~Written By Bill Stone~

5 Rules & 5 Steps To Becoming A Paranormal Researcher

This article, is an attempt to help newbies get acclimated to ghost hunting, or paranormal investigation without getting trapped in the drama, the bad ethics, the hero worship, flaming skulls, the back stabbing, the competition, the orbs, the merchandising, the media propaganda, the spiritual brainwashing, the scientific brainwashing, the ego, and the greed that has jaded so many of us for many years in this field. This article is all about your frame of mind, attitude, and putting it all together to get started.

For those of you who are interested in becoming a paranormal investigator, or a ghost hunter (there’s a difference) I’m hoping that this little guide will help you avoid most of the things that have had a negative impact on the field, and have even made some of us want to walk away from it. For those of you that have been in the field a while, become jaded by all the negativity, and possibly need a big, or even permanent vacation, I hope that you can somehow get something out of it as well. You wouldn’t be jaded if this stuff didn’t bother you. Because of that, we need you to stick around.

Rule 1: Keep An Open Mind
First off, you have to understand what it means to have an open mind. A lot of paranormal researchers think that believing in ghosts means that you have an open mind. This is not true. I’ve found that MOST people that believe in the paranormal, have minds that are as closed as a cynic who says, “there’s no such thing”.

Quick Example… Someone hears a story about a haunting by a girl, supposedly named Jill. They go into the house, and THINK that they saw an apparition. If they come out saying, “I just saw Jill,” I immediately know not to trust a damn word they have to say from that point on. They blindly believe things, leap to conclusions, and and their credibility is gone.

That person came to a conclusion without even considering other possibilities. When you come to a conclusion, in your mind, the case is closed, and there’s nothing left to learn. It’s over. It’s a very closed minded way to think. In paranormal research, thinking like that makes you useless.

On the other hand, if they come out of the house saying, “I think I might have seen something. I have no idea what it was,” they’ve shown me that their mind is open to possibilities. Always be looking for other possibilities, and question everything.

Rule 2: Forget What You’ve Read, Heard, Or Seen On TV
Everything in books, or on websites, has been written by people that have no clue… Including me! I know that I’m clueless. I have no illusions about that. Yet, I make no claims either. Many DO make claims. A lot of websites, and books come from the position that they have an understanding about what’s out there in the beyond. They’ll tell you about orbs, vortices, mediums, Ouija boards, sensitives, and spirit guides. They’ll talk about how ghosts leave cold spots in the air, or drain batteries. Where did these people get their information? You need to know that MOST of the things you read are nothing more than people guessing about what they think MIGHT be going on. Either that, or they’re using their own religious, or spiritual beliefs to tell you what’s what.

Don’t let ’em do it. You have to deprogram yourself of these things.

Don’t trust paranormal reality programs to give you accurate paranormal information either. Since when is a reality show REAL? If it were, I would be forced to believe that 30 women less than half his age will to do anything imaginable to get busy with Flavor Flav… 3 times! Television’s job is to make money. TV Shows do entertaining things to get ratings. Ratings bring bigger, and better sponsors. Bigger, and better sponsors award bigger paychecks. EVERY show is suspect to doing anything possible to get that job done. They’d be stupid not to. It’s business.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with these TV shows. They’re entertainment, and that’s a wonderful thing, but how do you trust it to be paranormally accurate? Watch them. Enjoy them. Above all, be careful what you THINK you learn from them. Do your own research, and once again, question everything.

Rule 3:  Ignore Armchair Ghost Hunters
There are many websites around the web that are dedicated to what are commonly called ‘Armchair Ghosthunters’. Many of these sites are paranormal based social networking sites, or sites that have many ‘Ghost Cams’ for people to watch, and engage in discussions about some of the ghosts that they see on the feeds. Armchair ghosthunters LOVE the paranormal field. they watch a lot of Paranormal TV, and many of them visit a lot of paranormally themed discussion boards to discuss their ideas, theories, and stories about the paranormal.

Many of them have never been out working in the field. Their views have been corrupted by bad information they’ve found on the Internet, and what they’ve learned from TV. I know that there are exceptions to every rule, and I’m sure that most of them are wonderful people, but all that they do is regurgitate crap that you were supposed to have forgotten in step 2. This is very damaging to the field because more, and more bad information is being spread. Don’t be a carrier of bad information.

Rule 4: Claim Nothing
Thomas Edison once said, “I don’t claim anything, because I don’t know anything…” When working in paranormal research, I live by that. The most surefire way to making yourself look like a fool in this field is to make claims regarding the paranormal. You don’t know anything. I don’t know anything. That guy down the street who claims to be a medium doesn’t know anything.

Claims, and declarations once again leave no room for new possibilities, and you’re gonna get called out. Your best bet is to keep your thoughts open, and flexible so you can roll with the punches, as opposed to locking yourself in.

Rule 5: Allow Yourself To Be Wrong!
Regardless of what I’ve just said, you’re going to go around to different websites, watch a lot of TV, and develop your own theories, and ideas of how you believe things are regarding paranormal research. You need to be ready, willing, and even excited to be completely wrong about everything you think. This is another aspect to being open minded.

Your theories, and ideas are nothing more that your ego. You can’t allow them to take precedence over your open mind. Listen to what others have to say, assuming you believe them to be clear thinking, and open minded themselves. Be ready to consider their ideas even if they go against yours. It’s one thing to consider yourself knowledgeable about things, but its completely different to be so entrenched in those ideas that you won’t listen to reason. I’ve said ‘question everything’ a few times already in this article. Make it a habit of questioning yourself.

To fight against this process is nothing more than your ego. FAR too many people in the field allow their ego to control their actions. Don’t be one of them. You’ll look like an ass.

