"Hey Gang, Let's Gather Up Our Science Gear And Hunt For a Ghost!"
So, yes. I've seen some spooky stuff. I've investigated places where, in the heat of the investigation, I really did think there must be a ghost floating around. However, I'm no fool: I know perfectly well that there are a lot of other explanations that are going to come and go. There's nothing I've seen that I truly expect to stand up to scientific investigation forever. But, on the other hand, who knows?
All I can say for sure is that we don't really know anything about ghosts. We have a few theories, but none that anyone can really agree on. All that this means, though, is that the questions are still open, and there's a lot left for us to find out. While I can't say that I expect anyone, anywhere, ever to find out anything for sure, I also sure can't discourage you from going out and looking for ghosts anyway. In fact, I heartily encourage it. It's fun, and, often, a lot more educational than some skeptics might think. I may not have found a single actual ghost, but I've learned an awful lot about history, and quite a bit about science that I wouldn't have otherwise learned. A lot about myself, too, as a matter of fact.
If you want to run a scientific ghost hunt of your own, it's really just as simple as gathering up some sober friends and saying "hey, gang, let's gather up our science gear and go look for ghosts!" After all, an investigation is really nothing more than sitting around an allegedly haunted place waiting for a ghost to show up. You can use practically anything you want for equipment, really.
Here in Chicago, we have a really terrific place called American Science and
Surplus, which is like a Radio Shack for mad scientists. They sell every manner of goofy scientific stuff, and they go out of their way to make it "fun." For instance, ball bearings are on sale under the name "robot eggs," and are guaranteed to hatch within a million years or you get your money back (so keep your receipt). You can buy test tubes, geiger counters, scales, weights, motors…everything you need to built a short wave radio, create a functioning robot, put together that hovercraft you've been dreaming of since third grade, or, just possibly, catch a ghost. In fact, I'd say that just about everything they sell there can be used in a ghost hunt, if you're willing to be a bit creative.
So, which stuff should you buy before you go on a ghost hunt? That's totally up to you, but you don't really NEED anything. It's nice to have some equipment, but frankly, there are only two real reasons to have any gear at all:
1. It can help give you clues as to where to look. Even if you get a weird reading on your equipment, it's not really "evidence," just a clue. You won't know if the reading really comes from a ghost unless an apparition shows up.
2. Gadgets are cool! How often do you get to use that EMF reader that's been gathering dust in your garage? If you spent seven grand to get yourself a thermal imaging camera for some reason, you might as well take it along on a ghost hunt. This is also the main reason so many ghost shows on TV use a ton of gadgets – flashing lights look neat on TV.
No one really knows what kind of gear you should use for a ghost investigation. We ghost hunters can argue about it all day. There's no piece of gear that will really determine whether a ghost is present, and it's to be assumed that which equipment will react to a ghost being in the room will vary from ghost to ghost, since no two ghosts seem to be exactly alike. Some of them might be photographable only on one kind of camera, and others might only be visible in pictures taken by a totally different kind. Some ghosts might show up and bring a high radiation level with them. Others might show up and not change the radiation in the room at all. So who's to say which equipment to bring on the first trip to any given location?
But one thing we can pretty much agree on is that very little equipment on the market was designed for ghost hunting. The best way to figure out what gear is right for you is to experiment and customize.
No equipment is fool proof. Digital cameras may eliminate some of the problems ghost hunters had years ago with film cameras (like double exposure, scratches on the negative, and things like that), but they bring up new ones of their own. There are always, always other explanations for weird pictures. There're other explanations for ANY weird readings that any piece of gear turns up, in fact.
Ken and I generally feel that we don't need too much gear, since we have Ken and his super-powers. Like any other piece of equipment, he isn't foolproof, but he does the same thing that any other piece of gear would: he tells us where to look. Every now and then, he'll save us a lot of time by saying that he doesn't think any ghosts are present, which usually ends the investigation right away - if the psychic thinks a place isn't haunted, there's no way the group skeptic is going to want to stick around for any longer than it takes to look for secret passages, old tunnels, and the other non-ghostly stuff that you sometimes run into on investigations.
But if you don't have a reliable psychic to tell you where to look, there's plenty of gear on the market to play around with.
