Across the Great Divide


“Who Left the Gate Open? The Idiots Got Out Again.”

For all the many topics and issues within the realm of parapsychology there is one phenomenon that- pardon the pun- continues to haunt the field. A phenomenon that is predator rather than prey; and despite the most valiant efforts by some, a phenomenon that can be easily kept from causing mayhem – if it weren’t for someone constantly leaving the gate open and letting it out.

I am talking about professionalism. What should come as common sense and a given is apparently seen by some as a hindrance; a roadblock to their fame and fortune. Moreover, unlike many topics that the origins are relatively unknown there are clear methods of manifestation for this problem.

Take, for example, a story out of Montana recently about a city employee who got into trouble after she let a local ghost hunting group set up an infrared camera in the Butte-Silver Bow County Health Department because she thinks that the office is haunted and contacted a group to catch the unwelcome spirits in action.

John DeMuary, co-founder of the Butte Paranormal Investigative Team, told the New York Daily News that he complied with the request because he is also convinced that it’s haunted based on the woman’s claim that “she [reported] a lot of strange things were happening and that she heard strange noises coming from certain parts of the building.”

In the interest of fairness and journalistic integrity I should point out that DeMuary is a rookie in the field and began ghost hunting just over two years ago. He has a lot to learn, and now that inexperience and arrogance has landed someone in a very real world of trouble. I can’t say that I feel sorry for her in the least. Despite what she may personally believe, her actions, and the actions of the “investigative team”, were completely inappropriate and unprofessional.

DeMuary did “a bit” of research and found that the office building was constructed in the 1970s and that before that a woman had spent 80 years of her life in a house that previously stood on the grounds. He was unable to verify whether she died at the location but nonetheless speculated that, “Maybe her spirit wasn’t able to move on.”

So on one night last August, the group snuck into the building with the help of the employee. Their investigation backfired when another employee turned the camera over to police, fearing that someone was using it to spy on the government workers.

The Butte police found no ghosts on the camera’s SD card, but plenty of normal office interactions; and the office managers were in no way amused or sympathetic to the situation, feeling that the incident was a violation of the public trust. The employee who contacted the group was given a formal written warning and another employee who had knowledge of the situation was given a verbal warning. No known charges have been filed against anyone, but I would think it only fitting that some form of trespassing fine be imposed on the team.

The first obvious issue to be addressed is that all involved were not only trespassing, they were willfully trespassing on government property. That takes enough testicular fortitude for this world and the next. How hard is it to understand that whether it’s a cemetery, someone’s home, or a professional building, it is NEVER okay to just walk in whenever you feel like it without the landowner’s permission.

It doesn’t matter if it’s an abandoned building either. In cases of an abandoned property, sometimes contacting the city or church that owns the cemetery or building and presenting your honest and objective intentions goes a long way toward garnering permission. You should also have a client contract that explains what each party’s legal and financial responsibilities are. Often having an explanation of what is publicly planned for the data collected or a clause that releases the building’s owner of responsibility due to injury puts their mind at ease.

For an example of such a contract, here is a download link to the very client contract that DFPS uses: DFPS Client Contract

It is also relevant to mention that any seasoned and professional paranormal research group will require all members to wear photo identification while investigating or representing the group in public- even when just doing research in a library or records office. Not only does this present a more professional image but it helps clients, law enforcement, and others know who is and is not part of the group. Law enforcement has the right to request identification and trespassing on private property can lead to fines, imprisonment, or worse- I’ve personally known of ghost hunting groups getting shot at when trespassing.

Secondly, many professional buildings are, by design, in urban areas close to well-traveled roads and occupied by more than one company with their own hours of operation. This can seriously pollute any evidence due to a large amount of X factors involved. Even abandoned cemeteries in secluded and neglected locations have environmental conditions and noise variables to account for that could skew results.

DeMuary’s said his merry little band of trespassers noticed lights flickering and thought it was “weird” and took one picture of an “orb”. He also based his conclusion that the building was haunted on noises he heard from his Ovilus X- the “ghost box” that I have debunked before,- saying that he “understood words” but “didn’t know what they were saying.” He just guessed that there were past employees at the office who died of breast cancer who may have been trying to communicate. The choice of instrumentation, the methods of research, and the analysis techniques of this group are laughable. There’s really nothing positive to say about it at all.

Orbs? Really? For as much of a joke as the TV reality ghost groups have become even they shrug of orbs as rarely legitimate. Yet the sad fact remains that so many amateur groups out there still try to pass off any bit of anomalous dust in the air as spirit manifestation.

I’ve given way too more attention to the pathetic toy that is the Ovilus than it’s worth. The plastic casing of it has more value than it’s data.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. The more structured and professional you are in your methods the more professional you will come off when investigating and the more serious your data will be taken.

But none of this seems to be of concern to the amateurs pulling the reigns of the Butte Paranormal Investigative Team. To them it’s just saddle up, lock and load. It’s time someone put a lock on the gate before more idiots get out.


Sources: NY Daily News

© 2013 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions