Help Me I Think That My House Is Haunted
This blog post is of a particular milestone as it is my 50th blog post. My interest in the paranormal field began at a young age due to some interesting circumstances, and around 13 years ago I began evolving my activities pertaining to the paranormal from a strong interest into a life’s passion. A year ago I began a blog and podcast to help share some of my knowledge in order to help advance the field. In doing so my work began to get some attention from others. Never did I think that I would get to the point where I would be receiving many requests to appear on podcasts, internet television shows, radio, and to produce live events with the purpose being for me to educate others on the paranormal, as there isn’t an official avenue for instruction in this field. I am enjoying the path that this has lead me to and look forward to where it will lead me in the future. Thank you to everyone that has taken an interest in my work and shares it with others.
Now let’s get to today’s blog post entitled “Help Me I Think That My House Is Haunted.”
I do frequently receive emails from the general public asking me various questions on my opinion on certain perceived paranormal activity in their house or what to look for in a paranormal investigation team in their area. I thought that it would be beneficial for me to write a piece on the various types of paranormal investigation teams and the most frequent occurrences that drive cases to be opened that could have easily been figured out by the resident of the property.
With proper understanding you may easily be able to figure out the cause of the situation that you may be perceiving as paranormal, and the assistance of a team may not be needed. I will start off with a discussion about the various types of paranormal teams that you will find as that is the question that I receive more often than not. While there aren’t any official classifications, I will break it down into four categories of teams that you will come across. Almost every team that you will come across will fall into one of these categories. After I discuss the types of teams I will discuss situations that are the most often misperceived to be paranormal, when in fact they are not.
Please allow me to preface this with a statement that I am not taking shots at or demeaning anyone who gets into the paranormal investigation field. Just like any other hobby there are various levels of dedication, interest, and skill sets. There is difficulty with some people misrepresenting themselves as a professional paranormal investigator when they may simply be a step or two above what you see from ghosthunters on television. Some people will even use the title expert. We may have some people with a much better developed skill set than others, but we don’t have any experts. Unless you can whole heartedly say that your entire methodology falls into what I describe below under “paranormal investigators” you have no right to call yourself a professional, and even at that a paranormal investigator shouldn’t be calling themselves a professional. Jacking up titles to make yourself feel more skilled or important doesn’t serve the field, colleagues, or clients any useful purpose. Please avoid them and if you are reading this as someone from outside the paranormal research field be very leery of anyone calling themselves professional or an expert. If you are a ghosthunter call yourself a ghosthunter. You are not a paranormal investigator. Please stop adding to the confusion created by the television shows starting fifteen years ago. It is important for those in the field and the general public to understand the different skill sets between the two terms and to be able to recognize and assume skill set by the term being used. This isn’t vanity and I am not knocking anyone. This is a request to help improve our field as a hole and return to the old ways of classifying people in the field by their skill sets and capabilities for the sake of each other and the clients and general public.
The first three categories of paranormal teams are various forms of ghosthunters. The fourth category consists of a paranormal investigator. A paranormal investigator is not a ghosthunter, and a ghosthunter is not a paranormal investigator. They are two completely different things, and that separation all but vanished after the ghosthunting television shows started appearing on scene around 15 years ago where the people on these shows called themselves paranormal investigators. Historically before the time frame when the paranormal television shows started production the two terms meant completely different things. To this day they still are two completely different things. Nothing has changed, however for the past 15 years the two terms have been being used interchangeably by the majority of the people in the field, even though that it is historically incorrect.
Please remember the following group classifications are my own designations and not recognized in the field. I am just using them to differentiate between the types of teams that you will find.