In fact, most people have all the equipment they need for a pretty good investigation stashed around the house. Different ghost hunters have different preferences as far as equipment goes - I think we can generally agree that you should use decent electronics as opposed to cheap, low-end stuff - but since we don't really know what ghosts ARE, exactly, we don't know what kind of equipment is really best. Every kind of gear has advantages and disadvantages. I once had someone tell me that with gear, or anything else, you have to pick two out of these three attributes: fast, cheap, and good. You can get something good and cheap, but it won't be fast. Or you can get something good and fast, but it won't be cheap, and something fast and cheap won't be good. And it's hard to imagine that something that isn't fast and good will be that useful in detecting ghosts.
Here are some of the standard gizmos:
1. Regular old tools.
The tool we use the most is probably a level - people say that their doors are opening on their own, we show up and see that the doors are hanging crooked, and we're pretty much done. We might have to come up SOMETHING weird to tell them anyway - some people would be absolutely devastated if we told them flat out that their house wasn't haunted, and I'm not in the business of making people feel stupid because they mistook something normal for something ghostly. But the vast majority of ghost reports can be explained away very easily. Screwdrivers and wrenches can tighten loose connections that cause weird noises, and help you break into secret passages on occasion. You probably also have a thermometer lying around - these are good for checking out cold spots if you can't afford a thermal imaging camera (and you probably can't).
Some report that even the cheapest compasses will spin around wildly in your hand when a ghost is present - these can be good substitutes for more expensive electomagnetic field readers, and are much easier to use correctly. You can experiment with any tool in the world, really, though some are obviously more useful than others. For instance, I doubt you'll get much use out of a table saw on a ghost hunt. Try to use one, and you'll probably just end up getting hurt. Use your common sense (and safety goggles if you absolutely insist on using something dangerous).
2. Regular Cameras
This is the most obvious one, really. You can't get a ghost picture without a camera. Now, what KIND of camera you ought to use is a whole other matter. Every ghost hunting group has their own theory about this one, and they can get pretty militant about it.
Digital cameras have been awfully controversial in the ghost hunting community, and some ghost hunters get really uppity about using film instead. In 2003, Troy actually published an article called "Digital Cameras: Ghost Hunting at its Worst." In those days, ghost hunters were seeing a barrage of low quality digital pictures in which the orbs and mists were just the result of the digital camera reacting badly to low-light situations. It was argued that digital cameras were unreliable, and that digital images were too easy to fake.
Things have changed a bit now - high quality digital cameras are much easier to get now than they were in 2003. Even Troy no longer takes a hardline view against digital cameras (at least those that take pictures at 5 megapixels or larger, which most of them do now). Some people still insist that film is automatically superior to digital; these are the same people who insist that tape recording is automatically preferable to digital audio (cough - nerds!).
The fact is that digital cameras and traditional cameras quite simply work in different ways. They react to and record light in different manners. Which method is really better for capturing ghosts frankly remains to be seen, and may very well vary from ghost to ghost.
One thing that's worth noting, in fact, is that digital cameras pick up a broader range of light and colors than the human eye, and certain infrared lights that are invisible to the eye will be visible in digital cameras after they've been converted to that long series of 1s and 0s that make up a digital file. For instance, t-shirts have been made showing what appears to be clouds, but, when you take a digital picture, you'll be able to see lighting bolts emitting from the clouds in the picture. It may, in fact, turn out that the reason some ghosts are invisible is simply that they're composed of a kind of light outside the spectrum of human vision.
So, if you want to take some ghost shots, my advice is simply to find the best camera you can get your hands on. Use both film AND digital, if possible. If you seem to be picking up a lot of orbs with a certain digital camera, try using another one - some cameras are simply prone to picking up false positives. Try it with and without the flash (though some people will tell you never, ever to use the flash on a ghost hunt).
With any kind of camera, you want to watch out for obvious things. Dust on the lens can create an "orb" shot. If the light from your flash bounces off something, that light can bounce back onto the lens, creating a perfectly round blob of light in the picture - an instant orb. Ghost hunters get pretty jaded to pictures of "vortexes" - vertical blobs of light that some people say are portals to another dimension, or something like that, but are usually just the camera strap. (Who knew that a three dollar camera strap could be a portal to the netherworld?).
There's a similar argument over video cameras, of course. I practically never get anything good on video cameras, personally, and wading through the video looking for weird stuff is a lot more time-consuming than looking through photographs.
Also, I tend to think that video cameras are less likely to pick up a ghost. One reason we may not see a ghost with the naked eye could be that they only appear for a bare fragment of a second at a time, too quickly for the eye to see it. A camera taking a shot with a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second per shot may pick the ghost up, if the shutter is opened at exactly the right moment, but the video camera (which is more likely to be taking shots at a speed of about 1/30th of a second) is less likely to pick anything up that your eyeballs wouldn't.
