Need Help?

Guarding Against Skepticism

You spend a lot of time doing the research, finding the evidence, and showing your evidence to the public. All this time spent just to hear someone say "That's not real" or "That just looks like smoke". This person we all love is known as a skeptic. The skeptic could be another research group, the media, or it could be your friend who you are showing your
latest research to. Skeptic is such an evil word for some, but it doesn't have to
be that way. Not if you research, collect, and present your evidence properly.

Be your own skeptic, don't believe it until you see it. Collecting your evidence could be the most important part of your research. Most common evidence collected are photographs and videos. We will focus mostly on photographs. When taking pictures, we all know to make sure it's not raining, no dust in the air, no camera straps, no smoking on the premises
and no breathing in cold weather.

I would like to go over a few things that can be very beneficial to your investigations. The first thing you should know about is coupling. Coupling is using other tools in conjunction with your photographs. For instance, you could use an EMF gauge in conjunction with your photography. Most people do this anyway, but a lot of researchers don't and most new investigators
don't know any better. This way you could present your evidence as, "Everytime my EMF gauge spikes a reading that supports paranormal phenomena, I capture this smoke like mist on film". That is a much better way to present evidence then, "Look at the strange mist in these pictures". The EMF gauge offers a scientific backing for your evidence. The same would work with thermal probes or any of the paranormal adapted technology we use.

Next, I'd like to talk about control pictures. These are pictures of a non-paranormal nature on the same roll of film with pictures of a paranormal nature. What this does is stops people from assuming it is something wrong with the whole roll of film. For example, say you are investigating a case where a woman knows where the activity is, and can tell it's in the same
room as her. You take a few pictures in the area she says it is, and also take a few pictures in the same area when she says it's not there. This way, when you present these pictures as evidence you can say, "When she said the 'entity' was present we took these pictures with the fog like mist. When she said the 'entity' was gone, we took these control pictures we took came out clear of the fog like mist". So we have control pictures validating our paranormal pictures. It can also be used as easily as taking pictures outside of the investigation location to use as control pictures. So you can present them as, "In the location we have these pictures with the fog like mist, we took these control pictures outside of the investigation location and all of these pictures are free from the fog like mist".

One other thing I want to address is the lingo we use when talking about our research, and more importantly presenting our evidence. Try to stay away from words that may cast a negative shadow on our research. Words such as "ghostbuster", "ectoplasm" and "psychic". Not that these things don't exist, it's just that these words and words like them reflect negatively on our
research. Ectoplasm was a substance that used to exude from the mouths of early century mediums. Come to find out it was just cheesecloth they would swallow and regurgitate at the climax of their session. Also the Ghostbusters movie made ectoplasm seem like a made up word. Try to use phrases like mysterious fog, strange mist, or even ectoplasm-like mist
instead of ectoplasm.. You'll find that if you use words like ectoplasm, psychic and ghostbuster, people will have a harder time taking you seriously. Of course there is a lot more to making and keeping your reputation healthy, but using simple tips like these it will be a lot
easier to present your evidence to skeptics.

Steve Gonsalves

Good or Evil?

One of the first questions people ask themselves when they are confronted with paranormal activity is "Is it good or evil?". Subconciously and often too frequently the answer they give themselves is "Of course it's evil, it just slammed a door!!"

This is usually an unfounded and biased decision based on dozens of scary movies, ghost stories around the fire and society's general lack of knowledge on the subject. Just because it's ghostly does not mean it's evil.

First off, typically you'll be confronted by what we call a "human spirit". This is the spirit of someone who was once alive, as you and I are alive. They were born on earth, they had a job, most likely a family, a dog, and most importantly, they died. For various reasons they are still hanging around. Now, because they were once alive they each have different personalities as you and I do. So, these spirits can be good or bad BUT NOT NECESSARILY EVIL.
Fortunately the majority of us tend to be rather decent folks, but not all of us. The same goes for spirits. One spirit could have been a loving grandmother who is looking for her husband, or one could be a teen-aged punk who may be getting a kick out of scaring you.

