Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ghost Hunters - What's You're Take On This?

I admit that I was impressed with TAPS right from the beginning because they were doing ghost hunting the way I was doing it--with the left brain. I've never once doubted that what they come across is unique and interesting and sometimes downright amazing. Once it's all gone through the filter of debunking, I'm pretty happy with the results.

My only doubts about their findings began when they moved into their own office in the second season. Only a tiny threat of concern. Then, the magazine was launched, the lecture tour, the live 6-hour Halloween episodes, the t-shirts and all the trimmings.

Then at the finale of this last season, I got a "Billy Mays" moment when they showed off their new "haunted inn" they bought. A very brilliant use of their media-induced money to keep them going forever as the friendly hosts of a just-happens-to-be-haunted inn. I can see retirement around the corner and a long happy lecture tour. As they drove off on their nice new snow mobiles, I looked at Jason and Grant in a strange way, with a pit in my stomach. By Billy Mays moment, I mean, I feel like I just found out something about them that ruins my image of them.

How does one stop a media machine once it's begun?

I came across this debunker's video (above) and although I don't tend to be pleased with most skeptic's viewpoints, this made me look at the incident that I considered to be genuine in a new way. When you're watching it curled up at night, you don't take note of the context in which it's filmed, but this clip makes you do just that. Other video shows that Halloween 2008 episode at Ft. Delaware in a new light, as well. The cast is standing around waiting during commercial break to begin to walk and look as though they're hunting.

Sadly, the message in all of this is the same one I was faced with in 1972 when I recorded the footsteps on my stairs, there's simply no way to prove authenticity or hoax. So long as there is a seed of doubt, no one is going to buy any "proof" of ghosts. With that being said, I continue along the same lines I have always followed, being skeptical, debunking, and asking for a very high level of confidence in my evidence. Ultimately, I remind myself, this isn't about proving ghosts to others, it's about satisfying my own questions about the phenomenon. That, too, is what the original ghost hunters, Jason and Grant, should do to keep their heads level.

At the end of the day, no matter what the media bus-ride has caused Jason and Grant to do or not do, they will know whether evidence they gather is genuine or not and whether they should even "play" at hunting anymore or not. Their first commitment should be to the venture they began before SciFi (SyFy) ever contacted them - the desire to learn more about phenomenon. Yeah, back when Jason and his wife would argue about his money going into ghost hunting and complain about his time away from the family of five. If there is more importance on the quality of the show versus looking for proof, then they should admit they're nothing more than an entertainment show and not a research team.

For now, I'll still follow them. They get access to places most of us only dream of. I've always had a very high level of trust in Jason and Grant, but like a family member who's been bamboozled, some of the bloom has worn off and I'm a bit wary just which Jason and Grant I'm viewing. In those pleasant moments when they shoot the breeze with unseen entities, I'll let my guard down and enjoy the interactions. The show was, after all, based on a team with a lot of sound techniques and a couple of guys who obviously like each other's company and don't play up homeowners for emotions unlike "Paranormal State" that tries to frenzy them into a crying fest.

The reasons I respect J&G are still the same, but when I turn my eyes onto the film crew following them and the producer poking around, I'll definitely be extremely skeptical of SyFy's staff and let my respect for G&J stand by the merit of what I've seen them do for the industry thus far in the realm of science and debunking.

Just as I wouldn't let one piece of evidence prove a haunting, I'm not about to let one film (as above) throw the baby out with the bathwater.


  1. Wow, I'm not sure what to think of this. What amazes me is that some people have so much time on their hands to be able to sit and pick apart every little thing to prove that it is fake. I'm still going to stand behind J&G as well because of the incredible evidence they have gotten. As for the Syfy team behind the show, jury is still out. But, IF the person behind the video has debunked one of the creepiest GH moments that caused me to jump, then perhaps it is time for J&G to retire.

  2. Autumnforest, this is now my newest favorite post of yours. How you conveyed the dismayed feelings and your take on J&G, especially after finding out they have now bought a haunted inn, are like how I felt. Last season was the first time I really started feeling a disconnect/lack of full trust in GH. It seemed they were becoming more about the entertainment, less about the investigations. Not entirely, but what you said in your post is about the way I feel to. I think one debunk is about par for the course, but if it starts becoming the rule rather than the exception...wow. I think I'd be crushed because these guys have really come across as trustworthy. I really hope the day doesn't come when it turns out a lot was faked or something. Although, last season had me watching them with a more critical eye. And what you said about the pit in your stomach after finding out about the inn...ditto. You really put so much into words how I feel. EXCELLENT post!

