With the exponential growing in popularity of the paranormal and paranormal investigation, more and more people are seeking to join a paranormal investigation group. Some want to learn more about the paranormal. Some believe they have talents and skills that would well fit a group. Others want the thrill of investigating the paranormal. Whatever a person's motivations there is likely a group out there that will take them on.
Each paranormal investigation group operates (at least somewhat) differently from each other. What your time and desires are need to match up with the goals of the group you seek to join.
Some groups are more "ghost seekers". These groups tend to be larger large (10-15+), meet a couple of times a month, individual members own their own equipment, and tend to focus on going to local cemeteries or famous locations that offer public paranormal hunts. After the trip they meet to discuss what experiences they had, show any photos or play any audio they gathered, etc. A "weekend warrior" type of group. They do not train their members and each member is left to determine whether or not there was in fact paranormal activity detected.
Other groups are much more formalized. They are more true "paranormal investigators", people who investigating things that are beyond the norm of everyday life and seem to defy common explanation. They meet regularly, sometimes weekly. The group members help support the purchase of advanced equipment by the group (some members may also own their own equipment). The group has a structure of lead investigations, intermediate level investigators, and new/in-training investigators. These groups actively seek to help people by investigating in their homes and business, as well as perhaps utilizing local legendary locations and perhaps travel to more distant famous locations periodically. They have a formal methodology which includes a training program and analysis standards.
The former described group is good for people with a casual, passing interest in the paranormal. These groups are less formal and tend to come and go with the growth and waxing of interest by the members of the group. Time commitment isn't much. Basically, they are attend-at-will groups for people who see paranormal investigation as their latest hobby.
The latter type of groups, however, do require much more participation of their members. Group members are expected to spend significant hours each week working on projects. These activities may include researching new locations to visit, researching new equipment ideas and/or paranormal theories, case management, authoring articles for website or publication, and probably most significantly review of collected evidence.
The last point deserves further expansion.
If there is one activity that is most central to the core functioning of a professional paranormal group it is the review and evaluation of evidence collected during an investigation. The evidence collected from an investigation – audio, video, photographic – all has to be reviewed in a timely manner. This is particularly important for a private case where a person or family may be hanging on what paranormal activity (or none) the group has documented. Even a small investigation still yield large volumes of evidence to be reviewed. For example, if a group uses 6 audio recorders during a 5 hour investigation that's 30 hours of audio to be listened to and analyzed! If the group is operating 6 video cameras over the course of the same investigation that's an additional 30 hours of video to be reviewed. More time is then taken when in fact a possible piece of evidence is found. Time to review it, to analyze it, perhaps to enhance and edit it.
This is the part I believe most people's resolve in the paranormal falters and their resolve to join a paranormal investigation group withers. Evidence review is not sexy. There is nothing exciting about listing to static or staring at the same screen for hour after hour. The excitement does come when (if) something does appear in the evidence. But that is far from a guarantee. There can and most likely will be periods of weeks and months of going on investigations that generate hundreds of hours of evidence to review which contain nothing.
There is also one other point to remember. Whether you join a "ghost seeker" group or a "paranormal investigators" group there is the very real chance (but not a guarantee – the paranormal is never guaranteed) that you may encounter something you are not prepared for. Regardless of what you think you would do if/when you see a ghost it is not until it actually happens that your real reaction will be known. There is always the possibility you will encounter something that can shake to the core your beliefs in reality, the physical world, and/or your faith or spiritual beliefs.
This is the reality of being part of a formal, professional paranormal investigation group. It is not for everyone.
It's not a job or a hobby – it's a life style!
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