Then there are the not-so-common type of spirits we call "non-human spirits". This is a spirit that never lived on the earth and is ALWAYS bad news and generally dangerous. The disturbing thing is that this type of spirit is brought to our realm through people who are meddling where they shouldn't. (ouija boards, seances, curses, devil worship, etc.)

Now that we know that there are only two general types and we know their mentalities, we can better identify them. Here's a quick breakdown:

Typical Human Spirit Activity:
- noises
- appearance of seemingly random objects (flashlights, rocks, money)
- an illuminated figure or part of a figure

Typical Non-Human Spirit Activity:
- whispering Voices - black shadowy figures
- violent acts against you (being hit, thrown, etc.)
- targeted paranormal activity (ie: you hate clowns, so the spirit moves the clown from room to room. You get the idea)

These are not all of the things to look for, but some of the most obvious signs to help you identify what type of spirit you're dealing with.

If you've got a non-human spirit, GET OUT and call TAPS asap.

- Grant (TAPS)
Part 1
Catching them on Film

Ghost Hunting/Investigating, as we know it, is an attempt to understand and prove the existence of paranormal beings, powers or intelligence. Understanding it isn't that hard, but providing evidence can be more than difficult.

Photos that claim to have captured the image of a supernatural being are among the most scrutinized evidence out there. (short of maybe UFO pictures or maybe even photos from the OJ Simpson case) The simple fact is, ghosts tend to appear as mists, orbs or other vaguely distinguishable forms which, unfortunately closely mimic very natural, very earthly circumstances. And so they are easily debunked.

So, how do you get people to believe you? Take some very deliberate precautions.

1. The first and foremost rule a ghost hunter should follow is, "Be Skeptic" Just because you see a shiny orb in the woods through your night vision video camera, don't think you've caught a ghost. Try and think of what earthly item it could be. Ask yourself questions like; "Is it moving or standing still?" "Does it show up in every photo I take?" "Is there ANYTHING that might have caused a reflection?". If you ask these type of questions, you'll catch your own "hoaxes" before they are debunked by someone else hence ruining your credibility.

2. "2 or More Witnesses" Even in the legal systems, two or more witnesses will always outweigh what one person claims to be the truth. If you can say "There were eight of us there and no one saw the figure in this image." chances are people will believe you. Especially when they interview the other seven people and get the same story.

3. "Never Smoke" on a case that is. If you can say, with confidence every time, that no one was smoking or had been smoking, you rule out 98% of skeptics' excuses for "mist" type pictures. In the case of cold weather cases, let everyone around you know you are about to take a picture, then have everyone hold their breath for at least five seconds (if not ten) before you snap it. If you make a habit out of this, then you'll know for sure that you didn't catch anyone's breath on film. (It should be said that it is quite easy to distinguish cigarette smoke or human breath from ethereal mists.)

4. "Surprise Them" Take the ghost by surprise. Some ghost want to be caught on film, some don't care, others don't want to be caught at all. Because we don't know the ghosts' feelings about this, there is only one way to pretty much guarantee that you'll catch it on film. This is by casually snapping a picture, over your shoulder even, whenever you get the inkling to. It may sound silly but it works. Trust me. There's no need to line up a perfect shot, as long as there is a ghost in it, no one cares if it's not "framed" right.

5. "Trust your Feelings" Learning to trust your feelings can yield astounding results. If you get even the slightest urge to snap a picture somewhere, Do IT! Don't hesitate. Most often pictures taken like this will be the only ones that show results.

6. "Get a Digital Camera" Ok, so this isn't a "rule" but a personal suggestion. Number one, you don't need to worry about film. Number two, you get instant gratification. There's nothing quite like knowing exactly where these things were just a few seconds earlier. Number three, you can instantly email them to TAPS so everyone can see what you've found!

Hopefully, these tips will help increase the amount of specters you catch on film, and therefore increase your desire to continue looking for and learning about the paranormal.

Part 2
Recording Their Voices

Some of the creepiest evidence of paranormal activity are EVP's or "Electronic Voice Phenomena". This is the mysterious and often disturbing act of capturing the voices of spirits on an audio tape.

Much like photos of the paranormal, there are hundreds of examples of EVP's to scrutinize. They range from unrecognizable groans and mumbles to three hour long conversations.

