Ghost Hunting Questions
Why Have You Decided to Become More Available?
Until recently, I have shunned all publicity, basically assisting others under the radar. I have avoided websites, advertising and publicity of any kind. My concern was (and is) the privacy of clients and confidentiality of their information.
However, as mentioned on other pages of this site, I have become increasingly concerned about all the inexperienced amateur ghost hunting groups that appear virtually overnight, EMF meters in hand, spewing baseless theories and pseudoscience as scientific fact. I believe much damage can be done by these groups. I've been a guest on some of their investigations, and the information that comes from their mouths has been shocking. I've often said to myself, "Did I really hear him/her say that?" in disbelief.
That being said, inexperience does not necessarily mean a group is bad, they're just, well...inexperienced. Members are often young, sometimes in their teens. Again, that's not inherently negative, but ask yourself, "What experience does this person bring to an investigation?" I, too, was very interested in all things spooky at that age, but did I have the life experience and audacity to believe I could enter someone's home, find the answers and offer advice? Absolutely not.
There are a few excellent groups in New England but they are, unfortunately, far outnumbered by those ranging from mediocre to the totally incompetent. One well-established group that I endorse and often recommend if I am unavailable due to my schedule is Para-Boston. Keep in mind that anyone can barge into someone's home with basic equipment to "hunt for ghosts", as that takes little, if any, experience, and is the reason for the seemingly endless parade of amateur groups inspired by their television ghost hunting heroes. However, competent paranormal investigators must wear many different hats to properly meet the needs of their clients. Emotions of those caught in the middle of a paranormal event can run the gamut, even varying wildly between members of the same household. Many investigations have required me to draw on every aspect of my experience and training. Quite literally, in my lifetime I have had to deal extensively with the famous and the infamous, from certified millionaires to convicted murderers. From the robustly healthy to the terminally ill. It has not been uncommon for an investigation to require all of my skills, and more.
This caution should equally extend to the world of paranormal television. While some programs are very well-produced, practicing due diligence and concern for the affected individuals and families, others seem to aim for sensationalism bordering on exploitation. To those producing the latter, I will throw a name from 1995 into the ring as a simple cautionary reminder: Scott Amedure. And a George Santayana quote from 1905: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".
Why Don't You Do Your Own Paranormal Web Series or Podcast?
I've been asked the question many times, as I guess that is now a measure of success for many in this 'business'. My answer is simple: It doesn't help people. For well-over two decades, my goal has been to help people with their paranormal problems, not plaster my face on TV screens and computer monitors because I want fame and notoriety. As I have said elsewhere, I had resisted, kicking and screaming, from even having a website until 2011, and then only because the level of bullshit in this field had gotten to the point where not even hip boots would keep those truly needing help out of the muck. Truth be told, the world will go on without yet another investigation of the same old hotels, abandoned mental hospitals and Southern plantations that we see over-and-over again in the media. Yawn. While these groups and individuals fall over one another to get into these tired places, there are hundreds that remain over-spooked and under-investigated, if investigated at all. That's why you will find unique locations and ideas on this site and The Booo! Blog, with many more in the works. The bulk of my work is in private homes, and you will never see that posted on this site unless the homeowner requests that I do so. However, when I have the time to kick back and go on the road to some offbeat public locales, I will post whatever I find.
Having said my speech on paranormal media, yes, I have turned down many offers. Most have been for 'me too'-type paranormal/ghost hunting shows. When and if something different, educational and entertaining comes along, I will give it some thought. I occasionally do radio interviews, and enjoy interacting with an audience for live lectures and questions and answers if it's for a good cause so, yes...sometimes I do come out of the shadows. Other than that, I prefer to work out of the public spotlight.
Why Aren't You Afraid to Take On the Fame and Money Seekers in the Paranormal?
I love the field of paranormal investigation, and most who are well-known are honest individuals and certainly did not enter the field to deceive the public or become rich. However, as in any occupation or endeavor, there are those whose motives and goals are less than altruistic, and the field of paranormal investigation is certainly no exception. In fact, this field is even more of a magnet for such individuals, as there is often no protocol, which creates a safe haven for the dishonest. I view such individuals as a cancer on an otherwise healthy body, and what does a physician do with a malignancy? Burn it (radiotherapy), poison it (chemotherapy) or cut it (surgery), otherwise it will eventually affect the entire body. Obviously, we do not advocate doing that to the dishonest of the body paranormal, nor do I suggest that we do. But what can we do? We can call it.
