing to further paranormal research. First off, there is already the assumption there is ghost at the site, or else ghost hunters wouldn’t be there. Secondly, there is no way to validate a psychic’s “hits” during an investigation. Are they truly in communication with the “other side”, or, as has been duplicated by mentalists, magicians, psychologists and a philosophy professor I know, is it a product of cold reading? In today’s search engine world, it is too easy for anyone to access prior information about a location and its owners. A psychic’s ability, even if genuine, is too subjective to be considered evidence.

This leads into another unsubstantiated notion: that someone can “clear” a house of paranormal activity or convince a ghost to “move on”. Again, there is no objective way of validating this. While some have claimed activity stopped after a so-called cleansing, many others have reported their situation became worse afterwards. Not long ago, there was a client who thought they had a negative entity, thanks to “signs” promoted on some paranormal TV shows: headaches, fatigue, moodiness, trouble concentrating, etc. The client had a team come in to cleanse the home, and not surprisingly, it didn’t work. Finally, a team who looks for rational explanations came in and found there was a faulty furnace that was causing a build up of fumes – which cause the same symptoms as a supposed negative presence. Professionals were called, furnace fixed, no more “signs” of an entity plaguing the family.

If we truly want to help people, as so many paranormal investigators claim, then we should do so with something that can be backed up with objective, verifiable information instead of something that could mislead them, ignore a real danger (as described above) or feed a troubled mind, making a situation worse.

Ovulus, spirit boxes, flashlight “communication”:
There are a lot of gadgets out there that are used to supposedly communicate with the dead. The problem with them is they are highly subjective, with priming and suggestibility increasing the misinterpretation of “hits”. To me, they are high tech versions of an Ouija board. The Ovulus and other such gadgets are not magic. They are random word generators built using an algorithm. Since they are designed for ghost hunters, and even the makers say they are “for entertainment only” it is not surprising that overzealous investigators find seemingly relevant words.

Spirit boxes and “Shack Hacks” are manipulated radios. There is no scientific evidence that ghosts, if they exist, can anticipate radio broadcasts and manipulate them to communicate. Again, this is a highly subjective methodology, with priming and suggestibility heavily influencing what people perceive. A while back, I attended a session hosted by a well-known TV demonologist. Even though he said he didn’t put stock in these devices, he clearly encouraged the group when they thought they got relevant words. The word “soldier” came up a couple of times. We were in a train terminal where soldiers were transported during WWII, so they thought this”proved” a ghostly soldier was trying to communicate. I argued that since it was Memorial Day Weekend, the probability of the word “soldier” being said on the radio was quite high. (I did not win any popularity points for this.) Even if a word or phrase is clearly heard, it is impossible to prove it came from a ghost, especially using a machine designed to pick up radio.

Another entertaining method to communicate with the dead is using manipulated flashlights. This became popular after a TV show (which is edited) featured it. Again, it’s highly subjective. Many ghost hunters seem to focus on the 1 “hit” out of 10 questions, ignoring the 9 misses. More importantly, scientific experiments have shown thermodynamics are behind the flashlight coming on and off. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqNwGeXTQJk So even if a manipulated flashlight going on “by itself” seems to correlate with specific questions, again, it’s impossible to prove a ghost is behind it, especially when there is a scientific explanation that can be demonstrated.

Ghost detectors:
Many ghost hunters use EMF (electromagnetic field) detectors, ion detectors, Geiger counters, etc. to “detect” ghosts. No one knows what ghosts, if they exist, are comprised of, nor how they interact with the environment (or even if they are able to). Many ghosts hunters do not fully understand how these various gadget work, or fully understand the fields they are designed to measure, or what can cause false positives. For example, EMF detectors, a favorite among ghost hunters, can also pick up radio frequencies including ELFs (extremely low frequencies). Moving metal, static electricity, our own natural biological fields can also generate a “hit”. I get a kick out of groups who turn off all the power in a building so there are no fields. Yet, they use cameras, recorders, various gadgets, which all throw off EMFs. Not to mention EMFs are not static, they bounce around. They don’t honor boundaries, so something outside of the location can create a spike. And again, even if someone knowledgable picks up an “anomalous” reading, how can they prove it was due to a ghost? As I’ve said before, it is a huge leap in logic to conclude something we don’t have an immediate explanation for is a disembodied spirit of a dead person.

Cheap recorders and poor recording techniques:
As I’ve said in an article I wrote for The Bent Spoon Magazine, “EVP and the Voice of Reason“, there are too many factors for me to accept people are recording voices from beyond the grave. However, I recognize EVP (electronic voice phenomena) is the favorite “evidence” for ghost hunters and very few are going to be convinced to let go of it. So instead, I encourage investigators to at least do everything possible to reduce false positives. The truth is, it takes more time, money and effort. While I understand not everyone has a big budget put aside for their ghost hunting, it is frustrating to witness teams skimp on the time and effort, which are free.

