Good question! Do you mean besides running around with a flashlight in a cemetery late at night, wearing black clothes and scaring yourself silly? These days, paranormal research groups are popping up everywhere. With the launching of the SyFy channel's Ghost Hunters in 2004, which spawned a whole new genre of reality TV, ghost hunting became the cool thing to do. Fads may come and go, but an interest in what happens to us after death has been around since the first person pondered that question and is the basis of our spiritual beliefs.
The ancient Greeks had their Oracles, the Bible speaks of the "Woman of Endor" and 16th century Germans had their Tremblers but modern day investigations of the paranormal became established in 1848 with the Fox family in the upstate New York community of Hydesville. Suddenly the door to the unseen world was thrown wide open and the popularity of such things as seances, mediums and talking spirit boards became all the rage. Educators such as Harvard University professor William James embarked on scientific projects to prove the existence of ghosts, spirits and psychic phenomena. Even Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln were interested in and reportedly involved with Spiritualism. It seems as though we just can't help ourselves. We are curious, and sometimes fearful, of the unseen world as we search for ways to answer age old questions by communicating with the spirit world and proving it's very existence.
Enter the charlatans. Just seems natural doesn't it? From the gypsies that demanded we cross their palms with silver to the "1-800-talk to a live psychic now" numbers, a fool and their money is soon parted. Not to say that these people do not have abilities and/or a desire to help those in need. After all, we ALL have psychic potential. It's simply that there is a fine line between helping and taking advantage of. So it is quite refreshing to see the vast majority of paranormal research groups operating on a volunteer basis.
Of course it's not only ghosts that go bump in the night. Paranormal investigators might also encounter non-human spirits, poltergeists, elemental or nature spirits, angels and daimons and maybe even an extraterrestrial or two. Which brings me to why I do not use the term "supernatural" which is the common definition of what is paranormal. I see all of the above as a part of the natural world. Just because we can't explain it doesn't make it separate from us. We're all connected in this wondrous Universe....
So why hunt ghosts? It's fun, educational, helpful to those who are experiencing a haunting and seems to be embedded into our DNA. Besides, who doesn't like to scare themselves silly once in awhile? Happy Hunting!