Members of the paranormal field who have legitimately called others out for their practices are inevitably retaliated against by being libeled in the press or on social media, or slandered on YouTube or in podcast interviews. Why? The paranormal has become a 'business' for many, a business that involves money, notoriety and ego. There have even been instances of physical violence. Unfortunately, this has become par for the course with the advent of the Internet, a medium which has actually been a double-edged sword. While it has facilitated easier access to paranormal information, it has also allowed such offenders to thrive.
What Is The Difference Between a Ghost Hunter and a Paranormal Investigator?
Ghost hunters tend to be part of larger groups, much like you would see on television. Paranormal investigators often work alone or with a few colleagues. Is one better than the other? That depends on your needs, but I believe the smallest number of people to do the job, as well as the broadest range of expertise, is always the way to go. It comes down to quantity vs quality. Or, if you've worked through your lunch and are reading this in the office (slacker!) or at home at 10:00 pm with a serious case of the munchies, I'll put it terms of food: it's the difference between Mickey D's and 5-star restaurant.
Along with Ghosts and Hauntings, paranormal investigators sometimes tackle more than one aspect of the paranormal, and have the specialized equipment and technology to do so. EVP (many times a very important component of hauntings), UFOs and Cryptozoology, among others, should be within the capabilities of a paranormal investigator. I've often wondered why many who limit themselves to ghosts and hauntings call themselves paranormal investigators, as 'ghost hunter' or 'hauntings investigator' would be much more accurate titles.
Do You Only Conduct Investigations in New England?
There's more than enough work to do in this area! I've done several investigations in the metro NYC/Northern New Jersey region, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, as well as many other states and other parts of the world. As I tend to take the more difficult cases, I concentrate on quality as opposed to quantity, and therefore try to focus my efforts in New England. I would consider any area if it promised to be an interesting and unusual case, but the welfare of the client is my biggest motivation.
When Did You Become Interested In the Paranormal?
When asked, my response has always been, "I was born with it", and that's not too far off the mark. It's not just an interest, it's always been connected with my life, and I can trace it as far back as the early 1960s and my first encounter with the paranormal.
Investigating all this creepiness requires experience. It's the delicate balance of remaining objective, yet never disconnected, from the paranormal. There's no playbook, but there is a pattern to the paranormal. Much like the Nazca Lines in Southern Peru, that pattern can only be seen from a certain perspective. In paranormal investigation, that perspective can only develop through familiarity and experience.
What Is the Most Haunted Place You Have Ever Investigated?
As there is no scientific proof that ghosts exist, I cannot say with certainty that any place is haunted. I can tell you where I (and other investigators) have consistently obtained the most unusual results: battlefields. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is hallowed ground, and the utmost respect should be shown in memory for all who lost their lives. If any area is active in the paranormal sense, it's Gettysburg. Perhaps the overwhelming emotion and unimaginable suffering from those three July days in 1863 still linger. Perhaps it's something else we don't yet understand. But whatever the reason, something remains. Please just remember the key word if you decide to visit: respect.
Why UFOs and Cryptozoology? Do You Possess the Technology to Do This?
I have always been interested in the paranormal in its broadest interpretation. While much of this site is devoted to Ghosts and Hauntings, I am equally interested in UFOs, Cryptozoology, EVP (which sometimes goes hand-in-hand with ghosts and hauntings), etc. Of course, I've never had a client ask me to investigate UFOs or unusual creatures, but have led groups on overnight excursions in Massachusetts and New Hampshire geared to those aspects of the paranormal. New England certainly has more than its share of spooky legends, creepy locations and unexplained sightings, and it's been a lot of fun for everyone involved.
Yes, I have the technology. While the majority of my equipment is dedicated to ghosts and hauntings, some is dual-use, and some used only for UFOs and cryptozoology. An important point to make (one that many groups won't admit or worse, don't know) is that ALL equipment used to detect the paranormal is based largely on theories, not scientific fact. Use of any equipment for paranormal purposes must be considered experimental and, yes, I have confidence in some theories more than others. While some equipment is used only in rare instances or unique circumstances, I have retired equipment when I have determined it to be of little or no value. A very high-profile and costly example of that has been thermal imaging technology.
There Are No Advertisements On Your Website. Why?
I do not have a problem with ad placement per se, as long as it is relevant to the subject matter of the website and not placed at the expense of useful information that could occupy the same space. I have decided not to place advertising on my site for the foreseeable future, as I do not want to distract from my hope and mission for this website: to help others. I have carefully crafted every sentence and meticulously chosen every word on this website to that end, and will continue to do so. Such ad placement may have temporarily boosted my site's ranking on the various search engines but, in the end, that's not what keeps you there; quality content does. Ray Liotta's spectral character in the movie Field of Dreams was correct: "If you build it, they will come". Eventually, at least.
