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Ghost hunting 101


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A brief introduction to Ghost Hunting 101 presented by Dr. Brandy Stark in 2015.

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Ghost hunting 101

  1. 1. Ghost Hunting 101  Brandy Stark, PhD  June 20, 2016  Pinellas Park Library
  2. 2. Stark  Academics (Undergrad/grad papers, first thesis (Ghosts in Roman Religion); current thesis (Danse Macabres Des Femmes as protofeminism)  Started ghost hunting (1997)  First team: 2000  Websites: Florida Urban Legends, Paranormal Pugs, Paranormal Pets , Ghostly Images  Podcasts: Paranormal Pets (  Modified team (St. Petersburg Paranormal Investigation) 2016 (
  3. 3. Can you identify these items?
  4. 4. Pseudoscience:  No canon, not regulated, belief/faith based  This is a pseudoscience: Claim that something is presented as scientific but does not adhere to valid scientific methods, cannot be scientifically tested, does not contain what is considered objective, replicable supporting scientific evidence.
  5. 5. Television/Internet In the 1990s, scientists protested paranormal TV shows as pseudoscience --Had paranormal shows reclassified (entertainment). TV shows have larger budgets, multiple camera crews, multiple days of filming, and are designed to create feelings of excitement [Watch for: editing, filming angles, music, etc.] Gender discrimination: male vs. female in the field; I did a relaxed mixed media study in 2008; 60% of those responding were female) Mary Ann Winkowski “Ghost Whsiperer”
  6. 6. Terms to Know  Supernatural: 1. (of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature. synonyms: paranormal, psychic, magic, magical, occult, mystic, mystical, superhuman, supernormal;  ghostly, phantom, spectral, otherworldly, unearthly, unnatural  1. manifestations or events considered to be of supernatural origin, such as ghosts. (  Paranormal: Beyond the normal ranges of scientific explanation; coined early part of 20th century with rise of technology; post WWI (1915 – 1920).  Occult: supernatural, mystical, or magical beliefs, practices, or phenomena. (
  7. 7. Terms to know:  Skeptic: a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual. (  Over-belief: Everything is perceived as paranormal or supernatural without questioning natural phenomena
  8. 8. Terms to Know  Legend: Something larger than life, but based on real person or event (George Washington, Trojan War)  This can also be a part of a stigmatized property  Folklore: Usually conveyed orally, mythical, usually tied to a legend (Odysseus’s journey to the underworld, fairy tales: Hansel and Gretel). Can be entertainment, can convey learning values or fears of society.
  9. 9. Terms to Know  Urban Legend: Contemporary version of folklore, oral and now written (social media, e-mail). Friend of a friend: (FOAF, second hand). Vanishing hitchhiker, AIDS Mary 
  10. 10. What is a Ghost?  General: A natural entity (a living being) that has died, crossed the supernatural barrier, and returned to the natural world as a supernatural being.  Recorded across culture and times  Gilgamesh , Iliad, Odyssey,  Aeneid   Ghost Whisperer, Medium  Ghost Hunters, Paranormal Witness
  11. 11. Types of ghosts:  Haunting: Non-intelligent; almost like a recording  Apparition: Intelligent, interactive (poltergeist included here)  Crisis Apparition: One time (or limited time) manifestation to convey information (often reported; family)  Drop in: Unknown reason for Being there, unknown individual
  12. 12. Researcher as an instrument  Does a ghost exist without a receptor? How do we count the human experience?  Sensory: Sight, sound, touch, smell and (rarely) taste  Sensation of presence: Feeling as if one is not alone; sensation of emotionally charged atmosphere  Psychological state: What has happened? What is the stated belief of the individual?
  13. 13. Most basic tool/researcher as instrument:  Write it down (the sooner, the better)  Keep a log  Team: multiple witnesses  Research: public records, Google, history museums, interviews
  14. 14. Equipment: Cameras  Film: Chemical interactions  How does the process work? Is this a mental impression?  High Speed (400), color or black and white  Polaroid images  Expense, difficulty finding places to work with film, delay of results, developing issues creating false positives
  15. 15. Ghost Photos
  16. 16. Equipment: Cameras  Digital Cameras  Cheap, easy to acquire, instant results  Mechanical process rather than chemical  False positivesVERY easily obtained (ORBS are NOT ghosts!)  Digital files can be manipulated – good to clear up images, bad if the intent is to alter the image  Pixilation , ink blot images  Be aware of pollen, humidity, dust, smoke, and other items in the flash field.
  17. 17. TEST YOUR CAMERA! Can you guess what created these images?
  18. 18. EMF Meters  Theory is that ghosts manifest and emit energy (bio- magnetic, electromagnetic).  Compass  Trifield meter  Others
  19. 19. Thermometers  Look for temperature fluctuations, usually of several degrees.  Cases where I have requested an entity lower the temperature and it complies  Local, room, column of air.  Verify not a natural source  IR (surface readings)  Air temperature
  20. 20. Digital Recorder  These are used to capture EVPs (electromagnetic voice phenomena)  Tape: expensive, hard to find, internal noises  Digital: Files can be downloaded and analyzed
  21. 21. Program for analysis  Audacity: Free online  Effect Noise Removal Noise Profile Amplify Normalize
  22. 22. Misc. Items *Level, tennis ball *Feather *Watch
  23. 23. Misc. Items Not recommended: Pendulum Ghost Rods Ouija board Apps
  24. 24. Misc. Items (TV shows)  Laser grid *Paranormal Puck  Ovilus *EMF pulse  Reverse EVP *Frank’s Box
  25. 25. Resources: Reliable paranormal teams  Check the team for validity  How long have they existed?  What is the team mission?  What is the experience of the team members?  What philosophies do they use?  Religious  Metaphysical  Folkloric  Research/Equipment
  26. 26. Resources: Ghost Tours  Ghost tours are good for the following:  History  Urban Legends  Legends, Folklore  Good company  Entertainment  They may expose people to haunted locations  Be careful of suggestion, trickery  Cost
  27. 27. Ghost Tours Today, ghost tours can include actual walks through a specific area, graveyard tours, dinner in a haunted location, and building tours Be aware that you will most likely NOT get a true ghost manifestation from a tour (least controlled circumstances, many people) Things to look for: Reviews, resources, locations, safety Not recommended: Pub crawl ghost tours
  28. 28. Ghost Tours/books  Many may come with a book or a history by the tour’s founder  These can be really good references for well known haunts  Stories usually have public access and public knowledge
  29. 29. Ghosts aren’t going away!  They appear across space and time  The interest in ghosts continues to rise  Better technology, or personal experiences, may help bring us closer to understanding them.
  30. 30. Questions? Info to share?