How to Conduct Research for a Paranormal Investigation
There are many aspects to paranormal investigating - client interviews, walk-through of the property, understanding the equipment that is being used ( Paranormal Investigation Techniques and Equipment ) and what naturally causes certain anomalies or sounds to show up, and hours of reviewing any video or audio data for every hour of investigation time, just to name a few.
A paranormal investigation is a lengthy process that involves commitment from those conducting the investigation to find answers that can logically explain the activity. Part of that includes many hours of researching the property and area's history, geological data, and environmental concerns as well as explanations for specific paranormal claims.
It is important to note that much of the research done is to accompany the data collected, and finding out that a tornado wiped out half the original settlement of the town does not prove there are "ghosts" present. What it can do however is provide some insight into what questions to present when conducting an EVP ( Electronic Voice Phenomenon ) session as well as history of the property and anything that may have happened there. If any data is collected, it can be compared to history of the property for possible connections.
The county offices and the library are two excellent starting points for researching a property history. The county building will have land and tax records for the address in question. If the home is older than 72 years, records from the United State Census can be viewed to see who lived there. The library has a plethora of resources to check once names have been determined. City directories, newspaper articles, obituaries, as well as many other records are available to research and trace back the previous owners and in some cases, their stories. Newspapers of long ago often included bits about traveling guests, neighborhood chit-chat, and interesting bits of what was going on in people's every day lives. Cross referencing names with these articles can bring about some very interesting tidbits to include in the historical research.
The history of the city and the surrounding area is important to include in the research as well. Events of the world often affected the city as a whole, as well as information relating to what the property was before the home was built. A look into the library's city history section as well as a trip to the local historical society will also yield much information about the area and what existed there in past times. Many of these sources can be found online, however to get the full details, it is best to go to the offices and libraries themselves. Depending on what is available, many properties can be traced back to indigenous trails and villages before
settlers inhabited the area.
Geological Factors and Environmental Concerns
Research into what may be paranormal has led to more theories than actual answers. Theories need data to back them up before they can be considered, and to date, there has admittedly not been anything very conclusive. The collection of data continues to see if any more answers can be found over a longer period of time, and what connections, if any, exist. This includes researching the geological information about the area such as longitudes and latitudes, soil contents, mineral deposits, elevation (how many feet above sea level), and any other geological information available. This data can be found at the United States Geological Survey website http://www.usgs.gov by going to the state in question and reading the information of the surveys done as close to the specific city or property as possible. This information gives even more insight into the property and more data for cross referencing.
A theory that is also considered about perceived paranormal activity is what toxins or chemicals may be causing someone to see or hear things that don't seem to have an explanation. This is why environmental concerns, both in the home and in the city and surrounding area, are examined and considered. Carbon monoxide levels are one of the first things that need to be checked upon investigating a home that has claims of activity. Carbon monoxide could be emitted from fuel generated appliances and is one of the leading causes of accidental poisonings. It can also cause what is known as a delayed reaction in which the effects of the poisoning are still causing neurological damage even if the person is removed from the source. This can be deadly, and no symptoms should be ignored. These symptoms can include hallucinations, seizures, and physical illness. A subtle, undetected leak could be causing permanent physical damage, so this must be checked for the client's safety.
If carbon monoxide could cause such symptoms, what of other neurotoxins? Much of this is still being studied, so once again, data is collected. The Environmental Protection Agency's website http://www.epa.gov will give a rundown of any superfund sites (sites which are essentially toxic substance dumps designated for cleanup) that might be in the area as well as what chemicals are in the water, ground, and air. Until more is known, we can't rule out the possibility that substances which are deemed neurotoxins could be causing symptoms similar to what happens with carbon monoxide. This does not answer all claims of paranormal activity, but it does give more information to present and consider. There are also everyday cleaning chemicals that are in a home or building as well as pesticides and other hazardous material. These should be listed and researched for any symptoms that match up with what a client may be experiencing. Mold sources should also be checked, as mold creates many airborne toxins that are affecting the people exposed. This not only adds data to continue the research into these claims, but more importantly it alerts the client to potential health hazards.
Common Sense Is The Best Tool
When specific claims are made, all causes should be carefully researched. First and foremost, any logical explanations should be examined as well as any potential medical red flags. Paranormal researchers are not doctors or medical advisers, but if a claim being made includes symptoms of a possible medical issue, this information should be made available.
If a lot of EVP's are captured on an investigation, there should be data available on what transmission towers are in the vicinity that could be causing a stray radio signal to come through on audio. If a client is experiencing unexplained illness and feelings of being "watched" that have been ruled out medically, then data should be available for what sources of electricity are in the immediate area (such as power lines or power stations)for potential reactions to high electro-magnetic fields (EMF's). Wiring in the home should also be checked for power surges, which also produce high EMF's. This data is collected for consideration on what effects people experience from known large power sources and if there are EMF readings that have no known source, more research is done to find where it could be coming from. There are many theories about high EMF readings when all obvious electrical sources are ruled out, only one of which includes the possibility of spirits communicating in this way.
The most important aspect to paranormal research is to first rule out what isn't paranormal. Everything else after that is theory, and at this stage of the game there are still no real answers. The research continues because the theories that are plausible still have a lot of data that needs to be collected before they can be considered an actual possibility. Investigations of paranormal activity provide an excellent opportunity to collect that data and research what might be causing it. Researchers should respect the client and never reveal personal information that is gathered for any reason, as well as seek to first find logical answers. An open mind is important, but even more so are the facts. These facts combined with a common sense approach will possibly bring us closer to finding answers about what paranormal may exist and rule out what can be explained.
Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2010 TrueGhostTales.com all rights reserved.
For more information about Paranormal Investigations see Paranormal Investigation Techniques and Equipment
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