Inexpensive recorders produce false positives due to their poor frequency response and low sample rates. So ambient noise is even more prone to sounding like a voice or word. Lower-end recorders also have poor shielding, so they can be affected by radio frequencies or pick up static from other electric devices. I advise those who are serious about EVP to invest in higher-end recorders, if possible. I also advise to invest in more than one because of acoustics and how the microphones pick up sound. What one picks up on one side of the room might sound differently on the other side of the room, so what may sound like a voice or whisper can be crossed referenced. Let me share an example of how sound resonates differently in the same room: during one investigation, two of us were sitting in the center of a room in a very large building. We suddenly heard footsteps running up the stairs and quickly went to see who there. The third investigator, who was sitting against the wall by a window, thought we lost our minds. He heard the ka-thunk, ka-thunk of a skateboarder zipping by on the sidewalk (who he saw as well). But the way it reverberated in the center of the room sounded exactly like someone on the stairs – and it recorded that way as well.

One of the worst ways to use recorders is often seen on TV ghost hunting shows: holding it and walking around with it while recording. This is one of the best ways to create false positives. The mics pick up the investigator’s breath, the movement of their clothes as they walk, the sound of their hands rubbing agains the recorder, etc. The best way to reduce these issues is to set a recorder down a few feet away, and have investigators sit still during a session. I personally encourage to have as few investigators as possible in the room, and instead utilize video to monitor the location and use as cross reference if something odd comes up on playback. You would be surprised upon video review of how many “EVPs” turn out to be from investigators shifting positions, scratching an itch, yawning, etc.

Another technique I learned from Midwest Preternatural Research is controlled silence. They spend at least 30 minutes recording the ambient sound of each room they are going to investigate. Yes, it takes time out of the more fun “Is anybody here with us?” part of the EVP session, but it provides necessary data to use as cross reference.

A common mistake investigators make is priming and influencing others when they present their “evidence”. When you label an EVP “female voice saying help me”, you primed your audience to hear exactly that. There have been studies where researchers primed subjects to hear specific words or even phrases in white noise, and many of the subjects indeed heard them. In order to get more objective reviews, it is more constructive to just label it “possible anomaly – what do you hear?” and ask people to give their answers in private messages, as to not influence each other. When investigators post in this manner, they more often get varied responses, demonstrating how subjective the EVP technique is.

Being snap-happy with cameras:
I don’t know how many investigations I’ve been on where people just randomly point and shoot their cameras, without any methodology or protocols whatsoever. Then they get upset when skeptics don’t take their photos seriously. Just like EVPs, it takes much more time and effort to get the most benefit from taking pictures on an investigation.

Like recorders, the better the camera, the lesser the chance for false positives and misidentification due to poor resolution. But even with the priciest camera, without implementing some basic protocols, you are wasting your time.

First off: control shots. Take well-lit shots of every area you are going to investigate. Cover every angle, wall, ceiling and floor. This ensures you capture every surface for cross-reference for your pictures during the investigation as well as video you record. You will be surprised how many surfaces can reflect light and cause a seemingly paranormal glow. But by referencing the surfaces and angles, many mysteries are soon cleared up.

Invest in a good tripod. This reduces the chances for blurring, light streaks, shadowing etc. On one of my first investigations, I was using a cheaper camera without a tripod, so even though I was taking several pictures from the same spot, the slight movement between each picture made it look like a shadow was growing. Take a series of comparison shots. If you have a claim of an apparition in a particular spot, take a series of at least 5 – 7 shots versus one click. Adjust the tripod higher and repeat. Adjust the tripod lower and repeat. Move the tripod from a different angle and repeat the previous steps. If there is a weird blob in only one picture in a series caught in the same conditions, that would be of more interest that one shot taken randomly. I’m not suggesting it means you caught a ghost, but it would be something interesting to investigate further.

Practice with your camera outside of investigations, in various conditions. This will help you become familiar with, and recognize common things often mistaken for anomalies.

This should be obvious, but know where other investigators are at all times and plan your photo session accordingly. (This is why I strongly encourage video surveillance.) I don’t know how many times I caught a shadow or an “unexplained” light that really was from someone not following directions and wandering off aimlessly.

