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Are We Ruining Ghost Hunting Sites?
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Written by Brian Parsons on February 20, 2010, 11:08:30 PM

I had originally posted this article on my Paranormal News Insider blog on November of 2009, but I wanted to re-post it here to a more specific audience. I may do the same with some other articles I have posted there as well as some future articles since there is a concentration of critical thinking paranormal investigators here.

I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman who is part of a fairly well known location that is a hub for paranormal investigators and ghost hunters during a speaking engagement at a library in Grafton, Ohio last October. We were discussing plans on my group possibly coming out to the location to investigate particular aspects of the environment (humidity and other factors) during the colder months of the year when the conversation shifted toward something that I had often thought of; are ghost hunting and paranormal investigation groups ruining the famous places they like to investigate? No, not by running around in the dark screaming or by vandalizing, but by just being there.

We can all agree (hopefully) that hauntings are basically an "imprint" of emotion on a location caused by a sudden death or extreme circumstances during life in that particular location. With the high adrenalin flowing during an investigation, as well as the act of trying desparately to communicate, are ghost hunters imprinting over top of the tragic events? Is the activity going on at these locations potentially adding to the evidence gathered later on by other investigators?

I've been fortunate to listen to actor/archaeologist/cultural anthropologist John Sabol speak earlier this year at the Ohio Paranormal Convention in Dayton, Ohio. John refers to himself as a "ghost excavator" as he says he attempts to "peel back the layers" of a haunting. He feels passionately that ghost hunters are indeed scarring these locations by their attempts at discovery by leaving their impressions on the environment and potentially covering up what is really there. John uses a system that allows himself to become part of the haunting environment itself so that he can connect to a ghost or a haunting experience. This is an interesting system that he states is way more effective than the way that ghost hunters and paranormal investigators investigate a location. Although a good paranormal investigation group should be recreating the scene which is part of what John does. To get a little more detail on his process, please see my review of the 2009 Ohio Paranormal Convention.

Personally, at first I thought John was a bit too intense and was pushing his way of doing things on other people. In all honesty it really hit me a few days after listening to him speak that I realized he was right and that I should adapt a little more of what he does to what we do.

When ghost hunters or paranormal investigators attempt to interact with a ghost or record haunting phenomena they tend to do it on their terms. In other words, they are using todays technology to attempt to interact with ghosts or hauntings that have been around a long time. While the technology we have at our disposal is the best yet, is it the right thing to use to connect to a 148 year old confederate soldier?

While the tech is useful for documentaion I think we need to rethink the overall approach by really trying to interact on the level of the haunting, or the ghost, on their terms more than ours. If we can get them to relate to us or have them think we are someone they know or reenact something familiar we would probably get a better reaction than by asking it to "talk to the red light on the recorder" or other methods of 21st Century communications.

Granted, this should not be left to investigating Civil War sites, but could also be applied to abandoned hospitals or prisons as well as the house down the street that has a ghost or is haunted. Is it possible that the constant influx of thrill seekers at historical sites will ruin it for future investigators? Who knows for sure, but it seems logical that continous emotional imprints can not be conducive for obtaining good evidence of haunting phenomena at historical locations.

So, what methods are getting the best results? Have particular locations noticed a change in the type of evidence gathered? I have not been able to find an answer as of yet, but hopefully as the amateur paranormal investigation movement evolves people will move away from behind the safety and security of their tools and realize the potential of communication on the interaction level beyond what is normally used.

As far as ruining sites for future investigators I feel it is a legitimate concern. The high intensity of emotions that accompany an investigation that are repeated over and over are bad enough. If you then realize that there is potential for some investigators to affect the environment by their beliefs and possibly leaving psychokinetic "residue" attached to the environment for future investigators to read with their instruments. As many stumble around in the dark in search of their proof there are many of us also who are in search of answers surrounding the effect of our culture on the paranormal itself.

I am happy to announce that I will be working with John Sabol later this summer and will get the opportunity to learn his methods first hand. I definitely see this as a chance to expand my knowledge and methods of approach within this field. I will also be working with him to spread the word of his unique approach.

