Ghost Hunters….are they full of it?

I’m flying out to San Francisco on Thursday to attend The Conjuring press junket and interview everyone related to the film. My editor here at Patheos gave me this assignment for two reasons. First, she wants to do video interviews on the  movie channel. Second, she knows I have an interest in the paranormal due to my novel, 3 Gates of the Dead, coming out this fall on October 15th.

Before I go on, I should make a few disclaimers. First, I’m an Anglo-Catholic, which means I embrace the idea of the seen and the unseen worlds. I believe in evil. I believe that people can have certain gifts that are not the norm. I also believe in the devil, not the devil of the “Horned hoof,” but the fallen evil angel opposed (but not the opposite) to God. Finally, I also believe the dead can see us, are able to interact with our world and may help the living in certain circumstances.

All clear? Good.

The Conjuring is a movie about Ed and Lorraine Warren who are the grandparents of the modern day paranormal investigation movement. This particular movie claims to describe one of their “hidden” cases, and from the trailer, it looks truly scary. As a fan of horror I can’t wait to see it on Thursday night.

The question in everyone’s mind when they see shows about paranormal investigators is are these people full of crap? Are they lying? Are they sincere? What is truly going on during these investigations anyway?

When I started writing the paranormal investigation scenes for 3 Gates, I sought out a local paranormal investigator group. I could have probably written a fairly convincing ghost hunt scene just by watching the TV shows. But I’m one of those writers who is neurotic about research. I like to know the feel, touch, and language used in whatever scene I’m writing. I rely on my own senses rather than what I see or read.

A local Ohio group agreed to take me on one of their hunts. The case involved a single woman who kept seeing ghosts in her house. The woman in question described one ghost as mostly friendly, but she had recently began to wake her up in the middle of the night. They started behaving in ways that scared her, but due to the privacy of the investigation, I’m not allowed to give you full details of the events. Just know, the stories unsettled me.

I arrived at the house at 11 o’ clock in the evening. The leader of the group (and now a good friend of mine) gave me the scoop. He told me the story of the house, the problems being experienced by the homeowner and how we would investigate during the night. After a brief training on all the equipment: camera, recorders, and electronic field readers, the investigation began.

As the night passed, I got to know my fellow investigators. Contrary to your possible opinion about paranormal folks, most of them are not crazy kooks or the d-bags you see on TV. They have professional day jobs. They do investigations because like all humans, they are curious about the mystery. Even more, they want to help people.

The folks they help are scared out of their minds. Something (who knows what) has happened to make their home uncomfortable. Imagine it… The place you go to rest and get away from the world suddenly becomes your chief source of stress.  Paranormal investigators, most of them, are just trying to help people regain that sense of comfort.

To be sure, there are hucksters out there, but you can pretty much recognize those people by the money they charge. Any worthwhile paranormal investigation team will not charge money to help and make grand, insane claims. Which, if you think about it, pretty much goes for all of life and business.

In this sense, then, paranormal investigators are NOT full of it. Are they wrong? Possibly, but they would say, “we’re not even sure what is going on here, but we’re gonna try to guess.”

Did anything actually happen on my ghost hunt? The answer would be yes. At about 2 in the morning, I sat on the couch, asking the possible ghost questions as instructed in my training. Keep in mind, the house is kept totally dark due to the need for infrared cameras during the investigation. Yeah, it was a little creepy sitting there by myself, even though I knew everyone else was downstairs.

One of my fellow investigators came running up the stairs and asked, “Did you see that blue light right by your head?”

“What blue light?” I asked.

He motioned me down the stairs and I followed. At the command center, where several televisions were hooked up to cameras, all of them stared at me with expressions of puzzlement.

The lead investigator said, “Are you sure you didn’t see any blue light up there? Did you have your cell phone out?”

I shook my head. “No, I didn’t.”

He nodded and said, “Watch the video.”

The playback showed the dark silhouette of the couch and my head. Right near me, a blue flame-like light appeared for five seconds and then disappeared.

“What the hell was that?” I asked.

All of them shrugged. “We have no idea; never saw anything like it.”

“So, was it light from the window?” someone asked.

“No, there was no light. Something that bright would have caught my attention.”

We all agreed to try and recreate the light. We used car lights. We used cell phones. We used flashlights.

Nothing.

No one could explain it and still can’t.

So, did my first hand investigation help with the writing of my novel? You bet. Did it solve the question of the paranormal? No, it just led to more questions for me. I’ve since connected with the wide world of paranormal investigators. Most of them are genuine, lovely people just trying to investigate the mystery. They want answers, not profit.

From what I know of Ed and Lorraine Warren, I believe they fall into that genuine and lovely people category. I can’t wait to see some of their story on screen and talk to Lorraine herself about my own experience.

Share your thoughts on ghost hunters below…

 

About Jonathan Ryan

Jonathan Ryan is a novelist, blogger and columnist. His novel, 3 Gates of the Dead, published by Open Road Media, is in bookstores everywhere. The sequel, Dark Bride, will be out early next year along with a powerful new Young Adult Trilogy, Revolution of the Wolf and a moving middle grade series, Ghost Bear.

  • http://flavors.me/idoubtit idoubtit

    I researched and wrote a thesis on amateur paranormal investigators. I agree that they do care about the clients but they do more to reinforce a belief than investigate. You can see an article about it here. http://www.csicop.org/si/show/amateur_paranormal_research_and_investigation_groups_doing_sciencey_things

    • Author Jonathan Ryan

      Thanks for sharing, idoubit.

  • gewisn

    Did your Paranormal Investigators give any explanation as to why they do the things they do, use the equipment they do, or point you to any evidence that these techniques are any more reliable than using a Magic 8 Ball?

    • Author Jonathan Ryan

      Interesting questions, Gewin. Certainly, they gave explanations. I left those out as I was hoping some paranormal investigators would jump in on the discussion. I would say I think your Magic 8 Ball thing is a false comparison. There is no denying these methods pick up some sort of phenomenon. Whether is contact with another world is very hard to say.

  • Author Jonathan Ryan

    Get to it, Tech editor….

  • MamaH55

    Actually, I hope your book “3 Gates of the Dead”, comes out soon on audiobook! It sounds very interesting. I can’t wait to hear it!

    You do know that the most affordable and accurate way to begin paranormal researching is to go into a cemetery/graveyard with a buddy, armed with a simple Polaroid camera with several flash bars, and a sound sensitive/voice activated cassette recorder. That is how I have been doing it and have almost always achieved success. A home/house/property where someone died before their time (suicide, accidental, childbirth or murder) may also provide plenty of proof. A lot of people like myself cannot afford the fancy expensive equipment used by these professional researchers. I have seen ‘dead people’ all of my life, all the way back to remembrance-age 5. It can be very disconcerting and downright frightening to some.
    I always considered it a curse because as a child my mother would drag me to various rest homes, hospitals and funeral parlors so I could tell the family whether the sould had left the body or when it was leaving, whether it just hovered over the body or anything else it may have done. I hated it because I had to literally touch the person’s forehead in the middle and the soul came out as a little ball of light from the mouth.

    I am not a nutter, delusional, or trying to get attention…..just stating facts. I can handle it now, but as a little kid it scared the living crap out of me.

    I wish you the best in your endeavors! Peace and Blessed Be!

    • Author Jonathan Ryan

      Thanks for stopping in, MamaH. The audio book is being discussed. That’s about all I know. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • tehsilentone

    yes they’re full of it

  • kellbellz

    I believe there are things we can explain..Ive witnessed my own unexplained things..an am intregued by the thought of knowing theres more to life after death then just dead air..if we are made up of energy then it makes sense that we would continue as such..


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