Thursday, February 7, 2013


It's okay. 
Neither did I. 

Nobody, in fact, ever does. Despite all the playbacks of the audio or video footage, there is never anything to hear. Nothing, that is, that could be considered absolute proof of paranormal activity. 

Paranormal: of or pertaining to the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific explanation, as psychokinesis, extrasensory perception, or other purportedly supernatural phenomena.
In other words, ghosts
Ghosts. Poltergeists. Orbs. Spirits. Shadow people.  

We, as a society, are currently obsessed with the paranormal and television shows about the paranormal. 
Don't believe me?

A Haunting ~ A Haunting in Connecticut ~ A Haunting in Georgia
America’s Haunted Hotels ~ American Paranormal ~ Celebrity Ghost Stories
Dead Famous ~ Destination Truth ~ Extreme Paranormal
Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files ~ Ghost Adventures ~ Ghost Detectives Ghost Hunters ~ Ghost Hunters Academy ~ Ghost Hunters International
Ghost Intervention ~ Ghost Lab ~ Ghost Stories ~ Ghost Trackers
Ghostly Encounters ~ Ghosts Caught On Tape ~ Ghosts: Fact or Fiction 
Ghost Mine ~ Haunted History ~ Haunted Homes ~ Haunted Houses 
Haunting Evidence ~ Living with the Dead ~ Most Haunted 
Most Terrifying Places ~ Most Terrifying Places In America ~ My Ghost Story
Mystery Hunters ~ Mystery Quest ~ Paranatural ~ Paranormal Cops Paranormal Matrix (in development) ~ Paranormal State ~ Psychic Children Sixth Sense ~ Psychic Kids ~ Children of the Paranormal ~ Psychic Witness  Scariest Places On Earth ~ So Weird ~ The Haunted ~ The Othersiders 
The Unexplained ~ Truth or Scare ~ Unexplained Mysteries

Those are just some...if not or two may have popped up as I've been typing this...of the television shows out there today that feature teams of people looking for ghosts. 
Ghosts, it seems, are in, and everybody wants a piece of the pie. 
Even if that pie is filled with ectoplasm. 

I haven't watched many of the shows listed above. I guess I'm just not that obsessed. Or gullible. Or bored. Or 15.

Paranormal Cops? Seriously? 
Bad ghosts! Bad ghosts! Whatyougonnado?! 
Truth or Scare?  

Someone please punch me in the face. 

I kinda like the idea of Ghosts Caught On Tape. It sounds like a new show from Joe Francis featuring wild, drunken nubile ghosts on a bus...lifting their sheets...teasing us. 
Talk about your orbs! 

In 1959, John Updike coined the phrase idiot box in reference to the television. Well played, Mr. Updike. Well played. 

My two favorite...
The two shows from the list above I watch with the most frequency are SyFy Channel's Ghost Hunters and The Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures. Quite honestly, if you're going to watch any one of those shows, these latter are the best. Which is sort of like saying Moe and Larry were the smartest of The Stooges.

Basically GH and GA are the same show. They both present teams looking for ghosts at night using a wide variety of technical toys. They both feature footage that is grainy and dark and indiscernible as anything other than bad production value.

At their heart though, the two shows couldn't be more different. 

Ghost Hunters, in my opinion, takes itself way too seriously. 
Way too seriously.  
I's almost like they expect to find something.
Like all these shows, there is controversy surrounding Ghost Hunters
There have been quite a few allegations aimed at GH from a variety of sources, including testimony from former cast members. Former key team members who have left the show for a variety of reasons have come forward with claims that the shows producers have faked evidence to keep viewers tuned in

NO. I find that hard to believe. No. Not really. I was being sarcastic.
Former co-host and co-team leader of GH Grant Wilson has since left the show to concentrate on his career as a Roto-Rooter plumber. I'm sure his departure has nothing to do with the fact that much of the controversy surrounding GH and allegations of faking evidence have been centered on segments which featured him.
For example:

There are rumors that Wilson will return.
I guess he missed being in the spotlight. Either that or he got tired of being elbow deep in poo.

