There is a term often used amongst paranormal teams and investigators - paraunity. At first glance, the notion that paranormal investigators should be respectful of each other, offering support, guidance and advice regarding the collection of evidence is one that should be encouraged and commended. The reality, however, is that the paranormal world is fragmented and splintered with teams and paranormal investigators collecting evidence in their own way. This leaves me to wonder whether the idea of 'paraunity' is as elusive and as gossamer thin as the apparitions that investigators wish to seek.
When I think of historical psychical research, I undoubtedly think of rather studious elderly men in suits, sat in front of reel to reel tape recorders with collections of powders, cotton thread, brass bells and other such simple paraphernalia related to debunking paranormal phenomena. The biggest difference between then and now however, is that these investigators gathered evidence, collated their findings, exposed frauds, wrote extensive reports and then published them for such societies as the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). As old fashioned as those days might seem to modern day investigators, I cannot help but think that their approach to paranormal investigations and research was the right one.
Look what we have now. We are the Youtube generation. There are hundreds if not thousands of teams out there who have developed their techniques, not from substantial research, but from the likes of Zak Bagans. Too many paranormal investigators are basing their investigations on the dubious methods of a television programme and that is very worrying indeed. Let's take the choice of equipment for starters. People watch a paranormal show in which the team reveal a whole range of electronic equipment that is said to 'detect ghosts' or for 'spirit communication.' Out comes the trusty K2 EMF meter. Invariably followed by the SB7 spirit box, SLS (Kinect) motion tracking camera, REM Pods, Ovilus, Paranormal Puck etc. The list goes on and on. Invariably the TV show airs, the same equipment becomes available for sale and there is a mad rush amongst paranormal teams to purchase the same equipment for their investigations. Let's just slow up shall we....
Here's an idea. How about do some research on what you are purchasing? Have you looked into how the equipment actually works? No piece of equipment can detect ghosts. Remember that. Nothing. How can they? We do not know what ghosts are for starters, what they consist of, why they might appear to some and not others etc. There are pieces of equipment out there which, if you'll excuse my French, are absolute bullshit. They have as much chance of communicating with spirits as I might have sending them a text and getting a reply. But I digress...
The popularity of paranormal TV shows are seen, by some, as a good thing. After all, the paranormal community should benefit due to the interest in the subject. The general public may look to join local paranormal groups in order to experience phenomena for themselves, subscribe to accredited paranormal societies or at the very least, go on a few 'investigations' with ghost hunting companies. Again, I hate to burst your bubble and all that, but TV shows have had a terrible impact on the quality and quantity of true paranormal research.
It doesn't take long to find groups of individuals who, armed with a collection of paranormal equipment and a night vision camcorder or two, set up their own Youtube channel and film their own paranormal experiences with the sole intention of getting themselves on TV. And lo and behold, what equipment, techniques and format do they use? Ah yes, those paranormal TV shows that have already made it and been commissioned.
Now there are a lot of incredibly good, genuine paranormal teams recording evidence and putting it on Youtube. How do I know you're genuine? Well its obvious, trust me. You are the teams who have removed your egos out of the equation. You are the ones who understand how to use equipment correctly and understand their limitations. You debunk. You analyse. You log and record everything. You are invariably the ones who do not charge for your services in order to help those experiencing the paranormal. You are the ones who focus on the location. Not on yourselves. You are not into making exciting intros or edit your programs to include breaks for commercials just in case a TV company takes you on. You're not trying to be the next Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, Yvette Fielding or anyone else. You do it out of a love for the paranormal. You are the ones who need to support and guide others to realise how best to investigate a location. It is easy to be critical and judgemental. But if, as a community, we truly wish to see any sort of 'paraunity', then we must seek to establish a basic set of guidelines that each and every investigator or team must try to adhere to when going out to haunted locations. We cannot allow the influence of television shows to dominate and destroy the traditions of critical paranormal research.