In recreational ghost hunting activities are simplified to grabbing a piece of technology or two, running into the location, and find yourself some paranormal activity so you can have an enjoyable experience. However to conduct a thorough science based paranormal investigation there is so much more to take into account. Subjects such as property and client history, client personality and mental state, property geology, technology in close proximity to the property, electromagnetic sources within a few blocks or even miles away if within line of sight, meteorology including solar weather, and applicable client quantum entanglement just to name a few of the slew of subjects that can affect paranormal activity whether perceived or empirical. During a science based investigation it is imperative to be cognizant of human behavioral tendencies including yours as the investigator, your colleagues, and the clients. This blog entry is one in a series of entries that will explore how human behavior effects paranormal investigations.
The Badder-Meinhof Phenomenon refers to “frequency illusion.” Below is the explanation of frequency illusion from Wikipedia.com. This may sound a bit scientifically technical for a moment and then I will simplify it.
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.
To simplify that explanation the Badder-Meinhof Phenomenon refers to your mind’s preoccupation with a conceptualization that was recently developed. Here are a three examples of how this phenomenon may present itself in everyday life.
1) You weren’t ever very interested in a particular vehicle. You bought an inexpensive older car to get from point A to point B. Being an inexpensive older car the car isn’t impressive to look at both externally as well as the interior. You never really pay attention to other cars because you see them as just a tool. One day a friend picks you up to go out for the evening and you are enamored with the aesthetics of the interior of their new car. The layout and design just seems to resonate with your personal tastes. The car has some features and accessories that you would love to have in your car. You become enamored with the car and wish that you had one for yourself. In the coming days and weeks you begin to notice that particular model of car during your daily travels, as if it stands out among all of the other cars which you didn’t pay any attention to before. You begin to see the car in magazine ads, ads on the internet, on television, and on the streets everywhere you go. They were always there, but you hadn’t noticed them before as you hadn’t been preoccupied with cars before you went out for the night with your friend in their new car.
2) You are someone who has always lived around a big city. You never ventured out into the rural areas of the state that you live in. You knew they existed, but you never paid any attention to it. You loved the convenience of everything that you could ever want or need being available within a five to ten minute drive from your house. If everything you want or need is nearby why would you venture out into the rural areas where you believe there isn’t anything for you. One day your friend’s child ends up getting injured while playing outside and is admitted to the hospital. You want to do something that will cheer them up. You remember overhearing them discuss a particular toy that they wanted, but couldn’t find anywhere due to high demand. You look for it online and all of the local stores are out of stock. You go on Facebook in order to check your messages and due to Facebook’s deep integration into your computer it had sniffed out the fact that you had searched for that particular toy that was difficult to get your hands on via your web browser. Facebook produces an ad for Facebook Marketplace, and there is that toy, up for sale, by someone who lives 45 minutes out of town. You wanted it for that day as if it were shipped it wouldn’t arrive for several days due to the holiday weekend. You decide to meet up with the seller at a public location in order to complete the sale. You make the 45 minutes drive to the area in which the seller lives. They live in a rural area of the state far from any major town or city. The people do their shopping at a local country store and there is a lone bar in town. Normally on your drive you are jamming out to loud music and pay little attention to your surroundings. You keep your eyes on the road. Due to having a headache this one day you keep the music off, and not being distracted by the loud music you are able to notice your surroundings a lot more. You notice on your drive that there is a lot of farmland and you begin to be enamored with all of the animals that you see on those farms. Due to jamming out to loud music you had never seen farm animals in their habitat before. Upon meeting with the person that you were purchasing the toy from you begin asking them all sorts of question about rural life and farm animals. You start noticing people are posting pictures of barnyard animals on social media. You are driving down a road that you have driven down countless times and notice a sign for a farm animal petting zoo that you never noticed before. You are flipping through the television channels and come across a few old westerns that you never noticed before and see a lot of animals. You didn’t even realize that you had that television channel. You never paid any of these shows any attention until now. In the past you never thought about farm animals. You believe that this is all new to you and that you never have seen it before. But it isn’t true. Before all of this you never noticed such things , but now you see things much more frequently. You don’t quite realize that they were there all along since before you were born and you just didn’t pay them any attention.
