Understanding SGHA's Methodology

Investigation: Definition by dictionary.com

  1. The act or process of investigating or the condition of being investigated.
  2. searching inquiry for ascertaining facts; detailed or careful examination.

The key word in this definition is “facts”. This is what separates modern ghost hunting from an investigation. There are two important facts to really consider.

1. Is it a fact that ghosts exist? No.
2. There is no proven way to use instrumentation to search for ghosts. If we had that we could could prove fact #1.

So what is left that can be investigated? 

The facts are what witnesses have reported and the observed phenomena. Did they really experience something paranormal or perhaps it was something that was explainable that was misperceived by the witness.

This is what the investigation is all about, attempting to solve the mystery. A great deal of the reported phenomena that is called paranormal is explainable if you are willing to take the time and effort to do so. While these inquires may seem very skeptical, it is vital that all possible explanations be ruled out before you even began to ponder a paranormal oriented one. Investigations deal with facts. If you are dealing with facts that have not yet been proven, you are doing research and that is an entirely different process altogether.

We also use these reports as a scrapbook and a place to record notes on locations. The listing of a location here does not mean that we think that location is haunted or has paranormal phenomena occurring.

Glossary of Commonly Used Terms

Bias is an inclination of temperament or outlook to present or hold a partial perspective and a refusal to even consider the possible merits of alternative points of view. People may be biased toward or against an individual, a race, a religion, a social class, or a political party. Biased means one-sided, lacking a neutral viewpoint, not having an open mind. 
Bias is a major issue when it comes to witnesses who have reported paranormal events. This is due to the witness’s belief in ghosts and the paranormal. Typically speaking, the greater degree of bias a witness has, the greater possibility that the paranormal phenomena are explainable phenomena that was misperceived by the witness.

In psychology, confabulation (verb: confabulate) is a memory disturbance, defined as the production of fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive. Confabulation is distinguished from lying as there is no intent to deceive and the person is unaware the information is false. Although individuals can present blatantly false information, confabulation can also seem to be coherent, internally consistent, and relatively normal. Individuals who confabulate present incorrect memories ranging from "subtle alternations to bizarre fabrications", and are generally very confident about their recollections, despite contradictory evidence.

Entoptic phenomenon
Entoptic phenomena are visual effects whose source is within the eye itself. (Occasionally, these are called entopic phenomena, which is probably a typographical mistake.)
In Helmholtz's words; "Under suitable conditions light falling on the eye may render visible certain objects within the eye itself. These perceptions are called entoptical."
Entoptic images have a physical basis in the image cast upon the retina. Hence, they are different from optical illusions, which are perceptual effects that arise from interpretations of the image by the brain. Because entoptic images are caused by phenomena within the observer's own eye, they share one feature with optical illusions and hallucinations: the observer cannot share a direct and specific view of the phenomenon with others.

Helmholtz comments on phenomena which could be seen easily by some observers, but could not be seen at all by others. This variance is not surprising because the specific aspects of the eye that produce these images are unique to each individual. Because of the variation between individuals, and the inability for two observers to share a nearly identical stimulus, these phenomena are unlike most visual sensations. They are also unlike most optical illusions which are produced by viewing a common stimulus. Yet, there is enough commonality between the main entoptic phenomena that their physical origin is now well-understood.

Myth Building
Myth building is the elaboration of elements in a story. These elements may have some degree of truth while others may be completely false. It is the essential building blocks used in the construction of myths and urban legends. The designation suggests nothing about the story's veracity, but merely that it is in circulation, exhibits variation over time, and carries some significance that motivates the community in preserving and propagating it.

Suggestion is the psychological process by which one person guides the thoughts, feelings, or behaviour of another. Nineteenth century writers on psychology such as William James used the words "suggest" and "suggestion" in senses close to those they have in common speech—one idea was said to suggest another when it brought that other idea to mind. Early scientific studies of hypnosis by Clark Leonard Hull and others extended the meaning of these words in a special and technical sense (Hull, 1933). The original neuro-psychological theory of hypnotic suggestion was based upon the ideo-motor reflex response of William B. Carpenter and James Braid.
Deception is a unique part of the human experience. Telling untruths is common enough that every person has lied and been lied to many times throughout his or her life. A problem facing law enforcement and the field of forensic psychology is that people not only lie but do so unwittingly. False confessions have a negative impact not only investigation but on the interviewee as well. False confessions are given by a interviewee due to his or her high rating of interrogative suggestibility.
The Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale (GSS) is a credible scale used to assess interrogative suggestibility, though not a widely known in the broad field of psychology. And so a basic understanding of the GSS is to begin with interrogative suggestibility. Interrogative suggestibility is “the extent to which within a closed social interaction, people come to accept messages communicated during formal questioning, as a result of which their subsequent behavioral response is affected (Bain, Baxter, & Fellowes, 2004).” The GSS measures interrogative suggestibility. This is done by measuring the shift (change) of prior responses in reaction to negative feedback given by the interrogator and the yield to leading questions (McGroarty & Baxter, 2007). Negative feedback results in an increase response shift and this is linked to the anxiety of the interviewee (Gudjonsson, 2003). When given negative feedback, the interview often responds by changing the answer to the question in attempts to relieve pressure and gain the favor of the interrogator. And so, interrogative suggestibility affects the detection of interviewee discrepancy because false statements are being made not in the attempt to be deceptive but to comply with the perceived wants of the interrogator.