WE SEE DEAD PEOPLE

Expert Advice: Ghost Hunting

Believers weigh in on how to keep your sixth sense in tune, where to go to meet the undead, and what to do if something spooky follows you home. Happy hunting!

(Illustration by Ryan Heshka)

Hunt on the ghost's time "Nighttime is good for ghost-hunting. The absence of noise, people, and other daytime distractions helps your sixth sense stay in tune with your environment. But any time can be good, depending on who's doing the haunting. The elderly lady who haunts my home, for example, knocks on the walls throughout the day but stays quiet at night, unless we've done something to upset her, such as running the vacuum too late. In that case, she knocks loudly and often, as if to keep us awake as payback."—Garret Moffett, who leads Springfield Walks' ghost tours and wrote Lincoln's Ghost: Legends & Lore

Bring a trigger object "Know the history of the place and of the haunting, and bring something the spirit can relate to. If the ghost's a kid, for example, bring a toy, or if you're at a bank where there was a big heist, bring money from the era of the heist. Talk about the item you bring. Ask questions. You may even get enough spirit energy to move it." —Aaron Goodwin, a member of the paranormal investigation crew for the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures series

Be childlike "Adults walk around with blinders on. We've got so much on our minds. Children are open to everything. They see things before we do. When I go to a historic (and therefore possibly haunted) spot, I'm fascinated and ready for anything. I believe the ghosts sense that you're sincere, that you want to see them." —Robert Edgerly, a haunted-tour guide in Savannah, Ga. (one of America's most haunted cities)

Document evidence "Digital recorders are a really good, basic tool. Cheap ones are great because they generate white noise, which spirits speak within. EVPs [electronic voice phenomena] can be Class A, B, or C. Class A is so unbelievably clear you can easily make out the words. At our last location, we were asking questions and then playing back some EVPs, and the spirits said our full names, in clear voices, actually responding to our questions. Really bizarre." —Nick Groff, a member of the paranormal investigation crew for the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures series

Engage all senses "You feel a presence, your hair stands on end, you hear sounds or feel a touch, and then you turn around and nobody's there. Then there are smells—earth, old perfume, roses, body odor. In Savannah, if it was built in the 1840s or 1850s, it was built by slaves. Imagine the anguish, the longing. That stays. So you're standing there by yourself in one of these buildings, and all of a sudden there's a strong smell of body odor and it ain't coming from you—that's an apparition." —Edgerly

Be sympathetic "I find that spirits hanging around have usually suffered a sudden, tragic death and are just trying to get their story told straight. It's rather like the movie Ghost.They may be angry. Nothing says everybody's all sweetness and light. But for the most part they are not demons. Remember, they are people, just like you and me." —Bonnie Vent, a spirit advocate who documents her communications, including those with celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson, at bonnievent.com

Understand the risks "You're not hunting rocks. You're not hunting seashells. Provocation is very serious. Things can follow you home. I've had to have my house blessed twice. In this season's premiere episode, I was overtaken by a dark entity. I suddenly wanted to attack Aaron and I started breaking our equipment. I don't remember it, and watching the video was very disturbing. I don't mess around with this stuff." —Zak Bagans, a member of the paranormal investigation crew for the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures series

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