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erichw1504's avatar

What do you think about those paranormal investigation shows?

Asked by erichw1504 (26401points) November 9th, 2009

Shows like Ghost Hunters on SyFy, Paranormal State on A&E, and Ghost Adventures on the Travel channel. What’s your take on them? Do you think they experience real activity or is it all fake? Which ones do you watch, if any? If they’re fake then how do they do it so well? Have any of these shows made you believe?

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45 Answers

aprilsimnel's avatar

Heehee! It’s like they’re trying to do The Blair Witch Project, but on TV. Good luck with that!

aphilotus's avatar

I question them easily and first on the basis of how often they venture out with crappy, noisy equipment, and then try to claim that the interpreted-noisiness of their equipment is the very phenomena they set out to find.

That is to say, many of the shows send people out with cheap, $40 voice recorders that pick up all kinds of random noise, which they then interpret as ghost-ish. They seem to prefer these cheap, noisy recorders over better quality, more expensive ones that cut out a lot of the noise and provide a better, truer idea of what sounds are actually occurring.

Which makes me think that if using better equipment makes you hear fewer ghosts, maybe the “ghosts” you are hunting are just the noisiness that better equipment cuts out.

And if ghosts wanted to make their presence known, why would their manifesting be way down in the noisiness of equipment failure, and not bigger and more obvious and pronounced enough to be clearly not noise.

drClaw's avatar

They annoy me to no f*cking end. The few clips I was able to watch were just of some dumb people in dark rooms or forests freaking themselves out! I’m sorry but when I was a kid my friends and I would freak each other out while camping and it was great fun, but watching adults do it is just sad.

PS – I never knew how much they bothered me until I read your question and thought about it for a second.

Lacroix's avatar

The only show I really like is Ghost Hunters on SciFi. At least they set out to first try to duplicate (and thus, disprove) what people are experiencing before they start considering whether or not it might be haunted.

I believe in ghosts, but I also believe the vast majority of these shows (like Paranormal State and Ghost Adventures) are just, as @drClaw said, a bunch of people spazzing out over nothing. They’re trying to sell a product, and they don’t care how they do it.

As to why ghosts would pop up in equipment and not be more visible…a lot of “ghost” noise IS the result of crappy equipment. Some of it, though, defies explanation. I subscribe to the theory that manifesting takes a lot of energy, and so we may miss all sorts of little clues by the dead just because they didn’t have enough “juice” in them to put on a really spectacular display.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

They’re a bunch of hooey. I don’t waste my time with them.

emmy23's avatar

All a bunch of crap

MacBean's avatar

I like Ghost Hunters because they try to disprove. The others are all too eager for the things they’re investigating to be true.

Capt_Bloth's avatar

I have never seen any of these shows, but the idea amuses me.
I assume the appeal of the show is watching grown men freak out. If it was a team of 12 year-old girls, well that doesn’t sound nearly as amusing. I would never watch any of these shows, but it makes me happy to know they exist.

Val123's avatar

Sniffles. I used to watch hoping they’d actually have something interesting to show us, but they never do! The only redeeming quality about the show is they genuinely try to find logical explanations for whatever, and the most interesting it gets is when they can’t come up with an explanation.

Iclamae's avatar

My parents are really big on these shows, mostly ghosthunters. I believe in ghosts but I think these kinds of shows and such are more disrespectful to the dead. (not enough to start a petition or anything, I just don’t like to watch them.) I’d rather let them rest in peace.
I’m also not completely convinced by the “science” of ghosthunting.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

Ghost Hunters are skeptics. The attempt to disprove everything and only say something is haunted when they can’t explain it by conventional means. The rest of the shows I put no stock in.

Fyrius's avatar

If any one of them is serious, it should go to show that the paranormal is not beyond the reach of science at all; there are actually people investigating it. Which is great, if they do it properly.

And by doing it properly, I mean without shouting MAGIC whenever they encounter something that challenges their brains. I mean actually investigating it.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of these shows, so I don’t know what they’re like, and whether what they do would make me rage or want to congratulate them.
I don’t watch a lot of TV anyway. I generally tend to find TV a bit of a waste of time that could be much better wasted on the interwebs instead.

ubersiren's avatar

I agree with @MacBean and @Russell_D_SpacePoet. Ghost Hunters is a completely different kind of show. They don’t yell “Ghost!” at… well, much of anything, honestly. They are a separate deal altogether. The team does not (and never has) charged their clients money to investigate. They try to solve claims and mysteries from a logical and practical standpoint before even considering that it may be paranormal. Furthermore, if they determine that the cause is paranormal, they still don’t necessarily assume it’s a ghost or haunting.

virtualist's avatar

@Lacroix What form of energy are you talking about here? :

“I subscribe to the theory that manifesting takes a lot of energy, and so we may miss all sorts of little clues by the dead just because they didn’t have enough “juice” in them to put on a really spectacular display.”

Lacroix's avatar

@virtualist It’s been theorized that the reason it gets cold in spots where ghosts are is because they draw a lot of heat, or energy, out of the air. Some people also feel tired in these spots, like they’re being drained.

