Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Stop the vigil, I've just seen a ghost!

VigilYou're sitting in a ghost vigil and you suddenly see a shadowy figure walk past. You know that there should be no one in that position at that time. Could it be a ghost? Could a video camera have caught it? What do you do? Do you investigate it immediately, and disturb the vigil, or note down what you saw and tell people later?

Traditionally, the approach has generally been the latter, to make notes and investigate later. However, such 'traditions' have not yielded great results. Maybe the time has come to say 'stop the vigil, I've just seen a ghost'. The best time to investigate any paranormal sighting is when it happens. That's because environmental conditions, like lighting, temperature, and so on, change all the time. By looking into the sighting straight away, these conditions will be just the same as during the experience. Misperception, for instance, can depend on the exact lighting conditions and position of the observer. If you try to investigate the incident later, the lighting will almost certainly have changed and the exact position of the witness will probably have been forgotten.

As I explained yesterday, even a single ghost sighting needs extensive investigation to establish whether it might have paranormal or xenonormal causes. So, while investigating at the time of the incident is a big advantage, there will still be many possible natural causes to be considered and tested. Since it is not possible to eliminate even the most obvious natural causes in just a few minutes, the vigil has to stop! If done properly, the investigation process could take hours. It should also involve as many people as possible. This is so that you have access to as broad range of expertise and ideas (for xenonormal possibilities to check) as possible. So it would probably be a good idea to get everyone on the vigil involved, if possible.

No doubt some people are now thinking, this is going to ruin the vigil for what may well turn out to be just a natural shadow! Whether it is 'ruined' depends on your attitude to vigils. Consider the following. Suppose you ignore the sighting and wait until later to investigate it. With conditions having changed, it may no longer be obvious that it was a 'natural shadow'. Instead, the sighting may well be logged as 'possibly', or even 'probably', paranormal when it was nothing of the sort. So the scientific value of the vigil is actually enhanced by stopping it and doing a thorough investigation of any significant incident.

Of course, you may miss something that might have been noticed later, had the vigil continued as normal. But then, since a single vigil at any location is fairly pointless (due to the new house effect), you may always pick that up on a subsequent return visit.

I've been on many frustrating vigils in the past that ended up noting lots of things that 'might' be paranormal but it was impossible to say one way or the other. So the overall result of the vigil was inconclusive. If you could get just one significant incident really well investigated it could mean that the vigil ends with a more definitive result, even if it is only that a ghost was caused by misperception.

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