First and foremost there are the “Entertainment” ghosthunting teams. These teams are solely into the field to find paranormal activity. They don’t use any science of any kind, and choose to perceive everything that they come across as potentially paranormal simply because it pleases them to do so. These teams don’t do any actual research and don’t make any contribution to the paranormal field in regards to advancing research or reputation. If you are looking for help with a potentially paranormal situation do not reach out to an entertainment team as they will surely believe that they found paranormal activity, even if it isn’t there. Science of any kind will be ignored because they are more concerned with their own entertainment. These are the teams that go on ghost hunts. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what they do for their own entertainment, but they aren’t in any position to take on client cases or give advice to others.
Secondly there are the “Gadget” ghosthunting teams. I would suggest that the vast majority of the teams out there fall into this category. Basically these teams are mimicking what they see on tv shows like Ghosthunters and Ghost Nation, and unfortunately there are those that will mimic the more outlandish shows like Ghost Adventures, and others may expand their investigative repertoire a bit beyond that. These ghosthunters will use devices that have all kinds of flashy lights and assumed capabilities, however the devices are being used primarily in an attempt to find paranormal activity. These investigations are not neutral as they are more likely to find paranormal activity even if it doesn’t exist in the situation because the investigators are more focused on the spooky then they are the science. Teams like this will often use equipment in a method they weren’t designed for. Such devices I am referring to include but are not limited to a K2 meter, SLS Camera, Ovilus, Ghost Box, EM Pump, Rem Pod, etc. The people using these devices in most cases can’t tell you how the equipment works, who came up with the theory behind the design of the device (that’s if even if there is one), and what scientific method based experiments were conducted to show that the device can accomplish what is advertised of them. Please note that there aren’t any. In reality these devices can not do what these untraceable theories suggest that they can do. In another blog entry I will deep dive into this equipment and explain why they can’t do what is theorized that they can do. At best a gadget team might use some pseudoscience to do a small amount of debunking, but in reality there is very little if anything scientific about their investigation. These teams will jump at the chance of an onsite investigation and usually do one for almost if not every case, where a paranormal investigator would have a very thorough consultation, and in the majority of cases remedy the concerns through information discovered during the consultation, therefore negating the need for an onsite investigation. These teams typically mean well and don’t realize that they are oblivious to actual science that would be used properly during an investigation. They typically have the best intentions, but a lack of knowledge is their weakness, and at times can cause more harm than good for their clients, even if there isn’t any intention on doing so. Be careful with these teams as they are hit or miss. Some have somewhat of an idea of what they are doing in some situations where the perceived paranormal activity has a somewhat obvious scientific cause, but aren’t overly familiar with various scientific subjects that paranormal investigators are familiar with and will often classify something as paranormal when there is a potential scientific cause they they hadn’t considered. Others in this category are glorified entertainment teams who put a lot of money into gadgets that they saw on tv in order to enhance their entertainment. I recommend that you are very cautious with these teams, especially since they may be the only classification of team in your region. Some can handle an investigation fairly well if there isn’t a somewhat deep scientific cause to what is occurring. Some of these teams have the good sense to consult with a paranormal investigator or reach out to someone with advanced college degrees or subject matter specialty if they recognize the necessity. Others will blunder blindly and cause more harm than good for their own enjoyment, even if it is unintentional. Most truly believe that they know what they are doing and are doing it professionally and are either by choice or unknowingly oblivious to the vast sea of scientific subjects that come into play during a scientific investigation. On the upper echelon of the gadget teams you may find some groups that may embrace some of the methodology of a paranormal investigator, but they don’t shed the majority of their ghosthunting ways.
Thirdly there are the “religious” teams. These are teams with strong religious convictions and wish to research paranormal phenomenon within the definitions of their religious beliefs. They will often use terms like angels, demons, and speak of possession. While some of these terms are commonly used by some people in the paranormal fields due to those terms coming from a very popular particular religion, they are not scientific in nature and are based upon religious faith. These teams tend to focus on spiritual investigative methodology and not scientifically. Some of these teams will present themselves as demonologists. While I personally know a few of these people and like some of them as a human being, please be aware that their investigations will be very biased to conform to their religious beliefs and will often ignore science that contradicts their religious doctrine, often claiming paranormal activity when there is a scientific reason for the occurrence. These teams are typically not your entertainment variety of ghosthunters and will include some basic science into their investigations as long as it doesn’t disagree with their religious teachings. As paranormal investigators focus on deep scientific subjects and religion based teams will often ignore science in favor of religious beliefs I would group them together with ghosthunters as they in general not use advanced science in their investigations.
