Monday, November 10, 2008

Research: The Key To Any Investigation

In stumbling across an announcement in The Oklahoman from January 1934 that apprised the populace of the sky-advertising antics of stunt pilot Roy Hunt, I wondered if similar situations couldn't be responsible for "strange sightings". After all, the article began: "Should mamma and papa wonder about strange lights in the sky or the white smoke that makes an insignia, it is the automobile industry advertising."

This is what is often missed when scanning historical accounts electronically or solely for keywords. It's important to view history in context and not myopically. Often when reading archived news, strange and relevant tangents can be observed by reading other articles around them or by reading through the papers before and after a certain event.

Moreover, research is work - but it is work that pays off. If you belong to a paranormal investigation team that doesn't have a researcher or historian, then I urge you to round your group out. Nothing exists in a vacuum.

I owe a great deal of my writing and investigating to the obscure treasures my personal historian digs up for me. She has a nose for news, honed over decades of librarianship and a masters in library science. Nevertheless, you needn't one to simply do some quality historical investigating.
Make sure you take use of county and state records offices, public libraries, genealogical and historical archives; university libraries and reputable online resources. If you really sink your teeth into the deeds, death certificates, land grants, census records, etc., you would be amazed at how many haunting myths you can lay to rest.

As well, records exist in myriad forms to better elucidate the truth behind UFO sightings. When you do research for a specific write-up, don't rely solely on the reporter who wrote the story. Check out the information yourself. Verify. Read around through the newspapers and journals to see what else was happening around that same time frame. Again, the results can often surprise you.

Research is an oft-neglected tool in the arsenal of paranormal investigators. However, it can make all the difference and set you and yours apart from the pack. If you are not familiar with the process, librarians and educators are often very willing to show you the ropes.


Buck said...

Amen! I'm pleased to work on an entire team dedicated to research with my group.

I'm often shocked when reading "reports" from groups how heavily they rely upon folklore and tourist brochures for their "facts."

On almost any case there will be at least two or three people working on background and history, not only digging into news databases but also visiting historical societies and archives to examine other documents.

Beyond that are the hours spent researching ownership and post residents of a site as well as geological information and even down to going over blueprints and at times construction inspections or applications for historical landmark status.

We've even tracked down former occupants of places or former employees at times to interview them.

Solid research is the backbone of good investigation and separating fact from fiction.

Judy AKA "Spookannie" said...

You have both expressed this very well. Not many people are willing to put in the time you have, but they won't reap the rewards either. I love a good detective story and I think you need to be a sleuth to get at the truth, not just accept hearsay and rumor.