A respected ghost and hauntings investigator, Steve is the co-founder of Para.Science. He is also a Member of the Spontaneous Case Committee of The Society for Psychical Research and an Advisor to The Ghost Club.
When it comes to a ghost or ghost-hunting book, Ghostology: The Art of the Ghost Hunter is a tome. A learned book, but not dry. Informational but readable. The product not just of years in the trenches as it were, but of evaluating those trenches and, importantly, thinking about the periphery of those trenches.
As one who has also spent (a lot less) time in those trenches – looking, pondering, getting bored and cold at 2am in some musty old room when I’m old enough to know better, I’ll begin the review by saying this. If all current or future ghost-hunters, investigators, and seekers were to read one chapter of one book before lovingly packing those K-2s, maglites and gaussmasters into a flight case and heading off into the night(vision?) – it should be the Introduction to this book.
This begins not with a bold statement of fact or belief, but with a question – What is a Ghost? Steve writes “…there is little to indicate ghosts are visions of the returning dead.” In the current TV show led climate of ghosts and ghost-hunting where “experts” and amateurs alike offer up beliefs as facts, the importance of that sentence and the context in which is written cannot be understated. That is, people may have experiences but let us not make our belief and bias the starting point for investigating those experiences. And it is that perspective that lays the foundation for the rest of the book.
There follows an historical overview of ghost hunting, from antiquity to the contemporary to the future. True, there is some justifiable lamenting when it comes to the modern day, but there is also a justifiable kernel of hope that not everyone currently populating the trenches is doing so with an eye to a TV show or viewing said trenches through night-vision belief or full-spectrum bias. And those that aren’t will appreciate the chapters that follow – Critical Thinking, Evidence, and People and Places. They will appreciate not just the content of those chapters which deal with thinking, evaluating, witnesses, and the scientific method amongst other things. They will appreciate that these topics were dealt with before delving into the technological side of modern ghost investigation – essentially because modern ghost investigation is, more often than not, guilty of getting this laughably arse-over-tit.
Given the nature of contemporary ghost-hunting, the “tech” and gadget side of things would need addressing. Steve does so with aplomb. If the book began with the question “what is a ghost” it now asks “what should we measure, and why, and how”. The majority of the remaining chapters deal with temperature, EMF, the environment, EVP, instrumental transcommunication, sound, video and photography, light, thermal imaging and smart phones/apps. That brief list belies the depth into which these topics are discussed. Each of these chapters covers elements such as history of use or investigation, explanations of common anomalous readings, what can and can’t be claimed based on results, uses and limitations, and best practice. All the darlings of the modern ghost-hunter’s tool-kit are covered. It really is recommended reading for those that use them, and especially those that misuse them.
Chapter 19 deals with the subject of Orbs. Again, this is a chapter that is welcomed and needed. You don’t need to look too hard to find groups still posting digital photos of orbs as evidence of the paranormal. No, really, they still do. Those groups would do well to read and appreciate the experimental evidence suggesting the non-paranormal causation of the little blighters – but they won’t. If any of those people are reading this review but don’t want to read the book, let me sum up the evidence for you thus:
Orbs = airborne particles = not fucking paranormal.
Not even the red “angry” ones. Sorry. Deal with it and move on. Please.
The book is rounded off with a nice touch – a word search. It’s possibly a measure of Mr Parsons the man that he had the foresight and consideration to include for his reader something to while away the time during lulls on investigations or being hounded by demonic entities, or possibly as a distraction to becoming embroiled in fruitless exchanges with Orbsters. For the latter alone you should purchase the book.
The book is clearly and explicitly not intended as a manual to catch ghosts. This is no literary Muon Trap, nor does it claim to be. What it sets out to do is to make you think, consider and inform. It achieves that goal. The chapters can be read as stand alone informational resources. The writing is accessible but with depth. Steve’s knowledge and experience clearly shines through, as does his passion for the subject.
So if you have an interest in ghosts, ghost-hunting or investigating you should get your hands on a copy of Ghostology: The Art of the Ghost Hunter. In fact, there is plenty in this book that is transferable to much anomalous research or investigation besides only ghosts. Plus, the ghost on the cover is the schnizzle.
The book won’t make you a better investigator. That’s your job. It will however provide you with resources and information to help you along the way. If there’s one lesson the book strives to teach it is this:
Be objective, be informed……..and be interested
Ghostology: The Art of the Ghost Hunter and Steve Parson’s previous book, Paracoustics: Sound & the Paranormal can be purchased on Amazon here and here.
Steve’s work can also be found at the ParaScience website here (LINK: http://www.parascience.org.uk/).
An OWNE interview with Steve can also be found here.
- Reviews2016.03.06Book Review | Ghostology: The Art of the Ghost Hunter by Steven T. Parsons
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- OWNE Thoughts2014.06.08Finding Bigfoot – town hall event, Newcastle
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