The way I explain this concept to people is to say "quick, how many fingers am I holding up?"I'll wave my hand in front of my face so quickly that no one can get a look at how many fingers are up with the naked eye, but if they'd take a picture of it with a fast shutter speed, they'd be able to see the fingers clearly. Perhaps ghosts just appear and disappear too fast – or move too quickly – for us to notice them.
So I suggest sticking with still cameras, for the most part, but if a ghost ever walks through a wall and starts chatting about the food in the afterlife on one of my tours, I know I'll wish I had a video camera on me.
Another thing to note is that some people are simply better at taking ghost pictures than others, it seems. Ken describes getting a picture of a ghost as like getting a picture of lightning - you have to take the picture at exactly the right second, and some people just seem to have more of an instinct for it than other people. If you have one of these people in your group, have them use multiple cameras to make sure it's not just some quirk in their camera causing the "ghosts" to show up. When we have people taking a lot of strange pictures on the tour, we like to have them trade cameras with someone and see if they still get more strange pictures than everyone else (which they do surprisingly often).
Other things to watch out for include smears and reflections in glass and "mist" that is actually breath hanging in the air on a cold day or smoke from a cigarette. Most investigations have a strict "no smoking" rule. The rules about drinking and joking get broken a lot, particularly in places where there doesn't seem to be anything ghostly going on, but the "no smoking" rule rarely does.
3. Infrared cameras
Some of the best ghost pictures of all time - or the coolest, anyway - were taken using infrared cameras.
Infrared light is a kind of light with a wavelength longer than the kind of light that is normally visible. In other words, it's light that exists all around you, but that you can't see with your eyeballs. But infrared cameras and filters can convert them into something you CAN see in the pictures. In addition to exposing "ghosts"that aren't visible to the naked eye, infrared filters are often used for, say, night vision goggles, which can be useful when poking around dark old buildings and graveyards for the simple reason that they'll help keep you from tripping over something in the dark and falling on your ass. In some circumstances, I understand that infrared goggles can even allow you to see right through people's clothes, if they're wearing the right kind of clothes and the right kind of underwear.
Infrared stuff is getting cheaper; as a matter of fact, just about all digital cameras are actually infrared cameras by nature, but include a filter to filter out most of the infrared light, since it can lead to blurry shots. You can make yourself a filter that will block out other lights and get you infrared pictures, but to get decent shots using them you need a really long shutter speed (about a second in daylight, or 10 seconds in dark areas), rendering them fairly useless for ghost hunts.
A much more advanced method of turning digital cameras into infrared cameras is to take your camera apart, locate and remove the infrared filter, then install a cobalt blue filter to block out everything EXCEPT infrared light. The pictures taken with cameras like this are terribly cool, but the process of taking a camera apart and putting it back together is awfully tricky. I tried it and ended up with a broken camera, a pretty painful electric shock, and a wife with every reason to say "I told you so."If you really want to give it a try, there are instructions all over the web, but be careful. Trust me.
4. Thermal imaging cameras
Occasionally ghost hunters get pretty cool images with these things, which are really just higher-tech color versions of infrared cameras (regular, "short"infrared shots are in monochrome). If nothing else, they look pretty cool - what they do is pick up colorful "heat signatures" that look sort of psychedelic. They can be pretty useful - if you're hearing a strange noise coming from somewhere in the attic, they can help you see if there's a rat or some other kind of critter up there making the noise. They're also a lot of fun - using stuff like this makes you feel like you're in a James Bond movie or something, and seeing what kind of heat signature you can pick up around toilets is always good for a laugh.
However, they cost a fortune. The only ghost hunters who normally use these things are groups who can talk a cable TV channel in bankrolling them. TV shows love these things, since they look so neat - it's useful to remember that even the most honest ghost-based TV programs have to do stuff that looks good on camera now and then.
The real use of the things may not be finding ghosts so much as debunking them. Consider the night we heard the baby crying in the Garden of Evil. If we'd had a thermal imaging camera, we could have used it to see if there was a cat in the bushes or something. If we had one the night of the gunshot in the Congress hotel, we could have seen if there were any footprints in the hallway. It wouldn't have necessarily solved the mystery for sure - I don't know how easy it is to tell a cat from a rabbit on these devices, and what we thought was a cat could have been, in reality, one of the garden's resident Bunnnies of Evil, and it would be hard to tell WHEN any footprints would have been left. But it would have given us quite a clue.
