This topic comes up quite often when speaking of investigations, ghosts, and hauntings. It seems that most people associate psychics with ghost hunting teams. Why is this? I believe it’s most probably because they go hand-in-hand so easily. Well, I ask again… why is this? The blame, it seems, is on the media. The movies, TV shows, and radio programs all have a hand in this association. Even in the “serious” documentaries, a psychic always seems to be part of the investigative team, if not leading it. What’s worse, is that much of the investigation results are based off of the psychic’s impressions. Since this is all we usually see during these programs, then it naturally becomes the public’s view of paranormal investigation.
The “Psychic” phenomenon is a mystery, just as much as ghosts are. For the sci-fi fans out there, both are considered "X-Files" that need to be investigated… individually and thoroughly before one could possibly be used for the other. There are simply too many frauds out there that take advantage of people, either for the money or the attention it brings. This makes the use of psychics during an investigation highly questionable. As much as we’d love to have someone who could see and hear ghosts at will, it would be extremely difficult to prove that they were completely truthful. Prior knowledge and a good imagination are essential tools when one attempts to fool others. Don’t get me wrong; I believe that there is a possibility that true psychics exist — I just haven’t met any yet. All of the card readers, sensitives, palm readers, and psychics that I’ve dealt with have come up short when attempting to prove their abilities to me. They have all had prior knowledge of the site or have proven to have an “overactive” imagination (in other words, they have come up with an elaborate story that had nothing to do with me or anyone associated with me).
Those of us who do research on the haunted sites know that sometimes it can take hours to uncover even the slightest bit of helpful information. They also know that sometimes you can find a boatload of stuff in a few minutes. If you give an experienced person a few hours notice, they could find enough information to convince anyone that they’re "psychic." Is it that simple? Yes… it is. During our research, we know that if you get the right book, you can uncover an entire story about any place, or any building.
The problems with those teams that are lead by self-proclaimed psychics most often forget their own senses and feelings. One or two people become the focal point of the investigation, and this may create the need to produce results, whether they are true or not. Am I accusing these people of deliberate fraud? Well, not deliberate… but a deception born from a desire to produce positive results, to impress others, or to satisfy a desperate need for attention.
There is also the game of “Playing Off of the Camera." Let me explain; If a person were to say, “I see the energy of a grandmother here, she’s kind of floating here in the corner." An “investigator” snaps a picture in the area. There are two outcomes I can go with here, but they only occur after I see the photo (In most cases, we’d be dealing with a digital camera). The first would happen if there was indeed an orb (or something else) captured and that would be “See, there she is… yup, you got her.” The other outcome happens in the event that nothing abnormal is evident on the photo. That one would go something like this, “Well, she was there. I guess you weren’t quick enough. But she was right in that corner."
The presence of orbs can easily be created during the "Playing Off of the Camera" game as well. In a documentary about haunted inns of Bucks County I had the unfortunate experience of watching, the self-proclaimed psychic makes it a practice to brush off many items in the rooms, even going as far as picking up handfuls of dirt and throwing it back down. One word here… Dust. This action throws thousands of dust particles up in her immediate area. This translates into dust orbs.
You may wonder why I am being so harsh. It is because they are “self-proclaimed” instead of scientifically tested. Anyone, and I truly mean anyone, can make a claim that they are psychic. As I mentioned above, with enough information I could convince some of the most stubborn skeptics that I can see ghosts. Within a few minutes, I could post on my site that I’m a psychic — would you believe me? If you’d never been to the site before, or don’t know me, then you might very well think that I have the gift. *BAM* I’m a “self-proclaimed psychic." Now, do you understand how easy it is?
I have yet to find one psychic who has fulfilled these simple requirements: 1.) Has been tested by an independent, scientific research team; and 2.) Has posted the results of said test for all to view. Why is this? I believe it is because none who make the claim could actually pass such a review. Those that could, I’d wager, do not crave the attention of thousands of people wanting to know this and that and how little fluffy is doing after getting smacked by a Mack truck. Until such a time when these requirements are met, I will remain skeptic of groups led by or otherwise guided through an investigation by a self-proclaimed psychic.
The Paranormal Investigators & Research Association (PIRA) does not use psychics in their work, but the impressions and feelings of each investigator are noted in the individual reports. Everyone has some degree of a sixth sense and this can be documented. How? Well, it takes tests, tests, and more tests. We are currently experimenting with documenting this sixth sense phenomenon within our on group. But, we do not, nor will we ever, be directed solely by psychic visions or impressions. If an investigator on our team gets a "feeling," it is noted in their report and later compared with the reports of the other investigators. If any matches are found, they are posted along with the other evidence.
In our group Patty, our historical researcher, has displayed some exceptional “perceptions” during investigations. I have, up to now, kept track of this without her knowledge. She has proven quite impressive on occasion and her impressions are noted in our reports. But even with my own testing showing that she has a little more of the “sixth sense” then the rest of us, we don’t follow her around and take pictures when she snaps her fingers. She understands that these impressions are used as a tool, just as an EMF meter or thermal scanner. If she feels that a certain room has a man dressed in a black suit, the whole team does not rush over and begin snapping pictures. The entire description is noted and will be researched later. If a match is found, that’s great — it lends some credibility to her impression but does not mean we’ll be hot on her heals the next time around. It means she was right and the details are worth looking into. Until this ability is researched completely and can be controlled, it will remain an "X-File," which means that it will also be under constant skepticism attack and not a definite, reliable tool in paranormal research. Will it ever be truly accepted? I don’t think it will in my lifetime. There just aren’t enough studies being done, nor is there anywhere near enough funding for such studies.
Kenneth Biddle is the Founder of the Paranormal Investigators & Research Association (PIRA) and The Explorers Club (TEC). He has also co-founded the United States Paranormal Alliance. Ken is a member of the Bucks County and Montgomery County Historical Societies. His Web site is: www.Parainvestigator.org.