First lets distinguish one from the other. Now, please, at no time should anyone misinterpret the definitions to mean one is better than the other. This is just to explain the differences as I see it, whether you agree or not.The Paranormal investigator is someone who for what ever their reasons, are doing research in the field to try to determine the truth behind reported occurrences. They will, or should be meticulous in their investigating techniques and methods. Maybe to the point as seeming to over do it. They will document everything even if they don't look like they are at the time they will later. They will never ask you for anything. They will ask you what you want. In short they will or should come off right from the start as professionals.Now a Ghost Hunter is just what it sounds like. Mostly a group of people looking (hunting) for ghosts. The will employ a few gauges or meters and go to cemeteries and places that are generally thought to have ghosts to see what happens, if anything. The ghost hunter usually will relate to their outings as investigations, and they are investigations as they see it. Ghost Hunters are usually social groups who are getting together for a good time doing something they like. The Ghost Hunter also falls into two categories. The curious and the serious. The curious usually are disappointed quickly and give up and do something else. The serious are almost always disappointed but can't shake the feeling of not knowing for sure and eventually become investigators.I would like to set the record straight as I see it. You can be both and many reputable investigators are. The slight difference is that the serious investigator will Ghost Hunt as a hobby since it relates directly to what they do. I too do it for recreation. Since it is a pleasant distraction from the involved investigation.This is why I think both are needed. In a nut shell, the serious investigator is needed for the obvious. The disciplined documentation of reported occurrences. They are the link between the mainstream science (skeptics and the like) and the believers (people having the experiences). The Ghost Hunter is needed, if for no other reason, to do just what they are doing. Going out, finding new places, having fun, spreading the word of their findings, etc. because if history has showed us anything it is that... Although some famous people have taken credit for inventions and findings. It is usually some normal person who stumbled on it by accident but just didn't get the credit. So you see we need everyone.Choosing who you needNow lets determine which is needed and what to look for when choosing.There are literally thousands of people out there that either investigate or hunt. Just browse the internet and you will see. You are looking at one now! Being that there are so many would lead one to believe that it is easy to find a reputable one. NOT SO! If you are serious about your experiences then you may need a serious investigator. If you are not sure or are just trying to find out if there may be something going on then you might need a Ghost Hunter. Which ever your needs you will need to do your homework on who you want to do it. There are also many out there that just want to play or worse. They don't fall into any of the categories I mentioned and need to be weeded out. Let's start with...The Reputable Investigator?A reputable investigator will never ask you to come to your home or place you want investigated first. A reputable investigator will, like you, want to know if you are serious and to see if you really need their services. No serious investigator jumps into any investigation without knowing what they are getting into. In short they too want to make sure you're ok as you want to know they're ok. They will usually only take very general information and never ask for your personal information. (there is no need at this point so don't give it) If someone starts pry for personal information, discusses payment, etc., you may want to look elsewhere. A serious investigator will suggest a public place (of your choosing) for the initial meeting. They will want to meet to get a feel of the situation and establish a quick rapport. This is your opportunity to feel them out too.There are NO guaranteesA reputable person will never make any guarantees. They will not tell you they can fix things. An investigator is just what it implies. They are investigating to see if there is a reason for your experience. If during an investigation the investigator changes the terms, asks for payment to continue or cleanse your home etc. You should end the investigation immediately and if the situation warrants it. Notify the authorities. Not everyone out there is honest. It is up to you to make the determination. Hence, the initial meeting at a public place.Reputable investigators don't consult with others as a rule, BUT...Now before you jump to conclusions. They don't do this as a rule because if they are consulting others then they aren't investigating, the person being consulted is. If you are aware they are consulting someone else, maybe you should be working with the person they are consulting? Now this isn't to say a good investigator won't ask a fellow investigator some questions or bounce things off them. What I am saying is that you won't know about it. If you do, it shows a lack of confidence in their own abilities or they may be scam artists. Poor ones maybe but scam artists none the less.Reputable investigators don't bring large teamsGhost Hunters bring a lot of people to cemeteries. Paranormal investigators have small serious teams. A good investigator will suggest 2 to 3 investigators besides themselves depending on the location. A good investigator is not going to bring a bunch of people. (that's only on TV) Besides almost everyone I have had contact with doesn't want a gaggle of people running all over their homes and most homes aren't big enough for that. However, a good investigator (if out of their general area) may