Why do Ghost Hunters Only Work in the Dark?

Excellent article on Salon.com called Why real-life ghost hunters hate “Ghost Hunters.” The author brings up a point that I’ve never quite understood myself, and that is why do all those reality TV ghost hunters always do their hunts overnight?

I’ve heard some say it’s because ghosts are more active at night. Really?  Do ghosts punch a time clock? And what about interference from streetlights or car headlights? He also questions how well can anyone observe anything in total darkness. Sure, they’re using night vision cameras, but those LCD screens are tiny. And if you recall in a few of the episodes of Ghost Adventures some of their guys have tripped and fallen over furniture in the darkness, and how smart is it really to be walking around inside a completely dark derelict building? It’s lucky that so far no one has taken a bad fall and ended up with a serious injury.

Another point of observation is to listen to the claimant testimonials on Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures. The typical story goes something like, “I’d just locked up the museum for the night and I was the last one to leave. I was about to get in my car when I looked up and saw the lady in the Victorian dress staring out the window.” Almost without exception their encounters are happening either during the day or in the early evening hours. So why is it necessary for all the TV ghost hunters to do their work between midnight at 5 am? Is it to make their shows more dramatic?

The rest of the article is a very interesting read, and I would have to agree with the author that there are some fakers out there, as well as some television shows in which the hunters do sloppy work. Take Most Haunted. They don’t even do EVP sessions. Instead they rely on psychics and Ouija boards, and, as far as they’re concerned, every little particle of dust that the camera picks up is an orb and therefore evidence of ghostly activity. Yeah, right. I can’t help but wonder if some of the people on some of these TV shows are perhaps more interested in showmanship and doing whatever it takes to get the ratings up than in conducting serious paranormal research. But at the same time they are bringing the discussion about ghosts and the paranormal into the mainstream. People who have had strange experiences that they can’t explain, or that they have been badly frightened by, are now more able to open up and talk about it because they are realizing that they are not alone and that they’re not “crazy.” And that’s a good thing.

There will come a time when shows like Most Haunted and Ghost Adventures will have run their course and, if you’ll pardon the pun, fade away. Then perhaps the more serious paranormal research can begin again.

My thought for the day.

GM

The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of “Ghost Hunter’s Academy”

When I first saw the previews for this new entry from Ghost Hunters I really thought I was going to hate it. It looked trite. So I tuned in the first episode, not expecting much, and I found myself pleasantly surprised.

This show, more than any of the others in the Ghost Hunters stable, really gives viewers an inside look into just how much time and effort goes into a TAPS investigation, and how vital it is that the team work together. And, as the season progressed, it also gave viewers a chance to observe group dynamics and learn lessons that could be applied to just about every workplace.

Heather was a good example of someone failing to blend in and be a part of the team. Yes, she was very nice, and everyone liked her as a person. But at the start of the very first investigation she announced that she was a medium. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but that is not the TAPS way to do an investigation. Her approach made it difficult for her to work alongside the others. She was too independent so they had to let her go.

Then there was Jane. Pretty girl. She was someone who could possibly do well as an actress or a model, but she was not a team player. And unlike Heather, who was very congenial, Jane was only interested in looking out for number one. She had no problem stabbing others in the back in order to make herself look good, and then she would turn on the tears when Steve or Tango criticized her. Frankly I’m surprised Steve and Tango that didn’t kill her. Needless to say, while the all others were invited back, Jane was sent home.

And then there was Susan. She got off to a really rough start and I expected her to be the first person cut. But, instead of finger-pointing and blaming others, she learned from her mistakes, pulled herself together, and made herself into the most improved member of the team. Susan is a real positive role model for everyone. I’m glad that both she, and Karl, made the final cut and will be a part of the Ghost Hunters International team. I look forward to seeing more of them for a long time to come.

GM

The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of “Ghost Adventurers” Tombstone Episode

Prior to this show airing some of the locals in Tombstone had told me they didn’t much care for the three young men on Ghost Adventures, and now that I’ve seen it I can certainly understand why. If fact, I personally am appalled by their behavior.

The Bird Cage Theater is a museum. It houses priceless historical artifacts. I personally know the staff at the Bird Cage, and I simply can not believe that they would have ever given Zak permission to fire a gun inside the building, even if it was loaded with blanks. By firing that gun he could have easily damaged some of the artifacts, and they are irreplaceable.

Even more appalling was when Zak pointed the gun at himself and dared the spirits to fire it at him. BLANKS CAN KILL.

