Debunking is the act of contradicting or discrediting a claim.
You could say that an early, history changing example of this was when people discovered they could reach the East by traveling west from Europe.
The long held belief that the world was flat was debunked by explorers like Magellan.
Don't get involved with any ghost hunter/paranormal investigation groups who don't put debunking at the top of their priorities list.
Some people are just bent on proving a location haunted, whether it is or not. For these people, every creek is a spirit, every displaced chair evidence of a poltergeist.
Groups such as the one I am a senior investigator for, Ghost Rider Investigations, believe that debunking is the first thing you should do when addressing paranormal accounts from a client.
As real as I know ghosts are (having SEEN, HEARD, and been TOUCHED by them on MANY occasions), sometimes there is an easier explanation for things that go bump in the night.
Those mysterious footsteps on the second floor? Well, it COULD be a physical human being walking across the hallway. That would be the most logical explanation. But if there is NO ONE on the second floor? Then it could be an animal. Or a sound coming from somewhere else that SOUNDS like footsteps. Or any number of things. When you have ruled things things out, then you might have something that is paranormal in origin.
I have written about an EMF detector called the KII. This meter is used as a tool to detect and communicate with spirits. But cell phones, cordless phones, and walkie talkies can wreck havoc on the LED display, lighting it up like a Christmas tree. KII pinned in the red? Check you aren't on top of a microwave or washer/dryer or other big energy hog.
On more than one occasion, we have called people on this and reminded them the importance of keeping cell phones OFF (preferably OFF and in their cars for when they return--the temptation in today's culture to keep your cell phone on is huge for most people).
Doors that open by themselves are often the result of bad latches or broken dead bolts or gravity.
One prominent ghost hunting show misrepresented a screech owl for the screams of a woman (even though they were supposedly told ahead of time that owls were common and made that sound all night long).
The first thing they SHOULD have done was play the audio they captured for the people who own the property and ask them if that is a sound they had ever heard before.
Sometimes a phantom sound ends up being a compressor coming on, for example.
Ghost Rider Investigations was on an investigation when it appeared we were getting intelligent responses in the form of knocking sounds behind a locked door of a restaurant. Every time we asked for a response, we got knocks.
But wait...was it spiritual? Nope.
It was an icemaker that just happened to drop cubes or make noise with perfect timing to our questions.
Yes, there was plenty of paranormal activity that night, including a skeptic becoming a believer when he saw a finger tracing my arm at the same time that I was signaling being touched by a finger. Imagine his shock when he actually SAW my skin ripple from one end to the other as I described being touched by an entity!
But the icemaker didn't end up being part of that unexplainable activity.
I could give examples for miles. The important thing to remember is RUN from investigators who enter your property Hell bent on proving a haunting. RUN, RUN, RUN from them. They are usually psychos and fanatics who will try to convince you that the icemaker mentioned above was temporarily possessed and spit out ice cubes as a culinary Ouija Board of sorts. RUN.
Groups like ours go into a location and try to DISPROVE the haunting first by seeing what could logically and reasonably be creating the phenomenon being reported.
And don't EVER pay paranormal investigators. We don't charge. We aren't exterminators or landscapers or electricians when we come into your home. Anyone who gives you a bill is a fraud and again, RUN.
We are genuinely trying to help individuals and families understand what is going on in their home or business.
The only payment we accept is the reassured look or the heartfelt smile when we discover we have taken anxiety away and replaced it with hope and reassurance.