The new horror film “Paranormal Activity 3″ features another set of amateur ghost hunters trying to document evidence of paranormal activity through the use of home video cameras.
It’s all good fun for spooky cinematic scares. But what about in the real world?
Between one-third and one-half of Americans believe in ghosts, and that belief motivates many to look for evidence of the paranormal. Researcher Sharon Hill of the Doubtful Newsblog counted about 2,000 active amateur ghost hunting groups in America. Almost all of them are patterned directly after the hit SyFy TV show Ghost Hunters, which is now in its eighth season of failing to find good evidence of ghosts.
Despite the efforts of thousands of real-life ghost hunters over the past decade, the evidence for ghosts has not improved.
Credit: Ben Radford
Yeah, the 2000 number may be low as discussed in the comments to the article. This time of year, every community seems to have their own ghost hunting team because they are simple to set up – no experience needed. That should tell you something; self-styled researchers untrained in science are attempting to collect evidence of a phenomena that has eluded scientists for over a century. It’s not going to be convincing.
And, thanks for the plug, Ben! More on amateur research groups can be found at the Doubtful website here and a future article in Skeptical Inquirer. You can read about how people fall for the sciencey-ness of paranormal researchers in two posts I did for Culture of Science blog.