Many scientists have studied this phenomenon and have not been able to explain it. I can't explain it other than this is yet another way for spirits to communicate with us. Frankly, I don't care how it works, I just know that it does and here is not only how to do it, but how to remain credible at the same time.

How do you do it?

Set down your recorder and relax. Settle down into your chair and get comfortable. Clear your mind and just sit still for a few minutes. You can say some sort of prayer if you feel like it, but it doesn't seem to affect the outcome at all.

Turn on some kind of background noise. Keep it pretty low, you don't want it to overpower the recording. Some suggestions are white noise (you know that fuzz you get when there's nothing on the TV or a particular radio station.), running water or even a vacuum cleaner. Anything that will give you a steady stream of jumble.

This may sound wierd but the spirits have a hard time creating any sound that makes sense. This is why people usually hear moans or groans. This takes a lot of energy to do. The background noise allows them to piece together sounds from the static to more easily form words. Plus, the recorders are more sensative than our ears. So, essentially, we are making it easier for them to talk.

Ok, now that you're comfortable and you've got some noise going, you can either just sit there, you can leave and see what turns up later or, you can start asking questions. Be sure to ask simple straight forward questions such as, "What is your name?". And don't forget to leave a long pause between questions so that the spirit has time to answer. Give them about three times as long as you would give a living person to answer.

When you're done with the recording, politely thank the spirit if you want to, once again this has no effect on the outcome of the recording. Then you can go home and listen to it.

How do you remain credible?

Just doing a few simple things can save you a lot of grief when trying to prove your recording.

Unplug anything you don't need to do the EVP. Almost everything that can be plugged in will make noise that will turn up on your tape, possibly fooling you into believing it is a ghost.

WHILE THE TAPE IS RECORDING, do the following:

When you first get to where you want to record, make every sound possible that could be mistaken for a spirit. Cough, breathe, scoot around, etc.

Next, have someone go into all of the surrounding rooms and talk at various volumes. Also, have them bang on the walls etc.

Announce that you are done with your comparative noises and begin your EVP.

Some general rules to follow when creating an EVP:

Don't use a crappy little recorder.
Try to use something better. This isn't always possible. Even a portable stereo has better recording capabilities than a walkman sized unit.

Use an external microphone.
Any unit, no matter how nice it is, will put off somekind of internal sound that will be picked up by the microphone. Stear clear of using the microphone that is mounted on the actual unit or you'll pick up the gears inside the unit that are moving the tape. This kind of interferance makes it VERY difficult to make out the voices.

Spend the extra two bucks and buy some high-quality tapes.
Remember, this is what holds the valuable recordings. The better the tape, the clearer the sound.

Don't whisper.
When you talk or ask questions speak loudly and clearly. Don't speak directly into the microphone because when you play back the tape you'll most likely have the volume cranked up so that you can hear every little sound. If you come cranking over the speaker at 50,000 decibles, your chances of ever hearing anything else again are slim.

Ask simple questions.
Don't ask "How often did you think about going to your mother's house, and if it was often which days did you not do it?"

Use some background noise. (If you prefer)
Running water, white noise, vacuum cleaner... just make sure it doesn't dominate the recording. Remember, it's called BACKGROUND noise. This will help to "raise the sound floor" or allow for easier filtering.
Get comfortable.
The less noise YOU make the better.

Respect the dead.
Be courteous to the spirits. Thank them for their help and try to help them once you've heard what they have to say. Don't immediately ask if they know they are dead, etc. Try to keep in mind the time period in which they lived when asking the questions. Someone from the 1600's won't know what a "recorder" or a "camera" are.

Most of all, try and do it where there is spiritual activity, this will always increase your odds. Good luck, and happy hunting!

Ghosts...Why Are They Here?

What exactly is a ghost?

Before you can understand what an entity consists of you need to understand a
bit about the human body of the living person. Everything you do, see, hear, taste, feel, etc. Is controlled by electrical impulses sent to your brain
from your body's different parts or from your brain to your different body parts.

For example... right now you are reading this webpage, an electrical impulse is
going from your eyes to your brain carrying the information your eyes are seeing. As you scroll down this page your brain is sending electrical impulses to your hand to move your mouse, etc...

