Debunking Paranormal Evidence

My blood boiled as I saw the photo being passed around social media. It came with a caption, “My friends were taking pictures of their house that they just bought  – look what ghost appwas captured in the picture….” In the picture is the figure of a ghost. It’s so obviously a fake, I was surprised anyone would fall for it. When I clicked on the photo, I was flabbergasted at the plethora of comments, most of them congratulating the photographer for the capture.

As technology increases, so does the capacity to provide false information. As a paranormal investigator, I see it time and time again in photos. With the invention of “ghost apps” anyone with a cell phone can create a seemingly paranormal photo in minutes.

Beyond the obvious faked photos are the photos that aren’t altered, but probably aren’t paranormal either. Many people fall for these as well.

As humans, we are programmed to find faces. We see them in clouds and in reflections on windows. The truth is: some people want to find something in a photo. Every time I post a picture of the Haunted Victorian Mansion online, someone finds a face in the window. Chances are, it’s just a reflection. Clouds and bushes have a tendency to look like faces. Everything isn’t a ghost. In fact, most things aren’t paranormal. If you look hard enough, you’ll find the explanation.

Another huge topic regarding ghost photos is the subject of orbs. Are they true ghost pictures or just dust or moisture? This is quite a controversial topic that I plan to handle as gingerly as possible. People are either “orb believers” or they aren’t. There truly isn’t much grey area when it comes to people’s opinion about orbs.

My opinion is that the majority of the orb pictures you see are nothing more than dust or moisture that is catching the light from the flash and making it reflective. The bigger the orb, the closer it was to the camera when the photo was taken. If the orb is a different color, it’s reflecting something nearby that is the same shade. All you need to do to test this yourself is to walk across a room and then snap a picture with the flash on. You’ll see all the orbs you care to capture.

My first experience with orb photography came during a haunted walking tour in Nashville, Tennessee. The guide guaranteed that we would capture a ghost on film. It was even printed in the brochure.

I was intrigued by this, being a brand new investigator. I wasn’t sure how they could guarantee I’d get a paranormal picture, but I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt to see what happened.

They brought us to the street across from the haunted State House building. The guide waited until the light turned red and then instructed everybody to start snapping pictures. Even as a newbie, this was enough to make me roll my eyes. You could see the dust swirling in the air, kicked up from all the traffic. As it settled, people were getting hundreds of orbs in every picture. The guide congratulated them and they walked away thinking they actually captured something paranormal.

It does make sense that a ghost would take the most conservative shape, which would be an orb-shape. It’s aerodynamic and can move easily around the room. As someone who is sensitive to ghostly energy, I can tell you that ghosts don’t simply walk through the doorway and stand in a corner. They move around the room rapidly, something my cats track as they watch them zipping around. However, with that said, the only way I will believe that an orb photo might be a legitimate ghost is if the photo is taken without use of a flash or if it is captured on video maneuvering around in a manner that separates it from dust and moisture.

mosquito

I have dozens of photos that look ghostly. Case in point is the photograph above. I once investigated with a team who had a similar photo. They proudly displayed it on their website as proof of fairies. I nearly laughed when I saw it, because it is clearly a mosquito caught in the flash.

Don’t believe it because you want to believe it. Only believe it after you’ve ruled out everything else it could be.

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The photo shown above was taken in at the Haunted Victorian Mansion, the subject of my 2014 book Bones in the Basement – Surviving the S.K. Pierce Haunted Victorian Mansion. It was snapped by an investigator from Conscious Spirit Paranormal. I know these ladies personally and know they wouldn’t fudge a photo, which gives it more validity in my eyes.

The photo supposedly shows a portal in the Copper Room. I’ve been in this room many times. In fact, I’ve slept there several times. I can assure you, there’s nothing physical at the foot of the bed that would cause a photo to look like that.

My first thought about the photo was that it was a camera strap hanging down into the photo. Below is a photo of a camera strap in a photo. You can see the ridges of the straps. The images, while not exactly the same, are similar. The only real difference is the fact that the Victorian photo’s vortex image ends before the top of the photo. If it were a camera strap, it would continue through the top of the photo. Just always bear in mind that photos can be misleading. Always take a series of three photos when you’re in a haunted location. That way you can rule out a reasonable explanation.

camera strap

I think most of us want to find something paranormal in our photos from investigations. After all, that’s the primary reason why we’re taking them, besides to document the investigation. In the photo below, a fellow investigator, Pam Howell, took this photo of us standing near my car during a break. There appears to be a strange mist above us. I was quite excited when I saw it, until I realized that I was holding my E-cigarette in the picture. Many argued that an E-cigarette couldn’t produce enough smoke to create that mist, but I still had to throw it out as possible evidence. If there is a possible explanation, then it can’t be used.

