What is it like to be on an investigation?
This is a great topic. The recent "pop culture" of paranormal investigating, otherwise known as "Ghost Hunting" has been romanticized by the media and television shows. With the numerous TV shows available, there are some common misconceptions that have occurred. Let me address a few of those.
First, it is extremely rare to experience or capture evidence of paranormal phenomenon. TV shows that depict “ghostly activity” with every episode and an expert explanation from the "TV Stars" that they had experiences are just blatantly false. In over 90% of the cases that Carolina Paranormal has investigated, there was no documented activity or evidence. In the vast majority of these cases, we have been able to find natural and reasonable explanations for the claims of our clients (it's called debunking). In the last few years, I've stopped watching all paranormal TV shows. I found that when I would watch, I would yell at the TV seeing self proclaimed experts turning in evidence that could be easily explained. I also see investigators "claiming to be experts with years of experience" contaminating their own evidence collection process. Some of these "experts" have had less years of experience than members of our team. I'm not claiming we are the end all authority, but we do have many practical theories. I can assure you that we don't know the answers to everything. No team has all the answers...
Secondly, investigating is a tremendous amount of work. Through the magical power of editing, an investigation that spanned several days to "shoot" for TV can be magically made to fit into an hour long TV show. From start to finish, investigations (that are performed correctly) are a lengthy process. There are many hours of research, client profile building, actual investigating and evidence review. Depending on the size and complexity of an investigation, this process can take up to a few months to complete correctly. Anyone or any team that says differently is not using proper equipment, or does not thoroughly go through the evidence they collect. The only way to make this a faster process would be implementing a full time review and staff working around the clock, in which 99% of paranormal teams are not full time paranormal investigators. Some TV shows employ full time staff to assist the "TV Stars" with these efforts, providing full time evidence review. The production staff for these TV shows are looking for any footage they can use for entertainment or to enhance the viewer experience.
Next, investigators who lock themselves in locations (trying to scare themselves) into having a paranormal encounter are idiots... These thrill-seekers cause issues for true investigators by setting a bad example. Investigators should not lock themselves in a location. Investigators should also not be participating just for the thrill of scaring themselves. There are so many safety concerns with being locked in. Safety should always be a top concern with any investigation. No matter how unique or exciting a location, you should never compromise your safety or others just to investigate. We've found some local and national paranormal teams that have taken this approach because a popular TV show has its lead characters participate in this type of activity for entertainment value. The idiots on this TV show are not paranormal experts, but actors who are making money for their TV sponsors. We appeal to everyone to use common sense when looking at a paranormal team's investigation methods.
So how does the typical investigation run?
To begin, there is much research and information gathered from the client. In any field of help, expectations and action plans are determined and laid out to best help our clients. The investigation effort involves setup of numerous pieces of specialized equipment. (Disclaimer: Our equipment page only covers the basics, and not all of our tools/resources are listed as some are proprietary). Our team uses scientific methodology and practice to collect data and potential paranormal activity. We review client claims and work to debunk claims of activity using various techniques. Investigations can last 6 - 10 hours or more and involve forensic evidence collection. Data analysis begins after the investigation and all data points are reviewed for potential evidence. Evidence review is an extensive and time consuming effort. Our investigators submit all findings to a review panel. All evidence is thoroughly reviewed and any findings are reviewed with the client. This entire process can take months from initial to contact the evidence reveal.
TV shows do not accurately depict the effort that is taken by investigators and the time consuming team work that is involved. We sincerely thank each of our team's investigators for the commitment and effort they put into helping each of our clients. Without a dedicated team of researchers, historians, tech experts and investigators, we would not be as successful in helping the hundreds of clients that contact us each year.