This is an area which desperately needs attention today. While the field of paranormal investigation is far more popular than ever, there are generally some rules which proper groups follow (and all really should). I’m listing the ones I’ve came across first, but will post the general regulations from another site below. I will provide a link should you wish to review the guidelines on their web page:
- Remains calm and collected during an investigation. Displays of emotion are natural, theatrics are not.
- While checking for EVPs, the members of the investigation team need to remain quiet. Otherwise, what’s the point?
- Professional investigators do not use scare tactics or fear-mongering to achieve a goal.
- If any fee is charged, it should be clear and upfront.
- Beware any individuals who promise to “make you a paranormal investigator,” in “one weekend,” for only a few hundred bucks. There’s no such professional training.
- There is currently a strong argument against the use of Ouija Boards (or Spirit Boards). Paranormal investigators are supposed to be professionals and the use of a game board does not send a professional message. Both the Ouija and Spirit boards do the same thing and any results are questionable, at best. Not only do many involved in the paranormal consider the results dubious, it opens too wide a channel to get an accurate answer, if a genuine answer is received. The primary debate against this is the results are subject to human interference.
- The group should not jump to conclusions. At all. You may encounter something you believe is sinister, but the members should try to provide reasonable explanations as a possibility.
- Paranormal investigators should regard there work as scientific. It should be treated with due respect.
Other general rules are as follows:
- Obeys all federal, state, and municipal laws.
- Places the well-being of the client and his or her family above all other priorities.
- Describes in advance to the client (or, in the case of investigations of public venues, the designated contact person) the duration and nature of the investigation, the number and training of investigators who will be present, the nature of data to be collected, and all other considerations that might reasonably be expected to influence the client’s decision to proceed with the investigation.
- Assures that an investigation does not in any way damage any property of the client, other persons unrelated to the investigation, or any private or public business, organization, or concern.
- Assures that an investigation does not violate the rights, privacy, or well-being of persons who are not involved in the investigation (such as neighbors, bystanders, and other people in close proximity to an investigation).
- Does not discuss preliminary interpretations or conclusions with a client during an investigation. All data should be analyzed before any conclusions are shared.
- Maintains professional composure during an investigation by avoiding expressions of fear and other strong emotions (such as running away from or overreacting to paranormal activity).
- Refrains from using provocation to elicit paranormal activity except in extreme and unusual circumstances and with prior consent of the client.
- Discusses all relevant objective data (EVP, EMF, photographic evidence, thermal imaging, personal experiences, etc.) with the client. Typically, evidence is shared both through a face-to-face interaction and via a written report.
- Refrains from sharing conclusions with the client regarding the identity, nature, motivations, and potential danger of detected activity unless there is a strong evidential basis for such conclusions. In all instances, objective data must be clearly distinguished from interpretations of those data.
- Shares evidence with other certified paranormal investigators for purposes of re-reanalysis. Such evidence must be “de-identified” with respect to the identity of the client and location of the activity unless the client agrees in advance to being identified. Investigators who obtain data for secondary analysis must not share it with others in any form without the written consent of the client and the primary investigator.
- Does not publish or release data from an investigation to the public without signed consent by the client. Data collected in investigations of public venues generally do not need consent.
- Does not sponsor “ghost hunting” excursions for the public that play upon sensationalism or fear. “Ghost hunting” excursions for the public that focus upon history, local stories, and the acquisition of knowledge about the paranormal are acceptable.
- Accurately represents the knowledge and expertise of him- or herself and all members of the investigation team at all times.
Kudos to the Paranormal Resource Alliance for publishing a professional set of criteria.