To those who happen upon the notion of ghost hunting through modern pop-culture sources such as reality television series and seasonal human-interest news stories, there emerge a handful of constants, a list of prerequisites for conducting a so-called paranormal investigation: First, one needs a location with a rich and sordid history, preferably someplace where a death has occurred and the more gruesome that death, the better! Second, one requires a laundry-list of expensive and specialized gadgets with which to blanket the location, replete with flashing lights and buzzers. Third, the group must have matching tee-shirts, for how else are the ghosts going to know you’re professionals to be reckoned with? And last, but not least, you MUST go at night!
Of course, none of these things are actually true.
Now, we at the Northeast Spectral Science Society have never been shy about pointing out folly where we see it. I could wax poetic for pages on end regarding all the myriad misconceptions we have to overcome as legitimate researchers, but I’ll spare you the bulk of the rant and concentrate on only one.
I’ve noticed that, of the points above, the one with the most lasting momentum is surely the final one: the impression that you must investigate at night. We’ve met a lot of investigators during our travels, and even some of those who otherwise have their heads on straight tend to insist on conducting the bulk of their research at night. Why? Because that’s just the way it’s done.
Again, why? What reason is there to look for ghosts only during the hours between, say 9:00 PM and 6:00 AM? Are there credible, fact-based reasons? Dead Time and the Witching Hour, you say? In what time zone? Do we have to calculate for daylight savings?
A much more constructive calculation for your research purposes would be this one: on a case by case basis, when is the activity reported to occur? If every evening upon finishing her nightly cup of herbal tea the homeowner hears footsteps in her upstairs hall, then you’d best conduct your investigation right after Letterman. But if she heard them immediately following her second cup of coffee in the morning, it would certainly be better to investigate then. If you’re in pursuit of the legend of the mysterious light goldenrod yellow lady at your local churchyard and she supposedly makes her rounds at 7 PM, why would you set up your vigil at 3 AM? If waitstaff at the haunted inn see phantom diners from just after brunch straight through cocktail hour, that is when you should go, not four hours after the cheesecake is gobbled and the brandy is gone.
There are, of course, specific advantages to performing one’s research during the evening hours which can not be ignored. For the case of a commercial investigation, for instance, nights may be the only time an investigator has full access to the location; an investigation during normal business hours would be an inconvenience to those conducting said business and would be nearly impossible for the thorough researcher to control all of their variables. Other public places may pose similar daytime challenges, and in these cases, for the reasons stated above, we would recommend nighttime access.
But all of these reasons are matters of practicality, not preconceived notions regarding some magical hour of the day or night in which paranormal occurrences are said to be prevalent. There is, as yet, no indication that any such time exists, and no evidence of a universal “thinning of the veil”, so to speak, based on a linear time schedule. In fact, the majority of the data we’ve collected seems to point to a variety of other factors as either amplifiers or harbingers of anomalous activities, such as weather, planetary and moon cycles, and the human influences present. Time, on a general scale, seems to have very little to do with it.
Where ghosts and spirits are concerned, darkness has always been a part of the show, from the low lights masking a séance leader’s parlor tricks, to midnight ghost walks through ancient cities, to the startled reactions of modern ghost hunters in the green glow of IR lights. Darkness is used to create drama in popular television shows and presentations. It adds to the theatrical sense of impending danger, and sparks anticipation in the viewer that something unexpected could happen at any second. However, we, as legitimate paranormal researchers, are not here for the drama, but instead for the truth…whatever time it may occur.