When a person dies their individual systems shut down independently, your kidneys fail, then your respitory system shuts down, then your heart stops beating and finally your brain stops functioning. Since all these systems are controlled by electrical impulses the electricity has to go somewhere. It is a general law of physics that
energy can not be destroyed, so where does the energy go when your body shuts down? It is released into the atmosphere!

When a person dies a slow or natural death the energy is released more slowly and in a less concentrated state than if a person were to die a sudden or violent death. This is why I believe hospitals are not the most haunted places even though more deaths occur in them then anywhere else.

Another theory I have been tossing around for some time now is what makes certain locations more likely to have a ghost than others. I believe it all boils down to
electromagnetic fields trapping the energy that is released at time of death.

For example...Everyone has heard of at least one haunted theatre in the area they live. Theatres are huge electromagnetic fields, they have high voltage electrical systems in them to support the sound and lighting equipment that is used for their shows. Theatres used to be very dangerous places to work at one time, it was very easy to have a lighting rig fall down on someone and kill them, it was also easy for someone to fall from a catwalk that is high above the stage. The ingredients were all
there for a sudden and violent death. When that occurred from time to time the energy that was released from the victim's body was trapped by the much stronger electromagnetic field and you now have a ghost.

One of the tools we use for paranormal research is an EMF meter. These meters are designed to measure changes in electromagnetic energy. Many times while investigating a haunting we have discovered very high levels of electromagnetic energy present. Alot of times this is caused by high voltage electrical systems or by old wiring. Both will create an electromagnetic field.

There is a strong possibility that despite the theories of some other researchers it is not the ghost that causes the electromagnetic energy, it is the electromagnetic
energy that causes the ghost.

- Rick (BCPA)
Get to Know your Ghosts - Residual Haunt

The most common style of a human haunting is a residual haunting. A residual haunting is like having an impression made in time. The entity may seem to be lost in a time warp. The spirit really isn't even there, only the energy is.

In most cases people may here screaming or crying due to the violence factor that may have caused this traumatic event to happen. People may also hear the sounds of footsteps walking on the stairs or through hallways.

Typically the repeated event is whatever the person who left the energy behind did often or an significant event that they remember happening to them. It is almost like it the energy has become part of the dwelling that they once occupied on an every day basis. These haunting styles always seem to happen in the same place every time.

There is usually very little you can do on this style of a haunting except make the family who is having these problems understand what is going on and explain to them that they are in no danger due to the energy not being controlled by the person who left it behind.

There is no actual entity present in this style of haunting, and the energy that was left behind is just like a video playing the same scene over and over again. Eventhough it is not aware that people are there, it can still be a scary and emotional situation to the people who have to deal with it happening in their home.

It may happen every night or every week or even every year. It is the most frequent haunting investigators will come across in their cases. An investigator will tell you there is nothing they can do about this style haunting and they are correct. People need to either except what happens and learn to deal with it, or move on.

Get to Know your Ghosts - Intelligent Haunt

In this style of haunting the entity or entities are aware of their surroundings. Most of the time you will find that these spirits are not confined to one spot, they can move around freely. Also, they will acknowledge the existence of human beings and even try to communicate in certain ways.

They are limited in what they can do. Most of the time they only move very light objects but they have been known to move objects up to around 10lbs. They are looking for people to notice them but they end up scaring people a great deal instead.

Usually, between the hours of 11pm and 4am are the times that the entities can more efficiently manifest themselves, due to this time period being the darkest hours of the night. Most of the time are not strong enough to show themselves during the daylight because it takes too much energy to make themselves visible. Think of it like this, if you were to turn on a flashlight during the daytime you would hardly notice the light, but if you were to turn it on in the dead of night, the light would be clearly visible. This is how spirits work as well. If they use too much energy during the day they will be too weak to show themselves at night.

These spirits can be benevolent or mischievous, depending on the reason that they are haunting a location, and there are several reasons. They may be haunting it because it was once their home and they want you to leave. They may be there because they've found that a child is able to see them so they feel noticed and are willing to stay around for this fact. There may be some kind of artifact that they are staying with and following due to some emotional bond with it. They also may be looking for something or someone. They may even not be willing to except that they have died. Whatever the reason may be, they are there and they do not want to leave.

