In late 2011 I began to sift through many cases I had conducted since 1996. I had noticed that my group had evolved to hold a very similar style of investigation much like I described above. I knew there was a better way to do things and I knew I had slipped away from a few good habits. I began to read various skeptical viewpoints which offered me a lot of how paranormal groups were doing things wrong, but they offered little in the way to doing them right. With the foundation of skepticism I built layers of psychology, parapsychology, and other methods that would help create a scientific process that could be replicated by other groups. By the spring of 2012 the "E4" Method was born.
On the surface this may look similar to the three-pronged approach, but the difference is in the details of this unique approach. The "E4" Method breaks the traditional culture of self immersion and offers the ability to induce controls and placing the client into the investigation instead of being an observer. While this method is a break from the current culture it is just an example of how there is more than one way to investigate client-based claims.
The "E4" Method is based on scientific methods yet, understanding the elusiveness factor, I built in belief and other aspects that will help add fuel to the potential anomalous activity without losing the structure of the methodology. I evaluated the types of cases, types of clients, types of outcomes, and many other factors that I wanted to be sure this methodology would allow to work within its structure.
"E4" stands for Eliminate, Establish, Enlist, Engage as these concepts make up the basis for the methodology.
- Eliminate - The use of a primarily subjective investigation procedure needs to be adjusted. The "E4" Method uses various degrees of participant observation which allows a majority of the investigation team to focus on the environment and not their tools or for subjective experiences.
- Establish - The use of controls is talked about, but generally groups are open to any type of activity or "demand" specific activity which may not have any relevance to the client. With the "E4" Method the activity is specific to the client and specific to the particular Active Context Exercise that is being conducted. Instead of looking for general events to occur we are attempting to create the same conditions in which the original activity occurred and therefore creating controlled conditions for them to take place. The tools and technology are also not used to detect ghosts, but to monitor for the environmental factors in which they were designed for and digital recorders and other monitoring devices are used as controls and for documenting the investigation not as the main part of the investigation.
- Enlist - The client should be the center piece to any investigation, not the investigation team. The client needs empowerment and the ability to understand, cope, and eventually move on from what is happening. By making them part of the process we are providing them with the outlet for all of this while under the direction and observation of the investigation team.
- Engage - The last piece is not engaging ghosts, but engaging the environment. Most teams focus on the "ghost" or merely looking for logical explanations. The "E4" Method focuses on finding the trigger to the events with using controls and the environment. With finding a trigger it may be possible to create repeatable spontaneous activity that other groups or individuals can then replicate and potentially open the door for further interpretation and understanding.
- The "E4" Method begins with a thorough interview process.
- This process includes allowing the client to learn how to become descriptive through a technique I call the "five minute day" exercise. I allow the client to talk about their day asking them to go on for five minutes. Most people will go two minutes thinking it has been five. During this process I will typically stop the client and ask them to go back and be more descriptive about how they do specific tasks. Within this questioning I am not only priming the client to become more descriptive but I am learning about how they use their body language and am forming a baseline for their descriptive wording.
- The next step is to use the cognitive interview method to interview each individual separately about each event. The cognitive interview is a four step process that helps extract more detail from the client.
- Obviously the interview session will be conducted in quiet and controlled conditions. This is a separate step from any investigation and the attention is completely on the clients during this time.
- The next phase would be a physical investigation. This is not an investigation for ghosts or any paranormal phenomenon it is a careful reconstruction and examination for logical solutions of any kind.
- Physical events are reviewed independently and logical solutions are sought through repetition under conditions close to the original as well as using various controls and variables.
- The clients are interviewed for medical, mental, or other possible explanations that could help explain some, most, or all of the events.
- The third phase are the Active Context Exercises. At this point we have ruled out a majority of logical solutions, but within the Active Context Exercises we will still have the ability to spot them. We have created a floor plan, have a list of events, and have created specific scenarios designed around specific clients.
- In the Local Active Context Exercise the client will replay their part of the event in which something anomalous purportedly occurred. This is beyond a mere reenactment as the client will be immersed mentally, physically, and emotionally.
- Variables will be introduced by the Spokesperson (a single investigator who is the only one who will have contact with the client), documenters will film and record what is happening from a distance and not interact.
- There is also the Historical Active Context Exercises which is based on the Ghost Excavation methodology used by John G. Sabol, Jr. With the Historical Active Context Exercises we are conducting systematic historical scenarios based on specific people in specific time frames using specific cultural references that the individual could identify with and that others would more than likely not. Consider a home where a little girl ghost is present. In the home suppose one girl did die there, however, three other girls lived there in other time frames. Instead of assuming the girl haunting the location is the one that died, do we not owe it to the client (and our work) to evaluate the possibility of another girl being the source?
- By using the H.A.C.E. to connect with potential memories, imprinted activity, or intelligent/communicative apparitions in conjunction with the L.A.C.E. we are looking to find a trigger. If we are able to find this trigger we may have the ability to create a repeatable situation of spontaneous activity.
Again, this is just one way to look at things differently and to utilize the process of science within a client-based investigation. I have kept the information on the "E4" Method brief on this site. For a little more detail and to purchase a book detailing it even further, visit the "E4" Method home page. The "E4" Method will soon debut at the Thomas Francis University as a standalone course.
The last section on the researcher / investigator site deals with the tools that are the most popular in paranormal investigation.