Ghost-Hunting Code of Ethics
Ethics is a system of moral principles or values. Ethics are the rules or standards governing conduct. Hoaxes, frauds, mismanagement and other unethical practices make it critical for every ghost hunter to maintain a strict policy of ethical conduct. Ghost hunters must develop a written standard of shared values to promote ethical behavior.
A written standard of ethics allows individuals to identify and clarify goals. An ethical code should be displayed and shared with others because it shows a diligence in upholding high professional standards. Ethical policies should be constantly discussed and there should be debate about how these policies have been applied to each ghost hunt.
Unethical behaviors must be dealt with quickly. When unethical behaviors are uncovered, the first step is to correct the situation and stop the inappropriate behavior. The repercussions are something that each group will have to decide based on the circumstances of the ethical breech. It is imperative for ghost hunters to understand that there are repercussions accompanying unethical behaviors.
Unethical behaviors have high costs on ghost hunts. If unethical behaviors are discovered during a ghost hunt, the evidence and the results of that investigation must be called into question. Unethical behavior destroys credibility. Every member of a ghost-hunting group should be given a clear outline of what is expected of them and what is expected should they witness unethical activities.
The intent of an ethics code is to promote integrity and positive behavior. The following are direct examples of the author’s own ethical guideline:
- Be honest and realistic when stating claims or making conclusions. Do not lie, withhold information or misreport events.
- Never participate in, condone or be associated with dishonesty, fraud, hoaxes or deception. Reject bribery in all forms.
- Provide fair services and only represent yourself as competent within the boundaries of your education, training and relevant experience. Be honest about your qualifications.
- Take adequate measures to discourage, prevent, expose and correct unethical conduct both inside and outside of your organization. Defend and assist colleagues who are unjustly charged with unethical conduct.
- Identify and immediately report unsafe situations. It is the responsibility of every ghost hunter to avoid dangers, injury, property damage and legal issues.
- Make appropriate use of funds and organizational assets. Without trust in its members, no organization can function effectively.
- Create an environment where members are not afraid to surface concerns. These concerns could be ethical, safety or personal issues. Retaliation against individuals who come forward to report unethical behavior should never be tolerated.
- Never practice, condone or collaborate in any form of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, political belief, religion, and mental or physical disabilities.
- Be alert and avoid possible conflicts of interest that interfere with professional discretion and impartial judgments. Do not take unfair advantage of professional or personal relationships or exploit others to further your own personal, religious, political or business interests.
- Protect the confidentiality of all sensitive information obtained in the course of ghost hunting. Protect the confidential information shared between colleagues in the course of professional and friendly interactions. This rule should be followed carefully with the exception of information that will prevent serious, foreseeable and imminent harm to others. The rules of safety always trump confidentiality.
- Treat fellow colleagues with respect. Avoid unwarranted negative criticisms of clients, team leaders and other colleagues. Ghost hunters have the obligation to respect the ideas and opinions of others even when those ideas are contradictory to their own.
It cannot be stressed enough how important ethical behavior is for ghost hunting. Unethical activity challenges every team member. When an individual makes an unethical decision, other ghost hunters who witnessed this breech may find it hard to report the behavior immediately. The person involved could be a friend, a colleague or even the group leader with a good track record. It might be tempting to write off the behavior as a mistake or try to justify the behavior within the confines of the situation. Not reporting unethical behavior, not discussing unethical behavior or ignoring unethical behavior is itself unethical. The most common ethical breeches in ghost hunting include lying, falsifying reports or exaggerating claims, making false claims, not reporting unethical activities and ignoring safety issues. Even unintentional ethical slips can have severe negative impacts. Ghost hunters must commit themselves to maintaining high levels of ethical standards.
Does your Ghost-Hunting Team have a Code of Ethics? If not, why not?