One of the most appalling things about the "field" of modern day ghost hunting (paranormal investigation/research) is the obvious disregard of its history and the obtained knowledge, pro and con, that was learned. This becomes painfully evident with the simple definition of the word "ghost hunter". Here are a few quotes concerning the definition of the word that were found on a simple search engine inquiry.
"If you use the term ghost hunter or ghost hunting I already don’t like you. That’s just a fact and you can do with it whatever you like. However, if you actually took the time to really think about it you’d realize I was right. You’re simply using a disrespectful phrase in regards to the very thing you claim to be interested in. This is basically proof that you’re lazy and don’t think for yourself and I personally don’t think there’s a place for you in this field. Once I hear those words come out of your mouth I’m done with you. It’s that simple. Sorry if having respect for the dead rubs you the wrong way but I’m not going to pretend that I don’t just to make you feel better."
"Not to be confused with a Paranormal Investigator. The term Ghost Hunter is actually an insult directed at a team that fakes evidence, or doesn't debunk any claims. A typical ghost hunter looks for things that aren't there. These guys tend to go crazy over orbs in photos that can easily be debunked."
"Ghost hunting is a word used to ask someone if they want to go out and do a paranormal investigation to try and prove the existence of ghosts. Ghost hunting doesn't’t mean going out to “hunt ghosts” like people do deer's, fox’s, birds etc.. it's just a term to say “let's go some were and see if we can see any ghosts”
"The ghost busters is to blame for a lot of the ghost hunting gimmicks, that is where the term most likely came from. A better word to use is Paranormal investigation, or Ghost investigation I am not a big fan of the word “Ghost Hunting”. What about you?"
Despite the obvious misunderstanding of what the word "hunt" actually means (to search for; seek; endeavor to obtain or find), these definitions are based on modern day opinions that are ignorant and unknowledgeable. In fact, the term "Ghost Hunter" and Ghost hunting" actually has a basis in antiquity. This is a part of an article published in the Topeka Daily Capital on Saturday, November 10th, 1883.
So, yes, ghost hunters and ghost hunting groups existed 131 years ago. By contrast, the term "paranormal investigator was not used until the late 1960s'.
The first problem with the term "paranormal investigator" is that the word paranormal is a blanket term used to describe a large range of phenomenon including ghosts, extraterrestrial life, unidentified flying objects, telepathy, clairvoyance, prophecy, ESP, telekinesis, astrology, Mediumship, reincarnation, psychic, spiritual healing and cryptids. There is allot more to it than just ghosts.
However, the confusion does not stop there. The word "investigation" is also frequently misunderstood.
"a searching inquiry for ascertaining facts; detailed or careful examination."
The key word here is "facts". Is it a fact that ghosts exist? No. When it comes to facts in the paranormal, there is actually very little to go off of. So what "facts" can one investigate?
The primary elements that can be investigated is the testimony of the witnesses and the validity of the claims that are presented. This is something that ghost hunters do as well. Again, let's look at a historical reference.
That article came from the Emporia Weekly News, published on Friday, January 1st, 1875. If you look closely at history, anyone who chose to investigate hauntings and apparitions were called "ghost hunters" while those who were interested in parapsychology were often called "paranormal investigators".
Yes, there are many who chose the term paranormal investigator because of the negative cognations that have been related to the field of ghost hunting due to poor research and the portrayal of the hobby by the media within the last decade. However, not all "ghost hunters" are created equal, nor do they do the same things. The same can be said for those who call themselves paranormal investigators. Actions will always speak louder than words.
Cody Polston is an author, historian and ghost investigator. He is the author of multiple books on history and paranormal topics. He was the host and producer of the popular podcast Ecto Radio and a writer for Ghosthunter X magazine. He is one of the founders of the Southwest Ghost Hunter's Association and has been investigating paranormal claims since 1985.
In the 1990's several other ghost hunting groups gave him the moniker the "Hitman" due to his involvement in "debunking" several well known haunted locations in Texas. Although the nickname was intended to be a negative insult, Cody adopted the nickname and began using in on his podcasts and other media venues.