As anyone who works with spirits, one of the most vital tools to have in your arsenal is the ability to look at your own evidence with a skeptic eye. The forebearers of spiritual investigation prided themselves on being skeptics looking for answers, and having the same mindset when we begin our own explorations is also very important.
You see, in order for something to be deemed paranormal, it must go above all explainable causes. We must know it wasn’t caused by nature, or by a fraud, or our own mistakes or errors. Once something is unexplained, that is when it is classified as paranormal phenomena, and you can begin to analyse overlaying authentic events to build a case of a haunting.
But, in order to do this, you must come as a skeptic. You must leave your personal beliefs at home, because when you enter an investigation, you must be neutral and educated. An experienced paranormal person knows that anxiety can make a client overemphasise a case. Fear of the unexplained can cloud people’s visions and make them assume they have a ghost, when we may be able to find natural explanations for their goings on to calm their mind. But, in order to do that, you must come into a case willing to work your way up to it being a ghost, not check down the list.
You will want to have done a full analysis of the case, the witnesses, the history, and the building in mind beforehand, but for now we’re focusing on debunking evidence. So…
How exactly do you debunk a ghost?
To prove or disprove a haunt is to look for natural explanations, signs of fraud, or incomplete evidence. In this way, there are some vital questions you must ask yourself before assuming something is a ghost.
Below is a list of just a few beginning questions to ask yourself when you begin experiencing paranormal phenomena.
- Is it windy? Is this house always cold? Is there usually a natural draft?
- Are the electrics up to date? Are they on a weak system? Is there a storm which may be causing electrical interruptions?
- Is there something in the room or below it which could be causing high electromagnetic readings? Phones, wires, heaters, buried metal may all cause EMF spikes.
- Am I tired, drunk, high, or otherwise on mind alternating medication? It is possible for our physical state to cause small hallucinations. This is why investigators never turn up to a case drunk, high, or without proper knowledge of the side effects of any medication they may be on.
- Is the shadow my own? Is it a sheet, a passerby, my eyelashes or blind spot?
- Did anyone move or speak as the sound was heard? If so, can we naturally recreate it?
- Is everyone accounted for when the phenomena took place?
In the eye of the investigator, we don’t immediately assume something is paranormal, but rather that it is inconclusive until we cannot debunk it. Even then, a case is only deemed haunted if authentic unexplained phenomena happens more than once.
In the case of one piece of phenomena, it is suggested you write down any information you remember, and keep a note of if anything more happens. If it doesn’t and remains unexplained, then for now, the case is inconclusive.
Whether you’re rationalising your own experience or working with a client, the most important thing is to remember that natural, rational explanations must always be sought before a paranormal one, and fraud or error must be taken into consideration. You want your evidence to be watertight, and that means testing it rigorously so you can know that you do have unexplained spirit phenomena.