"The Hard Truth"
By John A. Harris
These days, most of the paranormal evidence being presented to the public is likely to be a product of an overactive and wishful imagination. If a person truly wants to see a ghost, then everything that is unknown to them, will, indeed, be a ghost. More importantly, it also comes from a lack of knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of photography.
As a Professional Photo Surveillance Technician, I have a thorough understanding of most of the physics, chemistry and properties associated with unexpected light and its effect on photographs. Unexpected light comes in many guises, such as; reflection, refraction and glare. I also know the internal circuitry of both digital and film cameras are capable of causing natural anomalies on your photographs, as well as videos
The paranormal industry is inundated with “Paranormal Enthusiasts,” calling themselves “Paranormal Investigators.” This is probably no fault of their own, as in their eyes, they are investigating, and they are, again, in their eyes, seeing un-natural anomalies or ghosts. Unfortunately, their results are most probably, natural phenomena. Just look at 90% of the paranormal and “ghost hunter” websites out there. They are filled with thousands of photos of orbs, vortices, ecto fog and even faces and shapes of the disembodied. Most of this evidence is made from purely natural material, such as; dust particles, moisture, rain/snow droplets, flying insects, shiny objects, camera straps and lens cap strings. The list goes on and on, from the most obvious materials as listed above, to the more complex natural phenomena, like; airborne static electricity, natural matrixing (the same thing as seeing animal shapes in clouds), internal circuitry errors in digital/film cameras, processing & chemical errors in film and a whole host of other lighting errors.
To the inexperienced and untrained, these natural phenomena and anomalies can lead to the individual believing they just captured some form of un-natural phenomena – when indeed, they have not. Immediately they are overcome by the excitement of the find. They throw all common sense and reasoning out the window and report their anomaly as a ghost or ghost energy.
Is this false reporting hurting the scientific paranormal community? One could argue it does. For instance. If the public is continuously fed the infamous “dust orb”, or the diabolical camera strap “vortex”, or even better, the cold breath “ecto-cloud”. Then, when viable evidence is presented by a trained, credible Investigator, it is met with the same skepticism – regardless of the “clean” evidence that is presented. I personally have no ill-regard for amateur Ghost Hunters, as I have learned a lot from them. I have also been annoyed by what they have presented. So, you as a receiver of presented material must be able to decipher the valid evidence from the invalid evidence.
Am I a Professional Paranormal Investigator? No, I personally do not consider myself experienced enough in the paranormal realm. Am I a Professional Investigator? Yes. I have 20+ years in the field of Legal, Law Enforcement and Security investigation and surveillance. I have an absolute understanding of how to analyze presented data, as well as a proven track record of collecting and presenting substantiated evidence. Above all, I have an open mind to all possibilities relating to the collected evidence.
Within the paranormal community, people refer to an “open mind” as a prerequisite to being a Paranormal Investigator. Unfortunately, most of the time I am not seeing that “open mind.”
What I see all too frequently is an “open mind” to what they want to see and a “closed mind” as to what actually may be occurring. The individual has already made up their mind that the “orb” or flash of light on their photograph is that of a ghost and never taking the time to find out what could have actually caused the anomaly.
What makes a good, reputable Investigator?
A good Investigator, whether amateur or professional, will always seek out what is causing the anomaly or phenomena. A good Investigator will not be sucked into the hype of local folk lore or legend. The Investigator will have a complete understanding of what causes natural anomalies and how to differentiate between the natural and un-natural conditions. They should understand how their equipment works and how to analyze what it is giving them. Finally, the Investigator should be skeptical. If you are not skeptical, then you are believing everything that is presented to you regardless of the evidence supporting a naturally occurring anomaly or phenomena.
When I go into an Investigation, I am not in awe of the “orbs,” or impressed by misleading common natural phenomena. My only goal is to seek out hard, clean evidence – which I can prove. I am always aware of what is in front of my viewfinder or what can potentially get into my viewfinder. I have a thorough understanding of what causes reflections and glare and what it can do to my evidence. I am very particular with who I bring along to assist in the investigation. Do they hold the same values and credibility as I do? Do they possess the skills required to collect viable evidence? Will they conduct themselves as professionals?
When you are seeking out an Investigator for your suspected haunting, be sure you’re getting just that – An Investigator of the Paranormal. There are many paranormal enthusiasts out there and they are more than eager to tell you your dwelling is haunted, or at least full of paranormal energies. If that is what you want to hear, regardless of the quality of the evidence, then the ghost hunter enthusiast will serve your purpose. However, if you require credible proof of the existence or lack of existence of paranormal anomalies or hauntings, then do your homework and find out what you’re inviting into your home or business. Ask questions and do a little research, it will pay off in the long run.
Keep in mind. A true haunting is a very hard thing to prove, as well as rare. It takes time, experienced effort, and quite a bit of resources to collect a little bit of solid evidence in order to deem something haunted or even the existence of paranormal activity.
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