Ghost Hunters New Season Review

          Ghost Hunters: Background, history, members

Ghost Hunters is an American Paranormal Reality Television Series that premiered on October 6, 2004, on The SyFy Channel. The program features paranormal investigators Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson (Wilson left the show a year ago to pursue other interests.) who investigate places that are reported to be haunted. The two originally worked as plumbers for Roto-Router as a day job while investigating locations at night.

The current members of TAPS are:
  • Jason Hawes – lead investigator/producer/TAPS Founder
  • Adam Berry – investigator/from GHA
  • Amy Bruni – investigator
  • Steve Gonsalves – co-lead investigator
  • Britt Griffith – investigator/from GHI
  • Dave Tango – tech manager/investigator
  • K.J. McCormick – investigator
  • Haily Hawes – investigator (daughter of Jason Hawes)
  • Maddie – investigative canine
TAPS investigate locations of interest by using various electronic equipment, which they believe is capable of detecting paranormal activity.
TAPS visit and survey the property with its owners, who describe their experiences. Next, the team sets up electronic equipment in the paranormal hotspots.The team spends several days analyzing the data for evidence of paranormal activity.
 Jason and Steve discuss their findings with the site owners, offer suggestions for dealing with any activity, and answer any questions the owners may have.
The TAPS members state that they do not believe that every phenomenon captured is evidence of the paranormal. They spend most of their investigation "debunking" claims, and often provide reasonable explanations such as cold spots which may be drafty windows, strange noises that may be a thumping branch or vermin in the walls, moving objects which may have been accidentally bumped or tugged, or phantom lights which can be reflections of light from a passing vehicle.
Since the series began airing, TAPS has recorded thousands of hours of audio and video data. Most investigations, according to TAPS, turn up cold with very little, if any, paranormal activity occurring; however, the ghost hunters claim to have several recordings of moving objects, mysterious lights, strange mists, and shadowy figures that manifest before the camera and are highlighted at the end of the show.

I have been watching Ghost Hunters since the very first season. I remember my son, then only a senior in high school, telling me about these cool guys who hunt for ghosts, called TAPS. I remember thinking how cool the name was and how exciting and interesting the thought of doing this.

The show was the first of it's kind in America. It quickly became the most watched reality show on the SyFy Channel. After a few seasons, ghost hunting groups began to pop up everywhere. Websites were launched, and the hobby of paranormal investigating was born. Even though most paranormal teams refuse to give these guys the credit, they are responsible for this field becoming popular in the media. They also wrote the book on procedures, equipment and standards in the field. They grew with the times.

Each season they added new equipment, new gadgets and new team members came and went. I want to give these guys credit for doing what most groups do not do on TV...include women on the team without any distinction. They have the same function, the same job to do, and get the same amount of attention and respect as the male investigators. Kudos to you. Do the readers know how rare this is? You are the only one.

Around 2010 I began to hear grumblings about Jason and Grant; accusations of faking, or of being too big for their britches. Later on, and, especially more recently, other paranormal investigators have accused them of being boring; of not moving forward or changing with the times. To many, they became a joke, the same thing week after week. No excitement. Not enough "evidence", drama, paranormal activity.

 I have a few things to say about that. I watched the two episodes of the new season and this is what I conclude. Ghost Hunters are the real deal. They are honest. They have integrity. They do things according to protocol..always. They are careful, accurate. And they appear to be among the last of their breed. We are rapidly becoming extinct.

 They go into a place with one debunk the claims of the residents, to find a natural explanation for events and phenomena, and to document anything unexplained.   And, more often than not, they find those natural explanations. This season they kept to their roots. I noticed that the debunking was the focus and was done in front of the camera, with clear explanations of what they were doing and why.  In both episodes most phenomena reported was debunked, explained as a natural occurrence or solved.

Often, the investigators get very excited about witnessing something unusual. Later,  they find a logical explanation and they are satisfied. Personal experiences of the investigators are not presented to the clients as evidence. They are shared for what they are..personal experiences.