Whether or not any of these allegations are true, people are still watching the show. In fact, and as unbelievable as it may be, GH has actually spawned two spin-off shows: Ghost Hunters International and Ghost Hunters Academy.
Ghost Hunters Academy
"Now, there's some great television", he said while wearing his Captain Sarcasm costume.
In case you haven't seen it, GHA is kind of like Police Academy meets Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein meets CBS's Survivor.
Where Ghost Hunters is the self-proclaimed more serious and therefore more credible of all these ghost shows, Ghost Adventures is just plain, stupid fun. With a heavy emphasis on stupid. Heavy emphasis. Oprah heavy. 
Trust me.  
There is no danger of this show ever taking itself too seriously.  
The three stars Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin come off as three frat boys who started their adventures as a goof. It is obvious they are having a blast and a good laugh at all of us who watch.
Hey. Don't hate the player, hate the game. Right?
Zak Bagans, the star, producer and leader of this all male Scooby gang, is a Saturday Night Live character come to life. I've heard far too many people say that if you looked up the word 'douchebag' in the dictionary, you'd see a photo of Bagans. 
I looked. There was no photo. There was just his home address. 
I can see why people use the D word in regards to Bagans. Hipster doofus would also work. Just saying.
First off, there is the way he dresses. Bagans is 35 and dresses like he's 17 and may have, at one time, been kicked off The Ultimate Fighter for being a complete tard.  
For being challenged
Then there's the way he styles-or doesn't for that matter-style his hair. He always looks like he just woke up
Zak is a twelve year old boy in a man's body and that twelve year old needs a hug...badly. And by hug, I mean medication and group therapy.
Bagans says ghost hunting is his passion, his obsession, but I expect that if The Travel Channel had offered him a chance to host a show called Booby Adventures he would have jumped at it with the same enthusiasm.
Can't say I blame him really.
Bagans has also said he doesn't hunt ghosts, he communicates with them. 
Which is sort of like a fisherman dragging thousands of dollars of fishing gear with him along on his boat and then saying he's not a fisherman, he just likes the water.
Bad hair, silly clothes and goofy manner aside, Bagans and his cohorts are (throwing up in my throat just a little) celebrities.
It's what we do in this country. We make celebrities out of anybodys who are nobodys
That is a subject for another time however.

Still...I can't imagine those poor souls who have yet to pass on into The Light being in any rush to communicate with these goofballs. In fact, I would wager there is a counterpart to Ghost Adventures in the spirit world called Douche Teasers.

Whether you watch Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures you probably have noticed a few similarities between the two. 
All these shows, in fact, have the same structure. 
There is a first act, a second act and a third act.
The first act is the introduction and history of the location. 
The second act is the actual investigation.
The third act is the presentation of the evidence. Evidence is usually always presented as audio, photographic, video, or a combination of all three.


The most frequently uttered phrase of any of these shows. 
My answer is always the same. 
"No. No I did not hear anything."

So much of the evidence presented on any of these shows is subjective.
Take, for example, the audio evidence presented to the clients and to the viewing audience during the Third Act. 
The majority of the audio evidence presented on any of these shows is presented as EVP's or Electronic Voice Phenomenon.
EVP's are electronically generted noises (emphasis on noises) that resemble speech, but are supposedly not the result of intentional (uh huh) voice recordings or renderings. Recordings of EVP are often created from background sound by increasing the gain (sensitivity) of the recording equipment.
Listen to the audio evidence and see if you hear what the shows stars hear.  
All I have ever hear is static and maybe ambient noise.
I sometimes find myself rewinding the show and turning up the sound to try and decipher the sounds. To date, I still haven't heard anything that would convince me to say, "Yup! That's a ghost! Yessiree Bob!"
On the other hand, if the audio evidence is too clear, than I have to play the role of skeptic and say "I don't think so!" and I ask myself the following questions:
Where are the other team members?
How do we know the investigator is really all alone?
What's the cameraman doing at the moment?
Why is that bald guy wearing that stupid hat?

It bothers me when the team of Ghost Hunters presents the evidence they've collected to their clients in what is called The Reveal. 
In my opinion, GH is guilty of almost pushing their clients into hearing what they want them to hear. There's a...How can I say this?...psychological bullying going on there.
Watch any episode of GH and pay close attention to The Reveal
Grant Wilson, a former team leader and host, and current team leader Jason Hawes were masters of the art of what I call The You Do Hear What We Hear Phenomenon
This newest season of GH features Hawes and Steve Gonsalves, a former team member who has stepped up into a lead role.
Just like the team of Wilson and Hawes, the team of Hawes and Gonsalves is adept at-for lack of a better word brainwashing the client into seeing what they want them to see and hearing what they want them to hear.  

They practically shame the poor sap into agreeing with them.
Its almost as if they're saying 'Look, Dude. You called us. You're now on national television. Do you really want to come off looking like an idiot?'

