I don’t really care for labels and when asked to define what it is I do when it comes to ghosts, I have described myself as everything from a ghost hunter, ghost researcher, paranormal investigator and more. Readers should understand that this isn’t me branding myself as a ‘holistic ghost detective’ to sound edgy or interesting, but simply me using a descriptive to explain what it is I do. For some reason, lately, people have been questioning if I am really a skeptic or whether I’m secretly someone who believes in ghosts. So here’s the deal.
When I first became interested in ghost research I was a teenager who believed in ghosts and could be found in haunted places looking for them (with the permission of the owners.) Years went by and I lost that belief because my curiosity led me to more solid answers for the strangeness in the world provided by the sciences. I became a skeptic despite the many, many problems with the communities and movements associated with skepticism. As I have grown older, continued to learn, and experience great loss in my personal life, I have felt my focus shifting when it comes to paranormal research.
For example, I look forward to the recording sessions for The Spooktator podcast because it’s a chance for me to discuss the weird, taboo and macabre with like-minded friends, and my blog has grown quiet because I no longer have any interest in decoding the latest ghost photos and videos to make the press. There is often a race to become the first skeptic blogger to debunk such stories and it’s a race I don’t wish to run in because it’s pointless. Except maybe the really interesting cases which are really mysterious. I joined the Society for Psychical Research in 2017 so that I may help them fund ongoing research, and my friends are a bizarre mixture of those who believe in esoteric, paranormal and strange things… and those who very much do not. When I talk about paranormal, supernatural and esoteric concepts I don’t do so with disclaimers about not believing the ideas to be true because I refuse to bow to the suspicions of closed-minded “intellectuals” who inspect the language of others for thought crimes against Skepticism™. It’s easy, then, to see why some people are confused about what I do and do not believe.
I’m still invested in the investigation of paranormal and supernatural phenomena because, as always, I believe that the weird things people experience are worthy of investigation to help further our understanding of things. I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe that the concept of ghosts is far more complex than many people realise. When you start really talking to people who believe in ghosts, you soon realise that it’s more than just the idea that the spirits of the dead continue to exist. As the years have gone by, I’ve found myself less interested in unmasking the ghosts and ghouls and instead interested in the aspects of these cases which are often overlooked by other skeptic researchers in their race to be the first to respond: the people.
Funnily enough, it’s usually the people at the centre of these cases who hold the answers to the questions about what is actually going on. Speculation, after all, only gets you so far. With all of this in mind, I realised very recently that I’ve become more of a holistic ghost detective than anything else, because when I research a case I focus more on the interconnectedness of all things.
Yes, that’s a Douglas Adams reference. Yes, I’m being serious.
“I do not concern myself with such petty things as fingerprint powder, telltale pieces of pocket fluff and inane footprints. I see the solution to each problem as being detectable in the pattern and web of the whole. The connections between causes and effects are often much more subtle and complex than we with our rough and ready understanding of the physical world might naturally suppose, Mrs Rawlinson.” – Dirk Gently, in ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’ by Douglas Adams
Many will balk when they read the word ‘holistic’ because they associate it with dodgy “holistic” medicine, when in reality in health care, it refers to not just treating symptoms, but taking into account all contributing factors such as mental and social conditions. By taking a more holistic approach to ghost research and by not strictly using belief disclaimers in my everyday language, I have found myself the subject of scrutiny from so-called skeptics who suspect I might secretly believe in the things I research. I don’t. I can sort of understand why some people find it hard to see how a rationalist and atheist could possibly be interested in fringe ideas and “new-agey speak”, but I think it says more about those individuals than it does about me.