Recently more and more newspaper inches are being dedicated to the pursuit of researching the unexplained, but it seems that some paranormal investigators don't like the media labelling them "ghost hunters". Is this just supernatural snobbery or is the term ghost hunting a slur on this field of research?
If you ask someone who is happy to be call a ghost hunter, they'll tell you that a ghost hunter and a paranormal investigator is exactly the same things. However, those who called themselves paranormal investigators and dislike the term ghost hunter are the ones who define the differences between the two terms.
"Paranormal Investigators" think that ghost hunters are nothing more than casual hobbyists who don't take the paranormal seriously and are often accused of bringing mockery and negative perceptions to the field.
They think ghost hunters look at the paranormal from a superficial point of view with preconceived notions. Where as paranormal investigators say they take the whole subject much more seriously and set out to find a reason and explanation behind supernatural happenings.
These same supernatural buffs say that if they call themselves paranormal investigators rather than ghost hunters then the general public take them more seriously. I'm not sure this belief is strictly true. Only one third of the population of the UK believe in ghosts, so the majority of the public will have little respect for anyone hunting ghosts no matter what they call themselves.
So, who is right? Well, let's take a look at how the dictionary defines these conflicting terms...
ghost - an apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image.
hunt - search determinedly for someone or something.
paranormal - denoting events or phenomena such as telekinesis or clairvoyance that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.
investigate - carry out a systematic or formal inquiry to discover and examine the facts of so as to establish the truth.
Looking at the definitions side-by-side, there is a difference. Are you searching determinedly for ghosts, or are you carrying out a systematic inquiry to to establish the truth behind the paranormal? But it's just semantics. In both cases these supernatural sleuths are trying to find evidence that ghosts exist.
In both case those visiting a haunted location often use electronic gadgets to capture EVPs and detect spikes in the electromagnetic field. They may also try to communicate with spirits using a ouija board, and try to capture evidence of the paranormal in photo or video form.
There are countless examples of fairly well known people who like to label themselves as a paranormal investigator who run ghost hunts for members of the public. Surely if they were that serious about their label as paranormal investigator, they would run paranormal investigations, not ghost hunts.
Conversely, I know plenty of well respected paranormal investigators who are quite happy to be labeled a ghost hunter, especially when appearing on the media.
Some say that hunting suggests that all ghosts are malevolent and have intent to cause us harm, and that ghost hunters visit haunted locations to try to capture the spirit. But I've been on several ghost hunts and the objective is never to hunt down and re-kill a ghost. The aim of any ghost hunt is to prove the existence of ghosts and determine a logical explanation for any non-paranormal happenings.
So, we throwback to the original question... is this just supernatural snobbery or is the term ghost hunting a slur on this field of research? Well, as far as I'm concerned, it's nothing more than snobbery. All paranormal researchers are equal.