Lastly there are the “Scientific” teams. I mean true science and not the pseudo science that you see on paranormal television shows. We are speaking about subjects including but not limited to physics, quantum mechanics, geology, meteorology, chemistry, biology, mental health, and other subjects including building logistics, radio communications, and electronics and plumbing. These are your paranormal investigators. These are not ghosthunters. These are teams that employ actual real world science in an attempt to explain perceived paranormal activity with real world situations. While these teams have an interest in the paranormal, their primary goal is to explain situations using a wide variety of sciences. These teams often include people with advanced college degrees or subject matter expertise, or they have built a network of contacts that they can consult on a wide variety of scientific subjects. These teams will exhaust scientific causes before even considering something to be paranormal. While these teams do use a variety of equipment, they use a plethora of equipment that you will not see on a paranormal television show. Equipment used by these teams include infrasound receivers, ultrasound receivers, ionic radiation receivers including alpha, beta, gamma, and X-rays. They typically will also have computer software to analyze the readings from these pieces of equipment. These teams will also use thermal cams, not to find paranormal entities, but to find causes of what is being perceived as paranormal activity such as drafts, animal life, and heat signatures from man made appliances. These teams will also use devices such as a binaural microphone to help ensure that their audio recordings are as a human would hear them, not with the priority to be able to record paranormal entities, but be able to replay and identify sounds that are being misperceived as paranormal activity. Also used will be an atmospheric sensor array to monitor a wide variety of atmospheric conditions both inside and outside of the building. In addition these teams will use gas vapor detectors, air quality sensors, and electromagnetic frequency meters are used not to find paranormal entities, but to find sources of electromagnetic radiation that could be affecting the client in a physical manner resulting in perceived paranormal activity. These teams will also employe the usage of faraday bags or cages around any equipment susceptible to interference from EMF radiation such as any type of audio recording equipment as faraday bags or cages will block most of this radiation from reaching the equipment that is contained within them. This team will properly set the equipment and leave the building to avoid contamination of evidence recording. The methodology of this type of team focuses completely on science and only leans towards the paranormal if everything else has been ruled out first including their own knowledge or after consulting those with advanced college degrees and subject matter experts. These teams will often collaborate with other paranormal investigators for long term research projects and may never partake in client investigations. These teams are comprised of paranormal investigators and will not employ ghosthunters, unless a ghosthunter has vowed to shed their old ways and learn the methods of science.
In summary you have your entertainment ghosthunters, gadget ghosthunters, religious ghosthunters, and paranormal investigators. For a truly unbiased scientific investigation you will want to contact a paranormal investigator, however with the vast majority of teams falling into the gadget ghosthunting category you may have to contact one of them for assistance. One sure way to figure out what kind of team they are is to look at what they post on their website and social media pages. Most teams will discuss the equipment that they use and to some extent their methodology which would give you an idea on which category they would fit into. If they have countless images and videos purporting paranormal activity or gadgets that you see on paranormal television shows they are surely a ghosthunter, typically an entertainment breed. A paranormal investigator will use various verbiage that you most likely not be familiar with unless you have an advanced scientific degree or a dedicated hobby in the field of science. On a side note if a team charges you money or highly suggests it I would steer clear of them.
Before calling someone I would suggest doing your homework as there are a plethora of situations that can be perceived as paranormal activity that have an easily explainable cause. Today I will cover some of the more easily identifiable causes that are often believed to be paranormal in nature when in reality they are not.
