Here is a three-page feature on ghost hunters in South New Jersey. Amateur paranormal investigators are a specialty subject area of mine and I found a laundry list of thing wrong with this report. Similar reports will appear in every newspaper between now and Halloween, ghost hunters’ busiest time.
The South Jersey area has more than 500 practicing ghost groups, surely enough for the region’s spirits. And two organizations — South Jersey Ghost Research and South Jersey Paranormal Research — have a special history, having evolved from bitter competitors into comrades.
“The paranormal community is a lot different than it used to be,” said Dave Juliano, head of Mount Holly-based South Jersey Ghost Reseach . “It was very territorial back 10 years or more, maybe because there were less groups, but now it’s much more of a community.”
I previously could only safely estimate that there were “well over 1000 groups” in the U.S. Since I couldn’t possibly count them all, I was being conservative. I don’t know where the reporter got this 500 number in south Jersey alone. But they have proliferated. There is certainly a market for them. Most are not businesses but completely volunteer.
Paranormal TV programs like Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” have bolstered the credibility of paranormal activities, Bove added.
“Now that it’s more mainstream, there’s more TV shows around and more people are into it,” she said. “They’ll be more likely to reach out for help and stop living in silence and in terror.”
At the same time, she said, the shows also have inspired untrained “fly-by-nighters” to investigate homes without training, Bove said.
Juliano’s Mount Holly business, The Ghost Hunter Store, offers classes in how to detect and respect spirits, he says.
Then the article goes on to quote the investigators berating TV shows that do not depict what it’s really like. This is a common theme. They love that the TV shows have made ghost investigations more mainstream but then decry that TV is not real. The facts suggest that MANY MANY ghost investigators got their inspiration from what they saw on TV. When they went out to do it themselves, they found that it was not at all like they thought. Then, already intrigued and curious, they looked up what others were doing, developed their own protocols and now consider themselves experts.
A good ghost hunter must respect the discipline as well as whoever — or whatever — resides in a home.
Discipline? That word is not quite right. This is not science. It’s actually more like a religious or superstitious ritual than a discipline. Using gadgets are not science. No one has been able to establish that ghosts cause spikes in electro-magnetic energy or temperatures to drop. To assume that a ghost exists is absolutely the wrong way to go about solving a problem that a homeowner has. It can be harmful and is certainly unwarranted considering what we know about the world.
I have said many times before that these investigators overwhelmingly have good intentions to help people and try to solve problems but they are totally off track. Where is the foundation for the conclusions they make? It’s folly to say they are gaining any useful information when the investigations are not controlled and not based on sound, reliable knowledge. After 20-some years of ghost hunting groups, and a hundred years of research into the afterlife, the world is no closer to verifiable information on what people are experiencing when they say they are haunted.
Watch for these ghost groups to get press in your local paper and for their lectures at libraries and schools. Go to these presentations, comment on the posts. Be polite but ask good questions: How do you know this? What do you base your conclusions on? What are the alternative explanations? You won’t be the popular person in the audience but you will plant a seed of thought.
I did a review of a ghost tour of South Jersey and was LESS than impressed. You can find that here.