Ghost Hunters TV Show – Fake?

“Is Ghost Hunters TV show a fake?” “Are the Ghost Hunters fake?” “Did TAPS fake their Halloween 2008 show?”

Grant's jacket tuggedStarting the first of November, 2008, the emails poured in. Each of them asked me questions like those.

I was going to ignore them, but similar emails continued to flood my in-box.

So, here’s my answer.

I’ve looked at the Ghost Hunters TV show footage on YouTube and studied it frame-by-frame.  I also listened closely to the audio, where a voice clearly says, “You’re not supposed to be here.”

Here’s my analysis.

“YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE”

That voice is alarmingly clear.  During my own ghost hunts, I’ve never heard anything that audibly crisp or like someone was right there, saying it.

Then again, I rarely hear things audibly when I’m conducting research.  I rarely capture any EVP, either.

Audio is not one of my stronger areas.

However, Jason and Grant have documented increasingly clear EVPs during their research.

In my experience, this seems to be a skill — perhaps related to rapport with the spirits — and most ghost researchers improve as they investigate a variety of sites.

So, while this was a very unusual and audible voice, I think it’s possible in a profoundly haunted setting… and that’s what they chose for their Halloween 2008 show.

Also, at Jason’s MySpace blog, he pointed out that the voice was so clear, he asked if someone had said anything.

(If anything irks me about Jason, it’s that he tends to be aggressively skeptical.  This show was no exception.)

Likewise, it looked to me as if Grant was asking the producers if they were in the wrong location… if they weren’t actually supposed to be where they were at that moment.

So, I don’t think that Jason, Grant or the TAPS team faked the voice.  I also trust the integrity of the SciFi channel.

There are other, natural explanations, but I don’t think that Jason, Grant or the SciFi channel set this up.

GRANT’S JACKET PULLED

The second controversial moment was the tug on Grant’s jacket… if it was that.

If you watch the video, frame by frame, you’ll see that the collar moves oddly just before Grant stumbles backwards.

However, the fishing line explanation doesn’t work.  I’d expect to see the line highlighted by the cameras, or a shadow on the wall when the cameras moved in.  It’s possible to do that on a recorded show, and use CGI to cover it.

However, on a live show, the production company couldn’t take that chance.

Here’s a bigger problem with the fishing line explanation: Grant’s jacket was open at the neck.  If line had pulled on his jacket enough to throw him off balance, it would have jerked the neck opening of the jacket as it pulled him backwards, slightly choking him.

In my opinion, Grant perceived it as just his jacket, but he was actually forced backwards by something else.  The only visual manifestation — besides Grant stumbling — was the movement at the collar a split second before he stepped backwards.

I can’t explain what happened.  I have no idea, and can’t even guess.

Strange things occur in haunted places.  That’s one reason we keep investigating them: We’re looking for explanations, but we often leave with more (and new) questions than answers.

The jacket tug baffles me.

NOT ENOUGH REACTION?

Several people have claimed that Grant’s body language, tone of voice, or other cues “give away” that he was faking the whole thing.

That’s not very good evidence of a hoax.

Anyone who has been on real ghost hunts knows that we get used to odd things happening. The “usual” anomalies stop surprising us after awhile. (This may be another reason why the manifestations become increasingly dramatic around experienced ghost hunters.)

But, if you’ve been with me on ghost hunts that turn dramatic — for example, with doors slamming repeatedly, or windows opening and closing on their own — you’ve seen me sigh and mutter, “I wish they wouldn’t do that.  It’s really annoying.”

Things that scare other people don’t even surprise experienced ghost hunters, after we’ve encountered the phenomena enough times.

So, it’s a mistake to judge the authenticity of phenomena because an experienced ghost hunter doesn’t seem startled enough.

We just don’t startle as easily as someone with less ghost hunting experience.

Grant’s reaction (or lack of it) doesn’t prove anything.

A MATTER OF INTEGRITY

Jason and Grant are my friends.  I’ve spent a lot of time with them. We’ve chatted over breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and at events and parties.  We used to exchange emails when something was of mutual concern.

In general, Grant is very honest. Usually, he looks you straight in the eye when he talks with you.

But, I have to qualify that, because I feel that Grant deliberately misled me during one conversation.

It was not an outright lie. It was something personal and had nothing to do with ghost hunting. It was about a part of the country where we’d both lived, briefly, and how he described why he was there.

A year or so later, when the truth became obvious, I asked him about it. So far, he hasn’t replied.

No, I never expected a detailed explanation. I just wanted him to admit he’d misled me, so I could say, “Sure, I get it. Just don’t do that again, okay?”

We haven’t spoken since then. I’m sad about that, because I admire him tremendously as a researcher and as a talented artist.

But, in terms of ghost hunting, I have no reason to question Grant’s integrity.

I like Jason, but he can seems an almost incorrigible skeptic.  If anything, he’s likely to trivialize evidence that the rest of us point to as proof of a haunting.

It seems absurd to think that he’d be part of a hoax. That’d be completely out of character. During an investigation – in real life – he’s the first person to be skeptical and often the loudest.

Sure, Jason has a very dry wit, but he would never compromise his own integrity as a ghost hunter, the integrity of the TAPS team, or the Ghost Hunters TV show.  That’s not his style.

If you’ve met him in real life or listened to him talk at any conference, you know that he’s rock-solid honest.

If the show’s production company said, “We want you to fake this,” Jason would reply, “I’d quit rather than do that.”

And, he would.

On the show, I can’t think of any reason for Grant and Jason to compromise their integrity.  None whatsoever.

DID IT HAPPEN?

It’s true.  Some very odd things seemed to happen during the Ghost Hunters TV show on Halloween 2008.

Could they have been faked?

