Subjects For Investigators To Research

In one of my recent posts I discussed the dos and do nots for new investigators. During that post I mentioned about getting educated in as many subjects as possible. This post will briefly define some of those subjects that you may or may not hear about on television shows, and those that you most likely will not hear about on the television shows. It is beneficial for serious investigators to be familiar with these topics. The list is alphabetized however I am sure there are many more subjects that I didn’t mention here. This list is just a good start. Some of the technical definitions came from dictionary.com, webmd.com, or wikipedia.com .

• After Images – An after image in general is an optical illusion that refers to an image continuing to appear after exposure to the original image has ceased. Examples are such as looking at yourself in a mirror and then turning your head and seeing a blurry version of yourself across the room, looking at a cell phone and then seeing the image when you close your eyes, or looking at the tv and then seeing a similar image in the window. This is also known as Palinopsia.

• Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS) – This is a rare neurological disorder characterized by distortions of visual perception, the body image, and the experience of time. People may see things smaller than they are, feel their body alter in size or experience any of the syndrome’s numerous other symptoms.

• Apophenia – The tendency to perceive a connection or meaningful pattern between unrelated or random things (such as objects or ideas.)

• Astral Projection – The ability to project your conscious mind outside of your body.

• Autokinesis – A phenomenon of visual perception in which a stationary, small point of light in an otherwise dark or featureless environment appears to move. It presumably occurs because motion perception is always relative to some reference point. A paranormal example would be while investigating you fixate on a point of light and it seems to begin to move when it really isn’t, and it is misinterpreted as paranormal activity.

• Availability Cascade – A self-reinforcing cycle that explains the development of certain kinds of collective beliefs. A novel idea or insight, usually one that seems to explain a complex process in a simple or straightforward manner, gains rapid currency in the popular discourse by its very simplicity and by its apparent insightfulness. Its rising popularity triggers a chain reaction within the social network: individuals adopt the new insight because other people within the network have adopted it, and on its face it seems plausible.

• Baader–Meinhof Phenomenon – Frequency illusion, also known as the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon or frequency bias, is a cognitive bias in which, after noticing something for the first time, there is a tendency to notice it more often, leading someone to believe that it has a high frequency (a form of selection bias). It occurs when increased awareness of something creates the illusion that it is appearing more often.

• Barnum Effect – The tendency to accept certain information as true, such as character assessments or horoscopes, even when the information is so vague as to be worthless.

• Blind Spots – This is the point of entry of the optic nerve on the retina, insensitive to light (creating a spot in your vision where you can’t see). Many optical illusions can occur when something is entering and exiting your blind spot, and such illusions can be misinterpreted as paranormal activity.

• Butterfly Effect – The butterfly effect is part of the chaos theory. It is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system (no changes) can result in large differences in a later state. A few examples would be the death of someone who one day would have found the cure for a disease that would have saved countless people. Another would be a human stepping on a bug that one day would have been chased by a bat that landed near a snake. Having consumed the bat the snake would have not been hungry anymore therefore the poisonous snake didn’t attack another small animal that was a pet of a young girl who was devastated by the loss of the pet, and didn’t go to school on a day where the family would have been in a car accident that would have taken her life. Not being in that accident allowed the girl to grow up to create a business that employed dozens of people. All of it would’t have happened because a human stepped on a bug. In the paranormal world this could be buying a piece of crumby equipment due to hype, posting a video of using it online, and your group loses credibility, when one day if that video hadn’t been posted the group was on a trajectory to have a television show which would had benefited the team and those hired to produce the show.

• Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) – This is a disease in which visual hallucinations occur as a result of vision loss.

• Chronostasis – A type of temporal illusion in which the first impression following the introduction of a new event or task-demand to the brain can appear to be extended in time. Basically when time seems to stand still.

• Claustrophobia – the feeling of being trapped. The arrangement of objects in your house could cause feelings that are misperceived as paranormal activity. Some people are more susceptible to claustrophobia. If you are in a cluttered room, especially one that you are not familiar with, you could become claustrophobic and misinterpret it as feeling like you are being watched.

