Usually when I see a good post on Haunt Jaunts, I just link to it on our Facebook page with a short comment or two, but I felt like this post regarding the “professional credentials” of ghost hunting groups raises some interesting questions, and also some interesting moral issues. I won’t post the entire article here; for that you have to visit Haunt Jaunts (I like giving them traffic, sue me). But I’ll copy some of the main points and respond with my thoughts.
What makes someone a professional ghost hunter? Do they go to school for it? Do they get a degree in it? Are there tests they must pass and certifications they must acquire? Is there yearly continuing education they must obtain like doctors, lawyers, and accountants have to to maintain their degrees and licenses?
I think we all know the answer to this one: NO. There are no schools for ghost hunting, there are no degrees for ghost hunting, there is no centralized institution that credentials people to be paranormal investigators. There are, however, many groups and individuals who are very good at making your hard-earned money disappear into thin air, and in return you get a cute little certificate from Staples or Kinko’s proclaiming that you are now a certified paranormal investigator. Save the money, go buy some ghost hunting equipment of your own, read a few books, and you’ll be just as qualified as the people who tried to “certify” you.
Is it the equipment? Do people who shell out thousands of dollars for fancy thermal imagers and IR cameras automatically elevate themselves from amateur ranks to professional?
There are many groups out there who like to show off all of their fancy equipment and tell you at every turn abouy how state of the art they are, and we spend X amount of dollars for all of this. And you know what? The most successful piece of equipment so far tends to be a $40 audio recorder. The other gadgets are nice, but hardly necessary.
Is it the time they put in? Those who have been hunting for years have gained valuable experience, but does that alone earn them the title of pro?
Again, gaining experience in an unproven field ultimately amounts to very little, if anything. Sure, you can become an expert in using the equipment, and you can become very well-versed in current and/or popular paranormal theories, but ultimately, nobody knows anything about the paranormal. This is why we’re studying it. Right now all we have are educated guesses, correlations, and a bunch of charlatans claiming they know everything about the paranormal. These are the ones usually trying to take your money, for books, home cleansings, or even just charging people to investigate or turn over any evidence they find. Blackmail, anyone?
Come on, people. Who are you trying to kid? There is no such thing as a “professional” ghost hunter, just like there’s no such thing as an “expert” ghost hunter. In the end, everybody’s an amateur –some have just been in the game longer than others.
Exactly. You can act in a professional manner, which would include things like confidentiality, conduct during an investigation, returning findings to the client in a timely manner, etc. But professionalism is different than being a professional in a given field. A paralegal can act professionally, but that’s quite different than being a professional lawyer.
So be extremely wary if any ghost hunting groups try to charge you for any of their services, or for a disk containing your evidence, or for certifications. And remember, these people who are charging you money and creating these certifications have never been actually certified by anyone. So why pay them to certify you?