Typically the most common reported phenomenon is seemingly unexplained sounds. Some of these sounds include moans, taps, knocks, whistles, creaks, rattles, voices, whispering, footsteps, screams, and humming just to name a handful. Due to movies and television shows you will find that quite often people jump to a paranormal conclusion as to the cause of these noises. So let’s dig a little bit into the causes of these noises.
There is a phenomenon known as a Helmholtz Resonance. This is when moving air passes over a cavity within an object and creates a noise that could be a whistle, hum, or moan. Basically anything with a hole or significant crack in it could make a noise if air passes over it.
Houses made of wood can cause a wide variety of noises as wood can expand, shrink, warp, and settle as the temperature and humidity levels change throughout the day. These sounds can include creaks, rattles, moans, taps, knocking, or even what sounds like footsteps when wood reacts in succession.
Water and air in heating systems and pipes can create a wide variety of noises including creaks, bangs, groans, knocks, taps, rattles, and vibration.
Any places with voids such as chimneys, air ducts, attics, crawl spaces, basements, between floors and spaces between walls can amplify sounds and make them sound louder or pick up sounds from outside and make it sound like they are coming from within your own house.
Voices can be heard through anything with a speaker or microphone as they can pick up radio signals from an endless list of sources. Voices can also sound like they are in your house when there is an amplification within your house occurring emanating from a sound source that is outside of your home.
Animals of any kind whether pets or unwelcome vermin anywhere in your house can cause a wide variety of strange noises. These noises could be from the outside and being amplified inside the home as I mentioned earlier.
Also auditory pareidolia is a phenomenon where your body tries to make sense of a random stimuli and it is processed as a sound that really isn’t there. Our nervous systems are a huge antenna for various forms of electromagnetic radiation and various stimuli can easily be misinterpreted by our brains and seemingly recognized by one of our senses when the stimuli had nothing to do with the sensory organ that our mind chose to perceive it through. This could present itself as many of the previous mentioned sounds, but also include crashing, bells, claps, and even song to name a few.
Those are just a sampling for the various causes of a multitude of strange sounds that you will hear in a building.
Next let’s discuss perceivably unexplainable smells. One of the most common situations that I have heard is when people smell the cologne or perfume of a deceased family members. Please remember that air can get trapped in objects for very long periods of time and when disturbed physically or by air passing by it may be just enough that one time to release it. You could have walked by a chair hundreds of times, but one particular time you disturbed trapped air in the fabric and suddenly noticed a scent of a dead relative. This is often reported as a visitation, because people want to desperately believe their loved ones are nearby, but it typically is just trapped air finally releasing from an object.
Various smells within your house can combine to form an unusual smell. Scents within clothing, blankets, curtains, or any type of fabric can often release a stale smell out of no where if it was trapped within the fabric. Smells can come from issues with water drainage and septic systems. Smells from outside can find their way into your house through chimney down drafts, small cracks around your window frames and doors, and through exhaust vents. Smells can get trapped between walls and floors and suddenly find a way into the main part of your house. Dead animals in the walls, or in the attic and basement can produce smells. Electronic equipment can provide a wide variety of smells as well including a smell similar to urine or fish.
There is also phantosmia, a condition where similar to auditory pareidolia your body registers a stimuli as a smell that isn’t really there.
Be cautious of something that could feasibly be a leaking fuel source. In that event call the fire department immediately as they will have the equipment to identify a leaking fuel. It is better to be safe then sorry.