3) You have been someone who throughout their life has typically attempted to blend in. Your hobbies, interests, preferred television shows, and clothing would represent what was popular at the time. You hate to stand out and don’t want the extra attention. You never paid attention to anything that was out of the mainstream of society. Back in high school you would hang out with the “cool kids” and balked at anything that didn’t conform to the social habits of that group because you didn’t want to be looked at negatively by your peers in the group. This behavior continued through college and young adult life. You sticked to what was popular at the time and never really experimented with what the world has to offer to see if there were things out of the mainstream that you may have found interesting. One day you and your friends go out to a movie and you see a preview for a new Star Trek movie. Star Trek wasn’t anything that you had paid any attention to before. You were vaguely aware of its existence, not realizing that it was around decades before you were born, however you never paid it any attention because your social groups never discussed it. It could have been right in front of you and you wouldn’t have noticed. You assumed it was something that geeks paid attention to and you didn’t want to be a geek. Something in the movie previews catches your eye, an actor that you enjoyed watching in other movies when you were younger, and you watch the preview intently. You had no idea that they were on a Star Trek television series and now the follow up movie. You make a trip to the mall and on the way you begin noticing the Star Trek logo on a decal affixed to the back of car. Upon walking around the mall you notice a few people wearing shirts with Star Trek related pictures on them. Being close to the end of the year you head over to the calendar kiosk and notice they have a few that are Star Trek related. You walk by another kiosk and start thumbing through the posters and notice a Star Trek poster that you believe that you had seen before, but never paid any attention to. Over the next few days you see a Star Trek question on Jeopardy and another Star Trek reference on a prime time television show. You find that Facebook is recommending Star Trek fan groups online and a few facebook friends attending an upcoming Star Trek convention when it is in town. Just a short time ago you wouldn’t have ever paid any attention to Star Trek and now you seem to find it everywhere. You don’t realize that all of it was there all along, because you didn’t pay it any attention.
So how does the Baader–Meinhof Phenomenon relate to as it pertains to a paranormal investigation? There are multiple facets to this idea. I will give you three possible scenarios.
1) Suppose that you were watching a questionable paranormal investigation television show that uses methodology and equipment that the more serious investigators wouldn’t use. Their goal has changed to increase waning ratings and not to focus on conducting a serious paranormal investigation as they once did. They begin to change investigative methodology and using questionable investigative technology. One of the people on the television show begins using a new device that you hadn’t seen before known as a Structured Light Sensor Camera also known as an SLS. You know that the television show has begun using methods and equipment that a serious investigator wouldn’t normally use, however you wish to continue to watch the show for the entertainment aspect of it. You see that the show is edited in a way to make it appear that the SLS camera is providing all sorts of paranormal evidence, but you don’t seem to mind. You are a paranormal investigator who also on occasion attends public ghost hunts which do not follow a standard investigative procedure. You enjoy seeking out paranormal activity without having to be involved with a full investigation. You usually do your own thing at these events but happen to notice that one of the ghost hunters has a SLS camera. You don’t approach them, however you keep an eye on him from afar to see how the device was operating. You visit a website that sells equipment used by paranormal investigators and ghost hunters. You usually stick to the more common devices used by serious investigators, but find that you notice an SLS device is available on the website. In the past you wouldn’t have paid such a device any attention. You read a new post of your favorite paranormal blog and they are reviewing the SLS camera. The device has been on the market and used for quite some time, but you never heard of it before and believe that it is something new and all the rage.
2) You’ve been a paranormal investigator for a few years and while having a decent knowledge of science you never really paid any attention to how human behavior could be important to understand and investigate when working on a paranormal case for a client. You were someone who focused more on the equipment instead of using your own senses and looking into human behavior. You believed your way was the only way because you were mimicking what you saw on one what you believed to be one of the more serious paranormal television shows. One rainy day you are bored and nothing good is on television. You begin to go through your Podcast app and search the directory for paranormal related podcasts. You download several different podcasts. One of the episodes is an interview with someone from a popular paranormal investigation television show. You listen to that entire podcast. Another podcast episode is about reviews of equipment used on paranormal investigations and you listen to that entire podcast as well. You find another episode about how human behavior should be investigated on paranormal investigations. You only listen to that episode for five minutes and then you find something else to listen to because human behavior didn’t conform to your preferred investigative methods that you learned off of the television. You find another podcast episode about the local haunted locations and you listen to that one in its entirety. So to recap you listened to the entire podcast when it was an interview of a star of a paranormal television show, reviews of paranormal investigation equipment, and one about local hauntings. You only listened to the one about human behavior for five minutes. A few days later you are looking through the directory of the streaming application on your Apple TV and notice a new paranormal television show. You watch a few episodes and noticed that they spoke about the phenomenon that you heard during the five minutes that you listened to the podcast. You also watch a few reruns of the other paranormal television show that you like to watch and realize that a few times they mentioned a few of the human behaviors that you heard about in the podcast, but never paid it any attention as it didn’t conform to what you found enjoyable to focus on during paranormal investigations. Soon thereafter you perform an investigation with some of your colleagues in the paranormal investigation group and for some reason you don’t get lost in your equipment like you normally would and overhear one of your colleagues speaking to another about behavior that you heard about during that 5 minute period on the podcast. They have spoke about human behavior in other investigations, but you never noticed because you were more focused on your investigation equipment. You begin noticing these behaviors in other paranormal television shows, in tv documentaries, and when reading a paranormal blog online. You thought that it was some great new investigative method that everyone was using and with some research find out that it was something that had been researched in investigations for decades, but it was new to you because you had focused on the technology.
