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What does it take?

The number one question we are always asked when we are giving a presentation or interview is always; "How do you become a ghost hunter?"

In truth, for each of our team we have our own personal reasons that drive us to do the work but the deeper question is how does one learn to be a paranormal investigator. The first words that roll out of anyone's mouth are "There is no such thing as a certified paranormal investigator." Then you take one look around the web for teams in your region. You find dozens of ghost hunters claiming to offer "certification" through a paid training course with the team in the field or even find "T.A.P.S. Certified Family" logos tagged to their pages.

If there is no such thing as a certified investigator then why are so many teams clamoring for approval? Why are they selling certification? What does it take to become a legitimate paranormal investigator?

Fallacy #1

The very first fallacy to address is that there are no professional or certified investigators. Anyone attempting to argue this as fact has not done their homework. Even worse, they have forgotten the legitimate researchers who have been in the field for decades.

Parapsychologist Dr. Loyd Auerbach
Professionals Investigating The Paranormal:

  • Parapsychologists - These individuals are licensed psychologists with PhDs. Most are Professors working for or researching for highly respected Universities including the likes of Princeton, Duke and even Edinburgh.
  • Anthropologists - These individuals are professionals tasked with recording oral traditions and studying the dynamics of cultures. In order to practice in the public sphere and work with human subjects these individuals are required to obtain university ethics certifications.
  • Psychologists/Sociologists - These individuals are professionals tasked with studying individual or social behavior. In order to practice in the public sphere and work with human subjects these individuals are required to obtain university ethics certifications. Most psychologists are required to be licensed.
  • Environmental Survey Technicians - These individuals are scientists with specializations ranging from geophysics to meteorology. All are scientists that are trained in environmental analysis.

While Parapsychologists are the only true professional 'paranormal investigator,' the methods used by these other professionals more than qualify them for any paranormal investigation. If you remove the paranormal from the equation all of these professionals would be licensed or certified experts that could be called upon.
However, when you add the paranormal to the equation you can no longer have an expert. But you do have a professional expert in a given methodology. Try telling a licensed parapsychologist or Environmental Geologist that they are not experts at what they are doing.

Fallacy #2

The second most common fallacy is that it takes years of training to be a paranormal investigator. While any of the professionals that I mentioned previously have spent years if not a good portion of their lives dedicated to the studies of a particular field to be an amateur paranormal investigator it only takes a modicum of training, a lot of resources and dedication to become a ghost hunter.

There are only a few things you need:

  • Know the Scientific Method
    1. Define the question
    2. Gather information and resources (observe)
    3. Form hypothesis
    4. Perform experiment and collect data
    5. Analyze data
    6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
    7. Publish results
    8. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)
  • Know Occam's Razor ~ is a principle that generally recommends selecting the competing hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions, when the hypotheses are equal in other respects.
  • BE OBJECTIVE ~ An investigator and a scientist are objective. If you set out with the mind to prove or disprove/"Debunk" then you inherently introduce bias into the research. 
  • Absorb as much on the subject as possible~ Read, TV does not teach you principles or methods. The more you read the more resources you have and you'll have a better perspective to judge both your own and other's work.
  • Work with others in your chosen area, meet with and work with as many teams in the area as you can. See how each team works, learn their methods, learn their perspectives.
So how did you become a ghost hunter? Were you a professional that added a new direction for your research? Are you an amateur enthusiast just starting out? 

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Reader Comments (5)

The Scientific Method??? Holy smokes, I'm para-crushing on you something fierce right now. I'm not an investigator, but from day one I always thought "Why are so many of these groups saying they're researchers when they're not using the Scientific Method in any way, shape or form????" And when I posed that question to some, they said it would be too hard to use!!!! I knew I liked you for a reason. EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!!

May 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney Mroch

How did I become an investigator? I had far more questions then answers and thirsted for those. Our group does following the scientific methodology route when investigating, in my opinion there shouldn't be any other options. Good article1

Niagara Area Paranormal Society.

May 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSpoon

Courtney, thanks for stopping by and the comment! :-) Our problem is how PP like to just drop in and claim there are no experts even in methodology. It always irks me.

John aka Spoon, thanks for stopping by. Indeed. Science is applicable. Were it not for professional investigators, phenomena like plasmoids and the Brown Mountain Lights would still be 'paranormal/unexplained.'

May 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Shadow Chasers

It's very important to note that TAPS does not certify teams as paranormal investigators. The TAPS family certification is merely certifying that that team is a TAPS Family member. Nothing more.

July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSpencer

Note: After a few conversations with a number of people claiming to represent TAPS Family and the explanation for the logo. The question still remains - Why Are Teams Clamoring for this Logo, this badge, if it Doesn't Mean Anything? What justification, what credibility does this logo impart? Based on these TAPS Family representatives that have been contacting us it appears this badge symbolizes the team passed a criminal background check and has at least two people that would vouch for them. It is also important to note that the team that claims this badge does not need to have a certain level of technology, education or credentials. In-fact the representatives that have spoken with us have said that the logo is representative of being part of their 'club' and will pass along cases to the main TAPS team. "Um... yea?"

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Shadow Chasers

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