The next section is 5 steps to getting started. If you remember these 5 rules while you move through each of these 5 steps, you should be well on your way with credibility, and respect.

Step 1: Visit Paranormal Websites, And Watch TV
I know that this kinda goes against Rule #2, but I’m not telling you to believe everything you read, or watch. Unfortunately, there’s really no better way to get started than using these resources to understand how the work is done, and common ideas in the field. Keep the rules written above in mind, and don’t allow these sites, or shows to tell you what to believe. Simply use them as a guide to give you an idea of where you think you may fit into the paranormal field. Are you going to be the type that simply enjoys the investigations, and ignores the research side? Maybe you’ll be a bookworm simply doing the research. Are you going to be the type that loves the electronic gadgets? If so, you’re going to need to be familiar with the toys commonly used.

You need to learn your place, and the best way to contribute.

Also, when I say, watch some TV… I don’t just mean Paranormal shows. Turn on Tru TV and watch some “Investigators” and “Forensic Files”. It might help you learn a bit about actual investigating. Maybe you could talk to a cop, or something too.

Step 2: Spiritual, Or Scientific? PICK ONE!
Rules 1 & 5 still has me waiting for someone, or something to change my mind, and I know this one’s gonna get me some hate mail, but…

Look, ya can’t have it both ways. Are you more into fact finding, looking for clues, data analysis, and debunking, or do you prefer the sensitives, mediums, dowsing, or the spiritual way of doing things? Scientist or spiritualist? Find out which one you are, and simply be that.

I’ve heard all of the arguments. “Psychic investigators, and sensitives work great with scientific gadgets, and methodology!”

I gotta call shenanigans.

The spiritual side of things cannot be accepted as scientific. Anything is possible in faith. Scientific law just does not apply. To use science to try to prove, or disprove someones spiritual belief is disrespectful, and pointless. It’s not going to change someones faith in it, and you’re going to come up empty. For those of you that have a religious or spiritual belief in ANYTHING , you know that you don’t have to explain why you believe what you believe. That’s why its called faith. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s very personal.

The scientific side of things are bound by physics, and scientific law. The universe has made the rules for us to follow. Things either ARE, or they ARE NOT.  To someone who follows these laws, and sees them as paramount, spiritual beliefs are virtually worthless. To introduce those spiritual beliefs into the mix would make their job meaningless. Its NOT personal. It’s the proved way of the universe.

For a spiritualist to try to prove their stuff scientifically makes them lose spiritual credibility. How can you trust a medium that feels the need to be fact checked through scientific research? What about scientists who say that ghosts are around because they can somehow ‘sense’ it with some sort of Extra Sensory Perception?

You can have spiritual beliefs, and set them aside to remain scientifically objective. You can also be a scientifically minded, yet open skeptic that prefers a spiritual ghost hunt over a hardcore investigation.

Neither side is right, and neither is wrong, but ya gotta pick one. Not to sound like a broken record, but when you DO pick one, rule #1 should remain in your thoughts. There are shades of gray.

Step 3: Make Like-Minded Connections
Once you’ve figured out where you stand on the scientific, or spiritual side of things, you’ll want to find others in the field that may think the way you do. It’s not gonna hurt to learn about the other side as well, so you can be more open minded. The Internet is your best way of doing this. There are about a billion different paranormal websites on the net, and there are a ton of potential friends out there. Join some newsgroups, or paranormal discussion boards. On those forums, I suggest you really spend some time there talking to people, and genuinely getting to know them. You’ll hear their personal thoughts, and ideas and it will help you gain a better concept as to what you want to accomplish in the field..

Step 4: Get out there!
I DO NOT recommend that you prepare to start your own ghost hunting, or paranormal investigation group this early in the game.

I recommend that you look around for already formed teams in your area, and make friends with them. In step 3 I mentioned joining message boards. MOST teams have their own. Join the forums of the teams in your area. Again, as in step 3 make friends with them. It doesn’t matter if you agree with their methods or not. Go on a few investigations. See if their ideas, and beliefs are in line with yours. You may find yourself a home. If you can’t find a team to hunt or investigate with, you can always go solo for a while, and later if you feel that you’re in this thing for the long haul, you can think about possibly starting your own team. You may now have experience with other teams, and maybe they’ve shown you their methods, and team structure. You’ve learned what you believe works well in a team, and what doesn’t. You MAY now have a better idea of how you should go about it.

Step 5: Start Your Own Group
I’ve added this last step ONLY for people who can’t seem to find anyone they enjoy going out into the field with. I STILL recommend joining an already established organization.

Starting your own group is an extremely difficult thing to do. You will find that most of the people that sign on right away will be people that don’t even agree with how you want to handle things, yet you’ll take them because you need members. This will lead to disagreements, and arguments. Someones going to quit. Will it be you? If it isn’t you, the odds are that they’ll be taking other members of yours with them to start their OWN thing. Then there will be bad blood.

This IS NOT the direction you want to go in.

There are far too many teams that have the “Get the hell off my street corner! This is OUR territory” mentality. PLEASE don’t add to it. Don’t be territorial, and don’t be competitive. Assuming that they aren’t petty, or childish themselves, the other teams in your area, should be supportive, and friendly if you followed step 4 correctly.

If you go this route and start your own thing up, it’s gong to be a real challenge.

The next thing you’ll need to do after this is learn how to set up a team, make rules, and protocols about procedures, and all that other crap. You’ll need a website, and content to put on it. But… All that’s another article altogether.

Notice that in this article, I never mentioned paying for paranormal courses, and getting ‘certified’. You don’t need all that useless, and fraudulent crap, and you’ll have more credibility without it. If you can get through all of these steps while keeping the 5 rules in mind, “Step 6” will be second nature to you… You’ll have a damned good idea of where you want to take things, and how you want to go about doing it .

I wish you the best.