Of course not! Nobody wants to deliberately look like a jackass on television. Well, except for maybe Glenn Beck. Or Pierce Morgan. Or anyone of those Real Housewives. Or... 

Okay. So there are apparently a lot of jackasses on tv. 

There are those individuals who are quite sincere about their experiences. They saw a ghost and they want the world to know about it. They also survived the alien probe and that awkward touch from the Skunkape. 

These people also usually suffer from some dental deficiencies.

When it comes to collecting audio evidence of the paranormal, the team on Ghost Adventures also uses digital recorders to capture EVP's. In addition to these handheld recorders, Zak and the boys and have a pretty amazing device at their disposal.

They have The Spirit Box.
The Spirit Box is an annoying device which blares out static on many different frequencies. Its like listening to your ADD grandfather trying to find a baseball game from 1978 on a radio. Screeches and squelches blast out as the team stumbles around in pitch blackness asking questions to the spirit world. 
Every once and a while a voice comes through. 
Is it from the spirit world? I doubt it. More than likely its a random radio signal being picked up or, if you're a conspiracy theorist, a crew member off camera using a walkie-talkie.
One of the team members will ask: "Who are you?"
There will be minutes of horribly annoying static and then...
"shshshshshshshs HOUSE shshshshshshshshs..."
The team will explode with excitement shouting things like "House! The voice said 'house.' The person who use to live in the house! It must be Amanda!! YES!! Amanda is trying to contact us!"
I know its a stretch but that is the magic of The Spirit Box.   
FYI: You can buy a Spirit Box, just the like one Zak, Nick and Aaron use, from Ebay. It's $79.90. 
There is no real photographic evidence of ghosts and if it there was you would see Casper's face on the front page of every newspaper in America.
Look. We all want to believe in the afterlife. It's human nature. Its self preservation. It's the Fox Mulder part of our brain. It gives us hope that when we die there is something else.
We just want proof and since seeing is believing we want a really good photo or some decent video footage. 

Photographic evidence, sadly, isn't enough these days. It has come to light in the past few years that the some of the most famous photos of some the most famous mythical icons have been faked. 
Case in point: The grainy, black and white photo of The Loch Ness Monster taken by Col. Robert Wilson in 1933. The photo is known as The Surgeon's Photo. It's an amazing photo. It clearly shows what appears to be a dinosaur sticking its head out of Loch Ness. It was a groundbreaking photo. 
And...its FAKE.
Here's a typical image found online when you GOOGLE real images of ghosts. I'll let you decide if this is a photo of a ghost.

That's Shadow Man. Shadow Man apparently appears every now and then at The Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia. Apparently he only appears at the end of long hallways.
Like most ghosts, Shadow Man is shy. Poor thang.
You can GOOGLE real images of ghosts if you want to try and find a better example of photographic evidence of ghosts. I scrolled down page after page, shaking my head as I did looking for that one photo. I finally decided this was the clearest. 
There are some that are just plain silly. Some are intriguing but only because who ever created them was really really talented. 

The video evidence presented on these shows is much like the photographic evidence. In other words, its subjective. 
Ladies and gentlemen I present to you The Flying Brick from Ghost Adventures. Yes. I said 'Flying Brick.'

**WARNING: The following link contains bad words...because using bad words makes the situation scarier...and the person saying them comes off looking cooler... 

and sadly, in the end, in this case of this video, like a great big sissy girl.  

Aside from audio, photographic and video evidence, the only other evidence these shows has to offer is the testimony of the team members. The testimony is in regards to their own personal experiences.
Personal experiences. 
I'm surprised some of these folks haven't won EMMY'S. 

"And The EMMY for Best Reaction To Absolutely Nothing goes to..."

Watch an episode of any of these shows carefully.  
During the investigation segment-The Second Act-there is always a moment when someone has an experience
This is where the acting part comes in. 
It always happens the same way. 

There is a mysterious bang or knock or in most cases, there is no noise at all. At least not one the viewer can hear. 
One person will take the lead. 
Person One: "Did you hear that?"
Person Two: "Uhhh...yes. Why yes I did."
Then both players milk the experience for all they can. 
Infared cameras start clicking! 
Thermal Cameras start sweeping!
Digital recorders are held out towards the shadows with the hopes of capturing some EVP's!

And then! 
No ghosts. Just shadows, dusts, grainy footage and static.

In all these shows, the dance is always the same. The first act, second act and third acts all have the same rhythm and, ultimately, the same outcome.
No concrete evidence of ghosts. 
It is interesting to see how the investigators deal with home-owners or business owners who have reported bumps in the night.

