The first and most important thing an aspiring ghostbuster should know is that you should always bring a scientific attitude. Be analytical and maybe even a little skeptical at first. Exhaust all scientific explanations for the situation before jumping to paranormal conclusions. If you go into a job expecting to see something supernatural, then chances are you will convince yourself that you did. More often than not there is a logical explanation.

The first step to any investigation is to interview the witnesses and/or occupants of the building. If they agree, give them psychological and physical examinations. Obviously, people with a history of mental illness or poor eyesight are more likely to believe they are seeing ghosts. Once this is done, the house is examined for chemicals that may cause hallucinations, magnetic fields, or anything out of the ordinary. The house structure is usually reviewed. A tilting house is more likely to have broken objects that could be mistaken as a poltergeist. Usually the area is put under surveillance for a few days in order to catch any vandals or thieves.

If both the witnesses and the buildings pass inspection, it is time to search for paranormal explanations. Measure changes in temperature and check lighting conditions which may aid themselves to creating hallucinations. If you have access to a higher budget, you should try monitoring radiation levels and gravitational fields. These all check for a physical haunting. If there is no physical evidence, than it may be a perceptual haunting. Although this may seem disappointing, about sixty to seventy percent of legitimate hauntings are perceptual (according the Office of Scientific Investigation and Research, or OSIR).

There are not many effective methods to get rid of a ghost. Often, changing a person’s frame of mind will solve the problem. Being frightened can only make the situation worse. If they can ignore it until it goes away, than that is what should be done. If a poltergeist is affecting the environment in a physical way, such as opening and shutting doors or breaking house-hold objects, then the first step is to alter the environment. Move some furniture around. If that doesn’t work, more extreme solutions such as exorcism or relocation are necessary.

Before investigating your first paranormal occurrence, you need to make sure you have the right supplies. In case you do find a ghost, it would be handy to have these supplies around:

  • Notebook – To jot down observations and feelings. Write down EVERYTHING, whether it seems paranormal at the time or not. Even the smallest details could be important.
  • Tape Measure – To make accurate measurements of distances
  • Stopwatch – To time the duration of any manifestations you encounter
  • Camera – This is very important, for obvious reasons. Try to use a camera with a speed of 400 or 1000 ASA, so you can take pictures without a flash.
  • Weather Thermometer – To measure changing temperatures (to be recorded in the notebook). Paranormal events are frequently accompanied by drastic changes in temperature.
  • Magnifying Glass – To study small objects or suspicious smudges
  • Small container – To collect any relevant objects or samples an apparition may leave behind.
  • Portable Tape Recorder – To record any unusual sounds. This is important because you can hear what goes on during your absence.
  • Baby Powder – Apparitions do not leave footprints. Cover the floor in baby powder to tell if someone is tricking you.
  • Masking Tape – Tape windows and doors. Since apparitions can pass through solid objects, any disturbance in the tape can point to a hoax.
  • Spool of Thread – Attach across hallways, stairs, or wherever the apparition appears. They should be able to pass without disturbing the thread.

For more information on ghost hunting, contact the

Office of Scientific Investigation and Research
P.O. Box 461779
Los Angeles, California 90046

OSIR investigates all types of unexplained phenomena. They offer counseling and, if deemed necessary, can send a team to your house for investigation of paranormal occurences.