I have been studying the popular “reality” series Ghost Hunters and have come to the conclusion that it is even worse than the ludicrously moronic knock-off series, Ghost Adventures. How, you may ask, could anything be worse than a bunch of superstitious testosterone junkies making asses of themselves by acting macho for their imaginary friends on a cable channel no self-respecting person would ever watch? My answer: Ghost Hunters is misleading.
No sane person would ever take Ghost Adventures seriously. Anyone with an IQ above 80 can tell by watching just five minutes of that laugh-a-thon that those dudes are just delusional freaks who are apparently not entirely secure in their sexualities (I’m looking at you, Zak). Ghost Hunters, however, misleads its viewers, as well as the people featured on the show, into believing that they are critical thinkers who attempt for a rational explanation. They do this by making sure to drop the word “debunk” in a supportive light at every possible opportunity. (The fact that they say “debunk” should be a blip on your woo-dar, since most skeptics don’t use that word and consider it derogatory. “Explain” or “demystify” is how I say it.)
I have now seen the first four seasons of this silly little charade and am on episode 6 of the fifth, and I can think of only two episodes where they didn’t explicitly leave open the possibility that the location in question could be haunted. This is ridiculous. They lie to their viewers by claiming to exercise critical thinking skills when any serious analytical reasoner would never jump to the conclusion that a location is haunted without substantial empirical evidence. Not one of these shows presents any sort of replicable evidence; it’s all subjective experience. This is the biggest problem with the “participant-observer” approach to anomalistic research: data are not collected in a scientific manner, they are not replicable, and they are contaminated with subjective validation.
I also take issues with all of these “theories” they advertise. They sound like theories in that if they were validated they would both explain and predict, which are precisely the things that theories are supposed to do. However, what they don’t tell you is that their “theories” make absolutely no sense to anyone who has even a moderate amount of knowledge of physics. The big one goes like this: disembodied spirits of the dead draw energy from their environment to do shit. This makes absolutely no sense in that they seem to not know what energy really is. The ghosts in Ghost Hunters seem to choose either electrical energy or heat energy depending on which is available, but no apparatus for how they channel and then use this energy is proposed. One nut-job tried telling me that ghosts are made of energy, which makes even less sense because it confuses the scientific concept of energy with the New Age concept of vital energy/qi/prana/ki/animal magnetism/subtle energy. The New Age concepts of energy have been tested numerous times, and there is absolutely no scientific evidence that they exist in any way, shape, or form. I urge New Agers to look “energy” up in a dictionary and tell me how ghosts could be made of this jazz without us being able to measure them.
I also get annoyed with how often they refer to their “evidence.” This is clearly meant to mislead the viewing audience into thinking they are searchers for truth who collect data and then weigh it objectively and rationally. Anyone who thinks that dead folks can somehow interact with the real world is clearly not thinking rationally, and our capactiy for rational thought it was makes us so great. Use it, folks! (I won’t get into why believing in spooks and spectres is irrational; I plan on writing a separate post on just that topic in the next few days.)
In conclusion, I would like to propose a new show: real skeptics with real degrees really study allegedly haunted locations and come up with rational, physics-based (or psychology-based, as need be) explanations for all the alleged paranormal activity in these locations. I would watch that shit.