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