Now let’s discuss a variety of physical sensations. The most common reported sensation that I have been contacted about is the inability to move upon waking, or the feeling of being held down, often accompanied by the vision of shadows or human figures. There is something called sleep paralysis, broken down into two terms called hypnopompic and hypnogogic hallucinations. This is when your brain is still partially asleep, while in the process of waking up or falling asleep and you become somewhat aware of your surroundings. When you sleep your body is basically paralyzed. It is a mechanism for self protection. If someone is rolling around they are somewhat awake as in a sleep cycle you typically will not move with a few exceptions due to medical conditions such as restless leg syndrome or parasomnia. While startling sleep paralysis is harmless and is not remotely paranormal. There is also a condition called parasomnia which is where there is unusual behavior occurring when you sleep. This could include sleepwalking, terrors, and sleep paralysis just to name a few. Often people will get bruises due to body placement while sleeping. People can also get scratches from pets, objects in the bed, clothing getting caught on body hair, and even by your own nails, all while asleep, but often all of this behavior is assumed to be paranormal in nature when it is not. Dermatographia is a condition where you can have welts when lightly touched or brushed up against. Approximately 5% of the population has this condition, most often in older children and young adults. This is often misinterpreted as paranormal activity as well.
In most cases the feeling of being pushed, hit, or poked can be due to muscle spasms or a problem with equilibrium. Exhaustion can even cause problems with equilibrium such as swaying.
Insects, cobwebs, dust balls, and other airborne objects have often caused misperceived paranormal activity. Even loose clothing can have a seemingly paranormal sensation. There are so many things that can physically touch you that could lead you to believe there is paranormal activity going on when there is a natural cause.
There are other physical symptoms that can present themselves that could lead you to believe that paranormal activity is involved. Symptoms including dizziness, feeling like you are being watched, feeling that someone else is there, feeling uneasy, anxious, etc. can all be influenced by environmental factors including air quality, lighting levels, the layout of a room, infrasound, electromagnetic fields, temperature, ultrasound, atmospheric conditions, mold, carbon monoxide, radon, and fuel exhaust, just to name a few of the situations that can cause us to perceive paranormal activity where it doesn’t exist.
Another situation that is often reported as paranormal activity is when electrical equipment doesn’t act as is expected. The most well known example of this is lights flickering. Somehow that occurring has been given a paranormal assignment when one isn’t deserved. Lights can flicker for a number of reasons including a loose, incompatible, or defective bulb. The ballast could be failing. Loose or faulty switches or dimmers can cause lights to flicker. Other reasons for flickering lights include fluctuations in incoming power, heavy electrical use elsewhere on the local grid, faulty wiring, high electromagnetic radiation interference or simply a short circuit or loose connection some where.
If it is a different electronic device that is problematic it could easily be faulty or dying batteries, nearby electromagnetic energy interfering with the equipment, a broken remote control, a loose or damaged cable, receiving remote control instructions from a nearby location or even in some cases through ionospheric propagation from far away, and faulty programming or firmware on the device are some of the possibilities of activity that may be perceived as paranormal.
Moving objects could be anything from the house shifting, to infrasound and other vibroacoustic phenomenon, to a truck or heavy equipment nearby, to gravity, to minor quakes, to a neighbor shifting something next door, to wind blowing, loose screws, latches, adhesive, or brackets to humidity changing the viscosity of the surface of an object, to EMF interference with objects containing magnets, etc. There are a slew of things that can cause an object to perceivably move on their own.
Our own memory is not as great as we wish to believe it is and we can place things in different spots, cause a series of events to occur, and our brain can misinterpret an almost infinite variety of stimuli to lead us to believe that there is paranormal activity around us. There are countless things misinterpreted as paranormal, but if the person experiencing the activity either fears the paranormal or wants to see paranormal activity then their brain will choose to interpret stimuli as paranormal out of fear or excitement. Just various symptoms of claustrophobia can account for a large number of paranormal perceptions. While I do believe that paranormal exists as I have had a few situations that I or my network of colleagues with advanced college degrees couldn’t explain I find that the vast majority of claims of the paranormal have a scientific cause that goes ignored. If you are not involved with the paranormal field of research I will remind you that there are many scientific explanations for perceived paranormal activity. Do I believe that paranormal activity exists? Absolutely I do. I have seen things that I can not deny, however as always I remind everyone if you want to become a paranormal investigator the science comes before the spooky.