Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Need for Bean Counters

bean counter
n. Slang
A person, such as an accountant or financial officer, who is concerned with quantification, especially to the exclusion of other matters:

I'm going t0 go out on a limb and say behind every great scientific breakthrough is a bean counter.

I was in a discussion with a ghosthunter, the kind who actually go out on investigations, about the need to gather data. He was bothered by the fact that the ship, The Queen Mary, that he and his team love to investigate and at which he has had great success, is making it difficult for them to gain access, but very easy for ghost tours. In fact, they have to pay to join a ghost tour to get access at night to do their investigations, but this also means that they have a lot of other people tromping around in the dark mucking up their venue, making noises in the background and walking in right when things start to get interesting. For the property, ghost tours are profitable, paranormal research is not.

I don't have a solution for that problem, except to hope that down the road, current or new management will take a different position. 

But, both situations have me thinking about data, record keeping and how different that is for the tourist and for the serious investigator.

For the ghost tourist, perhaps a booklet with charts listing the different types of manifestations that one might encounter, such as tapping, moaning, flickering lights, mist, ectoplasm, even full-bodied apparitions. Tourists could go on tours all over the nation and try to check off items and see if they can get an EVP in each of the 50 states.

Serious investigative teams are looking for evidence, but also gather data to go with the evidence: time, date, temperature, humidity, weather conditions, moon phase, location, people present, equipment used. It's a lengthy list that many groups have developed, but at least, there is an effort to gather data. But who's counting it? Where are the bean counters?

I noticed that even groups that claim to be research-based often list as their primary objective to "help" or "assist" property owners with hauntings on their property. No problem with that, but that is different than research. Research is collecting data (beans) and then counting them, categorizing them, looking for trends, etc.

So, we have groups out there gathering beans. Who is counting them?

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