Unfortunately, some paranormal investigators and amateur ghost hunting groups have instead taken the shamelessly blatant marketing route, attempting to use their sites as a catalyst to attract national attention. Some, even from small towns, have gone as far as to sign with national agencies specializing in "talent" booking for paranormal conventions, events and shows. That should be a huge red flag when choosing an individual or group to help with your paranormal problem, as they should be focused on you, not on producing the latest episode of their web series or anxiously awaiting their call from the Syfy network. As you surf the ghost hunter websites, notice if any group or individual you've never heard of is signed with a "talent" or "event management" company; the company's logo is sure to be prominently displayed. If so, surf past. Egos can be huge in the amateur ghost hunter crowd and, if you think your ghost is the most troublesome entity in your home, wait 'til you've had to deal with the drama of a wannabe TV ghost hunter! Here's a helpful tip: Keep your ghost; it's definitely the lesser of two evils.
I'd Like to Have an Investigation, But Would Prefer Not to Have a Large Group of Strangers In My Home Like I've Seen on TV. Can a Thorough Investigation Be Conducted with Fewer People?
Unless you happen to live in a castle, there's no reason why your home should be invaded by an army. While I have been a guest on investigations consisting of many people, I typically conduct an investigation with a maximum of three investigators (including myself). Many times it's less, depending on the circumstances and area to be covered. I strive for the least amount of disruption possible, while still conducting a thorough investigation. An armada of bodies may look impressive converging on your home, but it's a perfect example of the old adage, "Too many cooks spoil the soup", and can be counterproductive in many cases. Often, with many of the larger amateur ghost hunting groups, everyone wants to be involved, so they tag-along even though there's really nothing for them to do.
Many Groups Believe That It Is Unethical to Charge for an Investigation. Do You Charge, and What Is Your Opinion on This Subject?
There has been a raging debate in the paranormal community for quite some time concerning this subject. Passions run deep, and some have lowered themselves and resorted to accusations and name calling in public forums in response to differing opinions. Many, for various reasons, still consider it unethical to charge. I consider that to be the height of arrogance, as every group (and their financial circumstances) is different. This field does not need self-appointed paranormal czars telling investigators and groups what (and what not) to do, based on their personal beliefs. Change sometimes comes at a glacial pace, and the paranormal field is certainly no exception. "Because that's the way it's always been" seems to be the mantra of some. However, as times do change and expenses rise, the tide of opinion does appear to be slowly shifting. I have never charged for an investigation, and have no plans to do so. That being said, I do not have an issue with those investigators and groups that do charge a reasonable fee to cover expenses, as I do if asked to travel to another region of the United States or another country. I do not view this as an ethical issue; I view it as an issue of intent, disclosure and honesty. If any of those are violated then, yes, it does become a question of ethics. Please allow me to apologize in advance, as this is likely to be a somewhat lengthy reply. I ask for your patience as I explain my position...
Some believe what we do is scientific research and, therefore, believe no compensation should be paid. This is probably residual emotion and sentiment from the days when university parapsychology departments investigated claims of the paranormal. The problem with that argument is simple: those days are long over, and what most do now can hardly be described as such. While many of us strive to do our very best, working extremely hard in an attempt to get to the root of whatever problem (paranormal or not) a client may be experiencing, we are not scientists. However, we are providing a service.
Reputable investigators expend a vast amount of resources, which are not inexpensive. Sophisticated equipment, years of experience and expertise, fuel for vehicles and hours of hard, diligent work are utilized in an attempt to ascertain the cause and, hopefully, formulate a solution for the client. Yet, some investigators continue to devalue themselves and their services, and become upset at the mere suggestion of charging a fee. My question to them is simply this: if you do not find value in yourself and your services, how do you expect the public to do otherwise? "You get what you pay for" is, sadly, a strongly held belief with regard to paranormal investigation.
Another argument is the fact that, by strict definition, we cannot call ourselves "professionals", therefore we should not charge. Yet, the person the client hires to clean out his/her basement can charge a fee? I would argue that person, while undoubtably a very hard worker, could not be considered a professional, and has nowhere near the expertise of many in our field. There is no inherent dishonesty in fee for service, and the paranormal community needs to move beyond its 'fee equals fraud' mentality.
Despite our best efforts and good intentions, a solution may not always be possible. A reputable investigator will ALWAYS disclose that to you, the client, in writing before an investigation takes place. That does not mitigate the fact that we used our resources in good faith, and is not a persuasive argument against the concept of fee for service.
