Out of courtesy and professionalism, I will not mention any real names, specific places or groups by name in this article.
A few years ago some colleagues of mine were being harassed by an individual with a Yahoo Groups site. One colleague was accused of cheating on his wife, the other plagiarism. This is because of their association with a fellow who kicked out the site manager from his team of ghost hunters. Now, although this guy, the site manager who we will refer to from now on as Mr. Yahoo, was by no means an intellectual giant, he had a clever idea. No one would respect you if I just went online and began bashing former friends. No, Mr. Yahoo started this group under the pretense that he was “policing the paranormal”.
That’s right. Out of no where, he gave himself the authority to make liable claims against more well-known and popular paranormal researchers. Many ghost hunters ended up filing “cease and desist” orders against Mr. Yahoo, but he ignored them. Some of them even had Mr. Yahoo’s Yahoo account closed. He just moved on to another site.
Interesting concept this is. What gives anyone the right to “police” anything. In the paranormal community it appears to be a mouth. Now, about six years ago, my own group in Baltimore actually was asked to certify a place in Gettysburg as “haunted”. With some trepidation, the manager was so nice to us, we agreed. Looking back on that, it was a goofy thing to do. Who were we to make such claims? It was never done again.
Mr. Yahoo, is now a faint memory and his site is no more. However, his legacy lives on. Every few months or so, another bitter person comes along and tries to be the next detector of moral truth in the paranormal community. These people suffer from a condition known as FASIGH (Failure At Success In Ghost Hunting). They were kicked off a team, couldn’t write a book to save their life, didn’t make it onto a TV show or simply didn’t like their goofy half-baked theories on the paranormal being criticized. OK, I’ll admit, maybe that acronym could use some work.
Sometimes, it may be a case in which they touch fame and likes it so much, they want more. An appearance on national news is usually enough. Now they’re addicted. Maybe if they could appease the right people, they’ll gain a loyal following and then can taste the sweetness of recognition again. They don’t need facts or even brains most of the time. Just a mouth. They’re favorite targets are paranormal TV celebrities, authors and nationally recognized ghost hunting teams. Also, anyone they disagree with. Then they latch on with the zeal of a starving rabid hyena. Rules of conduct are thrown out the window. No research is necessary! Attack first, see if the sharks smell the blood in the water, and then, maybe, they’ll research the facts. Once the facts are researched, they are ignored anyway.
When I 1st started doing this almost 11 years ago, I thought all orbs and mists were ghosts! How was I supposed to know, right? Later, I changed my mind as I learned. It was a whole year before I felt comfortable starting my own team and several years before I thought starting my own conference.
Did someone say “conference”?
Darn it! I was hoping to avoid this part.
A few years ago, I wasn’t just wrong about something, I screwed up BIG TIME! I helped plan a conference. The biggest conference I ever helped plan. I went through a personal hell that year with things happening in my family and personal life that sent me into a deep depression. Then the conference came…
Thousands of dollars went missing that I, solely, was responsible for. Unless you screwed up that bad yourself, you cannot imagine what I went through and put my closest friends and colleagues through. I accepted full responsibility. I was guilt ridden after letting my partners down who trusted me to take care of the accounting for them. As bad as that situation was, some people got a hold of a few of the details and went to town with it. Rumors and allegations that have caused me to lose friends and associations with colleagues. Exaggerating it to include previous conferences and events afterward. Now, even years later, I have to deal with that screw-up. Many people who do not know me, feel that whatever I do is tainted. There is a happy ending for that conference though. Everything came out right in the end and lots of people made lots of money! Yay!
I recovered though and with the help of my very best friends, I tried to rebuild my life and was talked out of leaving paranormal research. Because darn it, I am good at it! I wrote another book and currently work on dozens of projects to benefit the paranormal community. It is all I can do to keep my dream alive and make up for my mistakes.
I think, although we don’t like it, everyone accepts that we cannot make everyone like them. It is a fact of life that even Mrs. Garrett would have to accept. Due to criticisms of certain psychics and technologies, I have met people who decided they would make me their enemy. I guess they just woke up one day and said, “Vince Wilson is my enemy because [insert illogical reason here]!” They existed before the big conference and now they love bringing up the old conference story! Sometimes that’s not good enough though. Jeez, you would think the conference story was bad enough! It is scary, but some people get their kicks from the destruction of others. I know, this hard for most people to comprehend, but I see it first hand all the time. Why else would they spend so much time gossiping and creating drama for others?
So, another “minister of paranormal justice” is rearing his/her ugly head at me (I’ve seen pictures!). It’ll pass like it always does, but it still sucks.
What can we do?
So, you want to be a ghost hunting success story? Well, you can try to do no wrong (good luck), but it won’t matter. Write a book or an unpopular article and they will attack you too! The only thing we can do is ignore them. Or sue them I guess. But, ignoring them is cheaper. Everyone has to ignore them. Give these poor souls attention and it gives them power. Ironically, one of the worst things to happen to ghost hunting are self-appointed moralists.
Vince Wilson is EVIL!
As I mentioned earlier in this article, you cannot please everyone all of the time. Every once in awhile I will refuse to pay someone thousands of dollars to speak at an event I am planning or have to let someone go from our research team due one reason or another. Sometimes this and other causes creates an animosity that just won’t seem to ever heal. I don’t hold a grudge against anyone and forgive and forget on the drop of a hat. Sure, I have lost my temper and have done dumb things because of it. I have made lots of mistakes in my brief career. I have never claimed to be infallible. But I have learned from all the mistakes I have made and in turn, they have made me a better person. Think about that the next time you stumble across one of those “policing the paranormal” sites and see my name being compared to Machiavellian characters in Italian operas or anyone else’s name for that matter. There are truly scary people out there will very real mental disorders who want nothing less than the total destruction of anyone that they disagree with at any cost. I understand that it is hard to believe that can happen, but it does. Write a book, appear on TV or do something successful and, I am truly sorry for this, it will happen to you too.
The good news is, I have met hundreds of people across th country and if a dozen or so hate my guts, I can live with that.