On October 1st, Dave Oester, co-founder of the International Ghost Hunters Society, died leaving barely a blip on the paranormal world’s radar. A constant self-promoter, he will probably be remembered most not for contributions to the paranormal field but for his public war of words with The Atlantic Paranormal Society of “Ghost Hunters” fame. Mr. Oester and his wife Sharon, who died in 2014, formed the International Ghost Hunters Society in 1996 as the ghostweb.com website where visitors could view and share evidence of the unknown. By 1997 they were hosting ghost hunting conventions and making frequent media appearances on both radio and television. Using their ghost hunting society as a soapbox and sales agent, Mr. Oester frequently made unsupportable statements, demeaned anyone with an opposing view and ventured into areas unrelated to the paranormal while claiming to cultivate a more scientific approach to ghost hunting.
The International Ghost Hunting Society treated the unknown as a commodity to be sold. They offered a variety of self guided home study courses enabling a person to become a “certified” paranormal investigator, ghost hunter or EVP researcher. One could even become a quantum practitioner or Rekki master in as little as 48 hours, a seemingly quick time to master anything. A visitor to their website could view some questionable ghost photography and listen to some EVPs for free but to get to their database of paranormal evidence, a collection of mostly user submitted pictures, a person had to buy a membership in the IGHS. Using the website to promote products outside of the paranormal, the International Ghost Hunting Society offered jewelry and books on topics ranging from the paranormal to cooking written by both Dave and Sharon Oester as well as offering book editing and self publishing services to potential authors in or out of the paranormal field.
Over the years, Dave Oester claimed that the International Ghost Hunters Society coined terms such as orbs, vortices and ectoplasm in regards to the paranormal. Disregarding decades of previous research to promote the sale of books he and his wife had written on the subject, he promoted the idea that the investigation protocols developed by the IGHS were the only scientifically based methods for paranormal investigation. His claim of IGHS pioneering and popularizing the ghost convention may be somewhat accurate, but the IGHS sponsored conventions soon blended into the background of bigger and more popular conventions.
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s He and his wife had made numerous appearances on television and radio networks, including ABC, NBC, and FOX, but never achieved the fame or popularity of many other paranormal investigators around them. As their media appearances declined and the popularity of the television show “Ghost Hunters” continued to rise Mr. Oester began making statements that TAPS members and the cast of “Ghost Hunters” were unprofessional and amateurish, with members of TAPS firing back with the fact that Mr. Oester charges people membership fees to view evidence and information that TAPS provided for free. While both sides took shots at each other, what they accomplished was to illustrate the damage that a “turf war” and the commercialization of the paranormal could do.
Foretelling of his own future, one of the books Dave Oester had written was regarding how to avoid getting caught up in internet dating scams, ironic because Mr. Oester’s family claims that it was just such a scam that lead him to sell all of his belongings and send all of his assets overseas, directly causing the conditions that lead to his death. It also has to make one wonder, if he claimed to be an expert on dating scams and still fell victim to one, how valid was his claim of being an expert ghost hunter?