In keeping with my holiday ghost interest, I read John Kachuba’s Ghosthunters: On the Trail of Mediums, Dowsers, Spirt Seekers, and Other Investigators of America’s Paranormal World. Yes, that subtitle is a mouthful. The book is a series of essays without an overarching thematic arc, but it does contain some interesting accounts. If you’re hoping to walk away with proof of ghosts this probably isn’t your book, but a few of the people the author interviews have some pretty convincing stories. Ghosts remain one of the great unknowns. People of all intellectual backgrounds, every socio-economic class, and every religion have encountered them, and this is true throughout history. Ghost hunting isn’t a science and has no developed methodology, but then ghosts don’t seem to perform on demand.
I was particularly interested to see what Kachuba had to say about Ed and Lorraine Warren. They were the original ghost hunters and their work was controversial from the beginning. One of the consistent problems with the paranormal is that advanced degrees tend to make you quite skeptical. You look for proof in the fields recognized by your peers and although a few departments of “parapsychology” have cropped up from time-to-time, mainstream science is doubtful and drives doubt into all comers. Those who investigate ghosts suggest that if you don’t believe you won’t see. Here’s the basic paradox between faith and proof. And it only raises questions when you learn that science doesn’t prove but rather provides the best answer, given the data as currently understood.
Kachuba presents himself as neither a firm believer nor a dismisser. He clearly enjoys ghost hunting himself and several times mentions his Ghosthuntermobile. He interviews not only Lorraine Warren (Ed had had a stroke by this time) but also a variety of mediums, Spiritualists, and ghost whisperers. He writes about various haunted locations, but in the accounts he shares he doesn’t see anything that can’t be explained. Some of the essays are written with a humorous take on the subject, while others are entirely serious. It’s kind of a grab-bag of a book in that regard. Like many readers, I suppose, I hope to pin down something certain when it comes to the unknown. My guess is that if anything definitive appeared we’d know about it. Given the goings on in the world these days it probably wouldn’t be front-page news, as much as any information on eternity should be. In the meanwhile we can read and wonder.