Pam's picture of me

Paranormal audio captures, also known as EVPs also have room for debunking, as well. Modern digital recorders are very sensitive. Even the smallest of noises will be recorded and could be misconstrued as a ghostly response.

When I conduct an EVP session, I employ the utmost care. I keep the group small (under 5 people, if possible) and everyone remains seated. I can be quite a dictator during these sessions, but it’s important to monitor the session as closely as possible. No one is allowed to drink beverages, chew gum, snap photos or, God forbid, whisper during one my sessions. If someone’s stomach inadvertently growls or a car drives past, one of us always says aloud “stomach” or “car” so we’ll know later when we review the audio. If you aren’t careful during a session, you might come across something that seems to be paranormal but isn’t. Below is a good example of someone whispering during a session.

https://soundcloud.com/jonimayhan/kitchenette-example-of-whispering

When you listen to it, you’ll hear the faint sound of a voice speaking over mine. What you won’t hear is me saying “whispering” afterwards, while giving the investigator a hard look.

I have a rule that I always follow: when in doubt, throw it out.

I believe that we owe it to the field to only submit the most valid evidence possible. This means keeping the EVPs that might or might not be another investigator burping, and the photos of smudged mirrors to ourselves. We don’t grasp for straws, we just keep trying until we find something worth sharing. I truly wish all investigators followed this rule as well.

For more information about EVPs, please check out my new book Ghost Voices, available on Amazon.com for Kindle or paperback.

Ghost Voices cover

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator and the author of 13 books. Click on any of the covers to learn more about each book.

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The Dangers of Ghost Hunting

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It looks like fun, something entertaining to do on a boring Saturday night. You imagine calling a few friends and heading out to the closest graveyard to see what it’s all about. The truth is: paranormal investigating can be dangerous.

I know this firsthand. After making several beginner’s mistakes, I encountered several low vibrational entities that followed me home and made my life a living hell for months on end. Had I known what I know now, I would have done things much differently.

A paranormal investigation shouldn’t be treated like a fun night out. It should be planned with the same care and respect that you’d use if you decided to start cave diving. You certainly wouldn’t just go out and purchase scuba equipment and head to your nearest cave. You’d spend months, if not years, learning how to dive first to prevent yourself from getting lost and drowning inside a cave. You’d then research and train with someone who knew how to cave dive. You would also bring a map, as well as a companion who knew the cave well.

The biggest danger with paranormal investigating is the unknown factor. Ghosts come in many varieties. Like people, there are harmless ones and there are dangerous ones. Unlike people, ghosts are invisible and you might not be able to tell the difference until it’s too late.

People who are sensitive to spiritual energy have far more to worry about than non-sensitives. Not only do ghosts see us and recognize the fact that we can also detect them, they might grow curious enough to follow you home. Once they’ve attached to you, they will attempt to get your attention. This could include moving items around your house or making sounds that you can detect. If the entity is negative in nature, they will probably attempt to pull your energy, something they will use to grow stronger. The footsteps and misplaced items will quickly escalate to more serious dangers. They might turn on burners on your gas stove, something I’ve had happen before, or they might push you when you walk down a steep flight of stairs. If they think they can get away with it, they might even attempt to take you over.

We often think demonic entities are the only entities that can possess a person, but this isn’t necessarily true. There are some very high-powered human ghosts who have the same capabilities. Beyond even demonic or earth-bound ghosts is the possibility of entities from other dimensions. The problem is, when they cause your EMF meter to spike at an investigation, they all look the same.

Sensitives should be well-versed in paranormal protection before they actively put themselves in harm’s way. They need to study the various protection methods until they find one that works for them. As they start out, they should always investigate with a mentor who can help keep them safe.  Here are some tips to help you stay protected:

Grounding and Shielding

Learn how to ground and shield yourself. Grounding is the process of removing all negative energy from your body. My favorite technique for this is to imagine a ball of pure white light above my head. As I inhale, I visualize this white light filling my body, while simultaneously pushing the negative energy down through me, where it can sink deeply into the ground. Some people visualize themselves as trees with deep roots as they do this. To shield, you build a bubble of white light around you, and then set a time limit on it. I usually set my shield daily, infusing it with the intent that it will keep me safe from any energies that aren’t mine for 24 hours, the maximum time amount. If you don’t set a time, your shield will only last for several hours.

