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Features Archive:

2003 Archive:
Ley Lines, Old Straight Tracks, and Earth Energies by Jeff Belanger
December 13, 2003

Dybbuk - Spiritual Possession and Jewish Folklore by Jeff Belanger
November 29, 2003

What to Look For in a Paranormal Group by Andrew D. Laird
November 24, 2003

Reincarnation: Thoughts, Aspects, and Musings by Lee Prosser
November 17, 2003

Inside the Psychic Mind of James Van Praagh by Jeff Belanger
November 15, 2003

Exploring Our Dreams by Jeff Belanger
November 1, 2003

Halloween 2003 - What Scares Us by Jeff Belanger
October 18, 2003

Supernatural Glossary by Brian Leffler, with contributions by the staff
October 13, 2003

L'Empire de la Morte by Jeff Belanger
October 4, 2003

Spell Casting and Green Witchcraft by Jeff Belanger
September 20, 2003

To Light a Candle by Lee Prosser
September 18, 2003

The Ghosts and Legends of Juneau's Alaskan Hotel by Jeff Belanger
September 6, 2003

A Glimpse of the Afterlife: Near-Death Experiences by Jeff Belanger
August 23, 2003

Gargoyles: Sacred Scarecrows by Jeff Belanger
August 9, 2003

Astral Travel Agents by Jeff Belanger
July 26, 2003

What's Your Sign? by Jeff Belanger
July 12, 2003

The Skeptic's View by Jeff Belanger
June 28, 2003

Mercy Brown, the Rhode Island Vampire by Jeff Belanger
June 16, 2003

It's in the Cards by Jeff Belanger
May 31, 2003

Exploring Satanism by Jeff Belanger
May 17, 2003

My First Ghost Hunt by Jeff Belanger
May 3, 2003

Leaps of Faith by Jeff Belanger
April 19, 2003

Sance - A Round Table Discussion by Jeff Belanger
April 5, 2003

Exorcism: Vanquishing Demons by Jeff Belanger
March 22, 2003

Do All Dogs Go to Heaven? by Jeff Belanger
March 8, 2003

Which Witch is Which? by Jeff Belanger
February 22, 2003

Being Psychic With Peter James by Jeff Belanger
February 8, 2003

Funeral Practices and the Afterlife by Jeff Belanger
January 25, 2003

Lawrenceville Library's Most Famous Headstone by Jeff Belanger
January 11, 2003

November 24, 2003

What to Look For in a Paranormal Group

By Andrew D. Laird

Every day another twenty or so new paranormal investigative groups will spring from nowhere at any given minute, of course all claiming to have the answers to your paranormal needs. Except for the self-proposed regulation of an unofficial code of standards, conduct, and ethics, which most reputable groups claim to follow, there is little guidance afforded those trying to choose who is most qualified to help them with their particular situation.

The paranormal field is unfortunately full of people and groups that use the paranormal as an excuse to illegally break into places clearly marked No Trespassing or to get thrills visiting and vandalizing places where they claim to have done research. In turn, many places that would have been otherwise easily accessed with permission might as well be located on the moon. These people, luckily, are easily recognizable for what they are and need not be addressed here.

There are eight basic factors potential clients should keep in front of them when deciding to contact a paranormal group:
  • Do they exhibit professionalism?
  • Are there charges involved?
  • Are these people financially responsible?
  • How long have these groups youre considering been doing this?
  • Who are these people you are considering bringing into your home and personal lives?
  • What training and experience does this group have, if any at all?
  • Is there one among the group who has the necessary psychological schooling or professional training that will be required of him or her to properly and responsibly provide any counseling should the need arise?
  • Can you handle the truth, no matter what the conclusion might be?
Unfortunately, there are far too many groups that are simply too inexperienced and new to handle the potential dangers involved and inherent in serious paranormal research. These groups are playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette at their clients expense, and its only a matter of time before they not only find themselves over their heads and in trouble, but the client who trusted them will be in trouble as well.

Regardless of the talent involved, a groups sensitive(s) or psychic(s) is/are hardly qualified to calm a house presently occupied by a hostile entity if he or she has never done this or, at best, has seen it done before by others. You did not bring these people into your personal life and home so they could turn it into a schoolroom and then turn around and say, Well, sorry...we cant help you, but we know someone who can. You dont go to a doctor with a bone sticking out of your leg just for him or her to tell you that you have a broken leg. If they cannot help you with your situations worst-case scenario or worse, are unable to even tell you what that might be, you need to go onto greener pastures.

No group does exclusively private cases, so there should be some case studies and examples they can use to show that they are qualified. Most reputable groups will have developed ties with various historical societies over the years, among other organizations, up to and including local government and media. If these people are new but have been with another group prior to forming their own, ask whom they worked with before and follow through with a letter or phone call to check out their reference(s).

