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Dylan Jones

The Manual of Guidance
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Let me start by asking you a question.  Why the need for research to be undertaken?  Emily Peach (1991) opens her book, “Things That Go Bump in the Night” by stating, “the evidence for the existence for ghosts is vast and incontrovertible”.  For someone who has apparently investigated many cases of apparitions and hauntings, that statement is a very sweeping generalisation.  If the evidence were such, we would not be bothering to get up from the chair that we are sat upon right now.  We would have no need.  There would be no point or purpose.  Perhaps she should have said that the evidence is slowly mounting with increasingly challenging results, but with the emphasis firmly placed on the word slowly. 

 

It is indeed true that there are many reports of paranormal activity each year from all over the world, but that does not mean that the phenomena exist in reality.  We must examine many aspects before considering a paranormal cause for the phenomena that was allegedly experienced.  Peach does state that there are “so many cases, so many people, so many experiences, so many different reactions, so many conflicting opinions”, and this cannot be emphasized enough.  Each of those areas needs to be questioned and evaluated, and as Peter Underwood concludes, as investigators we should not be daunted by this task. 

 

We are on a long and winding road that pitches questions and challenges at us on every bend.  However, our purpose is clear – we are to collect evidence for a scientific purpose and nothing else.  We are here to “fact-gather”.  Many scientists will not embrace parapsychology in public for fear of ridicule or scorn.  But what is there to be perturbed about?  Science is there to advance human understanding and knowledge – in essence to “fact-gather”.  We are not here to lay the spirits of the dead to rest, to act as advisors to couples when they should see a minister of religion or counsellors, or to sort out non-Para psychological problems.  We are investigators.

 

Science is made up of theories and experiments that rely on the fact that you can do something once, and then repeat it and you will get the same result, time after time.  This allows a ‘comfort zone’ to develop around it, and to question it would be challenging the very basic security that mankind has found in science.  We like to know what will happen when we do a particular action, but there is apprehension when we do not know what will follow.

 

But science is insecure about what we do, and in the midst of all the uncertainty in Paranormal Research there is only one certainty – investigators have a tough, uphill task ahead of them.  No matter what the quality of scientific proof, the validity of the witnesses, or the reliability and reputation of the investigative team, there will always remain a hard-core of determined sceptics that are steadfast in their claim that paranormal phenomena are total rubbish.  In some cases, they are probably true. 

 

There have been some doubtful and dubious mediums, psychics and researchers who have all tried their hand at making an easy profit or pursuing fraudulent claims by preying on the gullible.  These are the well-founded reasons why sceptics like the Canadian magician, James Randi, say that the phenomena do not exist.  However, we need these types of people to assist us in our investigations.  They are the ones who question our investigative procedures, and stop us becoming complacent.

 

In many cases, however, the only reason that lets the investigators down is simple - themselves.  It is often the sheer inexperience of the investigative team and the procedures that are adopted that are the causes of the dismissal of any evidence put forward.  The absence of set procedure, appraisal and policy are the causes of investigations meeting a rather embarrassing end.  Spontaneous case research has often been a hit and miss affair, with too many questions left unanswered, leaving the investigation open to criticism from many angles.

 

In Loyd Auerbachs latest book “Ghost Hunting: How to Investigate the Paranormal”, he draws attention to the many new groups who have become “enamoured with technology”.  These groups are causing something of a headache for serious researchers – the emphasis in any investigation must be placed on the human experience, and this cannot be reinforced strongly enough.  Auerbach humorously remarks that a “chimpanzee can use an EMF meter, but that does not mean that the chimpanzee is doing science”.  We need to go back to basics, as I firmly believe that technology has become a crutch for us.  People who wish to be serious, professional investigators must learn their subject, learn the skills of interviewing and the “who, what, where, when and how” of conducting an investigation.  We must refrain from the desire to rush headfirst into an investigation.

 

It is for these reasons that this document has been compiled.  It details the procedure of an investigation from start to finish in detail.  You will find everything here that will help you through an investigation.  Enclosed within the Manual are appendices with the forms and questionnaires.  The whole purpose of this Manual is to avoid us saying something along the lines of, “I wish we could have… or asked them… or done that… or looked at this…”  That feeling and expression of regret is, without doubt, the worst feeling in the world.  I desperately want to avoid anyone having to say those words.

 

Parapsychology is now becoming closer than ever to being included in a place in science that it deserves to be.  We are not occultists, witches or a bunch of weirdo’s who have nothing better to do with our spare time.  We cannot even call ourselves Parapsychologists – we do not have a post-graduate qualification in this field, and we must ensure that we acknowledge that very important detail.  We are professional people who are genuinely interested in the phenomena that many people claim to experience, and the many questions and debates that it provokes.  Why do people experience the phenomena?  Is it real or are there some other factors at play?  Can it be documented and studied? 

 

Some people are honestly upset and confused about their experiences, which they have chosen to believe are paranormal in origin.  Some people merely wish to have someone to talk to.  They deserve an opportunity to have their experience studied and recorded.  I accept that probably about 90% of cases may well have a purely natural explanation.  But, from personal experience, I am prepared to admit that what remains will continue to challenge scientific boundaries for a long time to come.  Perhaps ASSAP can add to the weight of scientific evidence that Auerbach, Roll, MacKenzie, Rogo, Peach and Underwood believe prove the existence of hauntings and apparitions. 

 

The following topics are covered in detail:

 
 
The Initial Report
 
The Preliminary Investigation
 
Interviewing Witnesses
 
Significant Patterns and Primary and Secondary Effects
 
The Examination of the Premises
 
The Geophysical Investigation
 
Understanding the Phenomena
 
The Investigative Field Study
 
Report Compiling and Archiving
 
 
 
 

All material on this site is copyright to Dylan Jones, unless otherwise stated.