If you’re like me – and if not then maybe you aren’t trying hard enough – you watch shows about the paranormal. Not just movies and other obvious works of fiction (self-proclaimed or otherwise), but so-called “reality” shows about ghost hunters and ghost hunting, and have naturally thought “How can I get in on this action?” Well I’m here to help. Being something of an expert on this particular form of cultural nonsense, allow me to guide you on your path toward being one of the ever-increasing number of intrepid Paranormal Investigators hunting all that goes bump in the night. We’ll do this in three easy steps; getting started, getting your team, and going shopping. Then we’ll take a look at what you can and cannot expect in your exciting new life.
It may come as a shock to you that in the field of Paranormal Investigation there is no legal governing body to maintain the integrity (nothing can maintain a straight face at this point either) and honesty of people who call themselves Paranormal Investigators, or to license them to act as such. The notion that just anybody can claim this title with no training or anything is perhaps not so incredible. So lets do that. As often seen at the beginning of just about any segment of the Biography Channel’s “My Ghost Story”, somebody says “Me and my friends heard about a haunted house in our town and we wanted to check it out, so we formed a paranormal investigation team.” That’s it, that’s all. So long as you have said it out loud, or in your head, or to your cat, or put it in print you’re a paranormal investigator; I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have some business cards made.
So now that we’re in business as paranormal investigators, we need our team. At a minimum – based on what TV tells me – we’ll need a minimum of three or four people, and as we’re only going to make money on this if we get our own TV show, we’ll need some diversity for broader appeal. First things first, we’ll need our leader; this person will find the “jobs” that need investigating and be the first person through the door of the haunted premises. The leader will be bold in the face of things that aren’t real, and so full of shit that he or she can explain how every dust mote or shadow is a true indication of just how pants-wettingly haunted everything is. The rest of the team should be made up of some combination of the following: The “Tech Guy” who sets up all the fancy gear and analyzes the results; The “Skeptic” who serves no purpose other than to proclaim his skepticism at the beginning of the show, and by the end is at least partly a believer (insert Inigo Montoya meme here); The “Panicky Shrieking Idiot” who serves no real purpose at all except to add to the creepiness by being way more terrified than an adult in a dark house should be. A good team may want to have the “Researcher”; since most haunted houses seem to have a dark history, somebody needs to look into it (not surprisingly, the History Channel does) and reveal the horrible past that explains the terrifying present. Finally, the “Medium” or “Sensitive” should only be brought aboard if you really want to lay it on thick. Your audience may be gullible morons, but what little faith I have in humanity tells me that a lot of people will balk at that crap. Well, maybe not a lot of people. “But Dan” you say, “That’s six people, not three or four, where will I find so many mouth-breathing jackasses to join my team?” You’ve got a lot of nerve interrupting me here in the middle, but allow me to point out the obvious, that one person can take on more than one job, your Leader can be your Medium, the Historian can by the Panicky Idiot, the Tech Guy can be the Skeptic, and so on (though if your Skeptic is the Medium, you’re team is too idiotic to put on the air). With me so far? Good. Now that we’ve assembled our team, we need our gear.
If you’re like me (yes, this again) you only go to the mall once or twice a year and only for short periods of time (20 minutes for new pants, 2 hours for Christmas shopping). During your travels in the mall you have no doubt noticed that there is no one-stop shop for the beginner Ghost Hunter. Fortunately the internet has furnished us with exactly that. If you care to check out this dumbfuckery (no endorsement is implied nor should one be inferred here) you will find that they have – no shit – Ghost Hunter Starter Kits. From $109 to $499 you get the gear necessary to do all the ghost hunting you want. Primarily, you get your digital recorder for the “hard evidence” EVP’s provide – that is Electronic Voice Phenomenon, for the uninitiated- it may sound like garbled static to the casual listener, but to the Paranormal Investigator this is somehow clear communication from beyond the grave. If you watch their shows and can’t figure out what the ghost is saying, don’t worry, the investigators will tell you and put it up on the screen and play it over again until you hear it too. I leave it to the observer to choose whether giggles or a facepalm is the more appropriate response. You also need an EMF (Electro-Magnetic Field) reader, because apparently these fields are caused by ghosts and nothing else in the known universe as far as these shows are concerned. We know this because the little lights go on sometimes in houses that are allegedly haunted. Science, bitches! You’ll need your Spirit Box of course, um, I’m not sure what to say about this, except that it’s a box that says words, because ghosts are able to manipulate it’s radio signals and thereby respond directly – if mysteriously – to your vague questions… I feel both dirty and stupid describing that. Finally you’ll need a digital camera for both still shots and video, and of course some kind of night-vision lens or however that works (I’m not the Tech Guy); after all it’s not for nothing that they speak of things that go bump in the night. Your pictures will be extra creepy when they’re all green and blurry. It should however go without saying that you don’t want your cameras to be too good, you need to leave a little mystery and naturally if the shadow-demon you photographed is obviously the living room curtains you’re not doing your job. Speaking of your job, what can you expect when you finally kick in the door of your first haunted house? All that and more coming up next time. Until then, feel free to get yourselves one of these for making it this far: