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#16 petunia4998

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 01:06 PM

aloha, that's why I said a set fee could be negotiated at the beginning.

If you don't want to think of them as professionals, that's fine. You don't have to. There are other people who think they are.

We have one group here in NM and I went with them to one of their investigations and I was very impressed with their work; they got some good photos. I don't know if they charge or not. I think they may garner some money by running ghost tours.

aloha, I take your sarcasm in stride because you are always that way to me I know you don't like the way I think but we are all equally loved by the same god.

OMPDave, if you don't want to believe in ghosts or spirits, that's fine. You say it can't be proven that they exist, but neither can YOU prove that they don't. There are myriad people who will disagree with you. I guess it's just one of those things. :kitty:
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#17 petunia4998

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 02:22 PM

aloha, I should not have taken your post as a personal attack.

Nevertheless, I am not understanding why you don't think these groups should be labeled as professionals? Did I miss something? :kitty:
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#18 Ten301

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 04:29 PM

As I stated previously, any individual or group that claims that they can rid your house or location of ghosts, spirits, demons...whatever, for a fee should immediately be dismissed as unethical frauds. However, that was not the point I was attempting to make.

My point is that much time, effort, experience, expertise and expense on the part of the investigator or group goes into assisting the client. The emphasis for most is on helping and providing a service, not research (there are certainly exceptions, such as what you do with your EVP research). Whether you find something or not, whether you can remove it or not...it's a moot point. You are still using your resources to provide a service, no different than countless other professions that do the same. There is no shame in fee for service. If that were the case, the planet would be full of very shameful individuals and companies representing all professions, and world economies would be in shambles (even more than they already are!) Again, "ghostbusters" and charlatans should be dismissed and condemned, and I believe the points I've advocated in this thread may be an excellent way of doing just that.

Your expertise in electronics is second to none, and you've graciously answered mine and others' questions on this site many times. I'm not familiar with your investigative schedule or methodology, but believe your emphasis is on EVP. You have many years of experience and knowledge in your field on a level that most will never attain. My comments throughout this thread have really been targeted on those of us who have been in this field for a long time, not the fairly recent phenomena of groups with semi-clever acronyms for names that are disciples of this or that paranormal program. If you were asked to use the expertise and knowledge you have gained over the years, day-in-and-day- out, week after week, along with personally absorbing any and all costs in providing a service (not conducting research), would you feel that you would be entitled to compensation?


I won't dispute that costs are a factor in research. Maybe a little background here would help. I am one of the Independent Research Associates. This is not a group as many think of them rather it is a pool of independent researchers. But is is also a for-profit entity. (Not a non-profit, as some groups are set up.) Yet we do not charge for any private investigation with one big caveat. The no charge applies ONLY for those investigations where the client is not involved in a for-profit venture.

In other words if you believe your house is haunted we would not charge. But if you think your restaurant is haunted and you want to promote it as a haunted location you better believe you will be charged! The difference is you are using the investigation as a profit making scheme for yourself and wanting us to validate it to increase its worth to you. As such we are entitled to a share of the profits! If you are a TV producer and want us to act as consultants we charge. Again, we are helping you make a profit, are we not entitled to a share of them? Those of us who do public presentations and conferences may charge for our services. The exact fees are up to each associate and can be waived, but it is also how we fund our research and how we can keep private cases free.

Even the electronics. I charge for that if someone places an order. The customer receives a device just as he orders it. It will do everything I claim for it; if not I have either refund the money or make it right. He receives tangible goods for real money. I don't make a claim anything I build will detect spirits or anything else. It will do only what I claim. If the customer uses it for ghost hunting fine. If it fails to detect ghosts that won't get him a refund since I never make a claim it would perform that function.

It was mentioned regarding research too. Our association is research oriented and as such does not take all cases. We limit ourselves to those which we feel may have significant potential for study. Thus not every claim of a haunted house will be considered. But if there is some specific point that shows potential we will take cases nationwide. Each case is considered based on its merits and cost involved in following up. I do mostly UFO research myself; locally her in Pa. i would follow up on most reports since costs are minimal. But I have also done significant cases in Florida, Oklahoma, Arizona where evidence looked intriguing and worth the costs involved. The association covered all costs from charges derived from fees to non-private clients.

As for day to day investigations, I have not seen enough concrete evidence of what we are dealing with to comfortably charge a fee to simply charge to investigate. Every fee we do charge gives the customer some very definite service. If we consult for a client for profit he gets x number of hours of consultation. We explain what we do how we do it and what is expected. We do not claim to even be in the paranormal field; rather we explain how we debunk claims. That is different than actually doing the investigation.

How you say? Consider if you hired me to come in and find your ghost I could come in and go through a lot of steps. Use my EMF meter and cameras. Maybe I was successful, maybe not. Either way I could not prove what I did. (We really don't even know what a ghost is!) But as a consultant my job is not to actually do anythingt. Rather I am paid to come in and tell a story about your ghost. That I can do. maybe it's true, maybe not. Maybe I got it right, maybe not. But either way you paid for the story and received the story. What you do with it is left up to you. Believe it or not it's your call.


As always, you have stated your case eloquently, without the histrionics and accusations that often accompany this debate. I agree with nearly all you have said. You have found a balance that works well.

I think the "sticky wicket" here is the argument that we cannot prove ghosts exist and hauntings take place, therefore we should not charge. That is where we differ. No client should be told that they do or that we guarantee a successful outcome, and that should be made very clear from the outset. My point is that, at their request, we are using our time, expertise, equipment and are incurring costs to get to the bottom of their problem, whatever that problem may turn out to be. That, I believe, is providing a service, for which we are entitled to be compensated.

#19 aloha_spirit

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 10:56 PM

aloha, I should not have taken your post as a personal attack.

Nevertheless, I am not understanding why you don't think these groups should be labeled as professionals? Did I miss something? :kitty:


My quip wasn't meant as a personal jab against anyone. I wanted to show that even though I've had experience in a myriad of fields, I'm only a professional in one.

The label professional, in my view, denotes someone who has gone through rigorous, standardized training. Our very field (the paranormal) is so called because it is not normal. Throwing around the label "professional" too loosely is akin to grade inflation; if it's too easy to attain it loses value.

I don't think a group should be able to get a business license, paint a logo on a van, and call themselves professionals.

I didn't lose my mind - I have it backed up on a disk ... somewhere


#20 OMPRDave

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 08:22 AM

The second definition for fraud, straight from the dictionary:

2. A person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.

Whereas we have no idea what a ghost is, how can ANYONE claim what they are, especially when going in to research the basic paranormal claims of a client?

Now I will regress and agree with Jim's thoughts above about commercial clients, especially those who stand to make a lot of money catering to those with an interest in ghosts afterwards. And building and selling equipment - that's not really charging for research, and should be conducted as a business. But, for the average, tv bred ghost hunter out there who rushes out and starts a group with the expressed intent to charge people money to identify and rid something they have no idea is there is preposterous. Here is a prime example:

Ghost Bashers

For me, I fund myself for the simple reason that I am not offering anyone a tangible product or service. I am exploring paranormal claims, and documenting what I find to try and come up with an idea of what may be happening. And once money becomes involved in a field that is strictly based on witness observations and with no scientific data to support it, the results gathered become suspect. I could get lucky and have a college offer me a grant to fund my research, but to take money from private parties I am dealing with? I can only offer them my findings - not a concrete answer, and that is where the fraud that is out there comes out. "A person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities." To state one is an expert ghost hunter, that they can identify what a ghost IS and then offer ideas or services to eliminate it? Snake oil sales.

It's not so much a touchy subject as it is a question of ethics. Some people will have sincere beliefs that they are entitled to charge for fuel costs, costs for batteries, equipment usage, time spent researching, and that is where the debate lies. But to offer solutions or proof? Those people are the ones who need to be called out and questioned about their ethics and if they can prove - undeniably - what they are claiming.
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation." Herbert Spencer

#21 Ten301

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 10:12 AM

I agree that any individual or group that claims proof of the paranormal and the ability to correct the problem for monetary compensation should be singled out as frauds, and have stated that several times in this thread. I would consider that a gross violation of ethical standards, and also would have no problem calling them on it.

However, we must refrain from knee-jerk reactions whenever this subject is brought to the fore. This is a legitimate debate, especially as costs rise and times change. Some groups have the resources to adapt better than others. We cannot simply brand them as frauds whenever the subject of fee for service is raised, as to do so is the height of arrogance. There are a myriad of reasons why a group may want to go this route, and it really comes down to intent. If the intent is questionable, only then does it become a question of ethics. Yes, this is a "touchy" subject, which is actually very positive, as it means that most of us are attempting to hold ourselves to a very high ethical standard.

I believe it was 'Aloha' that stated no group should be allowed to obtain a business license, slap their logo on a van, and call themselves "professionals". Actually, I do agree with that in spirit, if I am correct in interpreting the poster's intent. In the strict definition of the term, they would not be professionals, and should not make that claim. However, as stated previously, I would have no problem with any group obtaining a business license. It would be the legitimate route to take if they decided to go fee for service, and does offer some safeguards as opposed to them flying under the radar and collecting a fee "under the table". Again, it first comes down to intent. I believe ethics only come into play if said intent is questionable.