Now comes the hard part, ridding a house of them. They are not inhuman entities which we will get to, so religious provocation will not be effective to rid the area they are in. You are, as they are, limited to what you can do.

Get to Know your Ghosts - Poltergeists

is from a German word meaning noisy spirits. Reports of poltergeists date back to Ancient Roman times.

The activity that takes place will start of with knocks and bangs, furniture starting to move around by itself. Then, the activity will become more intense, manifesting itself through voices and even the appearance of full apparitions. Furniture may slide across the room and beds may shake. Many shows are based on this is a style of haunting because it tends to be the most terrifying and rarest type of haunting that occurs.

Most of the time, in the case of a poltergeist, the haunting circles around a female in her teen years. Some of these cases seem to be caused by the female unknowingly controlling the energy around herself. Some cases happen around people that are stable and in the right mind space.

This haunting is hard to classify due to certain situations. No two are ever really the same. Most of the time you will find that one person in the household seems to be more affected by the haunting than anyone else. It may seem that most of the activity doesn't happen unless that certain person is present. Usually, the activity appears to stop when that person leaves the home. The majority of the time poltergeists are experienced by several people, but again they seem to center around one certain person. This person may be highly stressed as of late or maybe this person has gone through some type of extreme emotional situation. If this is the case, see that the individual involved gets some medical care, and soon afterwards the poltergeist will subside.

When it is not the teenager that is manifesting activity there are usually several spirits in the area. The spirits appear to pool their energy together in order to become strong enough to move larger objects and make more noises. In order to remedy the situation, you need to find the root of their anger so that they can pass over and leave you in peace. On most poltergeist cases they will disappear with out any warning, just as they appeared. Certain times it may stop within a few days, other times it may take years. You may never know the reason that it happened. Most people are just happy to see it go and that's enough for them.

By understanding why it was there in the first place helps you to understand how to keep it from ever coming back again. Knowledge is the key in protecting yourself in this world.

Get to Know your Ghosts - Demonic Haunt

Demons are one of the known inhuman entities out there. Fortunately, they are a rare occurrence.
They are usually very easy to identify as long as they are not hiding. When it is a demonic haunting you typically notice a revolting stench similar to rotted flesh or sulfuric acid. They often let loose a growl that sounds like it is coming from everywhere at once. They like to make contact by pushing, shoving, hitting, and even scratching. The whole air in the affected area will feel thick like fog and the temperature will drastically change, typically becoming warmer.

These creatures are very strong, unlike human spirits, and they don't mind showing it. There have been cases where people have been thrown through the air and even attacked. Apparently, their main goal is to break down a person's free will in order to make way for possession. This can take days, months or years, but time is of no concern to them.

They have a hatred for mankind that dates back to the days of God and Lucifer. They have lived for millennia and will be here long after we are gone. So, you must understand that though you may be able to get these creatures to leave a dwelling with religious provocation you will never destroy them. They could go to the next place down the road if they choose, most likely they won't because distance is not a problem for these creatures. They could go from Maine to California on a thought.

They can take on any form they wish, but mostly commonly it is a half man, half animal form. They will have the head of an animal, the torso of a man, and the hairy legs of an animal. When they are approached by an investigating paranormal team they may feel threatened and appear in a human form to keep the home from being blessed and stop the use of religious provocation.

During an investigation you need assess the situation more by what happened before you arrived than what is actually going on during the time you are there. Demons are capable of changing form right in front of you from a human form to an inhuman form. They neither male nor female, but then can change that to meet their needs. People mostly see demons as black masses standing in doorways or near rooms. Sometimes they are called shadow devils.

If you feel like you have a demon in your home I would recommend getting help from a well known paranormal group as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence when dealing with these creatures.

Jason (TAPS)
Getting Started

Ok, I am drowning in the emails asking questions like:

"Grant, how do I get started in the field of paranormal research?"


"I am starting a group, man. You got any tips?"


"I toootally wanna b a ghost hunter. If U can tell me were 2 go 2 school 2 learn dat, dat wood be gr8."

