Apart from being the title of a movie I’ll probably never see, “paranormal activity” seems to be the phrase du jour right now. It’s the phrase people use when they want to tell ghost stories, but also want to sound all sciency and stuff. It ranks right up there with another currently popular phrase, “unexplained phenomena.”
Ghosts seem to be very popular right now. After all, we are almost at the culmination of the three-month run up to Halloween. However, there seems to be even more to it. Shows like Ghost Hunters and its myriad clones have made the subject quite popular. Destination Truth now even features cast members from the various Ghost Hunter series, and seems to deal with hauntings more than anything else.
Not to be outdone, the Discovery Channel has come out with it’s own clone – Ghostlab. In the two episodes that have aired the group has investigated two of the locations visited by Ghost Hunters. And, guess what? They found them to be haunted! The leaps of logic and pseudo-science are really, really getting hard to stomach.
When Ghost Hunters first started its seemed that they were more apt to disprove hauntings than to declare a place to be haunted. First you would have some homeowner who, upon hearing a noise under the house, doesn’t say, “Oooh, my pipes are banging, so I probably need a plumber,” but instead says, “Oooh, I hear weird noises under the house so I must have ghosts!” Then it was fun to watch Jason and Grant (who purportedly started out as Roto-Rooter plumbers) tell these folks that they, in fact, don’t have ghosts. They seemed more incredulous that there was nothing going on, and were more willing to believe that they had ghosts. Add to that the on-going soap opera between the show’s stars, and it was entertaining.
However, the producers soon found that NOT finding ghosts doesn’t have the appeal as FINDING them. So, it’s rare these days that the TAPS team goes into a location and doesn’t declare it haunted. The soap opera element of Ghost Hunters seems to be gone, as various cast members have stormed off or been booted off, and the remaining group seems to getting very predictable. If a promo clip shows Steve Gonzales jumping and screaming in reaction to something, you can be sure it’s just a spider he encountered. Booooriinnnng! To make matters worse, TAPS is now being accused of faking their evidence, and some of those arguments are very compelling…
The whole genera seems to have degenerated into incredible leaps of logic and people running from their own shadows. The word “science” can only be used in the loosest possible sense Having shiny technology doesn’t help if you don’t really have an understanding of it’s function, and make assumptions without experimental proof as to what it can detect.
And this is really unfortunate. The genera has/had potential. Tales about ghosts and hauntings are more cultural than scientific, and a chance to explore these tales can give us insight about our own society. Sure, add in some true investigative elements, but at least try to make it legitimate. But, I guess I have to keep in mind that these shows are just that – TV Shows, whose sole purpose is to sell advertisements and provide entertainment. Therefore, science and legitimacy will always come in second to what appeals to the masses.
7 thoughts on “Paranormal Activity”
You seem to thrive on bashing ghosthunting-have you ever done any yourself–or had a paranormal experience?! Perhaps you should get involved with some legitimate local paranormal groups and go on a few investigations with them.
However I do agree that TV seems to be overdoing it a bit with all the paranormal shows of late–and some just might be giving the field a bad name but there are many groups out there who don’t have or want celebrity status and are doing a great job in supporting folks who think they might have something paranormal going on–and all free of charge might I add.
So Tom if you could please refrain from attacking the entire paranormal field by comparing all of us of to a few misdirected TV shows supported by a huge following of ‘paranormal groupies it would be appreciated. Establishing a legitimate scientific field has to start someplace and I think we’re making some inroads.
I bash this foolishness of shows like this that make people think that just because you’re using some flashy technology you’re doing “science.” I’m all for people trying to do legitimate research in the field, but that’s not what these shows convey. Unfortunately, it seems to me that many of the local groups that do said “research” are just mimicking what they see on TV. At least, that’s what I see from their websites.
I think they are going about it partially correct. The only thing you can submit as evidence is what can be replicated – ie, it was actually photographed, or you have an audio or video recording. If they just stuck to that it would be OK. However, DON’T go making leaps of logic like, “Oh, this area has lots of quartz, limestone (fill in your choice of mineral) so there must be lots of ghost activity.” There’s no experimental proof.
For that matter, there’s no experimental proof that ghosts need energy to manifest, so things like EMF detectors, K2 meters, etc., are totally bogus. Heck, there’s no concrete proof that ghosts even exist, much less that they need energy upon which to manifest.
They should make a movie about the Old Alton Bridge. This is a little bit of the legends of the Goatman’s bridge.
There have been several disappearances on and around Old Alton Bridge. Most notably, one that occurred November 15th 1967. The Denton newspaper at the time did an article on a mustang found abandoned on the bridge and there were lots of people that reported other missing persons linked to the Goatman’s bridge and the Goat man.
The story is that Klansmen raided the house of the Goatman, Oscar Washburn, and killed his family after attempting to lynch him over the side. The legend says that he disappeared over the side and now attacks anyone who crosses the bridge at night in an effort to protect his family.
You can see a video on this story at http://www.Goatmansbridge.com Paranormal real
Cool bridge, and a great story. Thanks, Daniel!
I thought they burned his house down? Oh wait the legend changed since I did
LOL, it’s funny how some people get all in a huff because you call out their favorite TV show..it’s not a documentary people, ha, ha, ha! I am in a paranormal group, & I stand behind your statement Tom. It’s true. I know it wouldn’t make for “good” TV if every ‘haunted house’ was debunked. Or they could make THAT the premise of the show… debunking the haunted houses! It has been my experience so far… that many of the people claiming that their houses are haunted are in fact haunted themselves. In one way or another, there may be a recent death in a family and they are having problems coming to terms dealing w/it…I once visited a home in which there was a freaking memorial WALL where letters, photos, momentos of departed ones were hung for display, no wonder their kids didn’t want to stay there anymore…they had weird ju-ju bags hanging from the thresholds of the doors..this was a haunted family…but not haunted by ghosts, they let their experiences and grief haunt them. They claimed to be Christians, yet had every mainstream religion represented in some way all over the house, plus in browsing their dvd collection, it contained ALL horror movies, the medicine cabinet contained all kinds of meds, for a wide variety of ailments, many of which the side effects included hallucinations. I believe in ghosts, I believe in hauntings, I have seen and heard, and felt, been touched, etc. but the majority of people who call a group into their home, I’m sad to say are the haunted…not the home itself. That is just MY opinion…I hope that Joseph doesn’t “attack” me for it as well, LOL