Often in an investigation we will talk of hunting's and "ghosts" as either a residual presence or an intelligent one. But, what does that really mean? Is a ghosts not just a ghost? The theory is, no. Not all hunting's are the same and present their own unique challenges to documenting the evidence needed to make a case for paranormal activity. First off, let's address the difference.
We define a Residual Haunting as a non-intelligent energy that tends to follow and repeat patterns in it's behavior without deviation or intelligent interaction with humans. They seem to not pay any attention to us and while they cause disturbances, seem to be little more than a recorded moment in history replaying i
tself over and over. This may not even be a spirit at all, but an anomaly within space time that makes to points in time constantly overlap. Either case, the idea being that something is going on, but there is no communication that we can detect and whatever it is does not seem to pay attention to the environment around it.
An Intelligent Haunting is exactly what it sounds like. Paranormal activity that takes place around a person or place that has a tendency to react or interact with the people surrounding it. This is where we would get EVP messages answering questions, mysterious on cue knocks, and other activity that would suggest intelligent communication.
So why does this really matter? Well from a scientific standpoint, a residual haunting may not even be paranormal. A residual haunting would actually be an event that could be explained through science and focused study; and possibly not even related to any kind of spiritual explanation such as ghosts or souls. Science tells us that all matter (living or not) is made up of energy. In theory high amounts of energy can imprint on the things around them. If you start a fire in your house, you may have scorch marks on your walls that bleed through the paint for years after. The smell of smoke can linger for a long time after the initial event leaving people to wonder what happened in the past. This same principal can be applied to emotions and trauma. The energy could be so high that it literally imprints an echo of the event into the fabric of the matter surrounding it. Like an echo, we sometimes catch a glimpse of the event again and again long after it has taken place. That's all well and good, but if that were the case it should be able to be duplicated In a lab setting. To date I don;t even know that that experiment has been performed. This type of data can be easier to collect than the other form of haunting because since the activity seems to follow a pattern it should be easier to predict and document. however, what we find is that although these things do follow a pattern, their timing is still completely unpredictable. Activity can occur within days of each other or years. Studies also suggest that these types of events do not give the same tell tale signatures that others do. EMF's are often weaker, EVPs almost non-existent, and seem to depend more on specific unidentifiable environmental conditions being met. how do you prove that there is something seemingly following a pattern, but then you can't even nail down the pattern?
So Intelligent Hauntings are the way to go? Ideally an intelligent hunting's evidence flawlessly captured would be more telling. Unfortunately they are even more unpredictable than a residual one. These are the kinds of hunting's where we get answers to questions, things move on their own, and more scary subjects arise like demonic possession. An intelligent haunting also brings up the subject of spirituality. If there is something that can communicate with us from the other side, it almost certainly has implications that there is life after death, a God, and possibly and otherworldly creatures. I also like to think there's a possibility that we are misinterpreting the data we are recording. After all why does it automatically have to be spirits we are communicating with. It could just as easily be beings from another dimension, or maybe a glimpse into an alternate reality where time and space converge allowing us rare moments to interact with our future or past. Also, are the things we are communicating with just as confused as we are about the whole situation. one would think that receiving intelligent responses and on command weirdness would be proof beyond a shadow of a doubt to the existence of "ghosts". But, it is not. The evidence is random, never repetitive, and almost can always be explained away with instrument malfunction or some other natural event. Then there are the guys that fake their results taking away the credibility of the rest of us.
It's a tough road, but the only way to further research is to keep collecting data and find new ways to do it.