Credentials can also be discerned from the instrumentation the investigators use, but more importantly, its how theyre used! Every good paranormal investigator keeps that skeptic part of them quite healthy; after all, 90% of all phenomena are inevitably caused by natural and common influences. While the ELF/Gauss meter, Electrostatic and Electromagnetic Gauss meter, and a non-contact thermometer (an investigators basic tool list) can and do detect the paranormal, they also detect the everyday forces that naturally surround us all the time. When the ELF meter registers a reading, the inexperienced or improperly educated investigator will fail to take the natural causes into account before he or she cries ghost. But, if the investigator systematically eliminated these natural possibilities, thats an investigator who knows what theyre doing. Along these same lines, if a psychic is predisposed through discussion with others or research into an areas potential activity, then nothing that psychic senses can be considered valid.

On a quick note, some investigators use a compass as an investigative tool. While the compass has been used for paranormal study since the days of the Viking, due to its relatively low sensitivity when compared to the electronics available, the tool is considered archaic. However, if an investigator chooses to use one, it should not be assumed that he or she is a less-than-adequate researcher.

The level of professionalism among the investigators you bring in is usually best represented by the man or woman that interviews you. This interview, in most cases, is usually a frank, one-on-one conversation between you and the cases lead investigator or the groups director. Their attitude should be one of respect and caring for you, your home, and, if applicable, your family. The interview should be just thatan interview, not an interrogation. The group as a whole should be mature and act accordingly. On the issue of confidentiality, property access, and other matters, it should all be in writing, signed by those involved, and explained to you fully before you sign.

Dont be afraid to ask about liability insurance coverage and if the group is covered by this insurance. Most reputable groupseven their individual members in many casescarry this insurance in the event someone gets hurt or property gets broken or damaged to the point where it must be replaced.

Contacting the groups director (or founder) is usually a great way to get answers quickly concerning anything you wish to know about their group; most often, theyre all proud and eager to help people. While there are those few group founders and directors whose arrogance would never allow it, the seasoned ones will have no problem deferring a case to a more qualified group rather than placing you and their membership in harms way.

When it comes to questions, no reputable paranormal group will turn you away, and this is the optimal way to find the groups that will best benefit you. Search their Web site, and 97% of the time you will find a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, where you might discover that others had the same questions and concerns you do. The FAQ pages and the message boards are great indicators of a groups abilities and their standing among the opinions of other groups.

Finally, consider the location of the groupwhere theyre based and where theyve done research. If a group is well-organized and serious about what they do, reasonable travel is not usually a hassle. The best thing to do is tell the contact person right away if there is considerable travel time involved. Some groups have private resources available that make travel expenses a minor issue, while for some, it could force them to defer your case, if possible.

The paranormal group community is out there so that we can research, learn, and teach others about the paranormal in the most scientific manner allowed to us through the use of the instrumentation available to us.

Most reputable groups will fulfill most of the following criteria, but not necessarily all of it:
  • They have been a working group for no less than three years, or its members have earned that status through their membership with other groups.
  • They do not charge for any of their services nor do they accept any compensation for their efforts.
  • They have among their group one person formerly trained or schooled in psychology or counseling.
  • Their members are fully trained in the instrumentation they use.
  • The group abides by a posted code of conduct.
  • The group assures absolute confidentiality IN WRITING.
  • They have proof of financial responsibility.
  • The group provides its clients with a full written report of its findings and any evidence at the conclusion of the case.
  • The group provides continued support as requested by the client after the case closes for as long as there is a need by that client.
  • They have the resources to fully resolve the case for which they were brought in to investigate.
Depending on the group, this list can vary in its content and should not be used as a final checklist. It should be used, however, as a means to guide the new client to the paranormal group that best fits his or her particular situation. A good paranormal group must be as flexible and diversified as the phenomena we seek to research.

Andrew D. Laird is the Founder and Director of The Rhode Island Paranormal Research Group. Founded in 1984, the established Northern Rhode Island-based organization is a 100% non-profit group comprising men and women from all walks of life, with a wide assortment of professional careers and religious beliefs behind them. Clientele include everyone from the private homeowner and the average family to the occasional call for the help of their psychics as requested by law enforcement agencies. T.R.I.P.R.G. is firmly dedicated to the serious study and investigation of paranormal phenomena throughout Southern New England as well as to promoting the enlightenment of others as they understand and cope with paranormal phenomena through the groups public speaking engagements.

"We do not, have not, and never will accept any compensation whatsoever for any of our services, and our total commitment to the client's confidentiality is absolutely assured and guaranteed in writing."

Response to a request for help is usually within 24 hours.

2014 Haunted New England Wall Calendar by Jeff Belanger photography by Frank Grace
Check out the 2014 Haunted New England wall calendar by Jeff Belanger and photography by Frank Grace!

Paranormal Conferences and Lectures
Don't miss the following events and lectures:

Jeff Belanger and “The Bridgewater Triangle” at Dedham Community Theatre - April 6, 2014 9:00PM

The Spirits of the Mark Twain House - Hartford, Connecticut - April 12, 2014

Paracon Australia - East Maitland, New South Wales, Australia - May 10-12, 2014