At one point, I loved watching shows about the 'paranormal,' never once questioning the methods or conclusions of those presenting the material - be it 'ghost hunters,' 'mediums,' or magical clergy that can rid you of demons. My beliefs were in the wash of woo and I was blissful in my ignorance and looked down on those that didn't believe what I felt was painfully obvious.
Since that time, my views have shifted dramatically - although my interest in such things has only intensified. Figuring out why people believe what they do, what is the most likely explanation and shedding light on reality are far more intriguing than any of the 'paranormal' half-assed reasons that get thrown out by (and into) the peanut gallery. I don't mean to say that people that do believe are stupid or unintelligent in anyway - I know they are just looking at the problem with a limited set of tools and I can identify with why they might believe.
I've thrown around idea with folks about starting 'ghost hunting' groups as a fun distraction and great exercise in critical problem solving if given a 'good' location (with a series of consistent, detailed encounter reports), but little has ever come of it. Imagine my surprise at Ruby Tuesday's recently sitting with my father-in-law waiting to pay our checks. We start talking about the rumored "Ghostbusters III" with Bill Murray dying, then returning as a ghost and giggling at the possibilities. The shift manager then steps up quickly and asks "Did I hear you mention ghosts?"
The smirk on my face only grew (though I believe I kept it hidden) as he continued about an impending 'investigation' he and some friends were undertaking in a few days. Immediately, I had him my phone number imploring him to contact me for any help with audio-analysis they might need during and after the investigation (it's fun to imagine the sheer amounts of audio pareidolia I might find independent of their influence).
Excited, the young man disappeared to the back of the restaurant emerging with what seemed to be a cook around his age. The cook seemed much more composed and less animated about the subject (with what seemed almost like a strange cockiness in retrospect) and when the manager introduced me and mentioned 'ghost hunting' the cook responded quickly with 'Well, we're not ghost hunting. It's actually paranormal investigations.'
Whoooaaaa - this guy is a 'pro' in his own mind, I immediately thought to myself. It's interesting that he seems embarrassed slightly at being labelled a 'ghost hunter.' Curious, but with time short, I pressed on with offering my help, with no indication of my belief in the subject one way or another. They agreed to give me a call if they need my help and the cook returned to his post. The manager stayed as we were leaving, explaining with child-like enthusiasm that his friend I had just met apparently has written a book on paranormal investigations and they are planning on a youtube series and documentary - "Basically, we're going to ride on his coattails to stardom," was literally what he said to me as he wrapped up the story.
While I'm not sure I will hear from them, I'm giddy at the thought of being able to debunk some woo as it surfaces in my area, but gracefully and in a way to explain these phenomena in very real terms hopefully pulling these guys back from the brink of wootastrophe, and find out the finer details on the difference between 'ghost hunting,' 'paranormal investigating,' and just making up shit as you go along.