In most cases, especially in regards to business owners, it seems to me like these clients just want to be on television. What business owner wouldn't want free exposure, free advertising to a world wide audience?

Does it matter that they come off as morons?
Advertising, bad or good, is advertising. 
You ever wonder why so many clients on these shows are owners of restaurants, bars, bed and breakfasts, and popular tour sites? Just coincidence? 
Sure. And Oswald acted alone. 


Unbelievable as it may seem, there have actually been some shows in which the clients owned a haunted house. And when I say 'haunted house' I mean the kind of haunted house in which people pay an admission to go into an abandoned warehouse that has been transformed into a spooky attraction. 
Why that's not suspicious at all!
Of course we believe you're experiencing paranormal activity, Mr. Spooky Mansion Property Owner! No! Of course we don't doubt your sincerity for a minute, Terror Castle proprietor. We trust that you contacted these national television shows because you wanted to protect your employees from the evil force that is haunting The Hall of Mirrors. You want to find out the truth and not just promote your business.


Do these shows fake their evidence?
I believe that most do. 
Here's the danger in that though. This isn't 1950's America. There are many viewers who have the technological skills and the equipment to dissect these shows and present their own evidence as to why they think there is more deceptive activity than paranormal activity going on.

From an episode of Ghost Hunters... 

Oh Meatloaf. I can't believe they roped you into this silliness. 
What's that? You didn't recognize the voice? Yes. That was singer Meatloaf's voice you heard there. He's appeared with the GH team on two different episodes now. 

I guess the residual checks from Black Dog have stopped coming in. 

Hey, Meat. Remember when you sang I would do anything for love but I won't do that? I think your idea of that is totally different than our.s

What it boils down to is this....People are not only watching these shows...they are watching these shows and analyzing them. 

So listen up Ghost Hunters and Ghost Lab and Ghost Trackers and The View...
If you are going to present evidence of the paranormal to us and expect us to accept it as truth, make sure its really good evidence.
If you're going to fake evidence, it better be really good faked evidence. 
It's like faking an orgasm. 
Its okay if you're gonna do it, just make sure the performance is good, the other person leaves feeling satisfied and in the end (no pun intended) no one ever knows you did it.

For the record I believe in the paranormal. 
I have had personal experiences that have reinforced my belief. 
In fact, I continue to experience something in my current residence. 
Have I ever seen anything on any of these television shows that has convinced me, 100% convinced me, that ghosts exist? No. 
I think a lot of the evidence is contrived by the shows. After all, television is a business and that business revolves around ratings. If you don't deliver the goods, you won't get ratings. If you don't get ratings, you go back to...well...being a Roto-Rooter guy snaking Matchbox Cars out of toilets.

Honestly, the commercials for the shows are most exciting than the actual episodes.  
Despite all the distractions of fancy and amazing gizmos and people shouting "Did you hear that?!" the outcome is always the same. No concrete evidence of ghosts.
So much build up. Not that much payoff. End result? Frustration
It's like prom. 
Or dinner at The Olive Garden.

When it all comes down to it, these reality shows are the farthest thing from being real.
We're never going to see a real ghost, or a UFO, or Bigfoot.
If you're looking for some goofy fun though, some of these shows can be mindless distractions. Entertaining in the same way watching videos of people falling down can be.
As far as believability, though, it requires an enormous leap...
Remember how far The Hulk could leap in Ang Lee's HULK?

Yeah. A leap about as big as that. 

A leap, I might add, that is getting harder and harder to attempt...especially since so many more of these shows just keep appearing in my television guide. The fact that they just keep getting sillier doesn't help either.

You're probably saying "But you're still watching them!"

And my answer to you would be "Yes. Yes I am."

And don't doubt for a second that my wife doesn't give me shit about it.

"I am guilty as charged!"

Honesty I am watching these shows less and less these days. I only watch when I want some mindless entertainment. Or I've taken my pain medicine and can't concentrate on any type of television that makes sense.

Which obviously means my ghost show of choice is Ghost Adventures.
As I said, I am currently experiencing consistent activity in my current residence. There is something here and it doesn't mind making its presence known. There have been loud noises, shadows darting in and out of view and instances where I was convinced that something was just about to walk into the room even though I was alone in the house.
Is it a ghost? A poltergeist? 
I don't know.
Am I going to contact Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures or any of their ugly, red-headed cousins? 
Who am I going to call then?
Who else? 
and that's 'Jody' with a 'y'
*Copyright 2013
*All Rights Reserved

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