So, I hope you will forgive me for not being able to take the time to reply to them all. I try to make time to help but the time-making skill is rapidly escaping me. Therefore, I must kill 326,456 birds with one preverbial stone.

Here's the stone:

1. A career?
Paranormal investigation doesn't pay squat. In fact it costs a lot. Equipment, gas, tapes, batteries, cool jackets with your group name on them, etc. So, don't expect to get into the field to get rich.

2. Schooling
If you want to take up paranormal investigation as a hobby, then go to school for something that can pay the bills, AND be of use in the paranormal research field. Forensic science, psychology, or construction are some good ones, along with maybe some computer, film, or, heck, even plumbing knowledge will give you the skills that will both, put food on the table, and make you valuable to your group.

3 . Grave Stomping
Sure it seems logical that ghosts would be found in graveyards.... I guess... but often people make the mistake of thinking that if a lot of people died in a location that there HAS to be ghosts. While that CAN be true it isn't a fact. Here's a question: How many people do you know that have actually died in a graveyard? Not many. Most people are dead for around 3 days before they are buried.

4 . Stay Legal
Most of the time, it is illegal for anyone to be in a cemetery after dark. And just because no one lives or works in a building, doesn't mean it is fair game for investigating. If you get caught trespassing, your time as a respectable paranormal investigator is over.

5 . How Do I Start?
Since graveyards are out, then how the heck do you get started? The best way is to find a friend or a relative of someone in your group that feels they might have a haunting. This is ideal because you can practice your techniques without having to worry about screwing up and upsetting a client. If this scenario is not available to you, then find another group in your area and see if they are willing to have you shadow them on a few investigations. If you do this, remember that it is THEIR case and you are just a fly on the wall. If THAT is not available then there are often public places that are known to be haunted where trespassing is not an issue. Also, there are some places that will allow you to take a "ghost tour" for a nominal fee. This is the last option though, as you often have to weed through a lot of oobie-doobie spookie nonsense, but at least you get the chance to try out your equipment.

6 . Equipment? What Do I Need?
Don't get blinded by the equipment you see us using on the show. All you really need to get started is a camcorder with nightshot or infrared. An additionl infrared illuminator that attaches to the top of the camera will help out greatly.
An audio recorder of any type will help too. Make sure that if you get an analog recorder (one that uses a tape) that you also purchase an external mic. Otherwise you'll get some nasty noise from the gears in the machine.

What? No EMF detector? Nope, that can wait. EMF detectors don't find ghosts. They find false positives. We scan areas that claim to produce spooky feelings with an EMF detector in order to find a legitimate electromagnetic field. Fields with a really high reading can produce effects in people that mimic paranormal activity. For instance, paranoia, dizziness, nausea, and that general creeped-out-I-don't-wanna-go-in-there feeling.

Aaaaand no still camera? Camera's are great and all, but claiming you have paranormal activity caught in one still photo is like reading one paragraph of a book and pretending you know the whole story. You just don't know what led up to that picture being taken.

7 . Pick Me!!
How do you get your name out there? Well, most importantly, by doing a friggin good job. If you are professional and down-to-earth your name will spread fast enough. Other than that, make a well thought out web site. One that is professional, not filled with bloody fonts, creepy music and flaming skulls flying at you. Think about it, if you were genuinely terrified in your home and you needed help, do you think you'd be comforted by a barrage of flaming skulls?

8 . Salt, Lots of Salt
Don't believe everything you hear. There is very little fact in this field. It is populated primarily with theories. Face it, you can't recreate this stuff in a lab, yet. So, you have to study it when you can, and that is not often.

Therefore, there really aren't any experts. There are a lot of people who will claim they are experts, but that is another story. We just can't guarantee that there is one person who is doing it 100% correctly. In other words, gather information from where ever you can, filter through your own ideas and ideals, take the good and leave the bad. And take it all with, not a grain, but a huge friggin' block of salt.

Well, there you have it. Some decent tips to get you started in the field of paranormal investigation. I hope they help you out.

Rock on, and please do everyone, who is already out there investigating, proud.

-Grant (TAPS)
Follow Us!
Follow Us!