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Are We Ruining Ghost Hunting Sites? Hmm>>. I have to say, this is an interesting article.Seems John Sabol is probably humoring the lingering spirits at Ghost Hunting.  My experiences have lead me to realize/believe there are 2 separate deals in the above article. There are "imprints" that are left through emotional stress or repetitve action but, these are not able to communicate. These residual energies are not intelligent, just a product of imprinting. Can these potentially be overlapped and lost by todays energy? Maybe, this is "one question".

Then there is situation number 2, communication with intelligent energies/spirit. Would I be fooled if someone dressed up in something familiar to me and pretended to know me?Huh?   NOT,,,, I dont believe this..... would I be humored? Possibly.

 My humble experience comes from having felt and understood what some entites care to say to me.  I am not HUGELY psychic nor claim to be a MEDIUM... or etc. I am the average person who is able to shut up, calm down and tune in. Sometimes, the feelings pour in (sometimes not) , sometimes I feel the personality..... am working on getting more. But, for now , I can safely say that these types of spirit forms, the ones that CAN make the little red light jump,  are there by there own decision and will not fade away anymore than you would if I merely stood in front of you....or in your space.

I've also read several articles on "Fragmented Energies". These are limited intelligence and tend to believe they are still in "their time period" and actually, the complete soul/spirit has moved on. The article intimated that these were a hybrid of the full spiritbody, which rarely choses to stay. It also stated that these hybrid energies can re-enact negative acts, like murder, violent death, etc and can attach themselves to people, causing them to experience all sorts of negative "ideas"- depression, etc. They seek out weak people, alcoholics, drug users, etc... and do what they do, provide additional negative energy and perpetuate more negative energy.

I believe there are as many possibilities, as there are people.... dead or alive.....

by Rose Mencia on February 21, 2010, 05:50:21 PM

In my experience I have seen imprinting affected by other emotions. On more than one occasion I have helped "record over" an imprint/haunting type of "energy" that was the basis of negative feelings and emotions. It is also possible to "erase" haunting activity through rare Earth magnets or bulk tape erasers used for reel to reel tape erasing, I've seen it, felt it, documented it.

Most investigators think an imrint/haunting is caused by violent death or is from a negative experience. Parapsychologists will tell you this is partially true. Loyd Auerbach had a case where residents were awakened by sounds of a ghostly couple in the heat of passion on occasion. It was later found that this coulple was still much alive, but their imprint of emotion lingered.

As far as John Sabol is concerned, I thought he was crazy when I first heard him speak last year. He has been criticized by many investigators who seem to think there is only one way to approach investigations. I have often felt as though we were not investigators, but more like watchers of this psychic energy flowing around us. As investigators we are conducting a horizontal view of the investigation, what John attempts to do is actually dig in and unearth the haunting. If you study Parapsychology you will learn that this is the cornerstone to conducting real investigations in dealing with apparitions and even haunting events.

The patterns behind the events are duplicated and repeated, not just recreated, but re-lived with the emotion and every detail present as exactly when the spontaneous event occurred. This is another reason why interviewing is far more important than the actual investigation, but that's another article. From this setup of the environment you will be more likely to trigger the events than just sitting around in the dark asking random questions to imprinted energy that may not understand words, but understands emotions and actions (look at how even nice apparitions seem to operate from fight or flight response - again, another article). This approach has been lost due to groups taking the easy way out and imitating each other and what they see on television. The real work is in the interview, preparation, and setting up of the environment not waving an EMF detector around.

Yes, many ghosts do react to the flashy lights on EMF detectors or digital recorders (personally, I think a lot of this is PK created by investigators or gathered from layering), but how much more effective would your communication be if you spoke the lingo that the apparition/haunting had during their life? If you recognized names and situations you were accustomed to? I'm not here to convince you, this concept will create a rift in this field (has begun already) and I want to see this for myslf before I shrug it off although I'm willing to be that this approach will be adapted by many in various forms in the future.

by Brian Parsons on February 21, 2010, 06:20:18 PM

Hmmm......well, I am certainly not "THE" authority- lol....I only have my personal experiences , which I will admit are limited compared to the history of paranormal research.

Now, I wouldnt turn down an opportunity to see him in action (John Sabol)but, I dont see my self "staging" for rt now. I will look him up, am sure he has a few case studies I can google.

