How does being a skeptic pair with investigating the paranormal? Quite well, actually.
Each of us approach an unexplained phenomenon with biases based in our upbringing, our education, and our experiences. As a Licensed Private Investigator, I fancy myself a trained observer. I believe my job has less to do with making conclusions and more to do with documenting occurrences and conducting background research.
I don’t consider myself a “paranormal investigator,” per se. I usually use my own term, “paranormal documentarian.” There are people who are trained in the latest technologies for documenting unseen statistics for a given location. Some equipment may detect temperature variances, electromagnetic fields, and even radiation. There are also people out there who are sensitive to energies. This may manifest as perceiving ghosts, spirits, demons, etc. My hope is that people with the technologies and the gifts pair up with someone like me who can objectively document the occurrences and compare them to known scientific or “explainable” realities.
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
– C. S. Lewis
As a skeptic, I shy away from absolutes. I might say, “the likelihood of an angel’s intervention seems unlikely.” I’m not opposed to the concept; I have no evidence for or against. Rather, based on what I can see, replicate, and document, the circumstance described seems either likely or unlikely.
“Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon absolute truth.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
At the beginning of my investigation, I conduct standard internet searches to see what information other people have generated. This may include videos, photographs, legal documents, and firsthand stories. I begin taking notes accounting the names of involved parties, property ownership information, occupant data, location history, and location layout. If I am conducting my own on-site research, this compilation will include my own photography and videography. If I am conducting a precursory investigation in preparation of someone else’s on-site research, any data they generate may also be added to my notes.
“The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.”
– Jon Stewart
I may be a skeptic, but I do believe that strange and unexplainable things happen. That doesn’t mean they CAN’T be explained. It may mean that the current state of our sciences don’t account for what happened. Yet. Arthur C. Clark is quoted as saying, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” There was a time when people didn’t know how we were able to wiggle our fingers. We observed. We experimented. We shared notes with each other. And now we understand how it works. It may be no different with what has been described as paranormal. I think the bottom line is: we just don’t understand. So the best thing we can do is observe, experiment, and share notes with one another.
“The proper method for inquiring after the properties of things is to deduce them from experiments.”
– Isaac Newton