#22 CaveRat2

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 08:58 AM

Let me back up a bit here and put out a different perspective on charging for private clients.

I don't know of one single group who does this but let's go on conjecture here.

Suppose a group was formed who called themselves "The Truth Seekers". This group specifically states they are NOT a paranormal investigating group, rather they simply explore mysteries for clients. The client calls them anytime they encounter strange things happening around them, maybe noises for example.

Now suppose the client calls and claims he hears loud bangs in his attic. The group comes in, using whatever methods and equipment they deem proper, all in accordance with known scientific principles. Eventually they find the bangs are the result of temperature fluctuations and expansion in the rafters of the house. They make a recommendation that a carpenter be called in and repairs made.

Can anyone dispute that these consultants have a right to charge a fee? No mention was made of ghosts, spirits, or anything beyond the realm of known and established scientific methods. I would have no problem with them charging a client provided they actually do what they were paid to do, that is find the source of the noise and identify it.

The problem begins when the term paranormal comes into the mix. The above group deserves to be paid ONLY if they can identify the source. Expansion of a rafter can be measured and shown; ghosts cannot. Therein may lie the answer; a group calling itself paranormal investigators can't identify what they seek; a group simply seeking an answer can. So whether or not a group deserves to charge a fee depends on their motives and investigative techniques. If your group advertises itself as simply a consultant to investigate physical issues then charge your consultant fee.

But if your group appears to lean toward the paranormal then you are getting into an area where a fee is inappropriate. Maybe a look at your website would help; do you have ghosts, and spirits as your theme? Or are you more mainstream? Because that is the impression you are giving any prospective client and also the motivation for your work. If you want to charge then drop the paranormal angle from your investigative work and stay with the scientific side. And if you encounter something that seems to go beyond the scientific then be ready to either back away or forego any charge to the client.

#23 Ten301

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 01:04 PM

Let me back up a bit here and put out a different perspective on charging for private clients.

I don't know of one single group who does this but let's go on conjecture here.

Suppose a group was formed who called themselves "The Truth Seekers". This group specifically states they are NOT a paranormal investigating group, rather they simply explore mysteries for clients. The client calls them anytime they encounter strange things happening around them, maybe noises for example.

Now suppose the client calls and claims he hears loud bangs in his attic. The group comes in, using whatever methods and equipment they deem proper, all in accordance with known scientific principles. Eventually they find the bangs are the result of temperature fluctuations and expansion in the rafters of the house. They make a recommendation that a carpenter be called in and repairs made.

Can anyone dispute that these consultants have a right to charge a fee? No mention was made of ghosts, spirits, or anything beyond the realm of known and established scientific methods. I would have no problem with them charging a client provided they actually do what they were paid to do, that is find the source of the noise and identify it.

The problem begins when the term paranormal comes into the mix. The above group deserves to be paid ONLY if they can identify the source. Expansion of a rafter can be measured and shown; ghosts cannot. Therein may lie the answer; a group calling itself paranormal investigators can't identify what they seek; a group simply seeking an answer can. So whether or not a group deserves to charge a fee depends on their motives and investigative techniques. If your group advertises itself as simply a consultant to investigate physical issues then charge your consultant fee.

But if your group appears to lean toward the paranormal then you are getting into an area where a fee is inappropriate. Maybe a look at your website would help; do you have ghosts, and spirits as your theme? Or are you more mainstream? Because that is the impression you are giving any prospective client and also the motivation for your work. If you want to charge then drop the paranormal angle from your investigative work and stay with the scientific side. And if you encounter something that seems to go beyond the scientific then be ready to either back away or forego any charge to the client.


I certainly appreciate and value your opinion and the opinion of others, which is the reason I initiated this thread. I believe at times this question has been raised in various forums around the web with the sole intent of inducing hypertension among the participants. That was never mine. I believe there are always going to be two camps concerning this subject. Yes, the "no charge" camp is, by far, the largest, but I must say that I have noticed a more open attitude as time goes on. Whether it is due to rising costs or some completely unknown factors, I don't know.

