Is Ghost Hunters real? Is Ghost Hunters fake?
Those two questions brought over 1000 people to this website during September 2010, and they continue to attract visitors.
Here’s the simplest answer: No TV show is “real.” The question is how real — or fictional — it is.
I’ve discussed this topic several times. The following are the key points.
Ghost Hunters is a “reality” TV show. Reality TV is a category, like sitcoms, dramas, mysteries, and so on.
Even documentaries have an editorial slant that affects what’s in them. So, they’re not “real” either.
Live coverage of a news event might be as close to reality as anything you’ll see on TV, but even that has its limits.
Only reality is real. I’m not trying to sound clever when I say that. The truth is, if you want to see what a real ghost hunt is like, go on one.
Ghost Hunters is an entertainment show, not a ghost documentary.
So, go on a ghost hunt or investigation. I don’t mean an organized, staged, ghost-related event. I mean an actual investigation of a site that might be haunted.
(Some ghost-related events, including paid events, are actual paranormal investigations. Others are scripted like classic ghost tours, and guaranteed to provide a few laughs and chills. Usually, you know what you’re getting when you pay for your ticket.)
TV shows may represent actual ghost investigations. However, after the shows are edited, pass through the production process, and are tweaked to provide pre-commercial cliffhangers… they only vaguely represent what goes on at a real ghost investigation.
The boring stuff is left on the cutting room floor. Often, the exciting moments are enhanced to meet the viewers’ expectations: People watch ghost shows on TV to be entertained. They want a “good scare” each week, but — after a few years of watching ghost-related TV shows — the audience become more & more difficult to startle or impress.
Producers have to increase the drama by any means possible. Some have more integrity than others.
This doesn’t mean the stars of ghost-related and paranormal shows are “fake.” I know the cast members of most paranormal TV shows, and the majority are very honest people. Several have years of (unpaid) experience in paranormal research, too.
If anything was staged, they didn’t know about it… not before the show and possibly not after it. (Most don’t watch themselves on TV when the shows air.)
About 50% of TV stars seem to be exactly like they appear on their shows. That includes the Ghost Hunters franchise, Paranormal State, and so on.
The rest are very different, usually in good ways.
I didn’t expect to like Jason Hawes. In real life, he turned out to be a bright, funny, caring guy.
Another star — from another paranormal show — seemed delightful on TV. In real life, he was a jerk. There’s no polite way to say that. I won’t work with him.
I’ve met quiet TV stars of ghost shows who are practically walking encyclopedias of paranormal information. I love spending time with them.
Other stars might not recognize a ghost if it showed up as a full ghostly apparition right, three feet away, and flashed the family jewels.
Unless you know the stars personally, it’s a mistake to make any value judgments about them, based on how they’re represented on paranormal TV shows.
So, my answer to the questions like, Is Ghost Hunters real? and Is Ghost Hunters fake? is, “Neither.”
Ghost investigations usually involve tedious hours — over several days and nights — when absolutely nothing happens.
TV won’t show you that. You’d be changing the channel in a blink.
Likewise, TV producers usually edit out the ghostly encounters that don’t look great on camera, even if those experiences seemed dramatic or profound to the stars of the show. (TV can’t show you the waves of emotion that sometimes assault ghost investigators. It’d look completely staged.)
Nothing on TV is “real.” It can’t be, and still entertain people. However, some ghost hunting and paranormal shows are more “fake” than others.
My advice: Go on several real ghost investigations yourself. Then you can judge what’s real and fake on any ghost-related show, and decide if the show is credible or not.
Really, that’s a personal decision.
I’ve discussed this topic many times before. For additional insights, read the following articles from past years. They’re probably my best on this subject.
- Ghost Hunters TV Show – Fake? (about the Halloween 2008 episode)
- The ‘Fake’ Question, Revisited (December 2009 article, and my most exhaustive)
- Ghost-Hunting Reality Shows (March 2010 podcast and article)