Yes, the voice might have come from a very well hidden microphone.  But — if that voice was part of a hoax — I’m confident that Jason, Grant and the SciFi channel weren’t aware of it.

I wasn’t there to know what direction the voice came from, and what it was like. All I can evaluate is what I saw on the Ghost Hunters TV show… and frankly, that’s not enough information for me to judge.

I’ve said it often: It’s a mistake to judge what is (and isn’t) a real haunting, a real ghost photo or real EVP  unless you were there.

The incident with Grant’s jacket is another issue altogether.  It couldn’t have been faked without Grant’s knowledge.

All in all, I trust Jason and Grant.  They say that they didn’t fake anything on the show, and I believe them.

But, I’m also aware that many people like a “good scare” on Halloween, and — starting the very next morning — they want to assure themselves that the whole thing wasn’t real, and scary things don’t wait for them in the darkness.

I think they’re the loudest detractors of the Halloween 2008 Ghost Hunters TV show.

I have nothing to prove, one way or the other. My opinion is: I saw no evidence of a hoax in that TV series.

Halloween’s Over… Now What?

Ghosts linger after Halloween night - keep investigating!Halloween is over. What’s next…?

Many people figure they won’t go ghost hunting again until the warm weather returns.

They’re likely to might miss a great opportunity.

Some of the most dramatic hauntings I’ve encountered were after Halloween night. The crowds have gone home, but the ghosts linger.

Ghost hunting doesn’t start (or stop) at Halloween.  October 31st isn’t a binary, on/off switch.

In fact, increased ghostly activity generally continues through the first week of November, and sometimes later. (Personally, I think paranormal “prime time” extends at least until November 15th.)

So, continue your outdoor investigations – especially at haunted cemeteries, battlefields, and hiking trails – until the weather is too cold.

HATE THE COLD? PLAN A SOUTHERN VACATION

Of course, not every area is bitterly cold in November.

For example, in some parts of the U.S., cooler temperatures mean greater outdoor ghost hunting opportunities. New Orleans’ French Quarter and Metairie cemeteries come to mind, immediately.

Also, when I investigated Texas haunts, the drier winter air reduced the chance of false orbs in photos. An added bonus: in winter, our team usually encountered fewer bugs, snakes and other annoyances.

In Florida, theme parks may have great ghost stories… if they admit to them, that is. (When you ask, phrase your questions carefully. Ask as if it’s all in fun. Avoid anything that might seem ghoulish.)

The Haunted Mansion at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is a wonderful place to get “in the spirit” of ghost hunting.

Also, ask cast members about “George,” who might haunt the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop and attraction.

Universal Studios’ theme parks have a couple of ghost stories. One of them is completely false. At least one other has some credibility. Verify these kinds of stories before looking for ghosts.

(Remember, theme parks take pride in their safety precautions. So, when you hear a terrible ghost story at a theme park, it’s probably fake.)

In the South in general, look for the oldest neighborhoods, the oldest cemeteries, battlegrounds and parks steeped in history. You’ll find plenty with great ghost stories.

I can personally vouch for the ghosts of Houmas House, and it’s a fun place to tour, anyway.

While many Southern locations can be crowded during the summer vacation months, they’re often blissfully quiet in winter.

IN COLDER CLIMATES

If your home is in the chilly north, don’t despair. You have options.

As the weather turns chilly, combine an outdoor investigation with an indoor one.  Start your evening with an outdoor research site. Then, when temperatures drop, investigate a second site, indoors.

For example, let’s say you’d like to combine ghost hunting and skiing in northern New Hampshire (USA).

You might start with a roadside marker like the Roger’s Rangers marker at Haverhill, NH. That’s a grim story and – as far as I know – the area hasn’t been thoroughly investigated. I’d expect some great EVP there.

From there, you’re about 30 minutes from the Norwich Inn. It can be a fascinating place to investigate with many credible ghost stories.

And, if you’re ready for skiing the next day, several ski resorts are within a short drive, including the Dartmouth Skiway.

Starting in November, many haunted hotels and B&Bs wish they’d had more Halloween publicity for their ghosts.  They may be eager to welcome you, especially if you might visit regularly or tell others about their ghosts.

MORE COLD WEATHER OPPORTUNITIES

Here are additional tips for continuing your investigations, no matter what the weather.

Haunted house in cold weatherLook for haunted theatres, hotels, restaurants, museums and haunted houses. Some may be busy during the holiday season. Others might be desolate, and perfect for a full investigation.

Wherever you go, ask people if they’ve heard any ghost stories nearby, or if they’ve ever encountered a ghost.

(In some areas, you’ll be overwhelmed with personal stories about living in haunted houses. Ask if you can investigate them.)

Don’t forget to investigate around Christmas, too. It can be more haunted than you expect.

Review last year’s investigations.  Re-read your notes, review your photos and EVPs, and see which sites should be revisited for more research.

Plan the upcoming year.  Include a ghost hunt at one location you’ve been planning to visit, but haven’t investigated yet.  If it’s a popular location, make your travel reservations now.

Research other locations using new and popular ghost-related books.

Also study 19th century histories of your vicinity, looking for references to ghost stories, haunted places and other paranormal phenomena.

Practice using your ghost hunting tools.  The better you understand them, and the easier it is for you to use them in the dark, the more you’ll be able to observe during future ghost investigations.

If it’s warm enough, resume outdoor investigations around April 30th.  In many cultures, that’s a night when – like Halloween – the ghosts walk among us.  Discover Walpurgisnacht (or Walpurgis Night) traditions and make the most of them on this second eerie and magical night for spirits.

Ghost hunting doesn’t stop at Halloween. If you’re enthusiastic about paranormal research, you’ll find plenty of investigation sites during the colder months.