1. Conduct all your investigations with an open mind, but don’t let yourself be fooled by the “evidence.” No one has yet been able to scientifically prove or disprove the existence of ghosts, and it’s unlikely you will be the one to earn that fame. Better to simply be nonjudgmental and open to whatever you experience and observe for yourself. Be hard-nosed about the “evidence” you uncover. Make certain that you exhaust all possible explanations before you claim a brush with the supernatural.
2. Interview witnesses separately. Take a page from standard police procedurals and always talk to witnesses of paranormal phenomena separately so that one witness’s testimony does not influence that of another.
3. Document your activities. I always carry a notebook and pen, tape recorder, and camera with me when investigating a site. The tape recorder is used to interview witnesses, but some people have also used it to record background sound over a period of time to try and catch unidentifiable sounds or voices in a particular location. A note about photography is important here. Many people, using either traditional or digital cameras, have reported various anomalies on the photos once they are developed or downloaded into a computer. These anomalies—usually whitish orbs, but also misty smears—are invisible to the naked eye when the photo is taken. There are many reasonable explanations for these objects. They may be dust particles or water droplets on the camera lens. They may be reflections caused by the flash of other cameras or by common objects—even some insects—that the photographer simply did not notice at the time. Your finger, or the camera strap covering part of the camera lens, may also be possible explanations for your photogenic ghost. Enlarging the photo will often help you identify the anomaly accurately. Despite all these reasonable explanations, there are hundreds of “ghost photos” that defy explanation—much to my surprise, I have taken some myself while writing this book.
4. Respect the site. It is important to remember that any haunted site carries with it a history of both the people who inhabited the site and of the site itself. That history is worthy of your respect. You should observe whatever rules and regulations might be in effect for the site and work within them. In other words, you should not be breaking into buildings or removing anything from them as souvenirs. Nor should you be prowling around cemeteries after posted hours. You will find that people are more receptive to helping you with your explorations if you follow the rules.
5. Respect the privacy of your contacts. Some people may tell you their own ghost stories, but for a variety of reasons, may not want other people to know their identity. You must respect their right to privacy.
6. Be a knowledgeable ghosthunter. This last point is perhaps the most important one. No one really knows the rules and laws of the spirit world. Ghosthunters are always exploring terra incognita and finding their way by learning from others, but it is important to learn from those who are serious about their work, rather than from people who are merely looking for kicks. Serious ghosthunters, such as Ed and Lorraine Warren, emphasize that knowledge about ghosts and the spirit world will increase your chances of obtaining your goals but, more important, will keep you safe. The Warrens and other top psychic investigators never resort to dubious psychic “tools,” such as the Ouija board, which can, in inexperienced hands, summon unwanted and uncontrollable spirits. I urge you to read and learn from the experts before venturing forth on your own ghosthunting expedition.