I understand and respect what you are saying, I really do. I get it. However, as stated previously, I do not view this as an issue of ethics. I view it as an issue of intent, disclosure and honesty. If any of the latter are violated then, yes, it does become an ethical issue. I believe we must move away from the belief that we are conducting "research" in the traditional, scientific sense. We are not. Perhaps that was the case with university parapsychology departments many years ago, but it is not true today. We are providing a service. Yes, there are exceptions but, by and large, what most (if not all) groups are doing today is not scientific research. It is not even possible. By definition, we are not professionals, there is no mechanism for accreditation or peer review, and no standards exist or are in place. However, we are still providing a service and expending our resources at someone's behest. Whether there is an end product or not, whether a solution is formulated or not, is irrelevant. If disclosed to the client beforehand that the paranormal (in its popular definition; ghosts, spirits, etc.) may not exist, that you are in no way claiming it does, that no cause and, therefore, no solution may be found, that their problem may very well be of a completely mundane origin, and that the equipment used is not scientifically proven, then how is it unethical to charge a fee to cover expenses incurred? No, we should never say, "Mr. Smith, you have a ghost haunting your double-wide mobile home", but if any abnormalities do present themselves during the investigation, they can be presented to Mr. Smith and he can be allowed to make up his own mind. Using the term "paranormal" on a web site does not change any of that. Yes, we are going in looking for evidence that something that may be of a paranormal nature, but it certainly may not be. In any case, we are not telling the client it is. If a normal explanation cannot be found, there is nothing wrong with suggesting to the client a few solutions that may be tried (as long as they are benign in themselves) based on what may be the cause. Again, all of this is a service requested, with full disclosure, by the client. I see no ethical issues in charging a fee to cover expenses in providing that service.

#24 OMPRDave

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 02:46 PM

Now suppose the client calls and claims he hears loud bangs in his attic. The group comes in, using whatever methods and equipment they deem proper, all in accordance with known scientific principles. Eventually they find the bangs are the result of temperature fluctuations and expansion in the rafters of the house. They make a recommendation that a carpenter be called in and repairs made.


They would need to have a building inspector's license for that, pretty much negating being mystery seekers or whatever. Now, I can see maybe asking for donations - nominal, at best - to cover some expenses. And I would hope any tem doing that registers as a non-profit or fills out a 1099 at the end of the year.
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation." Herbert Spencer

#25 CaveRat2

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 10:33 AM

They would need to have a building inspector's license for that, pretty much negating being mystery seekers or whatever. Now, I can see maybe asking for donations - nominal, at best - to cover some expenses. And I would hope any tem doing that registers as a non-profit or fills out a 1099 at the end of the year.


That would be a regional issue. Indeed, some areas would require such registration; in fact some areas by law would prohibit ANYONE charging any kind of fee unless so registered. Even if they call themselves hobbyists! Here though, unless certifying their work for real estate purposes, so far there are no laws in place. Yet.

And I wonder how many of these who do charge also register for tax purposes? Failure to do so constitutes tax fraud. And if they commit tax fraud, can defrauding the homeowner be far behind?

#26 OMPRDave

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 10:35 PM

They would need to have a building inspector's license for that, pretty much negating being mystery seekers or whatever. Now, I can see maybe asking for donations - nominal, at best - to cover some expenses. And I would hope any tem doing that registers as a non-profit or fills out a 1099 at the end of the year.


That would be a regional issue. Indeed, some areas would require such registration; in fact some areas by law would prohibit ANYONE charging any kind of fee unless so registered. Even if they call themselves hobbyists! Here though, unless certifying their work for real estate purposes, so far there are no laws in place. Yet.

And I wonder how many of these who do charge also register for tax purposes? Failure to do so constitutes tax fraud. And if they commit tax fraud, can defrauding the homeowner be far behind?

AMEN
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation." Herbert Spencer

#27 Ten301

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 01:29 AM

They would need to have a building inspector's license for that, pretty much negating being mystery seekers or whatever. Now, I can see maybe asking for donations - nominal, at best - to cover some expenses. And I would hope any tem doing that registers as a non-profit or fills out a 1099 at the end of the year.


That would be a regional issue. Indeed, some areas would require such registration; in fact some areas by law would prohibit ANYONE charging any kind of fee unless so registered. Even if they call themselves hobbyists! Here though, unless certifying their work for real estate purposes, so far there are no laws in place. Yet.

And I wonder how many of these who do charge also register for tax purposes? Failure to do so constitutes tax fraud. And if they commit tax fraud, can defrauding the homeowner be far behind?


That is precisely my argument for becoming a licensed business if deciding to charge a fee, and the safeguards it would provide. There would be a documentation trail that any perspective client could verify, as well as any local or state authorities. I doubt they could survive for long without the proper documentation and registration if they have also obtained a business license. If not, they would have no business charging as much as a penny. I would argue that it would provide more safeguards than what we now have. There is a sinister element to every aspect of life, and the possibilty in every type of endeavor. It certainly would not be exclusive or unique to the paranormal field.