• Cleansing – A ceremony to expel negative energy from a location and to protect it in the future.

• Clustering Illusion – The clustering illusion is the tendency to erroneously consider the inevitable “streaks” or “clusters” arising in small samples from random distributions to be non-random. The illusion is caused by a human tendency to under-predict the amount of variability likely to appear in a small sample of random or pseudorandom data. An example of this would be your favorite sports team beats their arch rivals 5 times in a row, and you convince yourself that since they beat them 5 times in a row they will surely beat them the sixth time, believing there isn’t another possible outcome to the game. In the paranormal world an example would be that a relative completed a certain ritual of events every morning when they woke up, and you assume that in death they would do the same thing.

• Construction – This pertains to how buildings and their support systems such as electricity, HVAC, and plumbing, and how various materials coupled with age and atmospheric influence can cause different noises or readings on electromagnetic sensing equipment.

• Cryptomensia – This is an occurrence that describes when a forgotten memory returns without its being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a tune, a name, or a joke, not deliberately engaging in plagiarism but rather experiencing a memory as if it were a new inspiration. An example would be someone had a dream when they were 16 of a paranormal experience, and somehow it pops into their mind 20 years later, and the person doesn’t remember having the dream or where the memory comes from so they are convinced that they went through a recent paranormal experience.

• Dark Adaption – How your eyes adapt to being in a dark location. The opposite can be said for light adaption.

• Déjà vu – This situation, translated from French means “already seen,” is a phenomenon where you believe that you have experienced an event or series of event before. It is more common in younger people, however there is a recognized medical disorder where someone has this feeling occur often. There is perceived déjà vu which we all refer to when mentioning the term. As we can’t readily recall every second of every day when a series of events occur exactly as they have before we may feel the sense of déjà vu. This can cause a very odd feeling which can be misperceived as paranormal activity.

• Dermo-Optical Perception – Also known as dermal vision, dermo-optics, eyeless sight, eyeless vision, skin vision, skin reading, finger vision, paroptic vision, para-optic perception, cutaneous perception, digital sight, and bio-introscopy. It is a term that is used in parapsychology to denote the alleged capability to perceive colors, differences in brightness, and/or formed images through the skin (without using the eyes, as distinct from blindsight), especially upon touching with the fingertips. Typically, people who claim to have dermo-optical perception claim to be able to see using the skin of their fingers or hands. People who claim to have DOP often demonstrate it by reading while blindfolded. This has not been scientifically proven, and any major claims of having this ability have been disproved. Some fake psychics will claim to have this ability. Sometimes during paranormal investigations you will have clients describe a similar occurrence.

• Doorway Effect – This is a widely experienced phenomenon, wherein a person passing through a doorway may forget what they were doing or thinking about previously. An example would be being on a paranormal investigation, leaving the location to get an item from the car, and forgetting what the item was for once stepping back into the door of the property.

• Dopamine – A neurotransmitter that your body produces that carries messages from one cell to another. Dopamine plays a huge roll in how humans feel pleasure. In the paranormal field high dopamine levels can cause anxiety, hyperawareness, and a false sense of paranormal activity.

• Dunning-Kruger Effect – A hypothetical cognitive bias stating that people with low ability at a task overestimate their own ability, and that people with high ability at a task underestimate their own ability. An example of this would be a recreational ghost hunter trying to conduct a paranormal investigation where they are way over their head causing the ghost hunter and the client to both become very frustrated when the ghost hunter should have sought out the assistance of an experienced paranormal investigator.

• Electromagnetic Radiation – Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) consists of waves of the electromagnetic (EM) field, propagating through space, carrying electromagnetic radiant energy. It includes radio waves, microwaves, infrared, (visible) light, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays. Half of the equipment used by paranormal investigators are various sensors pertaining to electromagnetic radiation, yet many people don’t exactly understand what it is, how the equipment senses it, and how it can or cannot be manipulated by a paranormal entity. It is imperative to understand electromagnetic radiation if you are going to be a paranormal investigator.

