Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Did "Ghost Hunters" Change the Ghost Hunting World?


Even though (according to my theory) geomagnetic activity has been almost completely flat-lined since the latter half of 2008 and therefore ghost hunting is not a profitable venture of late, the TAPS team will always be known for changing America’s view of ghost hunting.

Prior to Ghost Hunters or BGH (“before Ghost Hunters”), ghost hunting was something people giggled about as frivolous and born of the spiritualists movement involving hoaxes such as ectoplasm, Ouija boards, and (dare we say) séances. People who believed in ghosts were in with the ranks of UFO witnesses and Bigfoot peepers; all of them taken as overzealous nerd fantasies.

But, after Ghost Hunters (AGH), Americans who had believed in ghosts and would not readily admit such a predisposition, were now turning to their friends and admitting their “affliction.” I had been hunting a few years before the show came to be, but when I heard a show about ghost hunters was going to be on national TV, I thought “times are changing! I might finally come out of the closet.”

AGH, a large amount of Americans not only admitted to believing, but having experienced the paranormal, and a huge mass of them were rushing out to hunt on their own. Search of the paranormal became accessible to every Joe and Jane. You didn’t need a psychic (thank you Ghost Hunters for proving that. Even thought I’m psychic, I would never use my readings as proof). You didn’t need fancy equipment even, just a digital camera, maybe a thermometer, and if you’re lucky an audio recording device. AGH, it was quite a different world for paranormal believers.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a very logic-minded and a fairly orderly person (Virgo), but I’m also very giggly, silly, and child-like.

BGH: When I told people I ghost hunt, they thought it was some kind of joke or need to be eccentric and goofy, but they never asked and never knew that I packed “heat” (EMF meters, thermometers, cameras, voice recorders, etc). I was serious about it. I had enough of experiencing the paranormal and not being able to prove it. I feared sharing my hobby because people who took me seriously would now look at me as if I’d just become a Scientologist and had a belief system set in the stars. Others who were devoutly religious would say I’m calling in the Devil.

AGH: When I told people proudly that I hunt ghosts, they were intrigued. They wanted to know all the details, try the equipment, ask questions, share paranormal experiences that they never would have told anyone about BGH. I was able to bring people in and help them learn about the business and advise them. Birthing newly inquisitive people is a great honor. Sending them out into the world to find their own paranormal puzzles is very gratifying. I’m not protective of ghost hunting like some hunters. I want more of us out there; more eyes watching things, more minds wondering how to make it better, to improve the industry.

This brings us to the final aspect of this PGH (post Ghost Hunters). That is, when the show is off and gone and all its little clones have deceased… Where will the ghost hunting world be? No doubt, at a standstill. BGH, they were still using psychics and Ouija boards, but PGH, we’ll unfortunately still be cornering the market in electrician’s devices with the hopes they can detect ghosts (which is kind of like saying I hope my rectal thermometer can measure the exhaust coming out of my car’s tail pipe).

We still have a long way to go in the paranormal research world. As much as GH was unbelievably important in teaching us debunking and being skeptical, they also carried with them old-world views of what ghosts and hauntings are. They had their “belief” system already in place. They became inbred and unable to grow in their research because they knew what ghosts were and how they present themselves and that they suck energy from your batteries and they make the EMF meter spike and yada yada yada. As open-minded as they were about a haunting possibly being explainable events and debunking a great deal of evidence, they also weren’t open-minded enough about just what a haunting is. So long as they defined what a ghost was and the different varieties, i.e. residual, intelligent, noncorporeal, etc, they never went to the next level. All their explanations were tailor fit for their belief system.

What is the next level for ghost hunting PGH? It’s going to take scientists and electrical engineers, geologists and psychologists and other professionals who hid during the BGH days to come forward and start some research with open minds. Sort of reverse engineering hauntings by looking at the evidence and backtracking for how it could have been set into motion. It will take very broad-minds in the field. There can be no more “religion of ghost hunting” allowed. So long as people think they know what is causing phenomenon and have already graded, tiered, and labeled it without any way of verifying these notions, they’ve just entered into the murky waters of a belief system(i.e. "Paranormal State").

BGH, when people asked me what a ghost was, I’d shrug and say “heck if I know.

AGH, when people asked me what a ghost was, I’d shrug and say “Heck if I know.”

