Ghost Hunting Television Shows...BLEECH!

 
 
Ghost Hunting Television Shows... Bleech!
 
 

 
    I know that this is one of those subjects that is going to really burn up some people. It’s one of those subjects that people are either strongly in favor of or strongly against. To that, I say I’m sorry but, the facts are the facts. Some of these shows, most all of them in fact, are just not accurate. I’ll go so far as to say that many may actually be distorting the image of genuine paranormal investigation in a negative way. In short, if you are using the same methods of some of these TV shows, you’re not doing it right. You can use it as a litmus test. If they did it on TV, it’s generally wrong.
 
    If you're one of those that's easily offended when someone points out the flaws in your favorite television show, read no further......
 

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To be honest, I personally, am not very fond of the term "ghost hunter" or "ghost hunting". They sort of conjure up mental images of someone running through the woods chasing, or being chased by, some unseen entity or someone burning up the insides of some expensive building with strange proton powered guns shooting at things that fly and swoop at them. Remember that movie? Not really the type of image that I would want applied to me. Obviously, there are no real brick and mortar schools that offer a Ph.D in the Paranormal Sciences but, I would like to think that we can be just as scientific with what we do as anyone who might graduate from such a place.
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Firstly, even though I did like the movie, both of them in fact, they give off serious misconceptions of the study to others who have no real idea what it is all about. Secondly, it is a term that is used derisively on many occasions. Too make it worse, there has even been a long running television show by a similar name that, although is one of the better ones of the genre, is still wildly inaccurate. It gives the viewing public a wrong idea about what the science is about. It shows a bunch of folks running around talking in the dark and saying "Did you see that", "Did you hear that?" followed by a five second montage of two guys actually reviewing the evidence. Not how it works! Not at all!
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To make matters even worse, most of what is shown on television falls into one of four categories; 1). horribly misrepresented depictions of scientific methods and tools.2). out right comedy, 3). those atrocious Halloween scare specials or the worst of it to me, 4). people conducting silly, over the top Hollywood style investigations in which the sole purpose is to give the viewer the idea that the places are far more active than they really are.
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1). Most of the more popular shows demonstrate improper usage of common instruments and claim that the findings are “evidence”. I’ve written an entire articles on the subject of EMF Meters alone. Doing these sorts of things might be great for ratings but, it’s just not good science and what’s worse is that there are legions of viewers who think that it is. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
2). Anyone familiar with real scientific work will be endlessly amused at the comedy of errors presented by television ghost hunters. For those in the know, the EMF issue alone is enough to elicit chuckles. Properly employed, it would be used to tell if there is a magnetic field that might induce mild hallucinations which could be accidentally interpreted as paranormal activity. The way they are presented on TV is tantamount to holding up a hammer, calling it a lawn mower and insisting that it is used for sewing buttons on skillets.If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
3). Every Fall, with out fail, there are countless specials on TV showing us people going off into spooky places and getting scared.  Great for Saturday morning kids shows but, not if you’re really supposed to take it seriously. It’s a format that has been done better by Scooby the dog.If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
4). These are the weekly equivalent of the Scooby Doo type shows. Four times a month, we follow our intrepid explorers as they encounter a new ghost of the week. Why is it that these guys and gals seem to be able to find a haunted location every time they go out? Comparatively speaking, how many shows have you seen where they go out and don’t find anything? Anyone who actually does investigate the paranormal knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that isn’t the way it works. In short, no one is that lucky. The other side of that coin is that if they DIDN’T find something virtually every time they went out, they couldn’t call it a ghost hunt… it’d just be some people running around taking pictures in the dark.If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
I don't mean to sound like I'm trying to bash any specific team or segment of the paranormal community for their preferred techniques and presentation. Every team and every investigator will have varying results from varying techniques. What works for one team or investigator may or may not always work for some other. As you can imagine, there are a lot of techniques practiced with varying levels of results. But, it’s safe to say that spending twenty minutes in the dark mis-using instruments probably won’t get you the desired results. And if it does, your “evidence” is probably worthless. That, or you have hit on the mother lode of paranormal activity and are about to be run over by truckloads of people looking to get their thrill on. Unfortunately, since around 2002, there have been literally thousands of groups that have popped up and use these exact same “as seen on TV” methods. Some even go so far as to use, word for word, what they learned from their favorite ghost show whether they really know what that word means or not. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
There are the occasional good “specials” and from time to time, even I settle in for an hour of silly indulgence with some of what is presented but, in all truth, my time would be far better put to use at actually going over my own material. Not sitting there watching someone else build mountains of "proof" out of mole hills of questionable evidence. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
And if that isn’t bad enough, even the better of the shows are generally put on the air by channels that are simply not known for good science. I won't name any here but, are you going to honestly take something for serious when its on the same channel as wrestling? That would be like getting your stock market news from a cartoons only channel. There is some good stuff there occasionally but, let's face it, television shows about the paranormal are just there to sell air time, not be educational. The best that I can say for what is on the screen is that it has gone a long way in building public interest in the paranormal, even if what is presented is more science fiction than science.If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
