We have many cute little names that define what we do, but mainly it comes down to two: Paranormal Investigator, and Ghost Hunter. The ladder used the most frequently, and it drives me up a wall. Nothing against ghost hunters, but that's just not what I really am. You may be asking yourself what the difference is, and you wouldn't be in the wrong. It's not like there's any real difference to the mainstream and people who are outside of the game itself. Really it's something I have defined in my own head, and honestly I should get over it. But that little voice always nags me; and I always end up (rudely) correcting the person who misidentified my trade.
To me a Ghost Hunter is not a scientific investigator. While many use science to back up whatever evidence they collect; it's no their focus. Ghost hunters will rely on psychics to help them hunt, give more credence to eerie feelings that they get, and in my mind are more willing to lend weight to evidence that I might otherwise throw out because the data simply isn't there. Ghosts hunters are the weekend warriors who are out looking for thrills and are specifically seeking a "ghost". The science is there, but it's not as important as the thrill. This isn't a bad thing by any means. Many of us investigators start out this way, in fact it may be that we all do and eventually change gears along the way. Two of my team members I think I would classify as hunters. It doesn't make them any less good at what they do, but their views and methods are different. I like Ghost Hunters, they are fun to be around. They do it for the passion, excitement, and the thrill of being scared. But for them it's a weekend gig, a once in a while thing they do for kicks that's just a little bit more strange than your cousin that plays D&D.
I'm a Paranormal Investigator. I believe only what I cannot disprove. I know that sounds a little backwards. That's probably why the scientific community likes to crap on paranormal investigation. Many of us like the Ghost Hunters like to jump to conclusions on very little evidence. While I don't personally do this, I know many who do. Flip on the TV and watch any paranormal show and you will see what I mean. What I mean by my statement of "only what I cannot disprove" is that simply; I'm open to the possibility of anything paranormal as along as I can;t find a solid explanation grounded in the normal. Look if it sounds like a banging pipe in the basement, guess what... it's probably a banging pipe in the basement. But, if by using science I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the pipe does not bang on it's own, I'm willing to say that the paranormal is one possible answer to the noise. Also, when I say paranormal, it does not have to be ghosts or demons. Could be an alien, could be magnetic energies given off by the earth's crust, could be a banging pipe.... It's fringe science. I'm more like Doctor Victor Frankenstein, not VanHelsing.
In the end we often come to the same conclusions on what might be causing activity. Sometimes we don't. The arguments held in my own group border on the hilarious. So really, it doesn't matter. It's mainstream TV's fault. I'm not as sensitive to it as say someone with a PhD in parapsychology. But, hey - each their own. But next time you decide that your going to go look for spooks by trespassing in the local graveyard; be sure to tell the cops you were "Ghost Hunting" so they know your just a weekend thrill seeker. The rest of us get enough ridicule on our own because we still play D&D with our weired cousins.