Ghost chaser roundup — looking more and more like a religion

The Summer is loaded with these stories about haunted places and haunted people. I’m not sure why there are so many in the news at this particular moment. It could be that The Conjuring is piquing paranormal interest. It could be that it’s just silly season and the news is slow. Here is a disturbing set of stories about very misguided ghost hunters doing an adequate job of fooling the public with scientifical nonsense.

First, this group in California just wants to help. Commendable, for sure, but going about it in the completely wrong manner.

Help for the haunted – Ukiah Daily Journal.

When Juan De Los Santos kids’ bicycles got stolen from outside his house, he put up security cameras, hoping to catch any thieves in the act the next time. But what De Los Santos caught on camera scared him much more than prowlers, as he believes the footage shows his home is being haunted. “I turned it off, I didn’t want to see anymore,” he said of the images, explaining that he immediately called a priest and asked him to come bless the house. When the blessing did not solve the problem, De Los Santos turned to paranormal investigators California Haunts, an organization founded by Charlotte Kosa and based in Sacramento.

“We’re here to help people,” said Kosa, explaining that at least four night vision cameras would be set up inside the home along with other devices designed to pick up EVP — electronic voice phenomenon — and conduct thermal imaging of the walls. A psychic was also brought along. “We keep an open mind and look at all the possibilities,” she said, adding that her team typically spends three to five hours in a home collecting evidence. “We’re very thorough.”

Why would ghosts leave a heat signature? Thorough with what? You can attempt to be impressive with cameras and gadgets and your psychic (which negates all seriousness, really), but what comes out? A story that makes the client feel good? Is it true? Is it tested? Does it have any basis in existing knowledge at all? No. It’s sham inquiry where they are finding evidence for their preconceived belief.

This group helps with historic preservation. Also commendable but sounds silly when talking about science:
Paranormal research group to hold benefit for Slate Belt Nursing and Rehabilitation Center | lehighvalleylive.com.

The Coalition Offering Research Ethics — or CORE — Phenomena Research team is hosting a benefit for the center and will feature its research tools and methods into finding and communicating with the other side, said CORE co-founder John Hotchkiss.

“What we do is real and we remain scientific about it,” Hotchkiss said.

Hotchkiss said CORE prides itself on using science, mainly physics in areas of magnetism and energy, to make a coherent picture of what could be haunting a room, Hotchkiss explained. Even though they put a lot of science into their research, there is still a level of spirituality that comes with the hobby, he said.

“You can’t go 100 percent science with this,” he said. “Physics is good, but don’t forget your religion as well.”

He either was egregiously misquoted or misunderstands science completely. This smacks of getting to the answer you want, not THE answer. If anyone says they “put a lot of science into…” something. Turn tail and walk away quickly.
Classes in ghost hunting are now very popular. What do you learn? What NOT to do in an investigation – walk around with blinking gadgets and fail to understand confirmation bias and sham inquiry.

Learn how to be a ghost hunter at Q Station | News.com.au.

Eastern States Paranormal (ESP) has been developing the experience – which gives people the chance to become ghost hunters for a night – for 18 months. Investigators Robert Koble and Anne Rzechowicz lead participants through buildings at the Q Station, reputed to be one of the most haunted sites in Australia. “We bring our equipment and teach them how to use it,” Ms Rzechowicz said. “They hold the cameras and we lead them through the experience, we teach them how to be paranormal investigators. “I don’t know of anyone else offering this kind of experience.” All video and camera footage that participants record is analysed by ESP and evidence of ghostly activity is later emailed to the group.

Don’t know anyone else? These classes are all over the place. Every paranormal group had their own instruction book. Because the premise of searching for paranormal evidence is fundamentally flawed, instruction technique is pretty worthless.

Where do people get these ideas from? Television.

Stars of ‘Ghost Hunters’ to visit Lily Dale – Dunkirk | The Observer.

Sci-Fi Channel’s ever-popular “Ghost Hunters” will highlight another season with a show on all you ever wanted to know about spotting spirits at Lily Dale. And, visitors will learn how Jason Hawes and other Atlantic Paranormal Society ghost hunters deal with ghosts, hauntings, and an entire raft of paranormal activities. The program will be staged July 20-21 with tickets required for each Saturday/Sunday event. This season Hawes will bring Steve Gonsalves to Lily Dale. Gonsalves, a high tech guru, plays an important role in ghost hunting.

There is this mistaken assumption that the more high-tech you are, the better the results and the more impressive you look doing it. Frankly, you look utterly ridiculous to those people who are aware that lights on plastic boxes bear no relationship to ghosts except for the ones that have been imagined by the user.

Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” Returns for an Unforgettable Eighth Season Premiering Friday, August 16 | TheFutonCritic.com.

For years, Travel Channel’s hit original series “Ghost Adventures” has been going where most fear to tread: the earth’s most haunted locations. Lead investigator Zak Bagans, along with co-investigators Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin, explore unexplained paranormal activity all over the world in their never-ending quest to understand ghostly phenomena.

Never-ending indeed! They claim to find evidence, it is always extremely flimsy, is not reproduced, is never vetted. They do not actually find anything. They consult no actual scientists. The field has not progressed. NONE of these researchers are doing any amount of good towards explaining haunted experiences.

All this is doing is serving as an entertaining hobby and making money for the para-celebs and TV producers. I have argued vehemently that these sorts of scripted-to-look-real fake shows are promoting a very skewed view of a scientific process and endeavor. These paranormal investigators do not really want to solve a mystery as much as they seek confirmation for their pre-existing paranormal beliefs. Go that route and you feel important, you feel special, you feel as if you have an experience that you KNOW is real and are compelled to enforce it. That’s not science. It’s religion.

I’m just going to thrown this out there… if any paranormal group would like to discuss protocol and methodology relating to scientific investigation, shoot me an email. I can help you break free of this facade of pretend science. Do you really want to solve the mystery or do you want to play Scooby Doo in the dark? Your choice.

  2 comments for “Ghost chaser roundup — looking more and more like a religion

  1. July 17, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    http://yankeeskeptic.com/2013/07/17/im-keene-for-ghosts/

    I am working on a “ghost census” of Keene NH. I read that the UK once did a “ghost census” where they tried to get the names (or stories) of every ghost in the UK. I’m not sure how it worked out, but it inspired my summer project. We are chock full of ghosts in Keene, most with a wonderful folk tale type story, or a historic event. I’m especially enjoying stories of the 2 ghost horses, Tom and Jack, that were real life fire horses (they pulled the fire wagon). To this day, they whinny and wake people up when there is a fire in Keene (sometimes). their shape also appears in the smoke! As folk tales, these are great, as reality, not so great.

  2. Michael Fritz
    July 17, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    The Lehigh Valley is becoming so full of woo merchants and spookery. Getting as bad as Gettysburg. I volunteer my time to the local ghost hunting groups as a token skeptic but as of yet to be taken up on the offer. Keep up the good work .

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