I recently spoke to a friend of mine, CJ Romer, on an episode of The Spooktator podcast about a mysterious case he was investigating at the time. It involves a potential “ghost plane” and is fascinating to hear about because CJ is a pretty level-headed investigator. Our discussion turned to the future of paranormal research, too. I think he summed it up well when he said:
“Although people regard 70’s ghost hunters with great affection now, I’m not convinced their methodology was particularly sound. I don’t think ghost research has ever had much to do with sitting around in the dark, waiting for the ghost to turn up.”CJ Romer, S3E2 of The Spooktator podcast
This quote struck me at the time of recording because a large number of ghost researchers really do seem to idolise the old-school ghost hunters. Peter Underwood, Harry Price and their usually-male colleagues. Rarely is it called into question if such people actually contributed anything of value to the field.
“I think you’re better off actually looking at a large number of cases and trying to work out what might be going on, and reading your way around the subject. I think ghost research has been quietly carrying on with people like you and I for years and years and years. And whatever happens it will neither be troubled by most Haunted and the Ghost Night Tourism type stuff.”CJ Romer, S3E2 of The Spooktator podcast
I was reminded of this discussion with CJ recently. Youtube recommended yet another ghost hunting channel with yet more ghost hunters stumbling around dramatically in the dark. This one was called Paranormal Truth. Interestingly, on their Twitter account they claim to be ‘bringing normal to the paranormal with a healthy dose of reality’, but on their Youtube channel they state that they’re ‘seek[ing] real evidence of the paranormal.’
So, which is it? Biased research or a dose of reality? Eating your cake or having it?
I used to get annoyed when people did this – claimed that they were reinventing the wheel and actually just doing what everyone else does. Usually while convincing themselves that their path is the nobler one. Ultimately though, there is nothing unique or noble about ghost hunters who have Youtube channels and Facebook Live channels and similar.
In fact, I look at the plethora of such groups of people and I think back to what CJ said during our interview. And if the last two years of studying psychology with the Open University has taught me anything, it’s that data and statistics are strong tools for exploration. That it’s the slow and steady approach to exploring questions which gains the insight and proper, informed answers. However, such research takes time and patience. It isn’t dramatic, it isn’t Hollywood, it isn’t thrilling and macho. And when done correctly it isn’t case closed. But hey, at least it isn’t Most Haunted cosplay by people who claim to hate Most Haunted, right?
You can listen to the interview with CJ Romer in Season 3 Episode 2 of The Spooktator podcast below, or by clicking here.