When I first met pioneer paranormal investigator Janice Oberding, her professional attire and it’s-not-my-concern-if-you-don’t-believe-in-ghosts demeanor surprised me. But what dumbfounded me was Janice’s skepticism toward paranormal evidence. She questions everything.

Gullibility is not an asset.

Janice dispelled my belief that ghost hunters are easily swayed by nonsense. She educates herself on the ways ghostly experiences could be manufactured or occur naturally in our three-dimensional world.  She encouraged me to always objectively examine even the smallest phenomenon.

It’s okay for nothing to happen on a ghost hunt.

Not all places are haunted and not all spirits want to interact with people. And that’s fine. Except for the most highly honed intuitives, most of us will conduct investigations that yield nothing. It helps our reputation to admit, “Nothing happened.”

Consider an example: Every time your friend goes to a casino, he tells you he’s won and come out ahead. You realize casinos don’t profit by consistently giving out money. The result: you think your friend exaggerates.

Credibility is important.

My belief in the paranormal is enough for many to find my judgments silly. I don’t want to give others any ammo to shoot down my reputation.

Let’s take every investigation seriously. While on a hunt, shelve those emotional desires to experience something unusual. We should never jump to conclusions and must always scrutinize each finding. This not only boosts our perceived integrity, but it also increases our confidence when we experience something valid.

Seek out training.

  • Attend classes and conferences.
  • Spend time with investigators who evaluate every piece of evidence for anomalies.
  • Practice using your camera in low light and see how explainable factors (such as shutter speed) can lead to eerie snapshots.
  • Know how your equipment works and all the things that can set it off. For instance, electromagnetic frequency meters can be easily triggered by wiring attached to heaters and refrigerators in other rooms.

Last year while preparing to co-teach a class with a former MIT physicist (who doesn’t believe in the paranormal), Janice conducted an experiment to see if she could “create EVP” from an operating dishwasher. She turned her digital recorder on while the appliance ran. When she played the recording, she looked for anything that could be misconstrued as a voice.

Sure enough, she captured something sounding like “stabbed in the back.” Students oohed at the ghostly recording until she told them it was the normal operation of her dishwasher, not EVP.

Think how you’d react to evidence if you didn’t experience it yourself.

On a ghost hunt in Tonopah’s Mizpah Hotel, I witnessed a camera on a tripod nodding yes or shaking no in response to questions asked during an EVP session. I mentioned this to Anne and Sharon Leong of the San Francisco Ghost Society. Their reply? Before they could comment, they wanted to see video footage of the “replying” camera from different angles.

Don’t get taken.

Feel confident that when you experience the paranormal, you have!