However, they do sometimes pick up strange stuff. And there are a few very cool, entirely practical uses for them; for instance, if you're investigating a cemetery and the inscription on a tombstone has worn away, it might be legible when viewed with a thermal camera, since the place where the inscription WAS will have a slightly different heat signature than the rest of the stone. This is terribly cool to try.
And, of course, when you have a thermal imaging video camera, you will always, always know EXACTLY who farted.
5. Audio recording gear
Audio recording gear has a similar debate to cameras – should you use tape or digital? Once again, tape recorders and digital recorders record sound in a different ways, and anyone who claims that we can really know which of these methods is better for picking up ghostly voices is, not to put too fine a point on it, full of shit.
I use digital - it's simply easier for me. Tape recorders are bulky, noisy, and, generally, record lower quality sound than a good digital recorder. Also, you're going to want to put the audio file onto a computer - this is a lot easier to do with digital recorders. Generally, transferring tape to digital will result in even MORE loss of quality unless you have some pretty expensive gear.
Of course, digital recording has its own problems. Digital voice recorders - anything that records in mp3 or another "lossy" format - will have some garbled sounds in the high frequencies. Artifacts from the process of compressing the sound and junk like that that will lead to false positives. Most of the voice recorders on the market also have cruddy built-in microphones.
And microphones, too, are a question mark. It stands to reason that if you want to record the voice of a dead guy that is inaudible to normal hearing, you're probably going to want a pretty sensitive microphone. However, if your microphone is TOO sensitive, you can end up recording the voices of people outside, or even in the building next door. You have to sort of strike a balance.
I use a small condenser microphone attached to a cheap attenuator - a little device with a knob on it that lets me turn the volume of the recording up or down, based on the environment. The mic is kept away from the recorder itself in an effort to keep from picking up the sound of the recorder.
I also prefer only to use recorders that allow me to listen to the recording as it's happening via headphones - being able to note times when I think I hear a weird noise right away saves a LOT of time later.
6. An internet connection
This, honestly, is probably the most important thing. You should find out everything you can about the history of the location that you're investigating. A lot of people have wasted a lot of time and cash looking for ghosts of people who never lived to begin with, or aren't dead yet, and a bit of research could have saved them the trouble.
These days you'll probably be able to find more records online than you will at your local library. Several sites allow you to browse through online newspaper archives, census forms, war records, birth, marriage, and death records, and all kinds of neat stuff. Genealogy sites can be costly, but the good ones are worth it - I was able to download scans of my great-grandparents' (and Al Capone's) World War I draft registration forms, detailed records of my fourth great grandfather's civil war service, and other neat stuff - one site even showed me how I was an eighth cousin of Gerald Ford and and eighteenth great grandson of Geoffery Chaucer.
Census forms can show whether a certain person who is supposed to be haunting a house ever existed in the first place, and if that person actually lived at the address in question. You can often use newspaper archives to determine the veracity of murder stories, train wreck stories, and other such things, especially if the paper for the town in which you're conducting your investigation has an archive online - and more and more of them do. You can also frequently access old maps of cities online, and they can also come in handy - sometimes people will tell you "back then, when this haunted mansion was built, all of this area was just fields. There was only one dirt road for miles." They probably aren't lying to you, but they may be mistaken. Old maps can confirm or debunk the stories pretty quickly.
When we were putting together the Weird Chicago tour, Troy showed us an alley between State and Wabash that he had heard from a cop was the oldest street in Chicago. Maps showed that most of the major streets downtown were already in existence at a time when the street in question was still a beach on the shores of Lake Michigan (just about everything east of Dearborn Street was sand, in fact; the land was expanded several blocks further East by a series of landfills over the years).
Digging up information is like a treasure hunt. When you find that news item from an Indiana newspaper - Indiana papers sometimes reported Chicago crimes that were left out of the Chicago papers - that show that a hobo with a peg leg was actually murdered in a building where a peg legged ghost has been reported, it's quite a rush.
In the past, you had to browse through archives on microfilm at the library for this sort of thing, which can be tedious and dizzying – I usually start to feel sick to my stomach after an hour or so on the microfiche machine, and I only use them now when I want to look up specific issues of defunct papers whose archives aren't online. Today, you can simply type an address into a newspaper archive online. But do your homework - addresses of buildings can change over the years. Chicago, for instance, renumbered most of the buildings in the city around 1909.
