There has been some controversy in the world of paranormal investigation in recent years. With the advent of the reality TV show, up have popped more paranormal investigation shows than you can shake an ectoplasm covered stick at; and with this rise in popular acceptance, has also come a rise in the number of amateur ghost hunters and groups.
One thing is inevitable within this diverse subculture, and that is disagreement. Ghost hunters and paranormal investigators disagree on pretty much everything. From observation techniques, to technology, to ghost theories, and even to locations for investigations; but one thing that polarizes the paranormal community right down the middle, is the concept of charging for investigation services.
Coming from a private sector investigative background myself, I’m more than familiar with the idea of making a living off of other people’s misfortune, and immoral as it is, I can easily draw an convincing argument for its necessity within our society and culture. Though for the most part, the things I investigate are the product of human-to-human wrong doing.
In the case of a paranormal incident or haunting (as is the usual name for the cause of an investigation), there is no easily marked path between one person to the next, and the unfortunate families involved in these scenarios are typically at the mercy of their experience. Not to mention, there is no “we have a poltergeist” insurance that I’m aware of.
Many paranormal investigators and teams see their task as one of exploration and adventure. They pursue the unknown as a means unto itself and in doing so are happy and often enthusiastic at the idea of learning more about their quarry, in the form of a new haunting. These types of investigators wouldn’t likely dream of charging any type of fee for their services, they are driven by a thirst for knowledge and understanding, and payment comes to them in the form of interesting bits of data and potential evidence.
At odds with the above, is the investigator who sees their service as akin to that of an exterminator; they are driven by a desire to earn financial reward for a job, often, not done. These types of so-called investigators, often hold no affinity for the science and history of the paranormal, nor any other subject for that matter, and typically seek reward for their adventures before anything else.
It should be said that often there is a distinction between the second type of paranormal investigator and the valuable Medium (often wrongly called a psychic), who’s services can be contracted to assist in allaying the potential dangers involved in more serious hauntings. Though that distinction is less visible where the Medium charges amounts that are obviously in excess of their expenses.
The gaping hole of a problem that arises in the case of the paranormal investigator or Medium who charges for their services, comes in the form of prestidigitation. Slight of hand is so easily used to convince the victim of a traumatic haunting that further measures need be taken to quell the “spirits”, where no justification truly exists; and as a result, an entire sector of academic pursuit is tainted by the reputation of a relatively small number of old school flim-flam artists.
As mentioned previously, there are two opposing camps of though on this issue, but I suggest that anyone who enters the world of paranormal investigation with an eye toward making a living on ghosts hunts alone, is chasing the wrong dream. As with any other scientific pursuit, paranormal investigation should be, and for the most part is, an academic exercise in increased understanding. The two underlying goals of any investigation should be, forever, first and foremost, to increase your individual knowledge of the paranormal, and to obtain credible evidence of the event or experience.
We are not treasure hunters, carnival side shows, or back alley deal makers. We are a maverick breed of scientist and it’s time for the spotlight to be taken off of those who believe otherwise.
If there were any doubt, my vote would be cast in the “To Not [charge” category, though I suspect there may be more in opposition to me than I realise; and in that spirit, let this serve as a callout to the paranormal world, speak your mind and form ranks, lets put this issue to bed, once and for all.