  3. Julie and Courtney;
    Yeah. It's a weird thing. Something really doesn't sit right with me about how odd Grant's arm was. That's just not normal. If you started to fall back, you'd put your arm out and you'd adjust yourself and stuff. He just wouldn't move that arm and he slowed down before the tugs like he knew they were coming. I can imagine that for entertainment purposes, they might be able to justify in their mind doing a little rigged thing for the 6-hour special. After all, anyone who's been on an all-nighter knows they're a super snooze. I'd much rather have had them nix the celebrity hunters and wandering aimlessly listening for any sounds and maybe spend a little Q&A live time and then some hunt time if the show's that boring. I keep remembering that first episode when Jason's wife was nagging him and I got this Jon and Kate moment in my head that maybe this is a beast that grew too big and now that they have the cash, it's impossible to disengage. At least they had the sense to invest in the inn. That's exactly what I would have done. If they were to produce the show independently on their own, I'd regain a lot of respect for them, but having Pilgrim Films run it makes me suspicious. If they had integrity, they'd say "we want to be above reproach--we're managing the show." We'll see how it goes down this next season. Their experienced with the KII meter has seriously confused me because I have one and I'll tell you, it's never ONCE ever gone off without putting it near something electrical. It's impossible. However, they do wear battery packs... I wish they'd just clean it up and shed some light on it (even if it's infrared light). As a hunter, I know that everything I bring to the table will be scrutinized and I do it only for my own knowledge and my own conclusions. It's like religion--you can't make people see it even if you know it deep in your heart. Fingers crossed for next season--I will think of them a bit less as a real team now and a bit more as entertainment (good lord--that puts them in the "Most Haunted" and "Paranormal State" and "Ghost Adventures" realm!) I wish they'd do it more like "Destination Truth" and offer scientists to join them, review evidence, and such...

  4. Yeah, Destination Truth will be back on Wednesday September 9th. I have been waiting for this show. Love Josh Gates and the unusual remote places that they investigate in. I will do recaps of this show.

  5. Great post! I'm terrible at putting my thoughts in words, but this is exactly how I feel. You hit the nail on the head! Especially when I saw that they bought the haunted inn.
    Oh well, I'll continue to watch the show as well, just as entertainment, as always.
    p.s. i wasn't able to watch the video, this computer i'm on is too slow. I'll check it out when I get home.

  6. The particular clip being challenged in the embedded vid looks really suspect, but still not conclusively a hoax or not. I'm inclined to let it go for now, but I remain steely-eyed and the bloom is definitely off the rose for all the reasons you mention.

    It has the feeling of a runaway train. The evidence must continue to shock and awe, especially for a big season-ending type show. Those of us that are almost more impressed by a decision of "not haunted" with evidence of headlights from the road or a homeowner put over the edge by a mold condition are not in the majority.

    The Inn initially gave me the same "uh oh" that you must have felt. It has all the hallmarks of a purely financial venture making use of the reputation and the name. On the other hand, were I in their shoes, I could see a great opportunity to set up shop in a great haunted location permanently and conduct ongoing research. I often wish they would spend much more time in a single location that has given seemingly good evidence.

  7. I.M.
    Great observations. Yes, I would like them to spend more time in a locale. I think one of the missing elements is their exclusivity--be more like "Destination Truth" and seek out experts, and stay in a place for at least three nights--so they can get used to the place, and the place can get used to them. You really don't know a place until you've been there a while and honestly activity happens when the place gets used to you, as well. I heard somewhere that when they went to Canada for this upcoming season starting on the 19th, they spent two nights at a place. I hope that's true. I liked when they stayed over at the Stanley and that hotel in Florida where they got the ironing board falling out of the closet and angry sounds at night and when the bedspread pulled back over Grant's toes at the Copper Queen. This is what we want--hotel bedtime video. The great hunts I've been on, we slept over. During sleep stuff happens--keep the cameras rolling and viola!

  8. It's difficult to say. My problem with the earlier seasons was that they so rarely found anything. They'd go to a location, spend a few hours in the dark, find no convincing evidence, and declare the place "not haunted". Heck, even natural phenomena don't show up on cue. So, they didn't gather any evidence, and now the property owner is left feeling stupid and/or crazy.
    But, as the series progressed, they seem to find more and more evidence of paranormal activity.
    I don't believe they're intentionally faking anything, but they seem more liberal in their interpretaions of the evidence and their personal experiences.
    Either there was a rise in supernatural phenomena or they began to realize that "haunted sells".

  9. I personally felt betrayed when I watched that episode of Ghost Hunters. I was upset at all the convenient camera angles. Too convenient for me.

  10. Gummer;
    I could pretty much guarantee their good nights would include following the haunted formula and geomagnetic activity-it would totally assure they ran into some phenomenon. I think a lot of their earlier ones included their local places, bars, theaters, houses that had no real history to support a haunting. They got smarter (and had a bigger budget) later to go to places like Moundsville and Trans-Allegheny. Since they hit the place only one night and have probably at least a sound guy/camera guy/production assistant following each of the pairs of investigators around, there's a freakin' lot of people tromping around a haunted site and creating disruption--not real good conditions. I don't think of J&G as particularly untrustworthy guys. I'm a hunter. I want the facts. I recognize that in them. But, you really never know what the camera/fame element does to folks--how many couples break up on reality TV? For a couple of plumbers to suddenly have an office, employees, travel schedules to give talks, filming dates, a magazine to run, autographs to sign... Yikes! I guess I can just be thankful that they came forward and showed a new way to hunt for ghosts than to grab a table and do a seance or call in a medium. I thought I was the only debunking hunter out there so when the show appeared, I had some colleagues finally. I've always trusted in J&G's character as a couple of guys who hunted for the right reasons (long before SciFi or SyFy came along). If they had been invented for the show like Ghost Adventures, I'd scorn them, but these guys were the originals. For that, I give them kudos, but as always I won't base my belief in phenomenon on what they obtain necessarily but what I obtain.

  11. I usually stop taking a paranormal research show seriously when it focuses on investigators' reactions to activity.
    I don't want to know that. I want a chance to see what they see. I don't mean steadicam action at all. Just a steady camera operator behind investigators and a camera in front capturing them all. And can we get interviews of camera operators after also?