It is interesting that during Halloween week, ghost hunting is the focus. In fact Ghost Hunters, the TV show is going live tonight. They bring in viewers interactively by having connection to their web site in which viewers can press a button to let the investigators know if they saw something. That opens up a lot of doors to pranksters – they said last year they got 10,000 hits on that button! How annoying would that be to have people pranking them. But at the same time, the show is 7 hours long tonight – from 7 pm to 2 a.m. and hopefully it will be better than the Geraldo live show looking for Al Capone’s treasure.
What is interesting to my study is that people are getting information from a mediated event and they are participating with the television show through the Internet, another mediated aspect of the experience. So it is an event in which possibly millions of people are coming together to watch and/or interact around a paranormal-based reality event – to share a lived experience, discuss it, investigate it (albeit through the representation of the show’s experts and their visitors), and be able to determine among themselves if there is evidence, what the evidence is, and what that means to them. It brings to mind the idea of taking “science” into their own hands… something perhaps blasphemous to a trained scientist, but it is in the same vein as when the bible was put into the hands of the masses (via Gutenburg’s press) and people, rather than priests, were allowed to read and interpret for themselves the words of the bible. In a way, television and other forms of media are allowing people to look at this controversial “pseudo-science” as paranormal research has been called, and to determine for themselves if they think there is something to it.
However, the use of media can make the evidence suspect because there is always the possibility of doctoring the video or audio footage. It would be great if the show would occasionally focus on the steps they take to make sure that these images and sounds are legitimately captured and not added or created by the production company – a topic of discussion I have seen on Internet chat groups about the show. They do have investigators, like Donna LaCroix , who are scientists – she is an engineer, apparently, and it would be helpful if the show played up the more objective and scientific (to whatever degree they can) aspects of what they do. They say what the theories are, but who came up with these theories about EMFs and cold spots? That is a big criticism by skeptics that there is no “proof” – and that is a misguided term, they should say “evidence”—that entities give off high EMFs. But perhaps they do, and this show is making an effort to show that evidence. If there are scientists that they work with, it would be great to see input from those scientists and to know who they are and what their credentials are.
While Ghost Hunters does appeal to those who may too easily believe, it also appeals to those who are well-read in these areas and the just-plain-curious among us who want to see what they are doing. There are even web sites that show amateurs who try to do the same thing themselves. But there are also web sites that show people playing pranks on those watching looking for real footage of entities and then doing something on camera to make them jump, like the video Whoopi Goldberg showed on The View. But Ghost Hunters does not, in my opinion, bring itself credibility when it has investigators who think everything is paranormal, like Brian Harnois did. While I liked his enthusiasm and imagine he had a good friendship with the TAPS people, he was a bit too quick to jump to conclusions that a place was haunted or that an event was paranormal.
The show Ghost Hunters is becoming increasingly popular, at least according to a press release from Sci Fi, the station that airs the show. They don’t, however, say what organization has published those stats (Nielsen or otherwise). But at least at this time of year, there is more interest in things paranormal. And people look for things to watch on television related to hauntings and demons, etc. More channels offer shows about famous places that are supposedly haunted, And newspapers, like The New York Times, as I mentioned in my previous post, are featuring stories about hauntings, real and put on.
From that Times article, there is mention of Bonnie Vent of the San Diego Paranormal group, who channels dead people, many of whom are celebrities. The article mentions her channeling of a message from comedian George Carlin who died in June of this year. This video shows her channeling the "lovely stranger" ghost at the Coronado Hotel in
I am posting a video of Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson from Ghost Hunters when they appeared on The View this year. They talk about the way they go about debunking sounds and activity and what tools they use to investigate.
So I'm anxious to see them working live -- as I've missed them doing it the last two years.
More comments later this weekend....