Light and dark

So I’m watching some Ghost Hunters and I’ve gotta say that these silly paranormal “reality” shows are like crack: bad for the brain but highly addictive. Anyway, there’s something that always bugs me every time I see one of these shows: why the hell do they have to do their “investigations” in the dark???

I’m no believer, so I can’t say whether the people who buy into this mumbo-jumbo attribute some sort of magical or paranormal properties to darkness and low-light conditions. However, when they do their little tours of the “hot spots” it is clear that the alleged paranormal activity occurs just as often in daylight conditions (at least at most of these locations). The only explanation I can think of is that they’re priming themselves to have “personal experiences.”

Think about it: humans are usually hardwired to rely mainly on their sense of sight. By crippling the primary sense, these spook-chasers are taking themselves out of their native element. It doesn’t take any sort of genius to realize that when you’re in a low-light condition you mind can play all sorts of tricks on you. Humans just aren’t constructed to do well in the dark. I am generally more at home in the dark than most, and I’m also the polar opposite of a believer, yet when I’m watching a movie with the lights out or going for a walk at night because I can’t sleep I’m always seeing and hearing all sorts of bizarre shit. Ever notice how most of the stuff they claim they see is never caught on camera? It’s because it isn’t really there. It’s a trick of the mind operating in a slightly more paranoid state than usual due to the fact that it’s basically a fish out of water.

Darkness is always creepy for humans; add to it the fact that these people know they are in a location that is reputed to be haunted and they’re primed even further. I’ve always wanted to do a simple experiment: find a bunch of people, split them into two groups, have each group spend the night in the same house (at different times) but tell one group the house is haunted and tell the other that there’s nothing unusual about it (make up some excuse for having them spend the night in the house like a study of conflicting personalities in room mates). I’m willing to bet that in the experimental group (the one which was told that the house was haunted) you would find significantly more reports of paranormal activity than in the control group. I suppose you could run this experiment twice: once with a reportedly haunted house and once with a house that has no history of paranormal reports.

Anyway, the fact of the matter is this: even a diehard skeptic is gonna get freaked out and see/hear all sorts of jazz when you put them in a dark location and tell them scary campfire stories about that place. It’s simple psychology.

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