• Equipment – Paranormal investigators use a wide array of equipment and it is very important to know how it works, what it is used for, what can influence the readings, and what can give false readings, and how to differentiate between a true reading and a false reading. It is important to know that the equipment is all experimental and theoretical and everything that shows up as a reading isn’t paranormal, in most cases it isn’t.

• EVP Class System – EVP is the recording of voices on a form of media such as an audio recorder that couldn’t have been heard without the device. Hearing something with your ears is not an EVP, it is a DVP, Direct Voice Phenomenon. There is a class system for EVPs that is generally used in the paranormal field.

• Gases – There are a bunch of gasses on our planet that we interact with always, frequently, occasionally, and rarely. It is important to understand how these gasses can effect a human being and how it can alter your perception. Some of these gasses include oxygen, nitrogen, methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, etc.

• Gravity – It is important to understand gravity and how it works. There are various things that can effect it and change it. It is not a constant. Things such as geology, latitude, and elevation can change the effects of gravity, even if small, sensitive people can notice the difference.

• Hutchinson Effect – This is a collection of phenomena that includes levitation, fusion of dissimilar materials, anomalous heating of metals, spontaneous fractures in metals, changes in crystalline structure, etc. These subjects are theories and not proven by science, however you will sometimes come across claims of them during paranormal investigations.

• Hypnagogic Hallucinations – hallucinations that occur as you’re falling asleep. When you experience these hallucinations, you see, hear, or feel things that aren’t actually there.

• Hypnopompic Hallucinations – hallucinations that occur as you’re waking up. When you experience these hallucinations, you see, hear, or feel things that aren’t actually there.

• Ideomotor Phenomenon – A psychological phenomenon wherein a subject makes motions unconsciously. The effects of automatic writing, dowsing, facilitated communication, applied kinesiology and the moving of the planchette on Ouija boards have been attributed to the phenomenon.

• Infinite Monkey Theorem – A monkey hitting keys at random on a computer keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type any given text if given enough time. In the paranormal world a similar situation would be watching the output from an SLS Camera, asking the figure you see on screen repeatedly over and over again to raise its arm, and by chance the output eventually shows a stick figure raising its arm, and you believe it must be responding to you, when reality it is the device just randomly varying output.

• Infrasound – Infrasound is the barely audible, or not audible low-frequency sound that humans can’t hear. Both of these have been found to have an effect on the human nervous system and can cause perceived paranormal activity.

• Instrumental Transcommunication – Communication with a deceased person using equipment.

•Iospheric Radio Wave Propagation – This phenomenon occurs when solar magnetic radiation emanating from sunspots, which are magnetic storms on the sun, electrically charges the Earth’s ionosphere. The ionosphere is a region of Earth’s atmosphere that ranges from 30 to 250 miles above the surface of the Earth. When solar electromagnetic radiation causes the ionosphere to become electrically charged it causes the ionosphere to act like a mirror for radio signals below 30MHz so it is possible for the signals to bounce off the charged ionosphere and end up hundreds or up to 10,000+ miles away on the other side of the world. This can cause all kinds of interference on investigation equipment and false positives. Faraday bags/cages can help minimize this when used with voice recorders which are the most susceptible to interference.

• Isochronic Tones and Binaural Beats – Binaural beats and isochronic tones are two different methods of producing brainwave entrainment, with audio and repetitive beats. These tones and beats can be used in paranormal investigations to help you achieve a mental state that allows you to be more sensitive to imperceivable phenomenon whether visual, auditory, or tactically.

• Jamais Vu – This is the opposite of Déjà vu. This phenomenon is when you forget something that you have experienced many times before, such as walking into your house and it feels new to you.

• Jürgenson Frequency – In 1959, Swedish painter and film producer Friedrich Jürgenson through empirical means hypothesized that 1485.0 kHz was the best frequency to use for spirit communication. Spirit/Frank boxes were developed using his theories, but do not focus on that particular frequency.