Some have argued, "Yes, but it's a hobby. We should not accept money to fund our hobby, just as an individual would never accept money to cover the costs of stamp collecting, skydiving or whatever hobby he/she may have". A completely nonsensical argument, as they are missing the one crucial difference: unlike other pastimes, we are providing a service to others in the course of our "hobby". To whom are you providing a service if you are a stamp collector? To whom are you providing a service if you enjoy skydiving? You are providing a service to no one and, therefore, would be ridiculous to expect others to cover your costs.
I certainly do not recommend that a group charge for conducting an investigation, as any attempt to do so in the present climate would be a recipe for disaster. I do, however, support their right and rationale if deciding to take that path. Of course, a group considering that option should go the legal route, obtaining a business license and any other documents required in their community. Many groups do accept donations via their websites, opening PayPal accounts to facilitate the process, which is a legitimate way of helping to cover expenses.
Finally, it's time to (once again!) pick on the TV ghost hunting groups that many local groups have patterned themselves after. They decree that charging is unethical, yet have no problem collecting a healthy paycheck from their networks, charging for personal appearances and getting a huge slice of the profits from merchandising, all the while declaring that charging for blood, sweat and tears on the part of any group is wrong. At best, that's the definition of hypocrisy. At worst, it's the term they love to use to hastily label others: unethical.
Yes, this is yet another subject on which I will get bombarded with nasty grams by those in this field who feel differently. I will be called every name in the book. So be it.
What Is Your Procedure for a Paranormal Investigation, From Start to Finish?
Of course, the process begins by contacting me, and giving a brief description of your situation. I will then get back to you (usually within 24 hours) to arrange an initial interview, in person. A public location is always preferable for the initial interview, as the detachment from your home or place of business where the problem is occurring will help you relax and be more able to freely and comfortably tell me your story.
If it does sound as though something paranormal may be involved, we will arrange a second meeting at the location itself. This will assist me in determining what equipment and personnel will be required. We will then set a date and time for the investigation. An investigation can take several hours and, occasionally, more than one day is required.
After your investigation, it may take up to three days to thoroughly process the data, at which time I will present it to you, answering any questions you may have. I always allow clients to come to their own conclusions in regard to the information presented. You will never hear me say, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith, your house is haunted", but I will offer an educated opinion. Please keep in mind that the vast majority of 'hauntings' are anything but; most have very down-to-earth explanations. Investigations also sometimes hit a brick wall, when no explanation can be found, yet nothing unusual is uncovered. That's the nature of paranormal investigation. If there is something unusual taking place, it may not necessarily manifest itself according to our time considerations.
Although this may sound a bit complicated, it's really not. Depending on availability (both mine and yours) the entire process can take as little as a week, or less.
Will My Privacy Be Respected, and Will the Information Obtained From My Paranormal Investigation Be Held In the Strictest Confidence?
Privacy and confidentiality of the client are the reasons why, up to this point, I have made every attempt to arrange and conduct investigations behind the scenes. During my two decades of investigating the paranormal, I've had the pleasure of assisting some rather well-known public figures. I believe their privacy concerns were the reason I was chosen and contacted, and I will forever hold their information in strictest confidence. An important aspect where I differ from what many investigators and groups believe is their mission, is that I do not conduct what they believe (accurately or not) to be 'research'. My mission, first and foremost, is to help the client, not generate publicity for my benefit or content for my website. I will not plaster information and photographs from a client's case on this site unless specifically requested by the client, and will never solicit their permission to do so.
Many groups have reassuring privacy statements on their websites. Unfortunately, that is usually the first, and the last, time you will hear the subject mentioned, let alone practiced. There is nothing "private" about a large caravan of amateur ghost hunters raucously arriving at your address in matching team t-shirts and the group's name and logo blazoned across their vehicles. And nothing pleasant about the possibility of your home's market value dropping because of its haunted reputation, whether deserved or not. No, never mind any of that; they've come to hunt ghosts! Let the party begin! Just hope your neighbors have short memories when the Century 21 sign goes up on your lawn, because you won't have that luxury. Conveniently forgot to mention that amusing tidbit of history to the buyers? They probably won't share your sense of humor. And neither will their lawyer.
What Do You Mean by "Multidisciplinary Approach"?
