"Give us a Sign of Your Presence": Paranormal Investigation as a Spiritual Practice

Eaton, Marc A.
December 2015
Sociology of Religion;Winter2015, Vol. 76 Issue 4, p389
Academic Journal
The recent proliferation of ghost hunting television shows reflects the broad public interest in what participants refer to as "paranormal investigation." Currently, over 3,000 paranormal investigation teams exist in the United States, and more exist worldwide. Paranormal investigators use a wide variety of investigative methods in their attempts to find evidence of ghosts and, therefore, life after death. Based on three years of participant observation and 32 interviews with paranormal investigators, this article argues that paranormal investigation functions as a spiritual practice for participants. Investigators' motives, methods, and the meanings they attribute to investigating are all imbued with spiritual significance. For some investigators the practice helps validate existing religious beliefs, while for others it prompts a spiritual transformation. Many participants rely upon conventional religious or New Age beliefs to interpret experiences during investigations, but even those who primarily rely upon science and technology find the practice spiritually meaningful.


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