Paranormal Investigators prefer to do it in the dark

Why do paranormal investigators prefer to do it in the dark?

This is a question that has been posed to us numerous times over the last few years. Conducting investigations in the dark seems to be synonymous with paranormal investigations in the majority of its forms, and has been the predominant environmental constant in many paranormal investigations. So why do paranormal investigators prefer to do it in the dark? Is it the ability to keep outside environmental influences such as street traffic to a minimum? Is it that investigators are regular Joes & Janes with day jobs, forcing them to investigate primarily at night? Maybe investigators are able to better detect apparitions by recording in different spectrum’s of light. Does the removal of one sense (vision) enhance others – such as hearing, smell, or touch? Or, do investigators prefer less power sources to reduce contamination with regards to electromagnetic measurements?

With the prevalence of “Dead Time”, “Lights out”, and “Lock Down”, one has to wonder why it is so many investigators prefer to do it in the dark. There are many accounts of paranormal experiences (and investigations) which take place in daylight or with the lights on, so why the dramatics? Hopefully we’ll be able to shed some light on the subject!

To keep outside environmental influences such as street traffic to a minimum.

This is one point that holds some merit in terms of why investigations are done at night. Nothing quite contaminates audio like a super-series highway or a busy city street. Kids playing outside or pedestrians chatting on the sidewalk – it’s hard enough to identify and isolate audio anomalies, without these extras. Investigating at night does allow for investigators to remove as many auditory variables from the equation as possible. The same could be said about light contamination from headlights and other intermittent light sources that might cast shadows. Investigating at night seems to be the best time to control as many auditory and light variables as possible in a busy or urban area. This still leaves the question: why do the interior of locations need to be dark for the duration of investigations?

Investigators are regular people with day jobs, forcing them to investigate primarily at night.

This is true in most cases, not just for investigators but for clients as well.  Being a paranormal investigator isn’t a paid position and there is no reimbursement for time or services aside from the satisfaction of doing a good job and helping people understand their experiences. Clients also have their own lives to attend to, so investigating at night has become more or less the norm. This is not to say that the majority of experiences happen at night, just that people spend the majority of their time at home in the evenings and, as such, it stands to reason that they may not have been present at the location while experiences occurred during the day. During the daytime the environment may be too busy or people might be too distracted to notice, or they might not be present to experience something anomalous when it occurs. Much the same as the old adage: “If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody is around to hear it does it make a sound?”. Phenomenon can only be experienced if someone is present and able to experience it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen when someone isn’t around.

Investigators may be able to detect apparitions by recording in different spectrum’s of light.

Many hypothesize that by recording in the Infrared or Ultraviolet spectrum of light, apparitions might be easier to document. This hypothesis has been debated at length and is most commonly used in support of conducting paranormal investigations in the dark. Visible light would interfere with the ability to record in the IR or UV spectrum due to the nature of how these cameras work (ie. amplification of present light). However, the exclusion of visible light does not account for the many experiences of apparitions seen both during the day and at night, with the naked eye, and with and without lights being on. One thing you can be sure of is that visible light does interfere with the ability to record anything (even natural) using both IR and UV.

In the case of thermographic cameras (such as the use of FLIR cameras) which measure the surface temperatures of objects to render images, visible light sources can increase the temperature of surfaces and therefore could be considered a form of contamination. Use of thermographic cameras lends itself well to debunking noises as rodent infestations, or diagnosing delaminating of materials within a building’s structure, however thermographic cameras rely on surface temperatures from objects and not air temperature. With that said, IF (and it’s a big if) there is an apparition causing temperature fluctuations that can be captured with a thermographic camera, it stands to reason it would have to have a surface and/or be composed of some sort of atomic/molecular structure for an anomaly to be recorded.

Is it possible that apparitions are more likely to be documented using IR, UV, or thermographic cameras? Yes, it’s very much plausible – however there are no more findings in support this hypothesis than there is for seeing or documenting an apparition in the visible light spectrum. One thing we can be certain of is that more paranormal investigators prefer to conduct investigations in the dark as opposed to in the light, exhausting all equipment at their disposal to see what works!

Sensory deprivation of light will enhance others senses such as hearing, smell, and touch.

The enhancement of one or more senses is most often linked to those who are congenitally deaf or blind. Studies have shown that when born without a sense, the brain space and neurons allocated to process that information (ex: sound) gets used up for another sense or ability (like vision). This neural plasticity was thought to only be present for a critical period of time during infancy and childhood.

More recent studies have shown that even a temporary deprivation of one sense can provide an acute increase in another. Facchini & Aglioti (2003) found that after only 90 minutes of light deprivation their subjects performed better on tactile spatial acuity tasks. This was only an immediate and reversible effect but indicates a dynamic interaction between vision and touch.

So could light deprivation also affect our hearing? Lewald (2007) found that after 90 minutes of darkness, his subjects became more adept at sound localization (locating the origin of a sound), which again suggests that our brains have the ability to reorganize themselves within a short period of time. There is documentation that our sense of smell can improve after a period of light deprivation as well!

Even short-term deprivation of light then potentially does offer some enhancement of other senses for investigators, but can also increase the likelihood of false positives when differentiating the causation of sounds.

In an attempt to control electronics that might cause contamination in regards to electromagnetic measurements.

This would make sense if there was no electricity present at a location or if power was cut off at the panel, however, most investigators utilize a location’s electricity to charge their equipment. Cutting the power does remove many man-made sources of EMF from the equation (such as faulty wiring or electronics), but these same sources of EMF could be linked to some very natural explanations for perceived experiences. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Persinger’s controversial experiments regarding EMF: man-made sources of EMF can evoke sensations of being watched, nightmares, the feeling of not being alone, and deity-like visitations. By removing these variables from the equation, investigators would also be removing their ability to diagnose some very natural explanations!

- Erin & Justin

We would like to thank Matthew Didier of PSICAN for some insight on the nature of how IR & Thermographic cameras work.

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