Advice & information pages
See also many other articles (including case reports).
These articles are not intended to be a guide or handbook to ghost hunting or investigating paranormal phenomena. You should go on the ASSAP Investigators Training course if you wish to become an ASSAP investigator.
Instead, these notes cover selected specialist topics within paranormal investigations and how to address them. The articles should be of assistance to existing paranormal investigators, people who have strange phenomena in their own house and anyone with a serious interest in the subject.
What is a haunted place?
What is different about a haunted place? What makes it special compared to any other place? This question is central to the whole idea of ghosts. The quick answer is that people consistently report unusual experiences in such places.
Of course, once a place has a reputation for being haunted, many subsequent 'experiences' may be put down mostly (or even entirely) to suggestion. But sometimes there is good evidence of witnesses experiencing the same thing at the same place without prior knowledge of what to expect. There must clearly some sort of stimulus to such experiences.
One important cause of haunting reports is misperceptions (see left). Another recently discovered possibility is the effect that certain magnetic fields have on a section of the population (see MADS for more details). And, of course, there are many other causes, some so far unknown or unidentified. Identifying these causes is the challenge of haunting research in the twenty-first century.
The idea that reports of hauntings have multiple causes is well-known to serious researchers. However, this rarely seems to filter through to the popular media. So why are such disparate phenomena still lumped together as hauntings? What unites them is the pervasive cultural 'explanation' that ghosts are spirits. The same is true of ufology where many different explanations have been found for real UFO cases but the media only ever seems interested in the idea that they are alien spacecraft. This topic is discussed in the more detail in article on cultural influences on our subject.
All about orbs!
Orbs appear on many photos these days and some people associate them with 'spirits' because of media coverage. Take a look at our Orbs Gallery to see if any of them look familiar.
All about sound!
Many people take sound recorders on investigations but what are the options to consider when analysing the recordings (including apparent voices)?
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ASSAP does not go 'ghost hunting', as such. Ghost 'hunting' suggests a desire merely to witness the phenomenon. While most, if not all, our members would love to see a ghost, that is not the main point of what we do. Instead we are seeking scientific explanations for why people see ghosts and what causes that experience.
Ghosts are perennially fascinating to paranormal researchers. One of the main reasons is that they stay in a particular geographical location. While the chances of being in the right place at the right time to see a UFO or a bigfoot are vanishingly small, ghosts are more obliging, though only slightly so. Even in a highly active case, a ghost may only be seen a few times in a year. So you still need to be incredibly lucky to witness one.
If you hear a creaking sound late at night in your house do you know for sure what it is? To some people it might be the sound of floorboards contracting as the heat from the heating subsides. For others it might be a ghostly footstep.
If you were sitting in a front room at night with the curtains open, you might see a mysterious pool of light crawling across the wall. Some people may guess it is car headlights from a nearby road (going through the uncurtained window). To others, though, it could be a ghostly light.
These are examples of misperception and there are many more. They are sounds, sights, smells (and even touches) that could, without further information, be interpreted in a number of different ways. To eliminate such misperception in investigations - see here.
Some sensations (such as sound) may not even be coming from the direction you think!
Data loggers in haunting investigations - see here.
© Maurice Townsend 2009