I used to believe that ghosts were real and that I communicated with them while on ghost investigations and I can remember how powerful that made me feel. As the founder of the paranormal team I would often be the one who led the seances or the glass divination or table tipping… I’d be the one who called out to see if I could encourage a reaction from the ghosts that we were convinced were present. When the glass moved in response to questions or when something happened that we thought was significant it would make me feel a real buzz to have instigated that response.
When you truly believe that what you are experiencing is the work of ghosts it provides a huge surge of adrenaline, and when you have a group of like-minded people working with you it’s easy to whip yourself up into a frenzy of self justification where all you actually do is practice confirmation bias.
Over the years I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my experiences as a belief-led ghost hunter while observing the behaviour of other ghost hunters and I have come to conclude that if you’re not careful your approach to ghost research can become extremely self serving without you realising it, and in recent years I have noticed (perhaps anecdotally) a rise in the number of ghost research groups who, despite acting as though they are spiritual people and the humble discoverers of the truth who are just trying to help others, are doing more harm than good.
Over at the Rational Paranormal blog Robert Lea has documented a case where ghost hunters are doing just this to a person in a potentially vulnerable position and it fills me with such a feeling of despair and anger. It is such an egotistical thing for ghost hunters to presume they are acting in the best interests of a person who is in a difficult position when really all they’re doing is stoking their own sense of self importance by playing the hero and using the situation of another person to confirm their own biases and prove to themselves that they are right with the way in which they see the world.
Death, ghosts, spiritualism and the paranormal are legitimately interesting topics to explore. Indeed, my own exploration of these subjects turned me into the humanist that I am today… yet so many people who become involved in paranormal research fail to respect that death and all that may or may not come with it is human at its very core and if you don’t have any respect for that then you’re going to fail to conduct yourself in an ethical manner and if you put yourself before the human element that exists at the very core of these subjects and further your sense of being correct at the expense of another then you should feel deeply ashamed.
When someone behaves in this way it’s very unlikely that they will accept that their behaviour is wrong. It’s easy to listen only to those who encourage you or agree with you and to ignore those who suggest that you’re not correct. We are literally self sabotaging creatures and doesn’t it hurt?