• Kinesis – A movement or activity of a cell or an organism in response to a stimulus. It is important to understand kinesis on a larger scale and how it effects people experiencing or investigating paranormal activity.

• Lucid Dreaming – Being aware that you are dreaming and you may be able to control the dream. Dreaming is often believed to be a method of spirit communication.

• Mandela Effect – The Mandela effect is a phenomenon in which a person or a group of people have false or distorted memories. Some believe that the Mandela effect is proof of alternate realities, while others blame it on the fallibility of human memory. This effect often leads to cryptomensia.

• Matrixing – A sometimes used term in place of pareidolia, which is is the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous stimulus, usually visual, so that one sees an object, pattern, or meaning where there is none. This can happen when looking at clouds, looking at static, when in fog or a steamy room, in a room with a large amount of energy, etc. It can also occur with sounds.

• Meteorology – Weather phenomena such as solar storms, lightning storms, temperature, and barometric pressure, and how they may effect paranormal activity, or cause perceived paranormal activity.

• Misinformation Effect – This occurs when a person’s recall of episodic memories becomes less accurate because of post-event information. This can lead to someone believing they experienced a paranormal situation when they did not.

• Misophonia – A condition in which individuals experience intense anger and disgust when they are confronted with sounds made by other human beings.

• Musical Ear Syndrome – This is a condition where you are hearing music that isn’t there.Quantum entanglement – a theory in science that people or animals can be connected to each other at the quantum level (which is atomic down to subatomic).An example of this phenomena is a mother being aware of their child being in danger or has been injured even if they are at a great distance away. This phenomena could be feasible between siblings, significant others, parents, pets, or any other close relationship that you may have. This could be perceived as the feeling of being watched.

• New House Effect – This phenomenon is when you move into a new location and aren’t familiar with all of the sounds, sights, and smells and perceive them to be paranormal.

• Observer Expectancy Effect – The observer-expectancy effect (also called the experimenter-expectancy effect, expectancy bias, observer effect, or experimenter effect) is a form of reactivity in which a researcher’s cognitive bias causes them to subconsciously influence the participants of an experiment. Confirmation bias can lead to the experimenter interpreting results incorrectly because of the tendency to look for information that conforms to their hypothesis, and overlook information that argues against it. In the paranormal field that means someone who goes into an investigation biased that a location has equipment and personal experience activity and interprets any type of activity to be paranormal because they want it to be so. They may also attempt to convince others that benign occurrences have to be paranormal activity.

• Palinopsia – A phenomenon when you see an image repeatedly, even after looking away from it. Examples are such as looking at yourself in a mirror and then turning your head and seeing a blurry version of yourself across the room, looking at a cell phone and then seeing the image when you close your eyes, or looking at the tv and then seeing a similar image in the window. This phenomenon is also referred to as “after images.”

• Paranormal Entities – Entities that we come across are classified differently. The ones that you should become most familiar with are banshee, doppelgänger, fairy, ghost, ghoul, guide, imp, parasitic, phantom, poltergeist, shadow people, spectre, spirit, thought form, tulpa, and wraiths.

• Parapsychology – The study of mental phenomena which are excluded from or inexplicable by orthodox scientific psychology. These topics include channeling, clairalience, clairambience, clairaudience, clairsentience, clairvoyance, dowsing, empathy, hypnosis, precognition, psychokineses, psychometry, retrocognition, and telepathy (also known as thought transference).These abilities are often referred to as the “sixth sense.” I discuss these abilities in more depth at the following linked blog post.

• Parasomnia – A sleep disorder that involves unusual and undesirable physical events or experiences that disrupt your sleep. A parasomnia event can occur before or during sleep or during arousal from sleep. If you have parasomnia, you might have abnormal movements, talk, express emotions or do unusual things. Often this is something that is misinterpreted as paranormal activity.