Just like people need energy to move, speak, exist, ghosts may need energy to make displays.

virtualist's avatar

@Lacroix

I do wish I could derive energy from ‘cold spots’ or, also, just ‘out of the air’.

Why do you think only the ‘departed’ can do that ?

Can all of them do that ; or only a few?

If only ‘a few’ why those and not, also, the other departed?

Fyrius's avatar

@Lacroix
That would be awesome. That means we would be able to see ghosts with sensitive infrared goggles, as the foci of cold air clouds.

There are quite a few quite different forms of energy, though. If ghosts absorb all energy, you could leap down from three stories, pass through a ghost a metre from the ground, let it absorb all your kinetic energy, and then safely land on the ground with the force of just a one-metre fall.
If we can find out how the ghosts do it, we might even be able to invent a device that will replace parachutes, airbags and brakes forever. Not to mention body armour or even protection against nuclear weapons.

Lacroix's avatar

@virtualist Supposedly, it’s not just the departed that can manage it. “Psychic vampires” are said to be simply people that can, consciously or subconsciously, “feed” on the energy of people around them.

@Fyrius I don’t understand the “science” of it, but I think the energy they absorb is mainly heat-based. In myths and modern tales, the dead are said to always be complaining about feeling cold, and when people are dying they complain of feeling cold. Perhaps it’s related, perhaps not.

CMaz's avatar

Same story. Different place.
Week after week after week.

Resonantscythe's avatar

Great Shows. They deserve awards for comedy.

Fyrius's avatar

@Lacroix
I’d steer clear of the myths and tales like the plague if I were you.
To illustrate why with some examples from the science fiction genre: storytellers will have you believe that outer space is cold, that it is plausible that alien life forms are humanoid, that the same physical constraints apply to spacecraft as to aeroplanes, that plasma could be shot off in a gun and actually reach its target as a coherent blob, and that things can be “made up of pure energy”. Storytellers who don’t actually know how something works will take over each other’s misconceptions all too eagerly.
Similarly, I think the cold ghosts thing may well just be a trope of this genre of stories. I wouldn’t rely on it.

Val123's avatar

Pretty much after you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all…

poofandmook's avatar

the only one worth anything is Ghost Hunters. Paranormal State… ugh… they get the whole religious bullshit into it too, and that pisses me off. When I saw the first commercials for the show, it had such potential, and then I watched it. Blech.

Darwin's avatar

They remind me a lot of that time Geraldo Rivera had that live show about opening Al Capone’s vault.

Basically nothing happens in any of the shows except they scare themselves and do a lot of filming in the dark.

Shuttle128's avatar

To all of you who are saying that Ghost Hunters is different than the others I have to say that you’re wrong.

The assumptions they make about “energy” and the different kinds of equipment they use and what they do is all completely baseless. “Disproving” hauntings is not really what they do anyway, for many of their investigations they affirm that something paranormal is happening. If you set out with these terrible assumptions about what constitutes paranormal activity along with completely non-rigorous testing you cannot disprove these hauntings. You can define anything you find as paranormal even if it has many other possible explanations. In this show the default answer to anything that contains these assumed qualities is paranormal. This is not how science works. Not only this but there are no controls whatsoever. There is nothing to compare the “paranormal” data to to determine if there is anything different from “non-paranormal” data.

A good majority of the “evidence” is based on very common and bad logical fallacies. Argument from ignorance is the big one that nobody seems to care about at all. Affirming the consequent, negative proof fallacy, and false dilemma go very closely with this. False attribution and reification fallacies show up when pointing to “paranormal indicators.” Incomplete comparison is another huge fallacy that shows up because there are no control groups. Cherry picking, selective perception, and confirmation bias are huge in arguments for paranormal activity.

Not only this but the main stars of the show specifically state that what they do is completely unscientific and that all of their results are simply based on common sense!
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Also…...I’d like to know how ghosts break the second law of thermodynamics. This is one of the most important laws in physics and no physical system has ever been able to reverse entropy, yet paranormal enthusiasts seem to think its okay if ghosts break it on an everyday basis.

Val123's avatar

@Darwin (I remember when that Jeraldo thing went down! I was watching it live! Pretty much ended his career.)

@Shuttle128 What’s good for the ghost is good for the gander!

reacting_acid's avatar

I watch a show called “Haunted” Don’t know if anyones heard of it. Don’t know if it is the same but oh well. It is a bunch of people trying to talk to ghosts. I watch it just for laughs. They all ask the ghosts to make a noise and as soon as they hear a noise they scream their heads off. It is so funny!

Val123's avatar

Ya, well, I channeled Janis Joplin during an Ouija Board session.

Fyrius's avatar

@reacting_acid
“I don’t know what these people want from us. They rudely wake you up and insist that you come over. Then they want you to do something inane they could easily do themselves like moving small objects or howling like a retard on acid. And if you can still muster the patience to actually do what they just asked you themselves, they freak out. What do they expect? I’ve had it with the living. I’m heading towards the light.”

reacting_acid's avatar

@Fyrius Honestly, the nerve of some people.

irocktheworld's avatar

They freak me out soo much and I try not to watch them.

