Serious Paranormal Investigation
by Michael J. Hallowell

Last week I had the good fortune – and I use the term loosely – to meet a paranormal investigator who told me that he had captured something quite remarkable during an overnight investigation at a deserted house in the Midlands. He'd been taking a few pictures with his camera, and – lo and behold – on one of them there were three orbs.

After looking at them for about ten seconds, it was obvious to me that they were nothing more than reflections from dust particles in the atmosphere. I asked him what was so spectacular about the picture, and he looked at me as if I was stupid.

"Well…it’s the orbs! Look at them! One even has a face in it!"

I looked at the picture again. In one orb it was just possible – with a great stretch of the imagination – to see a simulacrum of a face. In reality it was made up of two dots roughly where the eyes should have been, and a squiggle that looked vaguely like a mouth.

Now sarcasm and dry wit are two characteristics that run deep throughout my family tree, and I've been blessed with both of them. I just couldn't help myself.

"Wow!" I said dramatically, "I know who that is. Its Harold Wilson!"

For those who have not yet studied some of our more colourful political characters, Harold Wilson was a former Prime Minister of the UK who died many years ago.

"You know, that's exactly what I was thinking!" replied my excitable colleague.

He was fibbing, of course, for the face looked nothing like old Harold. In fact, it looked more like Shrek. My sarcasm had gone right over the top of his head, but he agreed with my outlandish suggestion for... well, I'm not sure why he did it.

One of the things I hear incessantly from investigators is that they want to be respected. They want respect from fellow researchers, they want respect from the media and they want respect from the academic community. Well, I don't want to be a party-pooper, but claiming that they can see the face of Harold Wilson in an orb is probably not the best way to achieve their goal.

Truly, I wish that the entire field of paranormal research did have more respect, but if we are ever to see that happy day, then we need to help ourselves earn it. There are two hurdles that we must overcome first, and both of them come in the shape of human beings; the true believer and the rabid sceptic.

True believers have abandoned the mantra, "I want to believe", and replaced it with their own, which reads, "I already believe – everything". This is a dangerous position to take. Look, we still have something resembling freedom of speech in our two respective countries, and if someone wants to shout from the rooftops that they've seen the face of Harold Wilson, Julius Caesar or the recently-deceased cleaner from the local KFC in an orb, then they're entitled to do so. However, we should not thereafter be surprised if others label them as barmy. Our critics, you see, have freedom of speech too. I'd hate to see paranormal investigators gagged from expressing their opinions, but I think they need to be a little more judicious when making their pronouncements. Until that happens, sensible investigators are going to be found guilty by association, and there isn't much we can do about it.

Rabid sceptics – as opposed to open-minded sceptics – present a similar problem. Whereas true believers are happy to swallow anything allegedly paranormal that floats in front of them, the rabid sceptics simply deny everything. As rabid sceptics do not normally call themselves paranormal investigators – and would likely rather throw themselves under a bus before doing so – we won't be found guilty of metaphorically jumping into bed with them. However, they still do the field of paranormal research quite a bit of damage. By continually spouting out their own mantra – "Its all a load of baloney!" – they, too, make life difficult for genuine investigators who want the public to know that they go about their business in a sensible, even-handed way.

Well, there's nothing much we can do about that, either, except get our own house in order and refrain from seeing non-existent faces in easily-explainable dots of light.

Sometimes I wish I'd taken up writing about more conventional matters, such as healthy eating, gardening or DIY. But then I realise that paranormal research, for all its faults, is one of the most exciting fields of endeavour to be in.

Anyway, you'll have to excuse me; someone has just e-mailed me another orb with a face in it. My giddy aunt... I think its Richard Nixon...!

©Mike Hallowell, 2009

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