But, aren’t Ghost Hunting shows reasonably accurate? I mean, we can trust TV to show us what it’s really like, can’t we? If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
“Accurate” probably isn't the best word really. With all television shows, a lot of “post production” has to go into the mix before they have something that advertisers will want to pay to be seen on. When you consider that each one hour episode of any ghost hunting show is composed of just the highlights from one or more investigations, then you subtract a few minutes for the title sequence and exit credits, a few more for commercials, you end up with about 18 to 20 minutes per investigation. If the show also features a “set up” and a "reveal" sequence, you're really only seeing about 15 to 18 minutes of any given investigation.  Subtract even more time if they go out of their way to give some bckground info on the locale. Of course, you have to remember that for the producers of paranormal programming, like with any television "show", the goal isn't so much to educate as it is to sell air time to advertisers. (The shows producers, I’m not speaking ill of any televised team and I can't comment on what they may or may not do off screen). To this end, they have to condense the work, cut out the long hours of nothing happening and add in a little "Hollywood" for added drama.If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
In reality, any serious investigation will generally require numerous visits to the same location and hours, if not days, spent collecting data there. Most investigators will tell you that ghosts tend to be shy and may take hours or even days to get used to the presence of the investigators before they go back to doing whatever the witnesses have reported seeing. Some never will accept investigators and will remain inactive until the team gives up and leaves or stops coming back. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
A real and serious investigation is sort of like playing a computer game. At times, they can be a lot of fun to do but, watching someone else play them can be pretty tedious. Now, I know that no one would sit and watch ten brutal hours of two or three guy sitting there with headsets on listening to hours and hours of tapes, digital audio and video but, that IS the real meat and potatoes of how it's really done. Any serious paranormal investigator will tell you that most of the investigation takes place "off-site" and trust me, that is the hardest part of it. Far more grueling than exploring a suspected haunting with some colleagues. No one is going to sit for hours watching someone sit for hours. Television producers aren’t stupid. They know this and that’s why you don’t see it on TV. It just doesn’t “pop” as they say. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
It may also be interesting to note that some of the most experienced, and scientifically based, paranormal investigators, such as Ed and Lorraine Warren, may literally spend years on a case documenting even the smallest incidents. One has to keep in mind that a real paranormal investigation isn’t just a few minutes of running around with a camera. It’s a deeply involved, long term engagement that may go on for years and dozens, if not hundreds, of visits to the same location. This is a big part of why “TAPS” is a household name and the Warrens are not. Good science doesn't always make for good television.If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
A few years ago, an even nastier event hit the paranormal community when one of the leading television shows about ghost hunting was exposed for faking evidence. I won’t name the show here but, shortly after that happened, there were a number of videos popping up on the net exposing other television shows that had scenes that just didn’t look right to some viewers. Now, I can’t speak to the veracity of the claims from either side of that debate but, I can say that when that hit the papers, it made the entire field look foolish. The skeptics took is as evidence that ALL of it was totally faked and pointed to the growing number of videos on the internet as proof. What everyone remembered from those stories wasn’t that this group or that group was allegedly accused by some Youtube user of faking some of their evidence. What the public heard was that ALL groups were faking everything. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
This is Parapsychology 101 here, NEVER fake evidence for any reason at any time…EVER! No matter how good the fake looks, sooner or later, it WILL be exposed. What looks really good by todays technological standards looks cartoonish in a couple of years. Just consider some big dollar Hollywood movies you saw as a kid. Remember how real they looked then? Go watch them now and you’ll see what I mean. Hoaxes WILL be exposed and they WILL be put on public display. When it happens, the best you can hope is that it wasn’t you who did it and that it will only reflect poorly on the attempted hoaxer. Unfortunately, outsiders take that one story and run with it dripping it’s foul smelling juices on all of us. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Alright, I'll close my rant here. I know that it is all Hollywood and it's all tv and that makes it less important to hold it up to scrutiny. I know that pointing out the obvious short comings of the television shows is like picking low hanging fruit but, it's my rant, I'll pick what I want!
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This article is the sole opinion of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Paranormal Investigation and Research Group or any of it’s members. This article, like any and all other articles on this site, is the sole property of the author  and is provided to you for academic purposes only! Neither the author nor the members of the Paranormal Investigation and Research Group take any responsibility for YOUR actions. Investigations into the paranormal are inherently dangerous and by utilizing the information herein, in part or in total, for any purpose other than academic information or entertainment, the reader constitutes his or her intentions to be personally liable for and to hold the author and the Paranormal Investigation and Research Group blameless of, any and all injuries they may incur or legal actions that may befall them.
 


Used by the Paranormal Investigation and research Group with permission of the author: Rabbi Paul E. Umbarger II
Redistribution of this article in part or in total, without expressed permission is prohibited

 
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