Tink's avatar

I like watching them. I think it’s true.

drClaw's avatar

@Tink1113 oh, you crazy!

mattbrowne's avatar

I’m a skeptic who values critical thinking and it often makes me wonder why people believe in weird things. I read a very interesting, excellent book called

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_People_Believe_Weird_Things:_Pseudoscience,_Superstition,_and_Other_Confusions_of_Our_Time

Of course I already knew that almost everything related to paranormal shows is fake and nonsense, but from a scientific point of view it’s quite interesting to understand why some people don’t think it’s fake and nonsense. Why they really think they got abducted by aliens. The book explains the mechanisms like extreme sleep deprivation etc.

Of course there’s nothing wrong watching these shows occasionally to entertain ourselves. I think the X-Files do have entertainment value and I did enjoy watching some episodes. It’s fun. Other shows can be fun. The trouble begins if people take everything at face value and abandon critical thinking. Eventually this can become very dangerous. If people think the advice from astrologers is more valuable than the one from reputable scientists our world is in trouble. If New Age cults tell AIDS patients that they can be cured by having sex with virgins the whole thing gets very serious.

I don’t want to end up in a situation where people start burning witches again. Young-earth creationism is a dangerous movement and we should not underestimate its destructive potential. As long as they are a minority and we can keep them in check and it doesn’t spread to other continents, I’m not too worried. But if they want to install a theocracy in the most powerful country with thousands of nuclear warheads things would be different. Some people might want to use them to fight Satan residing in Pakistan. Then Satan retaliates. Seriously, we should work toward having a world ruled by smart reasonable people who take advice from educated scientists.

Fyrius's avatar

@mattbrowne
“Young-earth creationism (...) As long as they are a minority and we can keep them in check and it doesn’t spread to other continents, I’m not too worried.”
They’re already trying to spread to Europe. A while ago the Dutch people all got flyers in their mailboxes that urged them to reconsider evolution theory, together with the usual fallacies and misrepresentations, and with “questions to think about for yourself” that obviously tried to push you in their direction. And, of course, presenting Genesis 1 as the only conceivable other explanation.
Fortunately they were all but chased away in tar and feathers.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Fyrius – Yes, there have been a some minor attempts in Germany as well. But trying to spread it is different from actually succeeding in spreading it. Sadly, in the US it has spread significantly. One reason for being able to contain it in Germany is that both the major Protestant and Catholic Church rejects biblical literalism and creationism. The Protestant Church (EKD) is actually very progressive. Just a few days ago a divorced woman bishop was elected to lead the EKD. Note that the word Evangelical has a different meaning here compared to American evangelicalism. See

http://www.ekd.de/english/index.html

There’s an interesting story about the East German Protestant church as a major factor in bringing down the Berlin Wall in 1989, see

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Fuehrer

From what I know the majority of Dutch Christians are very progressive and tolerant.

Fyrius's avatar

@mattbrowne
“From what I know the majority of Dutch Christians are very progressive and tolerant.”
Your sources are correct. They’re pretty cool.
And from your post, it seems they are so in Germany too. That’s great.

Darwin's avatar

@mattbrowne “I think the X-Files do have entertainment value and I did enjoy watching some episodes. ”

The X-Files was fiction, with actors emoting to a script. These other shows are supposed to be non-fiction. There is a difference in that the X-Files actually has a story line, a plot with a climax, and interesting special effects.

In this other sort of show there is no script, no plot, no climax, and little entertainment value. Basically, some folks who believe in ghosts round up a camera, go to some place that is supposedly haunted, and then spend several hours scaring themselves silly while nothing happens.

reacting_acid's avatar

X-files was the best show ever when I was eight! God I loved it. *sighs dreamily

mattbrowne's avatar

@Darwin – I understand. Yes, it’s troubling if people really have the impression the show is some kind of real documentary. Well, in a free country with freedom of speech the only thing you can do is get enough media time and explain about the nonsense. In Germany only the private channels broadcast this kind of humbug, but they do attract a lot of viewers. In order to compete even the main public channels had to come up with something. Interestingly they were able to create some shows titled ‘unsolved mysteries’ and the like, and for each case at first things looked quite paranormal. Viewers were hooked. And in fact most were not really disappointed when a reasonable scientific explanations was given at the end. Few people seem interested in watching “boring” rational science talk, but if it has the element of suspense stirring up emotions…

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

Some I can’t figure out if they’re real ornot. Paranormal State; I want to beleive, but it’s production makes it hard to. I used to wacth them, but you need a quiet house and I don’t have a quiet one anymore. My mother had birds. Most Haunted wasn’t that bad. :)

hotgirl67's avatar

The only show I watch is Ghost Adventures. Say what you want about it, but sometimes I watch it because some of the stuff they say is pretty funny.

voiceoreason's avatar

Ghost hunters was already proven to be fake. One of the cast members came out and admitted it. What a fail.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I get frustrated because THEY NEVER FIND BIGFOOT!! Never, ever.

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