Another very important site, in my opinion, is www.snopes.com - this is a site that examines urban legends, old and new, and determines whether or not they have any basis in fact. One thing I can't emphasize enough is that the most important quality a ghost hunter can possess is the ability to call "bullshit" when necessary, not only in regards to ghost stories, but to historical stories and scientific claims. This site can be really, really helpful in developing that sort of mindset.
7. A bunch of goofy crap.
Some ghost hunters like to use things like dowsing rods, crystals and stuff like that. It probably can't hurt anything, as long you remember to take what the stuff tells you with a grain or two of salt. And keep in mind that waving crystals around WILL make you look like a wacko to most people (sorry, Hector).
Some ghost hunters like to use things like dowsing rods, crystals and stuff like that. It probably can't hurt anything, as long you remember to take what the stuff tells you with a grain or two of salt. And keep in mind that waving crystals around WILL make you look like a wacko to most people (sorry, Hector).
8. An electromagnetic field reader.
You have one of these in your top dresser drawer, right? Doesn't everybody?
In recent years, these have been so common on ghost hunts that some people call them "ghost meters." Some are even marketed under the name "ghost meter," though showing up with such a thing on an investigation will usually have the same effect as just having someone write "novice" on your forehead. Remember, these things don't detect ghosts, they detect EMF. Some people just think they may be the same thing, at least in some cases.
EMF readers are used to measure energies in the room that are present all the time, but not visible. Most ghost hunters believe that ghosts are composed partly from electromagnetic energy, or that they use it to manifest, or something like that. No ghost hunting kit is complete without some gear to measure energy in the room, and these are the most common.
Certainly places that are haunted tend to have a lot of strange stuff going on, electromagnetically speaking. But they can lead to false positives, just like anything else. If a reading is consistent along a straight line, it's probably an electrical wire causing the reading. They'll also give strong readings if you're anywhere near an appliance. Rooms where the EMF levels are high due to electrical gear in the room can actually create what some call a "fear cage," - a room where high EMF levels can sort of play tricks on your brain and make you THINK there's a ghost around.
If you want to get one, there are a variety of options. The cheapest version is a Gauss meter, which can be had (as of this writing) for less than forty bucks. Better models go for hundreds.
One real problem is that practically nobody really knows how to use the things correctly. Very rarely do people using them on investigations actually calibrate them properly to begin with - most people just wave them around. Tilt your wrist just right, and you can make it look like the thing is going nuts. I've heard of tours that have people point them up at steeples of haunted churches, as if pointing it will somehow make it measure the EMF of an area two hundred feet in the air. Most EMF readers need to be set on the ground – you can only wave them around and get decent readings with the really expensive ones.
It's important to remember that a sudden, strange EMF reading doesn't necessarily mean that there's a ghost in the room - like all equipment, they can't tell you for sure if a ghost is around, they can just give you a good idea of where to look. Plenty of things besides ghosts can cause sudden jumps in EMF.
9. A Geiger Counter
The use of geiger counters in ghost investigations really took off in the 1970s. Like electromagnetic field readers, these are used to measure and detect energy - radiation, in this case - that isn't visible to the naked eye. Often, though not always, people who use them report that when a ghost shows up, there's a sudden drop in radioactivity in the room. Others say just the opposite - ghosts cause a jump in radioactivity. Once again, a change in radiation doesn't mean a ghost is there - it's just a clue that you may be on the right track.
10. Motion Detectors
Similar to thermal imaging cameras, these can be used for debunking ghosts more than they can be used to find them. You can use them to seal off a room and make sure that no one breaks in to mess with your stuff and tries to pull off a hoax on you. But they could also detect ghosts coming into the room, at least in theory.
Motion detection has been a part of ghost investigation since day one. If you don't have fancy electrical gear, you can "seal" a room the old fashioned way: put some tape on the door, or have a piece of string running across the doorway. If the door is opened, or someone walks through the doorway, the seal will be broken. Or, if the hoaxer isn't really careful, they'll trip on the string, fall on their face, and everyone will have a jolly good laugh at their expense. You can call them a hoaxer and they can say "I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"
While I'm on the subject, in fact, all ghost hunters should be prepared for an awful lot of Scooby-Doo jokes. If you can't deal with this, or with people quoting "Ghostbusters" and asking where your proton pack is, you're going to have a rough time on investigations.