I do make sure I maintain an open mind, it just always seems to boil down to "Am I a parapsycologist- mindset"? or am I of the "psychic-spiritual-mindset"..... These are basic "originating philosophies that will take you down two totally different roads of thought and theory. I don't believe one is better than the other.... but I also am not so sure that "science" will ever provide the most complete answer.

Generally I swing towards the psychic/spiritual road... but I make it a point to cover that path with a little science.... just to see what happens.

Nice to chat with you Brian!!!  I will be looking for more from you over the summer, would like to get your imput after you work with John Sabol!! Can you forward any of his articles, blogs? etc??

Warm Regards!!


by Rose Mencia on February 22, 2010, 10:36:24 AM


I'm not the authority either, although I do have stong opinions at times Yell . His approach is very different and I'm not sure his complete approach will work for everyone or even if I can do what he does. The great thing is that he wants to learn from me just as much as I want to learn from him. Hopefully, between the two of us as well as others he works with, this process can be refined where it will be useful for many groups to replicate.

It is hard to balance a mindset. I was raised a non-believer, then when I came into the field I believed everything. Then, I went to the tech side and preached science, science, science!  I then ditched the tools when I realized that too much science actually hinders results (read the work of Kenneth Batcheldor, or better yet, read "Parapsychology: The Controversial Science" by Richard S. Broughton). It took me about a decade of going in many directions over time to balance myself enough to be able to work within all of these frames during interviews and investigations. I've met some people that are able to do this out of the gate or learn it quickly, as you and I know some people can never get out from underneath one view. Your approach of psychic/spiritual with a sprinkle of science is the best method and is a good way to stay balanced.

I will be documenting everything that happens during the investigation with John. I will blog about it and will definitely post some videos about it. We are doing an investigation of a particular location in early March and will then team up with John in late May. We will more than likely get at least one more chance to investigate this place between the two dates and will use these investigations to see how various approaches work (our team psychic/sensitive picked up some great communicative EVPs just walking around in her first visit so we are very optimistic). I'll dig up some stuff on John and send it to you (he's written ten books btw, mostly on Civil War sites, but I am awaiting "Bodies of Substance, Fragments of Memories: An Archaeological Sensitivity to Ghostly Presence", which is his latest book that discusses his methods).

by Brian Parsons on February 22, 2010, 12:38:39 PM

I agree.......balance is looking forward to reading about your findings!!!... I would love to navigate a few of those old civil war military hospitals!!! around 3am.....   wow.....!

by Rose Mencia on February 28, 2010, 06:37:15 PM

Hi Brian and Rose,

Enjoyed reading both of your posts.  Looking forward to your findings and hope you will post more as you work with John.  

I am here, listening and learning.  

Best regards,


by Sherry McDonald on April 29, 2010, 04:45:07 PM

I am learning as well Sherry, and as long as I am learning I'll continue to be a part of this field. I will definitely share as much info about my work with John as possible.

Thank you!


by Brian Parsons on April 29, 2010, 04:52:15 PM
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Brian's insights into the world of the paranormal.
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Brian D. Parsons is the Executive Director for ParaNexus. He is formerly the Director of the Ohio Paranormal Investigation Network (now a client/investigator help site) and has been investigating ghostly claims since 1996. He has also studied under the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual for the various aspects of UFO investigations and has been a freelance cryptid researcher and investigator studying various cases in Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

Brian has written five books, “Handbook for the Amateur Paranormal Investigator or Ghost Hunter: How to Become a Successful Paranormal Group” as well as a companion book, ““Betty’s Ghost: A Guide to Paranormal Investigation”, and "Handbook for the Amateur Paranormal Investigator II: The Art and Science of Paranormal Investigation" serve as his introductory books into ghost investigation. His fourth book, "The 'E4' Method: Breaking the Mold of Paranormal Investigation" is an overview of his new methodology into client-centered paranormal investigation. His fifth book, "Handbook for the Amateur Cryptozoologist", provides a balanced look at the subject of cryptozoology and offers basic guidance behind the subject. He is a regular contributor of paranormal news (known as the Paranromal News Insider) to the Grand Dark Conspiracy radio program and has been a guest on several occasions.

Brian holds a PhD from the Insititute of Metaphysical Humanistic Science and lives in Twinsburg, Ohio, with his wife Amy and their dog Sasha.

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