• Pareidolia – This is also referred to as matrixing. It is your mind’s attempt to find patterns in randomness. The fusiform, which is a part of the brain, recognizes faces and can see faces where there aren’t any in inanimate objects. Examples of this would be staring at static on an old tv and seeing shapes or figures in the static, seeing figures in clouds or in ripples in water, or seeing figures in rock faces on the side of mountains. Pareidolia also comes into play with excessive electromagnetic energy and infrasound where our nervous system senses their presence and not understanding them causes us to perceive apparitions or other familiar forms. It can also be something that affects your hearing. Situations such as ear barotrauma (airplane ear), tinnitus (humming, clicking, ringing, or buzzing in the ear), and musical ear syndrome (hearing music that isn’t there) have also caused people to perceive paranormal activity that isn’t there.

• Peripheral Drift Illusion – This phenomenon refers to a motion illusion generated by the presentation of a sawtooth luminance grating in the visual periphery. Basically it’s an optical illusion that can occur when looking at certain patterns, wether it be something on television, on your computer or portable electronic device, in photos, etc. This illusion could be misperceived as paranormal phenomenon.

• Photography – It is important to understand how cameras work, what artifacts can result as well as distortions, how shutter speeds effect images, and what photographic orbs are. One of the primary methods of evidence gathering in paranormal investigations is photos, except most people don’t understand how a camera works or things that can affect the image that you are trying to capture. In the paranormal field the biggest culprit is orbs, but also other artifacts such as streaking light which can be caused by slow shutter speeds.

• Piezoelectricity – Electric polarization in a substance (especially certain crystals) resulting from the application of mechanical stress. Many electronic devices today use piezoelectricity. For example, when you use some type of voice-recognition software, or even Siri on your smartphone, the microphone that you’re speaking into is probably using piezoelectricity. That piezo crystal turns the sound energy in your voice, and changes it into electrical signals for your computer or your phone to interpret. This technology is due to piezoelectricity. It is important to understand piezoelectricity and how it can cause random things to create false positives during DVP/EVP sessions.

• Postdiction – This involves explanation after the fact. Postdiction is also referred to as post-shadowing or prediction after the fact, and is an effect of hindsight bias that explains claimed predictions of significant events, such as plane crashes and natural disasters. In the paranormal field you will come across this quite often.

• Power of Suggestion – You will often see the result of this on paranormal tv shows. An example would be during a reveal to a client an investigator says “we have this EVP and believe it says (whatever is suggested) and we want to see if you hear it.” Guess what, the client will most likely hear what the person suggestion. The same thing can occur with visual evidence. This is something you wish to greatly avoid.

• Presque Vu – A feeling of being on the verge of an epiphany or being unable to recall something that is “on the tip of your tongue”. This is a form of memory lapse.

• Quantum Entanglement – Merriam-Webster defines quantum entanglement as “a property of a set of subatomic particles whereby a quantum characteristic (such as spin or momentum) of one particle is directly and immediately correlated with the equivalent characteristic of the others regardless of separation in space. The National Library of Medicine simplifies that by describing quantum entanglement as “a phenomenon in which entangled systems exhibit correlations that cannot be explained by classical physics.” How does quantum entanglement relate to paranormal investigations? It is theorized by some scientists familiar with the topic that quantum entanglement is also a phenomenon that can occur between people. An example of this would be a mother who is miles away from her child knowing that something is seriously wrong with the child even though she has not spoken with them. This could be a major health event, a car accident, a crime committed against them, etc. Another example is a young person gets injured while playing with friends and their twin sibling who is at the mall with a parent shows some symptoms of feeling the pain from the injury of their sibling. Our nervous systems are big antennas receiving and transmitting energy and it is theorized by some scientists that people who are very close to each other emotionally become bound to each other at the quantum level and can share emotions and be aware of strong emotions of each other even at a great distance. Quantum refers to the subatomic level. These situations can often be misperceived as paranormal activity.