Troy's Ghost Hunter's Guidebook has an especially useful section on dealing with the media. When you get interviewed about ghosts for a local paper, he says, they probably aren't going to send the top reporter to talk to you; it'll usually be an intern who knows perfectly well that the easiest way to get an interesting article about you will be to make you look like a dork. And he guarantees you that the words "Who ya gonna call?" or "He ain't 'fraid of no ghost" will show up somewhere in the article. I'll vouch for that, too.*
11. Seance Gear
I'll tell you this right now: if you're a skeptic, it's gonna be REALLY hard to sit around in a circle holding hands with people and trying to get ghosts to knock on the table without feeling like a first class ding-dong. But the old "sitting around a table trying to get a ghost to ring a bell" routine is still going around, and if you go on a lot of investigations, people will ask you to do it sooner or later. Keep in mind how easy these things were to fake back in the days when they were all the rage. But also, keep in mind that a lot of people do report interesting results with this kind of stuff, and that it probably can't hurt anything. One thing we certainly don't know about ghosts is how to get them to show up - maybe some ghosts just can't resist a table full of people holding hands.
Of course, by this logic, one could try any number of things to "attract them." Tapeworm said that he was sure that the ghosts were watching him have sex. I'm not aware of any groups who've used on-site orgies to attract spirits during ghost investigations, but if you're looking for an excuse to try, I just gave you one. You're welcome.
The biggest tool of the seances of old was a table. People would sit around it, usually holding hands, and try to get spirits to knock on the table. Groups of the same handful of people would meet regularly, and, as time went by, they would report the table vibrating, tipping, or producing knocking sounds, apparently of its own accord.
The weird thing about this is that if you're willing to sit with a group of people for a long enough time, it will almost always get results. The old time spiritual people said that spirits were causing the vibrations of the table. Today, we usually say that it's little more than an example of the power of the human mind to create energies that will cause a notable physical impact on the environment, a sort of simplified version of the Phillip Experiment. As such, you aren't likely to contact a ghost with this stuff, but what we can learn about the power of the mind from such experiments may eventually explain a lot about ghosts and how they come to be.
A somewhat more advanced -and usually faster - version of this is using a Ouija board. When people ask me about these, I usually tell them I don't think it's possible to talk to the dead using anything that says "Parker Brothers" on it. If you want to be really hardcore, many new age shops will sell you homemade ones made of all natural materials and other bells and whistles - one person even told me she had hers "blessed" by the person who sold it to her (I certainly hoped she tipped well for this). The problem with these things is that it's ridiculously easy for someone to fake it. Others say that the answers come not from ghosts, but from your subconscious, which seems reasonable. But this is precisely the reason a lot of people tell you NOT to use the board - there are almost certainly things swimming around in your subconscious mind that you're not going to want to have bubbling to the surface.
I haven't actually used one myself since I was a teenager, when an old friend of mine and I used one to contact the spirit of an Illinois farmer and prankster who said his name was Gerard. He said he had a horse named Jorky, and I think a dog named Gev, and that he died in 1864 (I can't remember if it was the farmer or the horse who died that year). I'm not sure which of us was moving the thing - we probably both were - but I don't believe for a minute there was actually ever such a farmer. Then again, we got a pretty good story out of it, and you DO hear a lot of stories about people using these things and contacting a person who DOES turn out to be a real person from history or something like that. Maybe these people are talking to spirits, maybe they're just demonstrating an interesting experiment digging into "collective subconcious" or something like that. I don't know.
One interesting side note is that back in the 1920s, a company that was making the things tried to claim in court that they were spiritual tools, not toys, and, as such, should not be subject to taxation. They lost.
12. A good psychic.
A lot of ghost hunters sneer at the idea of using psychics - and just about all skeptics do. This is because the vast majority of the people out their claiming to be psychics tend to turn out to be either nuts or just plain fakes. If you can find a down-to-earth, experienced psychic to come on an investigation, that psychic can work the same way any other piece of equipment does. You won't know for sure that a ghost is in the room because the psychic says so, but it'll give you a clue as to where to look that's just about as reliable as a reading you'd get from an EMF reader.
The most important thing to have, honestly, is the right kind of mindset. You have to be skeptical enough to remember that there's going to be a scientific explanation for most anything that happens, but enough of an open mind to believe that there may be SOMETHING in the room that can't be explained just yet. And remember rule number one: never charge money for your services. In the ghost hunting community, people who charge for their services are looked upon like slimy, ambulance chaser lawyers who go on TV and say "Have you ever heard anyone sound as constipated as I do? Well, call me if you've been injured in an accident, and I can get you some great shit!"
Don't be that guy. Seriously.
And don't set fire to stuff. It's just common sense.