Accepting the history and claims of a location at face value:
There have been several examples of investigators doing their own in-depth research into the background of famous “haunted” locations and finding the history presented and stories associated with ghostly claims have been either manipulated or outright fabricated. This has caused some discontent in the paranormal community for some who didn’t like their illusions challenged. To be fair, sometimes the owner is just passing on what they’ve been told. But in many cases, the stories crop up as a business opportunity. One example in my area is an old hotel, complete with a ghostly soldier. It’s been featured on TV and is a hot spot for local ghost hunters. However, the former owner’s daughter has been known to say it’s all nonsense and her family, in all the years they ran the hotel, never had any paranormal experiences. I have been to a few well-known haunted locations and heard the very same stories on the tours that have been presented on TV, only to later learn they weren’t true. On the other hand, there was a private case where an owner told us someone had been murdered at the location. The story was pretty cliche, so I admit I had some doubts, but I contacted the county historian who confirmed it happened. If we call ourselves paranormal investigators, more of us need to do actual investigating, which includes fact checking.

During a training session for my former team, the lead officers conducted an experiment on claims and expectations. We brought our team to a location, told them the actual claims reported by the client, but also made up a claim about a murdered little girl. Not surprisingly, some of our members claimed to hear a voice of a little girl, and others saw shadows about the size of a little girl. When we told them there was never any murdered little girl at the location, they weren’t thrilled with us, but it did demonstrate to them the power of suggestion and how it influences what we think we see or hear.
SO… after we ditch some of these things that haven’t been working for us as paranormal investigators, how do we move forward? In my opinion, it is by changing the common approach to investigating. Many ghost hunters use scientific terminology and science-y gadgets, but fail to apply scientific methodology. A lot of paranormal investigators go into a case assuming there are ghosts, and try to find evidence of them. But in order to benefit both the clients who call for assistance and to contribute to valid research of paranormal claims, we should instead be challenging our own assumptions and beliefs and look for rational causes first. We need to study and explore environmental, physiological and psychological factors that can contribute to seemingly paranormal experiences. When something is out of our scope of education or experience, we need to solicit the help of experts in relevant fields. Finding natural causes may reduce our “evidence” to present from an investigation, but it is a positive thing for the field, because we all learn from it and can apply it to future cases. Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” I’d like to add it requires extraordinary effort. To satisfy science, only after we’ve exhausted all natural possibilities can we consider something paranormal. And if that day ever comes, what a remarkable payoff it will be.

Pareidolia; funny name, funny phenomena, not so funny problem…

How many times, while surfing the Internet, have you seen someone post photos on a paranormal society’s Facebook, asking if a face in an inanimate object is paranormal or not?

A face in toast, plaster, smoke, a ceased shirt, trees and foliage, and…..CLOUDS? The clouds should have given this away. Remember laying on your back as a child and looking up at the clouds and seeing animals? We would point out dolphins, alligators, dragons and elephants. This is the same thing. This phenomena is called pareidolia matrixing.

Pareidolia (ˌpæraɪˈdəʊlɪə) — n the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist.

360px-Fakeface

It seems that over the course of evolution, human beings have adapted a survival skill of recognizing human faces in shapes and patterns. American astronomer and astrophysicist, Carl Sagan hypothesized that as a survival technique, human beings are “hard-wired” from birth to identify the human face.

This is referred to as face perception. This survival skill gives us the ability to discern emotion. From birth, faces are key to the individuals social interaction. This can help us figure out if we are in danger, or if another individual is safe or approachable. Faces are key to a humans interaction with the world around, therefore we recognize them immediately, even subconsciously.

EXAMPLE: This is simply 3 circles and a line, but configured into this pattern, the human brain perceives this as a face. The human mind is also so quick to sum up the image, one may assume this face has a negative demeanor such as disappointment or mild unhappiness.

This is a survival skill.

Famous examples of pareidolia: 

Face on Mars

Face on Mars

The Rabbit Moon

The Rabbit Moon

The Old Man of the Mountains in Franconia, New Hampshire

The Old Man of the Mountains in Franconia, New Hampshire

The Man in the Moon

The Man in the Moon

The "Rock Face" in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado

The “Rock Face” in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Horsehead Nebula, Orion

Horsehead Nebula, Orion

There are literally millions of other examples of this, but these are some people may recognize right away.

Childhood Fun

As I mentioned earlier in this entry, I talked about clouds. Clouds are probably the most common way we can demonstrate pareidolia, in a way in which everyone can relate. While we recognized that this takes place in abstract patterns, we also recognize that the lion cub we see in the clouds, is not in fact a lion club, but a pattern that happens to look like one. This is the same when it goes for human faces in patterns. Whether its animals, humans or objects such as planes trains and automobiles- the basis is the same, our brains are trained to recognize familiar objects in patterns.