I’m hoping some day PGH, I’ll be able to give a more definitive answer, but that will only come with much testing of every aspect from the psychological and psychic to the spiritual to quantum physics and forward-thinking options.

Ultimately, GH should go down in history as making ghosts not a chains and moans kind of castle-dwelling figure, but something that we all encounter at one point or another in one place or another and wonder, “what the heck was that?” and then weren’t afraid to seek answers, whether they were a squeaky door or something unexplainable.

8 comments:

  1. Love the BGH and PGH tags! Classic! Great post!

    Undoubtedly Ghost Hunters changed the ghost hunting world. They've affected it in incredible ways. (And what they've done for paranormal tourism? Oprah-esque boon!)

    However, because of some of their potentially faked footage (like that great jacket pull you turned me on to that I made sure to include in my post)...they might have also hurt it. More and more people are saying, "Oop, see there? None of that's real. It's all fabricated."

    Which sucks. Either find evidence or don't. But don't cook stuff just for the sake of entertaining...unless you want to change to a strictly entertainment show. But then make that clear!

    I always like how you point out they've stifled themselves, become too rooted in their own ways, and think their view is gospel. (Actually, you used a funny word...inbred. TOTALLY accurate, but couldn't help but thinking of that Pauly Shore movie where he says, "Indreeeders!" Made me laugh. But then again you always do!)

    IF GH was willing to expand themselves a little, and dared to break out of their "formula" (plus not cooking evidence), they might have what it takes to actually to TRULY change ghost hunting.

    Either way, Grant and Jason are happy. They've become rich. And they've DEFINITELY left their mark. When people look back on this era, no way will the 00s be remembered without mentioning GH and all their spawn! (both their spin-offs and all the other shows to follow.)

    Wonderful topic!

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  2. Hey Courtney;
    You're right. The problem with all reality TV is it has so very little reality content. The only way to get true reality would be to secretly film folks (can you say, "The Truman Show?") Everything on reality TV is contrived. It's such a shame that it has to be that way. If they wanted drama on the show, they could have gone so many other ways than rigging and, yeah, the jacket incident did really looked highly suspicious. They could have created drama by continuing what they started on the first episode when Jason's wife was nagging him about the expense and time away from the family. Okay, if they didn't want to bring in the family element, they could have exposed a bit more about themselves. I would have liked to know the truth behind why the hunt ghosts. Keeping it a secret a couple of seasons is okay, but ultimately they would have brought in a zillion viewers for an episode in the third or fourth season finale when Jason goes back to the place he had his first encounter and re-inspects it and the same for Grant. Can you imagine how that not only would have brought people in, but would have kept them watching because now these guys' motivation made sense. I know from hunting, I can go out 10 times and have only one night with good happenings that were truly unexplainable and hair-raising. They're not always going to get lots of proof, but they could have worked that episode to include more about debunking or history research of the location to make up for the dead time (no pun intended). That time when I was 10 and I recorded the booted footsteps up my stairs and played it for others who said I could have put on my father's boots and tromped around, I knew I couldn't prove a haunting. Even today with all these cameras and all these ways to record, we still can't prove a haunting. Hopefully what they brought to the table is the thought that perhaps the scientific world could help explain the phenomenon instead of the spiritual. Even if it is spiritually-based, it's creating havoc in the physical world and so therefore follows some of our physics. Thanks so much for your insights. You always have a really rounded way of seeing all the angles. It's probably why I'm over on your blog every day to see what you're knocking around in your noggin. :-)

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  3. Ghost Hunters definately renewed my interests especially watching their experiences during the investigations and the cool evidence they caught. I'm sure that BGH (love it, lol) you would not be able to find as much information or blogs on the subject. So for all that I am grateful for Jason and Grant for putting the subject of the paranormal and ghost hunting out in the forefront. As we know and have been talking about, there have been many shows on TV as of late on the subject. What happens from here on, I don't know. I just hope that the paranormal subject doesn't get lost nor forgotten.

    BTW, I am looking forward to ghost hunting with you and see how you handle your investigations. It is going to be fun.

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  4. Julie;
    It'll be fun. I'll get you up and running with the equipment and we'll hit the cemetery during daylight which'll be nice just to see the layout. I think we'll be going out there again in the evening, as well, so we can actually get aside from the others and try to do some EVP and such. I've been wanting to do the building forever--very historic place and has a feel that's like a pleasant haunting.

