Ok, so I’m going to step out here and say that this is a big complaint I have about some of the paranormal teams out there. If you are going to tell your “fans” that you caught “a really amazing” piece of evidence, then be prepared to share it. Don’t tell me that “people get mean”, “everyone calls me a liar,” or “I’ve learned my lesson.” Really? Are you that fragile that someone on Facebook debunking your evidence is going to hurt your pride that badly? Aren’t we supposed to be looking for the truth? What if someone comes up with a really good rational explanation for your evidence? Isn’t that a good thing? Don’t you learn something from that?
I have seen this many times. Someone posts a piece of “evidence” on Facebook and the page followers begin to comment things like “cool”, “scary”, “I’m getting goosebumps”, or even “are you sure someone wasn’t standing there?”, “it looks like your shadow”, “it sounds like a (insert animal noise) from outside.” These are responses a paranormal team should expect. People either believe or they want to debunk. Either one is ok. If you are a paranormal team with a social media page, expect people to respond and think about what you are putting out into the world. What would the scientific community look like if everyone held their results close to their chests and said “no, you’re going to tell me I’m wrong”? Science would never progress.
Not long ago, I posted a video from an investigation where one of our cameras began to bounce and move in a way that did not appear to be influenced by the people around it. I posted the video on the Haunted STL Facebook page and shared it on my personal page. One of my friends responded to my personal post stating that she thought it could be camera mirror slap, shutter bounce, or ISO adjustments. We chatted back and forth about it and I spent some time researching these effects. Ultimately, they didn’t seem to fit the scenario but I welcomed the chance to explore an explanation I hadn’t thought of yet. In the end, she offered to talk to some friends who work in photography and if they couldn’t explain it, she would call it paranormal. I told her to let me know what they say and then stated “I still wouldn’t say paranormal but I would say odd/unexplained.” I’m a tough judge of “paranormal.” My team knows not to expect to hear “it’s a ghost” come out of my mouth. Anyway, she never told me if the photographers responded so I’m sticking with unexplained.
Thankfully, in this situation, we had two video cameras in that space that could see the bouncing camera and document that no one was touching it at the time. We also did a follow-up investigation with a Facebook live to show our debunking session. I am a big fan of redundancy and being able to back up any evidence with a second piece of equipment. I would recommend anyone who is planning to validate evidence and share with the community, double cover your spaces for easier review and debunking. I have also thought that teams should be willing to put all of their public investigation data out for people to review. Do I think they will, no. It’s a lot of long boring video but if someone wants to double check our work, that’s ok with me. If I missed something, I want to know. In the end, we are looking for real answers for ourselves and our clients. Extra eyes and ears help us learn for future investigations.
So, next time your team catches something really cool, share it! Yes, some people will argue that it isn’t real but that’s ok. We should engage in these conversations. The only time I would close one of these conversations is if the individuals involved were name calling and being disrespectful. If you do close these conversations, state clearly that your team is willing to engage in a conversation that does not insult others. As researchers, we can be respectful in analyzing and critiquing evidence. This falls under my “don’t be a dick” rule. Of course, that’s another post all together.