CLoud

pareidolia3-12966_630x210

pareidolia-580x333

pareidolia or photoshop

pareidolia3

faceinthesky4

Pareidolia and the Paranormal –
Greying the area between Paranormal and Paranoid

To our team, education is extremely important. We feel that if we want to see positive changes in the Paranormal community, we must be part of that positive change. We cannot complain about how things are being handled, if we are not willing to help change it. Education is key. It’s a goal of ours to help educate the public as well as new investigators who might be coming into the field. We’re sorry if what we’re about to say comes off as critical or rude. It’s not our intention. We do however feel this all needs to be said.

  In the day in age of the Paranormal reality revolution, its easy to get caught up in the hype. In the attempt of being recognized and  being seen as really open minded, some have become so open minded that they have become closed minded to the idea of anything “normal”. Believing skeptics are becoming harder to find. This does not mean being skeptical of ghosts or other paranormal phenomena, but being skeptical of the people who give us material and skeptical of the methods being used to capture it. Some things that can be easily explained, are being labeled paranormal in fear of appearing close minded. Critical thinking has fallen by the way side.

Before the internet there was more of an excuse for this sort of thing to be believed of as paranormal. Unless we had access to scientific journals or knew someone who understood these things, we may not know. But now days with information readily available at the tips of our fingers, there really is no excuse for passing off common human reactions to patterns, as anything but just what it is: a survival skill.

We learned that the world wasn’t flat, we should be able to understand this.

Also, we are also in the age of “not offending anyone”, so instead of offering a plausible explanation for phenomena, we find ourselves nodding and saying “maybe” as opposed to educating the public on whats really happening.

 Paranormal Investigators are especially guilty of this. Everyone wants a piece of the “paranormal glory”, and to be part in an ongoing popularity contest in the community. This is very prominent on social media. People seem more concentrated on numbers on their counters in the form of “likes”, than producing valid evidence and giving good plausible reasons for unexplainable phenomena. It doesn’t have to be unexplainable, if we would just do our duty of explaining. In the effort of proving that the paranormal exists, we are deeming anything “possible” into being absolute. Evidence review has become very diluted when we are calling a face in a pile of unfolded laundry, the spirit of a deceased human being. This is not helping the community, this is damaging it’s integrity.

Ranting Moment: Problems in the Paranormal Community

At the risk of sounding catty or rude, the best way I can express how this makes me feel as a paranormal investigator who has dedicated their time into educating themselves-

“Let’s not be SO open minded, that our brains fall out.”

YOU MUST THINK CRITICALLY.

Our team has collectively over 20 years experience in the paranormal. On most cases, considering that we visit highly active areas, we produce a small handful of EVP, and rarely something photographic (or visual) per case. 70% of what we find is usually personal experiences. If your team is rendering 30 EVP, 40 “evidence” photos, and other phenomena, its time to consider possibly honing in on your evidence review skills.

It very easy to spot out teams on social media who have been in the field for a long amount of time, or who strive for education of their members. We do not mean to demean other teams who enjoy doing what we do, everyone is entitled to be here. We certainly do not feel that we are better than anyone else. We do however pride ourselves in doing the foot work of educating our members on common phenomena that occur in this “field” (word used loosely), that are frequently mistaken as paranormal. And by this, we mean having strict standards in what we call evidence of the paranormal. Our evidence goes through rigorous debunking before we label it. This includes submitting it for peer review to others in the community, NOT JUST OUR TEAM MEMBERS.

“When in doubt- THROW IT OUT!”

I would rather have 1 solid piece of evidence, than a thousand “maybe” pieces of evidence.

Which would you rather have? One $1 bill or one hundred pennies?

Many teams do not like being told anything contrary to what they believe they have captured. If you do not agree with them that it is paranormal, and all out war ensues. Blocking and nasty words are exchanged. If you do not wish to have your work critiqued, it is suggested that you do not put it up on social media. Because, eventually, people will question your work.

While we have no problem with people having teams who ghost hunt, what we do have a problem with is people who do not understand these basic debunking fundamentals.  These are the individuals who proclaim themselves as professionals and who go into peoples homes and declare some very basic non-paranormal phenomena as evidence of a haunting, leaving their clients more confused than ever and with no resolution. This is not okay.

And the clean up for teams who do strive for paranormal excellence and professionalism? This is a nightmare.

PAREIDOLIA IS NOT PARANORMAL PHENOMENA.

So PLEASE, educate yourself and your team on these different subjects. Learn your equipment. Learn what causes these phenomena. Read books. Read articles. AND PLEASE, learn as much as you can before going into people’s homes and causing more panic and disorder! They still have to live there long after we are gone.

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