Who ya gonna call? Charles Dickens! (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have also been an acceptable answer.)
While paranormal investigation may seem to be a development of the modern age, attempts to quantify and either prove or disprove the existence of spirits has been a pursuit of scientists for more than a hundred and fifty years.
At least as far back as 1862, in fact; that was the year that The Ghost Club was started in London. The membership was exclusive, limited to men who were deemed to have the proper demeanor and who were professionals. Most of the early members were scientists, but there were two notable exceptions: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, and Charles Dickens. Dickens was a founder of the club.
The group investigated spiritualists and a pair of stage magician brothers, the Davenports, who laid claim to unearthly powers. After the death of Dickens, the group stopped gathering… and then, a few years afterward, a second group calling itself The Ghost Club started up, this time devoted to hyping members’ purported “paranormal abilities”.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was again a member, this time as a token skeptic.
The focus of the new group eventually shifted over toward the debunking of the original club following some high-profile public humiliations of members. By the 1910s, it was a debunking club again, and it remains so to this day, having subsequently had members like Algernon Blackwood, Peter Cushing, Dennis Wheatley and Arthur Machen. None have yet reached the fame of the two earliest author/ghostbusters.
Question of the night: What’s your favorite Sherlock Holmes incarnation?