• Schumann Resonances – These are electromagnetic oscillations of the Earth-ionosphere cavity at frequencies of 7.8, 14, 20, 26, 33, 39, and 45Hz. Frequencies below 20hz are known as infrasound frequencies and aren’t detectable by the human ear (except for some cases where people can hear down to 18hz).Infrasound is the barely audible, or not audible low-frequency sound that humans can’t hear. Both of these have been found to have an effect on the human nervous system and can cause perceived paranormal activity.

• Scopaesthesia – The psychic staring effect is a theorized phenomenon in which humans detect being stared at by extrasensory means. Basically it is the feeling of being watched.

• Scrying – Also known by various names such as “seeing” or “peeping,” is the practice of looking into a suitable medium in the hope of detecting significant messages or visions. In the paranormal field you will see this most often used with a mirror, however the practice isn’t used by many paranormal investigators. Partaking in this can also cause optical illusions that could be perceived as paranormal activity.

• Semmelweis Reflex – In basic terms it means that you believe that your house has paranormal activity and that you would reject any evidence that suggests otherwise no matter how convincing or factual it is.

• Singapore Theory – This theory is in use when an investigator creates an environment that a spirit might be familiar with in the hopes of attracting them. A few examples of this may be staging a room as it once was, playing a deceased persons favorite music, or putting out their favorite food.

• Sleep Deprivation – It is important to understand the effects of lack of sleep on the human body, especially the human mind and how it can cause perceived paranormal activity.

• Sleep Paralysis – Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking. This phenomenon is often misinterpreted by people as being held down or being choked by a spirit, poltergeist, or tulpa.

• Stone Tape Theory – The theory that crystalline rock such as quartz, basalt, limestone, soapstone, marble, sandstone, and granite are predominantly the stones that can, due to their properties, absorb electromagnetic energy and reradiate that energy over a long period of time. This is believed by some to cause a phenomenon that acts synonymously like a tape recorder that replays the same song time and time again until the tape wears out. Since the molecules in a stone can remain in place for many millennia and remain in place for eons in bedrock, some believe that the Stone Tape Theory is feasible. Many paranormal investigators report that residual hauntings seem to be more prevalent when these stones are in the vicinity.

• Synchronicity – The belief that a simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection. Paranormal related examples of this are a client wakes up in the middle of the night because they hear an entity forging in the kitchen. They happen to go to the doctors office that day and the doctor asks them a bunch of questions to see if there is the possibility of the person having diabetes. They return home and find a cabinet open and find sugar sprinkled on the counter. These three events would appear to be related, but do not have a discernible causal connection.

• Synesthesia – This phenomenon is when you hear music, but you see shapes. Or you hear a word or a name and instantly see a color. Synesthesia is a fancy name for when you experience one of your senses through the stimulation of another sense. This is not very common, but you will come across it in paranormal investigations from time to time, especially with psychically sensitive people.

• Tachypsychia – This is neurological condition that distorts the perception of time, appearing to make events slow down or speed up. This can often happen with anxiety. I am sure you have heard time flies when you are having fun or when a day seemed to go on forever. Often these experiences are reported in tandem with paranormal activity.

• Thatcher Effect – Also known as Thatcher illusion, it is a phenomenon where it becomes more difficult to detect local feature changes in an upside-down face, despite identical changes being obvious in an upright face. You may hear about this from clients in paranormal investigations when it comes to random reflections at different angles.

• Tinnitus – This medical phenomenon is usually caused by an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, an ear injury or a problem with the circulatory system. It can include humming, clicking, ringing, or buzzing in the ear.

• Types of Haunts – Haunts could be residual or intelligent. This also refers to differentiate between a haunting of a person, building, object, on a property not related to the building, or a specific location.

• Vibroacoustic Phenomenon – This is vibration and sound combined that influences physiology. Specifically the Helmholtz Resonance which is wind passing over a narrow opening such as a slightly open window or door, a glass bottle top, etc. It can cause spooky sounds and if below 20 hertz and can cause symptoms of infrasound exposure.