3) Your someone who is a recreational ghost hunter and not a paranormal investigator. You limited yourself to the television shows that are overproduced with great amounts of over the top special effects and going to the spookiest of public ghost hunts. You enjoyed the lore of the spookiness and never realized that there was a whole other side to the field where people engaged in serious investigations. You were very vaguely aware of their existence, but decided early on you didn’t have interest in obtaining scientific knowledge, doing a lot of research, and completing long thorough investigations. You liked to go into a location with your K2 meter and cheap voice recorder and convince yourself that you were seeing evidence of paranormal activity everywhere. You did it for just the thrill of “the hunt” and were oblivious to serious investigations going on. One day you were at work and overheard a customer on their cell phone telling someone that they swear that their house was haunted and that it needed to be investigated. You mention to the customer that you love ghost hunting and would love to check out their house. The person thanks you for your offer, but informs you that there was a local paranormal investigation team that had been around for many years who they contacted to perform a full investigation. You realize that you weren’t even aware that there was a local paranormal investigation team. Soon thereafter you go to one of your local ghost hunts to have a fun evening of ghost hunting and you are told that a part of the building wasn’t accessible this time around due to that paranormal investigation team doing some training in that area. You happen to see a few of the members of the team walk by later that evening and realize that you had seen them a few times before at a local library looking through old record books at a table when you went in there to find books about local haunted places and ghost stories. Soon thereafter you are looking for spooky ghost hunting videos on youtube and while scrolling happen to notice the two paranormal investigation team members in a poster frame for one of the videos that showed up in your search results. You realize that you may have seen the paranormal team’s name on videos before, but never paid it any attention, because it didn’t fit in with what you normally found entertaining. You beginning noticing this paranormal investigation team more and more as you explore your ghost hunting hobby. They were there all along, but you never paid them any attention. You believe that they must be something new, when in reality the team has been around for 20 years.
There you have several examples on how the Baader–Meinhof Phenomenon can effect a paranormal investigator or a ghost hunter. It is easy to become set in your ways and not vary from that methodology. It would be beneficial to keep exploring different facets of science and investigative techniques so you don’t end up in a situation where you experience the Baader–Meinhof Phenomenon and miss out on knowledge and techniques that could have benefited you all along. On the other side of the coin don’t let the Baader–Meinhof Phenomenon create a curiosity that leads you to engage in less reputable investigation methodology and equipment usage. There is so much science out there that I have discussed in other blog posts such as this previous blog entry you can read by clicking here that discusses various topics that would be beneficial for a paranormal investigator to study. As a serious paranormal investigator be conscious to not allow yourself to fall for the hype of crumby equipment marketed for ghost hunters just because you start seeing it around. Don’t let the Baader–Meinhof Phenomenon lead you to a situation where you could lose credibility and respect. The Baader–Meinhof Phenomenon can create both positive and negative nuances to your career in the paranormal investigation field. It is important to realize when it is worth pursuing something and when to leave it alone. Be cognizant on how the Baader–Meinhof Phenomenon can result in both positive and negative changes in your investigative techniques and methodology. Don’t fall for hype and what seems new due to you just noticing it when it was there all along. Expand your view of what an investigation consists of and broaden your horizons in the subjects that you familiarize yourself with. Part of the enjoyment of being a well educated investigator is you always expanding your skill set and knowledge base. The science is out there. Seek it!