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  5. OMG! We're in the midst of a geomagnetic shit-storm!!!

    But yeah, back to ghost hunting...

    I only wish I could afford some of those shiny gadgets you employ for your hunts. What fun I might have!

    And oh god do I feel you. I caught hell for my interest in the paranormal and ghosts throughout the years as well. I loved horror since I was old enough to walk but my interest in the "real" things that go bump in the night started in my teens and never really stopped. Do you ever picture yourself if one of those ghost hunting shows on TV and think "what would I be if I were in that group?". Some people are the investigators, others techs. Nope, I would definitely be the occult specialist. Through the years I've read (and hid) many books on it's varying subjects and have always accumulated strange and nervous looks as though reading about creepy shit automatically means you're in league with the devil. I'm like what??? They're just books??? It's not like I'm performing black masses in the woods at midnight or drinking baby's blood (well, only on Sundays), but jeez, come on!!! Some people just need to expand their horizons.

    And I can kind of understand why some ghost hunters would be protective of their field. There's some serious nuts out there and I'm still trying to understand why the paranormal field attracts these types and frequently. Remind me to tell you sometime of a bad experience I had once on the ONE AND ONLY time I ever went ghost hunting with a "group" that "hunts" "ghosts". I went in optimistic and came out shaking my head like "ooooookaaaayyy". Exactly why this has become a solo pursuit for me.

    And the only way ghost hunting will ever change from being the laughing stock of the science world is when all the nuts ARE weeded out, we finally get some plausible, trained, educated professionals with advanced degrees in science and physics whom THEN obtain quantifiable evidence. And let's face it. I think we're a loooong way off from that day sister.

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  6. Hey Grim;
    Zoinks! I actually wrote a nice reply and then it got lost somehow...Argh!

    Let's see if I can recap it. I had the issue with some fundamentalist relatives thinking I was playing with the devil by ghost hunting. The same people that think Parker Brothers makes a board came called Ouija that can bring evil into one's home. Okay, that said, I realized early on that people that love you unconditionally want you to be all that you can be. I don't want to surround myself with a bunch of "me's" I want people who are vastly different with vastly different views because they keep me thinking, questioning, wondering, and looking at the world through many different eyes. Be who you are and the people that know you, know that you're being your real self, inquisitive and all. Some day, that knowledge in the occult and zombies and whatever else that interests you could very well make sense to you. It can lead in so many routes from writing to understanding psychology. Understanding psychology? Yes! Horror and belief systems and all those studies tell you a lot about how people deal with fear, belief, hope, and anxiety. You understand psyches. That's critical to both your writing and your work.

    What team member am I? I'm sort of like the bait. I go in, walk around on my own to psychically feel the place and the hot spots, wait it out for the sense of something nearby to come and begin to gather evidence when it's near. I'm a bit of one of those ghost magnets. It must be my attitude and my senses, but I don't mind working with a team, but I'm a bit of a lone wolf in that I want some time to be away from other people's energy and concentrate on the building's.

    As far as strange kooky ghost hunters, I've experienced them all from the drama queen psychics that wail and pretend to get possessed and feel lightheaded and hyperventilate to the middle-aged angry men who get pushed around at work so join the group to push around the youngsters, to the dark goths that are death-obsessed and hate humanity to the historian-types who think ghosts are cute pets. Yeah, I've seen it all. That's why my hunting partner and I usually go together. We have the same attitude of skepticism and ability to attract stuff, the same sense of humor, and same way of handling situations. Occasionally, we join larger groups.

    In fact, this weekend I'm joining a larger local group and having Julie from Above the Norm blog join me. I'll be reporting about it on Sunday. Well, actually Dale the Doll (my ventriloquist doll) will be reporting it because we're forcing him to join the hunt. Hee hee (yeah, I'm a little kooky myself). I don't take everything all that seriously.

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  7. I can definitely say there's a difference in peoples' reaction when I tell them "my mom is a ghost hunter"... BGH I would rarely mention it, but AGH people are usually curious and excited, sometimes asking "oh yeah, like those guys on sci fi channel?"

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  8. I'm sure, Alex, that I still manage to find lots of ways to make you embarassed to introduce your mom, but I'm glad it's not because I'm a ghost hunter. Hee hee
    (BTW folks That was my talented son that just commented above. He has a fantastic blog called "the artistic endeavors of Alex Clauss." I hope to be covering his new blog asap!)

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