That's one of those terms that sounds wonderfully impressive on a resume' or web site, but only means, "Whatever it takes to get the job done"! Equipment, expertise, experience and investigative skills are all part of the multidisciplinary approach I employ. It's very important not to rely on only one source as evidence that something may be going bump in the night in your home. All evidence should be corroborated by at least one other modality. For example, a spike on a meter at the exact time an EVP is recorded. Obviously, if a ghost is smiling and waving for the video camera, I'd consider it persuasive enough (not to mention very cool) without secondary corroboration.
Do You Use Psychic Mediums on a Paranormal Investigation?
Depending on the needs and desires of the client, as well as information uncovered in the initial interview phase, an investigation may require a more psychically-driven approach as opposed to one where technology takes the lead, although the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. On such occasions I will call in a 'sensitive'. The key to their use is to know who is legitimate and who is not. My experience has been that most fall in to the latter category. However, there is one, Welton Arcos, who I've worked with for several years. The phrase from the film The Sixth Sense, "I see dead people", will forever be entrenched in popular culture. There are those who claim that ability.
Others in this field may sneer and laugh and they should, by all means, feel free to do so. However, many are also using some form of 'full spectrum' camera in their investigations. Full spectrum cameras photograph not only light visible to most humans, but also somewhat into the UV (ultraviolet) and IR (infrared) spectra that most humans can't see. The theory is that ghosts may only be visible in those spectra, outside the range of normal human vision. Full spectrum cameras are extremely popular in the paranormal community at the moment. I use them as well, and have several made or modified by various manufacturers. For example, my cameras made by Moditronic and Spectercam have capabilities that are nothing less than amazing, and I use them for both ghost and UFO investigations. The disconnect here on the part of some investigators and groups that wouldn't be caught dead (pardon the lousy pun) using a sensitive, yet embrace full spectrum technology, boils down to those two words italicized in this and the following paragraphs: most and normal.
Most humans can see light more or less in the 400-700nm range. However, a small minority do have the ability to see slightly beyond the normal range, with somewhat extended range on one or both ends of what is considered the normal range of human vision. Unless tested by an ophthalmologist, they probably would never know that peculiar medical fact about their visual system, but would, nevertheless, be keenly aware of their ability to see things that others can't.
Okay, let's go back to those groups that would never use a sensitive, yet salivate over the thought of getting their hands on full spectrum technology and ask, "What's the difference between a camera with extended range and a human with similar abilities?" Enlightened with medical fact, the small minority of otherwise credible individuals claiming the ability to 'see things' now aren't quite as easy to dismiss, are they?
How Important Is Equipment and Technology On a Paranormal Investigation?
As it's not known for certain what ghosts are, or even if they actually exist, all we're left with are theories. Therefore, all equipment must be considered experimental if used in an attempt to detect the paranormal. That's true not only of ghosts and hauntings, but EVP, UFOs and cryptozoology as well.
If you glance at the Equipment/Technology page of my site, you will see an arsenal of equipment unlike any other paranormal investigator or group in New England, and perhaps the United States. Some items have been manufactured for me over the years by various engineers, some were made in very limited quantities, such as the controversial Ovilus FX (only 12 of this model were ever produced), and some, like the unique and long-discontinued 105mm UV-Nikkor Quartz lens, are well-beyond the budget of most amateur ghost hunting groups. Yet, when it comes to paranormal endeavors, all must be considered experimental. Please understand that it's not my intention to puff out my chest and state, "I'm the guy with the biggest guns on the block". It's only to illustrate that many avenues in paranormal investigation are not being traveled by others, either because it's not financially feasible (which should never be considered the fault of any investigator or group) or inability to think beyond the boundaries of what they are told (yep, that one is their fault).
I like technology as much as the next guy, but that's not why I've invested so heavily in it. The reason is that all technology, regardless of intended purpose, was at one time considered experimental. If you view that through the lens of paranormal investigation, who's to say that something considered experimental today will not be the technology that captures that undeniable photograph of a UFO, message from dead Uncle Fred, or proof of the existence of a cryptid tomorrow? We'll never know unless we try.
That being said, there's a lot of garbage out there, and even more people trying to get you to buy it. Much of what I have listed on my Equipment/Technology page may be of absolutely no value in my pursuit of the paranormal, and I'm the first to admit that fact. However, unless a claim or theory is so bizarre as to be ridiculous, I'm willing to keep an open mind. And no, you won't see me wearing a tin foil hat anytime soon ;-)
Can You Guarantee That You Can Solve My Paranormal Problem?
No, but I can promise you that I will do my best, using my expertise and the formidable resources I have at my disposal. Like many endeavors, and due to the nature of paranormal investigation, there can never be a guarantee. If someone claims otherwise, they are unethical, and certainly not telling you the truth. Please feel free to contact me.