How To Make Money Ghost Hunting
Spirits and spooks can be big money. From "professional" mediums to practicing exorcists, we investigate if it makes sense for you to get into the ghost hunting game.
You can't turn on basic cable TV without tripping across a ghost-themed "reality" program such as Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventurers, or Paranormal State. Most of the time, very little happens in these shows. What these shows lack in genuine contact with the afterlife, they make up for in creeping around corners with night vision filters and barely-audible recordings of talking ghosts looped to the point of absurdity.
In other words: Great TV.
But beyond the entertainment factor, it's interesting to note how this phenomenon feeds into a vital part of the American mindset: our movies, books, music, TV shows, and YouTube clips are all filled with ghost stuff. We love all things paranormal!
According to a 2009 CBS poll, a slim plurality of Americans believe in ghosts (48% versus 45%). According to the same poll, slightly more than a fifth of all Americans (22%) claim that they have personally seen or felt the presence of a ghost. And a resounding 78% of Americans state that they believe in "life after death."
And sometimes simply believing in something is enough to create a real, tangible impression on the economy. Think about it: Nobody needs to purchase a new iPhone every year. But there are lots of people who believe—badly—that they do.
We can see the belief in paranormal phenomenon seeping into the economy via Bundle's signature data culled from credit card transactions. For example, we found several "Psychic" practitioners who will grant access to the unseen spiritual world—for a fee.
Data from one Connecticut based psychic shows that the average total amount customers spent for their services was $60. We can even discern some (slightly surprising) findings from our data's socio-demographic breakdown: a third (29%) of all patrons make more than $125k annually, slightly more than half (52%) were between the ages of 26 and 35, and the vast majority (74%) were married couples.
Of course, much of our nation's supernatural commerce consists of fun diversions like paying a curbside palm reader on a drunken lark. But, beyond these frivolous moments, there are a base of customers who seek out "professionals" for protection from the spirit world. And they too charge for their services.
Despite centuries of Enlightenment thinking and a dearth of scientific understanding to the contrary, there are still people who believe they are in need of exorcism services to rid their homes and selves of neerdowell spirits. A bevy of "professional" exorcism services have risen to meet the needs of this section of the population.
For example, there's Ontario-based Chi In Nature, which uses "Taoist magic" to help customers out with their spiritual problems. We reached out to "Celestial Master" Mak Jo Si to learn a bit more about how much demand there is for exorcisms these days. "We encounter exorcism cases every week or even every few other days. They can be solved commonly by using what we call Taoism-FU." Through the Chi In Nature site, the afflicted can purchase a "General Exorcism" package for anywhere from $50 to $100 or one of their "Heavy Duty Exorcism" packages, that can cost up to $300.
How You Can Be A Real Life Ghostbuster
As you can see, there's money to be made dealing with the other side. Some of you may very well be thinking that as our economy continues to sputter, why not start your own paranormal-based business?
But where to start? Well, to start, if you have the slightest knowledge of what a modern website looks like, you already have a distinct advantage over most paranormal specialists for hire. But what kind of services will you offer?
If demon battle is your thing, you could become a certified professional exorciser by reaching out to the Oklahoma-based American Association of Exorcists via their Tripod-hosted website (which also includes promises of an updated website to be completed by February of 2007, but never seemed to materialize as far as I can tell). The AAE is a "bible-based Christian organization" that will provide certification training for "Christians desiring a career in exorcism/deliverance." Membership in the AAE can be purchased for $5.00/year, and is open to all "exorcism/deliverance ministers and specialists" (and $10 for those outside the US). The AAE offers a number of courses that can be taken online for $20 including "Biblical Demonology," "Waging Spiritual Warfare," and "ESP and Parapsychology/Christian Parapsychology" (that last course is $25).
Of course, we are a modern society who has long given up on the fear of demons, and have real, tangible spectral problems to deal with. Like haunted houses. With the success of the Paranormal Activity series and the basic cable shows, the groundwork has been laid for a demand of ghost removal services.
Once you've made the decision to go into the paranormal business, you'll need the right tools. And, as you might expect, there are numerous businesses willing to help you out. For example, the New Jersey-based Ghost Hunter Store sells necessary items like a $50 electroscope for measuring voltage. Why would you need that, you ask? As per the site: "assuming spirits carry an electric charge of some sort, this device—in theory would detect them." Or they have an $80 yes/no "spiritual communication prop" to help you communicate with the other side where each button is "sensitive to paranormal frequency and can be used during an EVP [electronic voice phenomenon] session."
And that's how you hunt a ghost.
So, are ghosts fun? Yes. Are they real? Absolutely 100% no. But, sometimes the very belief in something can make it kinda real. Such as we see in this very real niche economy. And since there is no such thing as ghosts, the real service being offered may be having a seemingly confident and put-together individual telling a scared person that everything is going to be okay.
While some of these services have an element of obvious shysterism, you have to wonder if they indeed offer a service in and of themselves. Is it definitively different than Apple promising that buying their newest phone will make your journey through the modern world easier?
Still, if charging people to help them with their spiritual battles leaves a bad taste in your mouth, every town needs it's nighttime "ghost tours" based around local lore and legend. Consider this dip into paranormal commerce to be a form of renting people's beliefs in the supernatural, rather of owning them.
You may also be interested in:
- What it costs to survive a real life horror movie
- Scaring people, for $60,000 a year
- Slideshow: The cost of one man's Star Wars obsession
Evan Dashevsky is the Editor of Bundle.com, follow him @haldash