Protection Touch-stones

Many people carry gemstones in their pocket, such as black tourmaline or tiger’s eye, which have protective properties. Other people wear crucifixes or religious medallions. While these items will help you stay protected, they also serve as a reminder. Many people believe that you already have everything you need to keep yourself protected inside you. By touching the stone or wearing the cross, you reinforce your internal belief that you are protected.

External Assistance

Whether you are praying to a higher power or calling in your Spirit Guides, you should always utilize this extra assistance. It’s like having a posse of warriors who will run defense for you. Without them, you are vulnerable to attack.

Keep Your Vibration High

Everyone and everything vibrates with frequency. When people are feeling good and everything in their lives are running smoothly, they vibrate at a high rate. When they are feeling depressed or are physically ill, they’re vibration decreases. Ghosts vibrate at different rates too. A positive entity will vibrate at a much higher rate than a negative one. They can only attach to you if your frequencies are similar. If you don’t feel well or have had a horrible fight with a friend, don’t go on the investigation, especially if you are a sensitive. You will be much more vulnerable to picking up an attachment.

Some other tips:

  1. Never antagonize the dead. Provoking comes with a heavy price considering you don’t know what you’re truly dealing with. You could be screaming at a lost child who has been trapped in our world for centuries or you could be taunting something inhuman, who considers your insults an invitation. Tread lightly and be polite.
  2. Unless you have several years in the field, always investigate with a mentor, someone who can help keep you protected. If you are a sensitive, find an experienced medium who is willing to take you under his or her wing. They can not only alert you to possible dangers, but they can help you advance your own abilities.
  3. Stay away from unknown factors. This includes cemeteries, old prisons, old hospitals and location where humans have suffered. Start out with public events at locations that have been fully investigated before. It might initially seem like driving with training wheels, but you should always learn in a somewhat safe environment. With that said, still employ caution. Ghosts often come in with other investigators and decide to camp out at new locations.
  4. Don’t attempt private investigations at people’s homes until you have several years of experience under your belt. Yes, you do need to learn the craft of investigating sometime, but don’t learn at the expense of a homeowner. Any mistakes you make will be left for someone else to deal with. Private events are also risky because you don’t know what you’re dealing with until you investigate the location, which puts you at risk, as well.
  5. NEVER investigate your own home. If you have a ghost in residence, call in someone else to help, preferably a medium who can communicate directly with the entity. If you do EVP sessions and frequently try to capture the ghost on a camera, you are giving it more fuel to stay. The attention you provide it with acts as an invitation, which will make it much harder to remove later.
  6. Do not give ghosts permission to touch you or use your energy. Essentially, what you’re doing is inviting them inside the shield you’ve carefully constructed, giving them an opportunity to connect to you. If they use your energy, you will probably find yourself on the brink of exhaustion the next morning, making you more prone to illness.
  7. When you leave the location, I recommend doing a closing ceremony. Basically, this entails telling the ghosts that they must remain at the location and cannot follow you home. We will often burn sage and do a smudging of each participant before they leave, as an extra measure. You should also cut your cords. Entities, and even people, connect to one another with invisible energy cords. Cut these with your non-dominant hand, envisioning the ethereal cords breaking in half. Then imagine white light filling all the holes where the cords were once located. Once you’ve done this, leave. Don’t stand by your car and talk. This gives the dead more opportunities to attach to you.
  8. Cleanse yourself when you get home. I recommend taking a bath infused with sea salt and lavender. This cleanses the spiritual energy off you and also serves to relax you after an eventful investigation. Eat something healthy, as well. It’s recommended to eat foods that will help you ground. Nourishment that comes from the earth is usually the best. Nuts, grains, root vegetables and even chocolate are good for grounding.
  9. Ground and shield yourself before you begin reviewing your evidence the next day. If you didn’t fully cut your cords to the entities at the investigation, you will re-attach yourself to them when you begin listening to your audio recordings or combing through your photos or video captures.
  10. Never cut corners. Even if you are in a rush, always take the time to protect yourself before, during and after an investigation. The investment could end up saving you a lot of pain and suffering after the fact.

As an author and investigator, I’ve encountered dozens of scenarios that you will not want to experience. Ghost hunting is not fun and games. Sometimes it can be deadly. If you would like to learn more about the ins and outs of being a sensitive or would like to explore other avenues for paranormal protection, please check out my book Dark and Scary Things – A Sensitive’s Guide to the Paranormal World.

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator and the author of 13 books, including Dark and Scary Things – A Sensitive’s Guide to the Paranormal World,  Devil’s Toy Box, The Soul Collector and Bones in the Basement, all available on Amazon.com, as well as Barnesandnoble.com and Smashwords. Click on any of the covers below to learn more about the book.

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