contact another reputable organization in the area to let them know they have an investigation and see if they want to send one person to observe. It's just a professional courtesy. Reputable organizations almost always belong to a network where they can make contact with other organizations. One last thing is that a good investigator will suggest a day and night investigation. It is just good sense to (if for no other reason) familiarize yourself with new surroundings in the daylight first for safety reasons.Everything should be above boardEverything should be put out at the first meeting. Remember you (for all intents and purposes) are hiring this person. You are in charge. You set the boundaries. If an investigator balks at you setting boundaries. It may be time to look elsewhere. You can always lift boundaries later when you feel comfortable. A reputable investigator knows this. The first meeting will be like an interview for both of you. The good investigator should then suggest a second meeting if you wish to continue. You will then tell them you will get back to them. This may seem like a long process but your ghosts aren't going anywhere and if the investigator is reputable neither are they. Besides you would check out a plumber, carpenter or other persons coming into your home. Why should this be different. It just may need to be approached a little different. If you feel comfortable with the person then let them know and set up that second meeting for specifics. What you are looking for. Where the investigation is to take place, etc. Now that it is set. Let friends and family know what is going on and always have at least one person with you when the investigation begins.Do people charge? If they do, what for?This subject has been a big debate between investigators for some time. Most don't charge but some do. It usually is no reflection on their ability but may be on your decision. Some say reputable investigators don't charge. That is a correct statement in that they may not charge for the investigation or their time. However, some charge for hard copies of the investigation, DVD's or audio tape copies. You have to remember these are real people and don't have a TV show's budget and buy these items out of their own pocket. So don't be offended if they don't give you copies for free. If they are charging you to come into your home to investigate, you may want to look else where. It is up to you.The DecisionThat was the easy part. Now you will have to make a decision to whether or not you want to proceed. Ask yourself the normal questions. Who is the best qualified? Will they do as you ask? (i.e., work around your schedule, etc.) If they are acting like they are in charge at any time? Look elsewhere.NOW! Is a Paranormal Investigator Overkill?Each situation is unique. Do you really need a paranormal Investigator or will a Ghost Hunter do. There are many more Ghost Hunters out there and they never charge. If you do enough research on the internet you may be able to do it yourself. Now remember one thing. Ghost Hunters usually belong to a larger club and have many members. But if you can get only a couple of them to come out. Maybe the head ghost hunter and one other. You may also find out what you need to know. You may then decide you will need further investigation. But never, never be disappointed if nothing happens when you are having your investigation. Because unless your experiences are happening 24/7/365. The chances of something happening when being investigated are remote. That is why investigators will suggest several visits at alternating times, etc.
Certified Investigators... DON'T be FOOLED!!!This section will most likely make people mad. Especially those to whom it applies but the facts are here to see in black & white if you put aside your feelings and read it. If you are thin skinned you may want to skip this section.
UNDERSTAND! I am not saying all certificates are bad. I am saying be careful.
Don't be influenced or impressed by someone who says they are a Certified Paranormal Investigator. There is officially NO such thing. No acredited school or instructor grants a Paranormal Investigator's Certificate. Yes, there are many on the internet and elsewhere that will charge you money for a piece of paper they print on their computer but, it carries NO weight in the acedemic world. If someone says they are certified, raise an eyebrow and ask where their accreditation is from. Then ask what qualifications their instructor/teacher had to to be able to issue them a certificate.
Any Paranormal Investigator's or Ghost Hunter certification program, may provide a basic background in paranormal research and it may carry a small amount of credibility depending on who you ask. (usually only the ones that received a certificate from them) That too is only if the organization providing the certificate has any credibility to begin with. I mean think about it. If you can't get legal formal education in the field, how can someone offer a certificate in the field to someone else?I personally would not recommend anyone spend money for a Paranormal Investigators Certificate. No matter how good the training might seem.The bottom line is that you can personally, on your own, learn just as much by reading ghost hunting books, doing folklore research, join a group and go ghost hunting yourself. For this all you need is a FREE Library card and some FREE time. Experience is always the better teacher. Remember my saying: There is No Substitute for Experience and No Wisdom without it.,If you feel you absolutely need to pay for some training. Then get formal education that is universally recognized? Take college courses in Investigations. OR, go for Private Investigator courses. These will give you recognized education and the discipline in Investigations. Then you can put your education to work towards the paranormal and be able to show legal accredited diplomas that you are qualified to investigate and it will be money well spent.
