Experiments,  Ghosts and Hauntings

Four Old-New Ideas for Paranormal Investigations

Over the years I’ve watched as some methods and ideas regarding the investigation of “paranormal” phenomena have risen to the top of the list while others have fallen by the wayside. A lot of the techniques employed by ghost hunters have, without a doubt, been inspired by reality television shows. There are endless experiments and methods used in chasing down ghostly phenomena some of them old and forgotten while other are being newly created. For anyone looking for a unique way of approaching investigation here is a brief list of some ideas which I have seen in use over the years but for some reason I rarely see anymore.

“The Circle” or “Learner Model”

Back in the early 1990’s I sat in on number of experiments with what are now commonly called “EVP sessions” and they looked and felt very different than the ones I see being done today. Most commonly I came across the “Learner Model” or “Circle” session during these experiments.

How it’s done

A group of people sit in a circle with a recording device placed in the center of them.

Each person in the group holds the hand of the person next to them and one person is designated as the “Start”. The recorder is turned on, hands are held and the “Start” asks a question. When the “Start” is certain that enough time has gone by, after the asking of their question, they squeeze the hand of the person to their right. This person then asks the same question as the “Start.” This process continues until all in the circle have asked the original question.

Once the question has circled the group the person to the right of the “Start” becomes the new “Start” and asks a new question. The process is repeated until everyone in the circle has become the “Start” and has had a chance to ask a unique question.

The general idea behind this experiment is that we do not know if there is biological factor involved in asking questions and getting responses. Every person gets a chance to ask the same question in order to see if they are helping to provoke a response from the alleged “ghosts.”


Long before the heavily debated and often argued “Flashlight” experiment where “spirits” are told to respond by turning flashlights on and off there was “Flickering” The arguments for and against using flashlights are many and will not be covered in this post but “Flickering” is different and has its own, different, debatable issues. The idea behind “Flickering” is simple and requires only two candles placed away from each other.

How it’s done

The candles must be held in glass candle holders which will block direct airflow. Set the lit candles up in a darkened room and have the people in the room sit with their backs to the candles. The candles should be far enough apart so that the light from each is discernible and unique to the people in the room. Some people even use different colored glass containers for each candle. From there it’s just a simple process of designating which candle will be “yes and which will be “no”.

Researchers during the turn of the century used this method much in the way that people use the “Flashlight” experiment today. Watching the light from the candles flicker in response can be pretty strange and it’s also relaxing which some researchers have said creates a semi-hypnagogic state which makes easier “communication” with the alleged spirits.

“Learned Jot Sessions” or “LJS”

Another interesting experiment for EVP sessions is performing what is called a “Learned Jot Session” Back in the mid-80’s some investigators started carrying 3×5 cards and a sharpie marker when they were running around doing their day-to-day tasks. Randomly throughout the day they would pick someone and ask them to write a random question down on the 3×5 card and then without looking at it they would tuck it away. After they had about 10 questions they would put them in manila envelopes, again without looking, randomly number then from 1 to 10 and seal them up. Later during a “traditional” EVP session investigators bring out the envelopes and would ask for answers to the questions inside. Since the experimenter doesn’t know the questions and no one, “alive” can read them there should be no way to get accurate responses.
It is ridiculous how many of those questions, unknown to all and never spoken aloud get answered.

“Proper Protocol”

Not so much an experiment as an investigation technique “The Proper Protocol” was designed by former World War 2 Veteran, Colonel Clarence Proper. During group investigations the entire team of people investigate together in total silence using only hand signals to communicate. The hand signals are derived from tactical-military hand signals. The usage of “The Proper Protocol” is a way to lessen the effect of undue influence from one investigator to another.

How it works

If three or more people are investigating a location and one person believes something to happen they snap their fingers to gain attention and then raise a hand alerting everyone to stand still, (right hand up, palm open). Then if the investigator has heard something they use their right hand to point to their right ear. If they heard a voice they point to their lips, if they heard walking they move their index and middle finger back and forth, if they saw something they point to their right eye, if they smell something they point to their nose, if they felt a physical sensation they lay their hand on the back of their neck. If someone else has a similar experience then, for instance, the two people who are experiencing something individually tell the person who isn’t having an experience what they believe happened to them. Two finger snaps resumes the investigation. Since the individuals who are experiencing something tell a “third party” they have a way, through that person, of confirming if they are experiencing the same thing without accidentally influencing the other person.

Most commonly used signals

  • Finger Snap – Look at me
  • Right Hand, palm up and open – Stop
  • Point to Ear – Heard a sound
  • Point to Mouth – Heard a voice
  • Point to Eye – Saw something
  • Point to Nose – Smelled something
  • Hand on Back of Neck – Felt something
  • Hand up, Index and Middle Fingers moving back and forth – Footsteps
  • Left hand up – Cold
  • Left hand down – Hot
  • Two Finger Snaps – Resume Investigation
  • Try Some Old-New Ideas

These ideas have been used for decades but have mostly fallen away from usage, usually because they have never been shown on television.

All of these experiments and ideas are just meant to give options to those people who have fallen into a routine of investigative techniques. There is nothing wrong with experimenting and having fun and trying something new. All too often the complacency of doing the same thing over and over makes tedious what we at one time found exciting and engaging. So get out there and try something new…or old.