UFOs and the paranormal with Malcolm Robinson: How to detect a ghost

As a paranormal researcher I have been at the forefront of some amazing haunted cases, but what is it like to actually enter and investigate a ‘haunted house’? What does one do? And how essentially does one go about getting rid of what can sometimes be troublesome presences?

For any reader who is not aware on what exactly comprises a ghost investigation, then the following is a brief rundown of what we as a research group do, (but it should not be taken as a rule of thumb as each research group may have their own ways of conducting an investigation).

First and foremost I often get asked on how I become aware of haunted houses. I answer that this can either be through word of mouth or through newspapers or radio stations. They will get in touch with me and pass on information and ask me to become involved. First stop is to interview the witnesses concerned, and upon speaking to the witnesses, we’ll then decide whether we should proceed any further. We might get an inclination on that first contact with the witnesses that they are not being truthful in other words, just making it all up. But we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater so we will at least visit the site of the haunting and find out for sure if a second visit is indeed worthwhile.

So what we would do after being informed about the haunting would be to arrange a time convenient to the occupants of the house in which the problems are occurring and sit down with them (individually) and try and ascertain if there is any real substance to their claims. We would ask their permission to audio tape their testimony, if they said no, then we would resort to writing their testimony down on paper. Then after this first visit to the witnesses and if we were impressed by what we heard, then we would arrange another time convenient to visit them (and with their permission) spend the night in their house preferably with them moving out and spending the night with family or friends. We have always found people quite happy to do this and they’ll give us free reign of their house to carry out our investigations.

We would then bring along to the haunted location, a psychic, someone of whom we have worked with before and whom we know and trust. However, I must make this firmly clear, that when we do bring along our psychic, we ensure that she doesn’t know anything about the haunted house, all facts and information will be kept away from her and she will only know about the investigation at the very last minute. If she gets an inkling at all about the house that she is visiting and it turns out that she knows the occupants then we’ll drop her like a stone. Any pre-knowledge of the events would for us invalidate her being there.

Once inside your ‘haunted house’ the person who is in charge of the investigation, should group everyone together and state quite clearly what their roles will be during the course of the night. This of course depends on how many investigators you have on that particular night. My research group have always been happy with working with no more than six researchers at a maximum. Of course each investigative group will have their own tools of the trade so to speak, but generally speaking, this will comprise the following:

a) Hand-held and tripod based camcorders for continuous filming (on infra red)

b) Beam barrier alarms (for anything that may trip this alarm, human or non human!

c) Torches

d) Thermometer to gauge temperature drops

e) EMF meter

f) Infra red thermometer

g) 35mm or other cameras

h) Pens and paper to document any unusual events

i) Chalk dust or flour to place round ornaments to see if they move of their own accord during the night

j) Digital tape recorders to perhaps obtain any E.V.P. phenomenon (electronic voice phenomena) in other words, sounds or voices caught on audio tape that can’t be rationally explained away as other members of your party.

Of course probably the best piece of equipment that any researcher can take along to a haunted house, is your own eyes and ears, you should always be fully aware when investigating an alleged haunted property.

During the course of the team leader’s talk to his fellow researchers, he should once more reiterate the fact that they should always be aware of the many normal household background noises that a house can make during the night.

Any house loses its heat during the end of the day and will get cooler as the night wears on which will have a direct bearing on the very fabric of the building. The floorboards may contract due to the changes in temperature. Then there is the old classic of air in the water pipes! There might be birds or mice getting into the loft and their nocturnal scurrying around may give rise to false ghostly sounds. Some of the doors in the house may be uneven and may not close properly and be badly misaligned and may move of their own accord. Windows may not be properly sealed and even the slightest current of air may blow a thin curtain out into the room as if being moved by a ghostly presence.

Certain outside sounds may be misconstrued as coming from inside the house, this is why it’s best to make a sketch plan of the house and locate certain members of your team in certain rooms of the house or building. This should be done in 20 to 30 minute spells where you should all sit quietly and listen for any unusual sounds that you can agree on as not being the normal background household noises.

After that 20 to 30 minute spell, you should all change rooms so that everyone has a chance to occupy different parts of the house or building.

Another aspect of ghost hunting is to check the history of the house or building that you will be entering. When was it built? What type of land was it built on? Were there any battles from yesteryear in or around the area?

Try and find out as much as you can about the building. Going to your local reference library may help build up a picture of any particular interesting history associated with the house/building.

You should also get the occupants of the house to complete a ghost questionnaire form, this form should ask questions which will prove of benefit to you later. Use a ghost photographic questionnaire form as well if any photographs were taken.

During the course of the night, you should be as quiet and vigilant as possible, ensure that your team of fellow investigators don’t leave their positions (even for the toilet, tell them to go beforehand!)

What we as a research group have done in the past, is to let our psychic stay in different rooms in the house or building, then for her to ‘tune in’ and generally try and pick up information from any potential spirits that ‘might’ be in the building.

Anything at all that you hear or see, well it goes without saying, jot it down in your note pad, or, if you are using one of those small hand-held mini audio recorders, whisper what you’ve seen or heard into that.

You may also want to try ‘asking spirit’ to either show themselves, or make a noise in the room. Every single ghost Investigation that I have ever been on, we have always done this. You could also take a small audio cassette into one of the room, ask out into the room for spirit to say something onto the tape, then walk out of the room and close the door and ensure that nobody goes back into that room until you do to collect the audio tape. Listen to it through headphones (carefully) when you can and you might, just might, pick up something that shouldn’t be there!

Then, usually around 6.00am, when we all group together in one room, we’ll share all the information that we have gathered during the course of the night and if that information lends itself to there definitely being a spirit presence in the house, then we will perform what’s known as a cleansing.

Now this is nothing fanciful and Hollywood, all this is, is our research team sitting around a table, we all join hands, and, after saying out the Lord’s Prayer, our psychic will try and impress upon what we call an, ‘Earthbound entity’, (basically a spirit that has passed on and who can’t accept the fact that it has passed on) that there is a better place for it to go.

Yes I know, this all sounds very Hollywood but essentially by trying to impress upon this spirit that they are upsetting the new tenants of this property and to go towards the light. Surprisingly this works very well and in the main we have never been asked to revisit a haunted house to conduct the same thing twice.

Once we have completed our ‘psychic cleansing’ we’ll await the occupants of the house to return where we will tell them all about what has transpired. Maybe, just maybe, they might be able to take some names that we have gathered throughout the course of the night! Prior to our team spending the night in a haunted house, we would ask the occupants of the house if they want this ‘psychic cleansing’ to get rid of their ghosts, the reason we ask is that incredible as though it may sound, there are occasions where some people have said to us, “Oh please don’t get rid of our ghosts, we just want to know who they are”? I kid you not.

At the end of the day, some research groups have their own methods of dealing with haunted houses; some don’t even use psychic mediums. I’ve only gingerly scratched the surface of what a ghost investigation comprises of, but at the end of the day, all we as researchers are trying to do, is uncover the facts, and find out if there is any validity to the claims of the people who see ghosts.

Till next time, sleep well, and keep an open mind for things may not always be what they seem.

(c) Malcolm Robinson

• Malcolm’s new book is out soon, UFO Case Files of Scotland Volume 2, available from www.healingsofatlantis.com