Rating a Haunted House Guidelines
Sure, watching shows like Ghost Hunters is a dramatic thrill... the heavy breathing, night vision cameras, the spooked faces and darting heads side to side in near panic mode but there is a fundamental problem with these ghost-hunting shows... you cannot determine the status of a house or location in one, two or three visits. In fact, it would be unfair to rate a location "Fake" or "Not Haunted" without having a long-time relationship with the location.
To begin even locations that are deemed truly haunted do not have paranormal activity daily and some not even weekly or monthly. Paranormal activity does not happen because you appear with equipment, video cameras and investigators. Some haunted locations only see paranormal activities once a year, marked by an event or specific set of criteria, for some it is completely random and therefore the odds of you being there (if you do not live or frequent the location all the time) when it happens is slim.
But before we start delving into rating paranormal activity real or not real let's start with how we classify paranormal activity? You cannot lump everything into one basket, there are wide variations in different types of paranormal activity. When someone tells me their home is haunted I say, "Great! By what?" That usually confuses them but it's an honest question. You cannot say a ghost is a ghost is a ghost... that's not the case at all. That would be the same as saying "This piece of canvas has art", your natural reaction would be "What kind of art? Watercolor? Oil? Charcoal?". The same can be said for hauntings... we came up with our own 3-part system which classifies hauntings as: Residual Energy, Ghosts or Spirits.
Any location you visit whether it is new or centuries old is going to have energy associated with it. Creatures have been roaming this earth for millions of years and humans for who knows exactly how long, at least thousands and so you are not going to find a spot on this Earth that does not have residual energy associated with it. So when you build your brand new house you are building it on a location that has obviously been traversed before you by who knows what kind of entity. Also, any home that has had people living in it is going to have residual energy whether it is the remains of negative energy from a nasty argument to death of any kind. There can also be positive energy such as a marriage proposal, a romantic liasion or other extremely happy moments in time. So what kind of paranormal activity are they rating?
The most common and most encountered by anyone is residual energy. You walk into an area with bad residual energy and it may be mistaken as a bad ghost or evil presence. If you walk into a warm area that feels peaceful it could be mistaken as a positive ghost rather than the fact it is residual energy. And residual energy is not a constant, there are few constants when you are talking about the paranormal. You as an individual human being are in a constant state of energy and your energy varies depending on how you feel, what you are doing and what is going on in your life and there will be times when you are sensitive to outside sources of mystic, spiritual or paranormal experiences.
The most classified, properly or improperly, is ghosts. But on what criteria are people classifying ghosts? Technically a ghost is an impression of a person that others can see and the ghost does NOT bother you, talk to you, acknowledge your existence and they are seen briefly performing an act that was natural to them such as walking, sitting, standing, dancing, etc but the key to classifying something as a ghost is the LACK OF RESPONSE. A ghost is an impression of energy leftover for whatever reason and it is NOT a spirit. They look like whatever they are be it human or creature. They are incapable of doing anything to you or to their surroundings, they are merely a leftover impression. This is why so many people who report seeing ghosts report a lack of response from the ghost when they try to approach it or interact with it. They aren't really there in a conscious sense.
A spirit is an entity that can manifest as an orb, streak of light, mist of smoke, or in human or creature form. They do interact with you, they do have a thought process and they can cause variations in the elements around you be it the temperature of a room, moving objects, affecting your mood or energy, manipulating sounds and the presence of mind or reality and other manifestations. This classification splinters into hundreds of different kinds of spirits because this covers everything from the astral and spiritual realm including anything or anyone who once lived on Earth to Angels and Demons and mystic entities of other realms. This also covers entities such as poltergeists who do not want to interact with you but does manipulate its surroundings and these are not deadly or harmful but are spastic bursts of energy that cause everything from bumps, scratching noises, causing objects to move and other audible manifestations.
Those three are the most common types of paranormal classifications which leads us back to how they are people differentiating between them and how are they rating a place haunted or not haunted. Haunted by what? And you cannot determine a location not haunted by spending the night in a place or visiting once. For the record hauntings are not restricted to times only when the sun is not shining, it is not true hauntings only take place at night. To a ghost they have no idea what time of day it is, they are impressions and so they will appear at random during the wee hours of the morning, during the afternoon or in the dark of night. They don't have a schedule and are not provoked by the sun going down. The same for residual energy, it will be there whether it's bright and sunny, rainy and cloudy or dark with moonlight. The only exception to this may be spirits. They, having a conscious thought process, can actively decide when they want to express their presence and depending on who you are they may never privilege you with an experience. Again, they are not going to be restricted to just appearing at night, they can appear any time they want or never at all to a certain person and certainly not showing up with night vision cameras & a crew is going to force or provoke them to appear.
Which takes us back to the drama of these ghost-hunting shows. They are great entertainment but not factual and certainly never should be taken as an absolute determination. There is no substitute for familiarity when you are trying to determine the status of a potentially haunted location. You cannot go to a location once or twice or even 10 times and give an accurate determination that the location is not haunted. You can say "unconfirmed" if someone tells you they think their home is haunted but you did not experience anything and you should never be so egotistical to think that your lack of an experience warrants an immediate rating of fake or not haunted.
The other issue I take with ghost-hunting shows is they are so dramatic and show their investigators in near panic mode, easily spooked and with this urgent sense of expectation it creates a feeling of fear to those watching and unjustly presents the idea that ghosts, spirits or residual energy is bad and something to be afraid of. There are certainly spirits that should be feared but the majority of hauntings are not something to be afraid of and not something that would cause people to be in an urgent state. We all live amongst residual energy of positive, neutral and negative effect daily and we have all come to into contact with a paranormal presence of some kind during our lifetimes, most of us multiple times in a lifetime whether we realize it or not (and all the time for paranormal collectors) so these ghost-hunting shows present the paranormal to the general public as something to be afraid thereby continuing the negative stigma attached to the paranormal community as a whole. While they are great for bringing the paranormal into the public eye the pressure the TV networks puts on these ghost-hunting shows for drama & showmanship of a sensational nature is unfair. Sometimes a haunting can be a very positive & welcome experience, not a nightmare.