Here is the difference between them and us to give you a better idea of what I mean.We at GhostBreakers are or were real police officers. I have a wall full of diplomas & certificates from colleges, the federal government, etc., in Criminal Investigation. We have taken our legally, universally recognized, accredited skills and experience and adapted it to paranormal investigation. In fact we and others like us may be the only ones who can really call ourselves Paranormal Investigators because of our skill, education and experience. See the difference? Basically, everyone else would be considered Ghost Hunters if you want to get technical and debate the terms. Now please don't misinterpret what I have said as a bad thing. Ghost Hunters just lack formal education in investigations. They may however have more experience with the paranormal. I just bring this up to expose the scam artists and non-serious. A dedicated person will not whine over what they are called. It is the ones that insist that they be called Investigator instead of Hunter that I balk at. Actually for the serious ghost hunter I would like to see them called Paranormalists. That has a nice ring to it.
So they are telling you they are a Parapsychologist? A parapsychologist is not a Paranormal Investigator or Ghost Hunter. They can be both but they are different. Look up the definition for yourself.
The following was obtained from qualified parapsychologists and condensed for this site while doing research for this site.
If you want to be a parapsychologist and you have the aptitude, attitudes and values needed for success in a scientific career, then it is time to consider what concrete steps you need to take to become a parapsychologist. This involves primarily education. To begin with, you should plan to get an advanced degree, at least a Masters and preferably a Doctorate. But even in undergraduate school you should plan to take courses that are relevant to parapsychology. As noted above, psychology is probably the most relevant field to parapsychology, but the field is so interdisciplinary that many other fields are relevant as well. Foremost among these I would place physics, anthropology, sociology, biology, philosophy, and history. Choose as your major the field that you find most interesting and congenial based on your experience in the introductory course. What most parapsychologists end up doing is studying PSI by applying the concepts and methods used in their mainstream field of study. For instance people trained in anthropology might study psychic beliefs and practices of people in “primitive” cultures, whereas someone trained in philosophy might study the implications of PSI for the mind/body problem. However, regardless of the field you choose for your major, I would suggest that you take some psychology courses, particularly experimental psychology, tests and measurements, and statistics. The reason for this is that parapsychology borrows its research methods primarily from psychology, and you will need familiarity with these methods regardless of what approach to the subject matter you finally adopt, including specialization in the study of spontaneous cases. If you decide to major in psychology, I would recommend that in addition to the method courses, you take courses in cognitive psychology, abnormal psychology, and physiological psychology. If you are fortunate enough to attend an accredited college or university that offers a good undergraduate course in parapsychology, you of course should take that as well. However, you will not be able to major in parapsychology. Likewise, you will not be able to get a graduate degree in parapsychology at a standard university. However, there are such places where you can get a doctorate in psychology with a specialization in parapsychology. Foremost among these is the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Unfortunately, such specializations are not available in most Western countries including the USA, although you may be able to find a professor who will supervise a thesis or dissertation in parapsychology.
So the next time you see the word parapsychologist. You will understand what it entails and what the person went thru to get his/her degree, if in fact they are really a parapsychologist and not just saying so to impress. It is easy to check too. Just ask to see their diplomas. Most people I know with advanced degrees are more than happy to share it with you. Some even carry credit card sized laminated copies.
So, if you already have a college degree you may find somewhere to get a grad degree in parapsychology.BUT...As of mid-2006, no accredited American College or University offers a formal parapsychology degree. It is because they want to distance themselves from wild and extravagant claims made by small (but vocal) fringe elements within the New Age movement and Paranormal Fields.
Many "degree mills" have sprouted up since the late 1960's. Their letterheads may look impressive and they may now claim a 30+ year history in the field, they are still degree mills. They have NO accreditation and command very little respect in the professional community. They are a big waste of time and your money in our opinion. So BE CAREFUL!
Now if you got anything out of what was written above? Then you will realize that YOU have the big decisions to make and the most work to do in the beginning to find the right person for your needs. Remember, never be afraid to ask questions. Ask questions of one group and compare the answers to another. The more questions, the more you will know and the easier the decision. I know it sounds a little involved but the best decisions usually are.
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