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Ghost Hunters and Mainstream Media

By: Chris Welsh - Updated: 20 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Ghost Hunters Sci Fi Channel Paranormal

Men in jumpsuits spread out through the lower level of the old farmhouse moving carefully in the dark. Moving in pairs, half the men held night vision equipped video cameras and half carried some form of scientific equipment. Looking for anything out of the ordinary, the men moved carefully and quietly. They tried to be methodical and professional as they searched, but in the back of their minds they couldn’t help but dwell on what the home’s owner told them; a woman was murdered in this place—she died, but never left.

Welcome to Ghost Hunters, a reality TV show on the Sci Fi Channel where a couple of plumbers with a fascination for the paranormal began renting themselves out as paranormal investigators and wound up TV stars.

What are Ghost Hunters?

Often referred to as a “docu-soap”, Ghost Hunters is popular due to the blend of personal drama and the spooky subject matter, although the show is not presented from an angle with the intent to scare. The show follows two men who are plumbers by day and paranormal investigators by night. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson founded TAPS, The Atlantic Paranormal Society, in order to fulfill their desire to find proof of paranormal activity. Using scientific equipment, the pair and their team visit locations where such activity has been reported and attempt to catch it on record.

Ghosts and “Cold Spots”

The equipment can not detect ghosts exactly, but rather is used to attempt to record the evidence of ghosts. The team uses digital thermometers, electromagnetic field scanners, digital video cameras, digital audio recorders, infrared cameras, night vision cameras, and laptop computers in an attempt to find such evidence. TAPS looks for cold spots, unusual fluxes in electromagnetism and any audible or visual proof of a haunting, with a wide variety of results.

Detecting a cold spot in a room is one thing; proving that cold spot represents a spirit from the other side is something else. Sceptics have come from all corners to blast the show and the TAPS personnel for using scientific equipment in ways for which it was not intended and for bending that use to try and prove things at the whim of the operator.

Ghost Hunter Pros

Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson are not scientists, but they do have a scientific approach to their ghost hunting. They are methodical in their efforts in assessing a report of paranormal activity and follow a fairly standard routine. They first interview the owner of the property reported to be haunted, taking notes on the reports. After discussing their approach, they use equipment to record the places where the activity is supposed to take place, attempting to goad the ghosts into action in some cases. After hours of recording and experiencing the space, they then review the tapes and sensor readings, searching for evidence.

When evidence is found, TAPS first try to debunk it. They examine each situation and ask the tough questions, trying to determine if something terrestrial could have created the evidence, such as rats in the walls producing a sound or one of their own team bumping open a door. They then review their findings with the owner and make a determination and recommendations.

Final Thoughts

Ghost Hunters is one of the most popular shows on the Sci Fi channel, in part due to the personal drama of the members of TAPS. It has sparked a great deal of debate and controversy over the evidence and methods used. Its members are not scientists but they do take a careful approach to solving unanswered questions and remains a great example of how one should conduct a study of the supernatural.

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