At present, any individual or group can go into someone's home and spout off any half-baked theory as scientific fact, and often do. I've been a guest on many, many investigations where I've been stunned-absolutely shocked-at what comes out of the mouths of the members. I don't believe it's a willful attempt to deceive, only an issue of accountability. Lack of accountability. Hey, they're saying on TV, right? It's got to be the way it is. Have you ever noticed how many groups have disclaimers on their sites? Very few. Perhaps there's no room due to all the photos of EMF meters they own, but if any do decide to go the licensed business route, they will learn very quickly that accountability is the order of the day. Those disclaimers (which should have been the first thing on their sites) will be popping-up overnight. And, as Martha says...

"That's a good thing."

#28 CaveRat2

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 07:26 AM

I fail to see where simply registering a group will stop the scams though. A group could register and pay the fees yet say most anything they want on an investigation. About the only aspect that might be somewhat controlled would be those who actually use their group as a front for criminal activity, but even with no regulation those are few. Also consider doctors and other professionals ARE regulated yet every once in a while one of them id charged with some form of criminal intent. Not often but it happens. It would be the same even for licensed paranormal groups. People are people.....

You are correct about the mumbo-jumbo some spout off. After all they learned it from the best TV investigators out there! But unless one has set standards (and who will set them?) there is really no way to regulate how a group investigates. Some already use good science, others will come in and work their mojo using Oviluses, and crystal balls. They will come in, burn thier sage and charge to erradicate demons much as they do now. And they will find enough suckers to keep thier trade going.

We do not want anyone regulating how we investigate until we know what we are regulating. It may sound good to control these people and stop scams but consider we don't know what we are investigating. As such how will it be controlled? (I am not referring to the criminal types; those are already controlled by laws against robbery, rape, assult, etc.) For instance, who prevents some New Age type on the city council from requiring every paranormal investigation include a saging or a cleansing? How do the scientific people respond if THAT were the case? It can work both ways!

Edited by CaveRat, 18 August 2011 - 07:27 AM.
typo


#29 Ten301

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 11:33 AM

I fail to see where simply registering a group will stop the scams though. A group could register and pay the fees yet say most anything they want on an investigation. About the only aspect that might be somewhat controlled would be those who actually use their group as a front for criminal activity, but even with no regulation those are few. Also consider doctors and other professionals ARE regulated yet every once in a while one of them id charged with some form of criminal intent. Not often but it happens. It would be the same even for licensed paranormal groups. People are people.....

You are correct about the mumbo-jumbo some spout off. After all they learned it from the best TV investigators out there! But unless one has set standards (and who will set them?) there is really no way to regulate how a group investigates. Some already use good science, others will come in and work their mojo using Oviluses, and crystal balls. They will come in, burn thier sage and charge to erradicate demons much as they do now. And they will find enough suckers to keep thier trade going.

We do not want anyone regulating how we investigate until we know what we are regulating. It may sound good to control these people and stop scams but consider we don't know what we are investigating. As such how will it be controlled? (I am not referring to the criminal types; those are already controlled by laws against robbery, rape, assult, etc.) For instance, who prevents some New Age type on the city council from requiring every paranormal investigation include a saging or a cleansing? How do the scientific people respond if THAT were the case? It can work both ways!


Registration and licensing would go a long way to correct what, I believe, is now the biggest failure on the part of most groups: disclosure. They would, at the very least, be strongly urged by any attorney they may consult to place that disclaimer on their site or (as I already do) on paper to have the client read and sign during the initial consultation, if it is determined and agreed that an investigation will take place.

I certainly do not advocate regulation of how any group conducts an actual investigation, or even what equipment is used, and don't believe it would ever come to that. A disclaimer would defuse that aspect and discourage any regulator from going that route. The health supplement field is a perfect example, although there have been unsuccessful challenges. "Not intended to treat or cure any illness..." has gone a long way in mitigating any government meddling, for better or worse. Various groups do place emphasis on different avenues of investigation so, sure, use your Ovilus if you want. Break out those smudge sticks and and have a ball. Just make the client aware, in writing, of the limitations and scientific value of any device, ritual or procedure, and allow them to make an informed decision. Licensing issues or not, we should all be doing this, as it is the ethical thing to do. Whether using the aforementioned Ovilus or taking what (we believe) is a much more conservative, scientific approach, it is still of unproven value in regard to the paranormal.




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