I’m a member of the Tombstone Vigilantes, and Old West reenactment group that performs every other Sunday on Allen Street. We are very safety conscience. With every performance we include a demonstration of how blanks can kill by firing one close range at a beer can. The beer can explodes. So not only could Zak have become the next spirit resident at the Bird Cage himself, the people watching the show at home have now been lead to believe that a gun loaded with blanks is merely a toy. That is inexcusable and unforgivable.

Zak is a prime candidate for a Darwin Award.

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The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of “Ghost Adventurers”

There’s a new kid on the block, or at least in cable TV shows about ghost hunting and the paranormal. It’s called Ghost Adventures, and it airs on the Travel Channel just before Most Haunted.

This show is very entertaining and the three young ghost hunters, Zak, Aaron and Nick, have a lot of potential. They travel to known haunts and do their own taping, as opposed to bringing their own sound and camera crew with them. They are also locked in, literally, to the locations they are taping. So far that’s only backfired on them once, and that was in their pilot episode when they were locked down into the Goldfield Hotel. They boldly told the spirits that they weren’t afraid of them, and they weren’t. At least not until they came upon the poltergeist throwing the bricks and lumber across the basement. That’s when they totally freaked out and started running and screaming. They later admitted they ended up escaping the hotel by jumping out of the fire escape.

Therein lies my only real criticism of the show. They have a real attitude. Zak in particular is a cocky one who really likes to provoke. He reminds me a lot of Brian from Ghost Hunters, but even at his worst, Brian was never as arrogant as Zak. One of these days he’s going to get hurt. He’s already been scratched and has been warned by a priest that he is playing with fire. I guess that’s the difference between an accidental ghost hunter and someone with a TV show who needs to document activity, by any means possible, to keep the ratings up. I am spiritually aware enough to treat spirits with respect. Since I don’t know if the spirits I encounter are good or evil I tread lightly.

I will give Zak credit for using a scientific approach. He and his team use emf meters, do EVP (electronic voice phenomena) work, and try to get as much on camera as they can. They then go to neutral third parties to have the evidence verified.

This show is entertaining, and certainly more credible than Most Haunted. Definitely worth staying home for on Friday nights.

GM

The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of “Most Haunted USA”

The crew from Most Haunted has come to America to visit some of our most famous haunted places in a new variation of their show called Most Haunted USA. And the show is most entertaining. They have visited many locations visited by other production companies, such as Waverly Hills Sanatorium.

One of the things I like about Most Haunted is their historical research. They have always included a professional historian as part of their team. They also use physics which gives the show some more interesting insights. Now I have nothing against psychics. In fact I believe some people have a natural talent to perceive things beyond our five senses the same way others have a natural talent for singing or athletics. However no psychic is ever 100% accurate, and I would like to see more historical research on the things the psychics read during their investigations.

The team also includes parapsychologist Dr. Ciaran O’Keeffe to offer other, less than paranormal, explanations for what the team encounters. O’Keeffe is a dyed in the wool skeptic, if not a cynic, and he is, more often than not, able to write off the team’s experiences with the paranormal with more worldly and more plausible explanations. So when O’Keeffe is ends up being impressed or is unable to offer an alternative explanation I’m more inclined to be impressed too.

The real flaw with Most Haunted is their less than scientific approach. They don’t do EVP, (electronic voice phenomenon) work, nor I have noticed much work with EMF, (electro magnetic frequency) devices, or other credible tools for documenting an actual haunt. Instead they rely on old parlor tricks, like table tapping, ouiga boards, and seances, which can be easily staged.

Still, if you are looking for pure entertainment, Most Haunted USA is a lot of fun. But if you are looking for a team doing serious paranormal research you probably would be better served with Ghost Hunters.

GM

The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of Paranormal State

There are some terrific shows on the ghost hunting and the paranormal out there. There really are. Shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters International, and Dead Famous. Then there are the not-so-great shows.

I only watched a few episodes of Paranormal State, and that was enough for me. The series was about a group of college students who spent their time ghost hunting. Problem is, this show just didn’t resonate with me. The audio distortion of the narration was annoying. It sounded like he was sending it over a long-distance phone call. And many of the scenes looked to me like recreations and dramatizations, not actual footage of a ghost hunt. Were these cases real?

Perhaps I mis-spent my own youth, but when I was in college I spent most of my time studying, writing term papers, and preparing for mid-terms and finals. And what free time I had I spent hanging out with friends and having fun. Maybe campus life is different these days.

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The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of “Ghost Hunters”

I still think the Cadillac of all the television shows on ghost hunting has the be the original Ghost Hunters. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson have indeed set the standard. What I like about Jason and Grant is their approach. Their goal, first and foremost, is to debunk. Then, and only then, when they can find no other plausible explanation, will they declare a location as being haunted. And the evidence has to be compelling. There are many instances where they find paranormal activity but stop short of calling it haunted.

