Watching Ghost Hunters on television and wondering the whole hour what in the heck people were thinking chasing things in the dark. There are no such things as ghosts. These people are nuts. I believed that just four years ago. Week after week I would watch then go to the forums connected to the show or discussing it. It became clear that even if some of the evidence was fake or explainable other evidence was not. It was the “was not” that completely fascinated me and in 2009 I jumped in with both feet.
I absorbed as much as I could early on and like everyone in the field formed my own opinions based on everything I had researched. Among my opinions is providing investigation services free. My opinion has always been that if you are charging to investigate what will the property owner receive for their payment. Will you be able to answer all their questions? Will you be able to provide them a home free of activity? Can you catch a ghost? I felt that if I wasn’t able to provide evidence then the property owner received nothing for their payment.
Now after several years investigating I watch as a very small group of people in the paranormal community are permitted to make money while the vast majority is held to a standard that is ridiculous. That’s right I said ridiculous. If Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum can charge $100.00 per per person for a tour or these conventions can charge $40.00 per day for an opportunity to shake the hand of people who have offered little more than their next book, episode, or movie, why can’t we charge to recover the cost of our equipment and other expenses?
For those who use the argument that most people can’t afford fees for investigations I offer you this. Does Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum or any of the conventions offer you free tickets if you can’t afford it? I think we all know the answer to that. So you offer your services free to those who can not afford your service. Your costs are no different then the costs of the for profit conventions and facilities like Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Everything you do in this field has costs attached to it. Only a small handful of the people within the paranormal community are permitted to recover those costs or make a profit. Why?
Now we have people within the paranormal community buying turn of the century homes or businesses and inviting investigators to their for profit traps. Most of these places need you as investigators to build a reputation that will draw more investigators to the trap. They are charging you to advertise for their business. Posting your evidence of their trap everywhere provides them free advertising that any other business in the world would have to pay for. In 2009 this website was a social network. I actually had a popular investigator trap contact me to place an ad banner on my site. The place was charging $400.00 or more a night for a team to investigate. When I returned the email I told them what it would cost and the business (because it is a business) actually told me I should be allowing them to advertise on my site free because their business was popular with the paranormal community. What? I couldn’t help but wonder if this business owner believed that everyone in the paranormal community was dumb. I believe they do in part. I also believe that many in the field fall all over these businesses that throw them an occasional bone. I don’t like bones so I wasn’t going to be part of it. I run a business and like them I expect compensation to promote another business.
I know a team that recently paid to investigate a location new to the pay-to-play paranormal community. The property was billed as rich with activity yet offered none after spending hundreds of dollars and several hours investigating. They even slept at the residence and nothing. This is the perfect example to offer those who tell me they would feel guilty for charging for their services. They always say they may not be able to provide any answers. That’s right you might not be able to. The appliance repairman might not be able to fix your washing machine yet he charges you $75.00 to show up to tell you that. He recovers the expenses incurred to come to your home in an attempt to repair your washer.
Why is this field any different then any other business? I believe it has to do with the very nature of the business. The paranormal field is not widely accepted by the mainstream so obviously we are not professionals. Trade businesses have education courses or apprentice programs. There are no accredited courses for paranormal investigation, no officially sanctioned education process at all. There are a handful of certificate courses offered from a number of organizations. None of these courses will offer the professional anything they probably haven’t already learned. In many cases professionals could themselves teach an accredited course on any number of subjects. Educating yourself on a plethora of paranormal subjects should be rewarded like any other professional field.
For those who attempt to whine about who will police the unscrupulous teams I offer you this. Psychics are afforded the opportunity to charge for their service. The ones who abuse it are charged under the same laws that protect us all as consumers. So the argument that there are no standards to protect people from unscrupulous teams is simply not true. The same laws that protect us from unscrupulous plumbers, electricians, and repairmen are the same laws that would protect any property owner.
The cost of investigating is as high as any other profession. At least as an electrician you can recover your costs through the fees you charge or salary you receive. In this field we continue to pay top dollar for equipment not designed for the field, investigating places that are overly priced traps for investigators, and events that offer nearly nothing to the field. Why do we continue to do this? Have we allowed a small group of people to dictate what is moral or ethical for the entire community? Are we as dumb as I believe some of these paranormal business owners think we are?
I have seen more and more teams attempt to recover some of their costs through charging for mileage and requiring donations. Good for them. They obviously understand what I now understand. This business is not free! Nothing in this field is free! If you start charging for your services good for you. You are beginning to run a business like it was intended to be run, like the business it is.