What Should I Look For?
As a TOP NOTCH researcher for the GHRS, you are expected to become a MASTER detective of the Sherlock Holmes variety! Okay, well, you should become familiar with SOME things...
#1: Look for odd or "out of sorts" things on the investigation. For example, we have now been to two investigations where for whatever reason; most of the major appliances have not been plugged in. Make notes as this is odd and MAY explain something later on down the road.
#2: Watch the behaviour of those who reported the incident if they are near or watching you. Are they trying to lead you somewhere? Why? Has their story changed?
#3: Look for obvious weirdness. Okay, I know. I'm in a "haunted house", what else could be weird? Well, if the people LIVE in the home, are the windows are all open in the middle of February? If so, why? Check bookshelves. What are they reading? What videotapes do they own? If it's nothing but Stephen King and they seem to be suffering only at late night, could it be nightmares?
#4: Be aware of architecture. If they say the house was built in 1890 but aren't REALLY sure, make sure there is a coal chute or obvious signs of multiple fireplaces. Roughly how old would you say the houses around theirs are? Are there obvious signs of an addition built recently? An example of this is spotting a woman in an old hoop skirt dusting in the second story den of a century home... Wouldn't it be a LITTLE odd if the room she's been seen in was added in 1977? It doesn't preclude that the ghost does not exist but actually poses some interesting questions...
#5: Who are the witnesses? Was the reporter sending you what their eight year old son (who's in therapy and on Ritalin,) saw and managed to convince you BEFORE arriving that it was their own testimony? (Trust me, it happens.)
#6: Are the people DEEPLY involved in a religion or cult? Look for MANY religious icons and yes, even shrines. Remember, when you carry ONE belief to an extreme, you could be taking some others along for the ride. AGAIN, just make a mental note... This really may not mean ANYTHING.
#7: As corny as it sounds, ask how the pets are behaving. Case in point, on one investigation, we were told the family dogs would NOT happily go into the "haunted" room yet while we were there, one dog literally BOUNCED into the room, jumped onto the bed and sat there looking at us wagging it's tail. This dog did NOT seem stressed about its surroundings in this room but the owners insisted it was. Go figure.
#8: WATCH YOURSELF! Are you looking too hard for something? Let's face it, if somethings there to be found, you WILL probably find it without too much work but if you find yourself STRAINING to get a glimpse of something or hear something, you probably will even though it's more likely than not, all in your head. Go with the flow, do not be "lead down the garden path" by someone vindicating their own views or experiences and judge for yourself. DO take all accounts into consideration and on final presentation; make sure all versions are heard. TRUST ME, nobody's always right... even CSICOP... even GHRS.
VERY IMPORTANT: In June of 2003, a nineteen year-old Western New York GHRS member was on a private, non-GHRS investigation when he was struck from behind and killed by a car on a dark country road. The driver was intoxicated and the young man on the road was dressed in dark clothing. This is not and excuse but, it is the facts.
This driver was not part of the investigative team but, a person who just happened to be on the road at the time. IT was not intentional, it was, for all intents and purposes, an accident. A person putting their own "need to be somewhere" despite their intoxication over the life of an anonymous pedestrian. A nineteen year old man who, as a 'day job', worked with children and was well liked and admired by those that knew him.
We at the GHRS in the memory of this young ghost investigator cannot stress the importance of either dressing to be seen or, if nothing else, wearing some reflective tape or other type of highly visible type of clothing or straps so that this tragedy will never happen again to a GHRS person or *any* ghost enthusiast or researcher.
Please, take the time to be sure to be seen while out in the field. It will not be only good to avoid traffic or other accidents but, also assists in being seen as a "researcher" in long distance photos and videos.
Most hardware stores, auto parts stores and camping stores sell reflective tape, stickers or straps for bags, cameras or whatever. A few dollars spent on this could save a life.