Too many times I’ve seen so-called ghost hunters rush into an allegedly haunted locales, bringing along psychics and/or totally relying on non-scientific methods, such as table taping or ouija boards, and declare a place haunted. Most Haunted is famous for this, but, as I recall, Most Haunted claims that their show is for entertainment purposes only.

I also remember seeing some other show where some woman used an emf meter and declared a place haunted as soon as it spiked. Then later on a skeptic went to the same spot where she had stood and found she was standing right next to an electrical outlet when she got the spike. This is the kind of thing that hurts the credibility of all ghost hunters, and I think Jason and Grant and the TAPS family have done an outstanding job of restoring that credibility.

So whether it’s Ghost Hunters, or it’s spin-off, Ghost Hunters International, it’s a great way to spend a Wednesday night.

GM

The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of “Ghost Hunters International”

I’ve always been a fan of the original Ghost Hunters, but in my opinion, this spin-off makes the original pale in comparison. (No pun intended.)

Robb Demarest is an effective and down-to-earth leader who doesn’t fly off the handle or berate his team members, and the team goes to some pretty amazing places — castles, manor homes, and opera houses — the type of places we don’t have here in the U.S. Each of the places they investigate have a lot of history, which makes the locales even more interesting. And, unlike the original Ghost Hunters, they seem to be able to document more genuine paranormal activity.

Like the original Ghost Hunters, the premise of their investigations is to debunk. That makes any conclusions of a location being haunted much more credible.

Ghost Hunters International airs on Wednesday nights on the SciFi Channel. It makes Hump-day a lot more interesting.

GM

The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of “Most Haunted”

I’ll admit it. One of my favorite cable TV shows about the paranormal is the Travel Channel’s Most Haunted. While the ghost hunters in this British import are not as scientific in their approach to their investigations as I would like, this show can’t be beat for its pure entertainment value. I have to credit that to the hostess, Yvette Fielding, actress turned ghost hunting guide. Yvette has a lot of screen charisma and really pulls the show together as she guides viewers through each week’s haunted location.

Over the year’s this team has caught a lot of interesting paranormal activity on camera. One of the most spectacular was when cast member Stuart Torevell was physically attacked by a ghost. I’ve seen this episode several times, and the way he fell backward would have been a very difficult stunt to pull off had it been staged. In fact it’s interesting to note that afterward this incident he too developed alopecia, as did Dead Famous co-host Gail Porter.

I would like to see this team use less parlor tricks, like table tapping, and use more emf meters and tape recorders. The team also includes psychics who appear to be pretty accurate in identifying the spirits of real historical people who once inhabited the locales they investigate. And I particularly like psychic David Wells’ gentle, down to earth demeanor.

This show airs Friday nights on the Travel Channel, and it’s definitely a good excuse to stay home on Friday nights.

The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of “Dead Famous”

In recent years there has been a plethora of cable television programs about ghosts and the paranormal. While most of them are pretty good, and some are better than others.

One of my favorites was Dead Famous, which aired on Bio in 2005, and is still occasionally shown in reruns. What I liked the most about Dead Famous was its format. Each week they would feature a different dead celebrity, be it Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, or John Lennon, and they would attempt to find, and communicate with, the ghost of the celebrity.

A lot of time was spent telling the story of the celebrity’s life which I always found interesting. I also liked the balance and the chemistry between the hosts, psychic Chris Fleming and skeptic Gail Porter. Chris and Gail would take viewers to different haunted locales allegedly frequented by the featured celebrity. For instance, the Dead Famous episode about John Wayne had Chris and Gail visiting Tombstone, Arizona and featured Boot Hill Cemetery and the Bird Cage Theater.

While they would occasionally capture an EVP or a strange event on camera, I’m not convinced they ever actually contacted any celebrity spirit. I believe that spirit communication is a one way street–they can contact us, but we really can’t contact them. Still, the show was interesting, entertaining, and educated its viewers about the paranormal. Gail Porter also taught us a lesson in grace and dignity when she developed alopecia. Rather than try to hide her condition under a wig, Gail showed her bald head to the world without shame. The makes her an admirable woman in my book.

The final episode of Dead Famous had Chris and Gail in Lincoln, New Mexico doing a show on Billy the Kid. They too experienced strange happenings there.

I would love to see Bio bring back this show back. And if Gail Porter is no longer interested in Dead Famous, surely another co-host could be found. In the meantime check Bio for reruns.