 In the first episode, Tango witnesses a black shadow of a figure moving from left to right, right in front of his field of vision. They try to set up circumstances to duplicate the light by driving by with headlights on, but they cannot recreate the shadow. So Tango gets excited about it. In all his years of investigating he has "never seen anything like this himself." Then he contacts the person at the screens and finds out that a car did drive by at the exact same moment that he witnessed the shadow. Now he admits that what he saw is called into question by the timing of the car. Now he will never know for sure, but it cannot be called paranormal, because questions remain. Not evidence. Oh well.

This is the correct way to investigate. This is what we are all supposed to be doing. Kudos Ghost Hunters, for sticking to your ethics, your standards, your goals as investigators.

Britt is the investigator that loves gadgets. He walks around with a heavy backpack strapped to him. He breaks out all sorts of crazy gizmos and tries them all. Shadow detectors. RemPods. Geophones. Laser grids. Motion detectors. He explains how they work and what they are detecting, how they are used.
The other investigators are more old school. They will often try things that are quite clever. One of the newer investigators from Ghost Hunters Academy poured sugar around the lip of a glass that was lip down on the table. If it moves even a hair it will move the sugar and you will be able to see that. This is the sort of thing that was done before technology.

I also really like the way this team works together. They are truly a team. No one is used as "bait". They talk to each other, run ideas past each other, check each others evidence or theories. It's very refreshing.
At no time is there talk of demons psychics, sensitives, exorcisms, dousing rods, smudging, pendulums or other occult objects or practitioners. Yes, TAPS has been known to dabble in such things on occasion, but not often. It's unusual.

Jason is usually the one to expound on a theory, no matter how weird, and explain the origins of the theory. In past episodes he has discussed elementals, fairies, leprechauns, shadow people, etc.  In this first episode they experience possible doppelganger activity. Jason explains that a doppelganger is an identical twin of a living person who shows up and takes your place. People have testified to seeing someone at a certain location, only to find out that person was somewhere else at the time. This home had many occurrences of this sort of thing. One son hears his brother calling his name, but his brother is asleep downstairs at the time. Mom is seen down stairs while being out of the house. Bad odors often accompany doppelganger activity. The smell of rotten eggs is suddenly experienced by the team while in the attic. The stories were creepy and unusual. No explanation for this one.

Ghost Hunters has attracted various critics and skeptics, such as Joe Nickell of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Skeptical Inquirer author Lynne Kelly, James Randi and Benjamin Radford. The Skeptical Analysis of the Paranormal Society (SAPS) was founded with the intent to recreate and debunk segments of the show.

According to investigator Benjamin Radford, most ghost hunting groups including TAPS make many methodological mistakes. "After watching episodes of Ghost Hunters and other similar programs, it quickly becomes clear to anyone with a background in science that the methods used are both illogical and unscientific".

Critics and skeptics rant about their non-scientific backgrounds and lack of scientific knowledge and education; their use of tools and gadgets that have no scientific proof of being accurate in detecting ghosts. I have no problem with how TAPS uses gadgets. Ghost hunting is not a science, at least not yet.  They haven't claimed it is. It's an experiment. Try things and see what happens. See if there might be a connection between high emf and paranormal experiences. See if temperature drops happen at the same time as high emf and unexplained noises caught on audio equipment. Can scientific conclusions be drawn from this? Probably not. There isn't enough data being collected and analyzed. There should be. At this point, groups like TAPS should be attempting some sort of data base, some way of collecting data and working with the scientific  community to see if there is a way to move the field into a real science.

A number of years ago, I was an investigator with a team and I suggested that we collect data regarding what time of the night we get the most EVPs on our tech equipment. After a year of collecting data, we analyze it and see if we can detect a time of night that is more active than others. The reaction from the team leaders?
Uh.. No thanks. 

I think I know why Ghost Hunters hasn't attempted to approach the scientific community.  Look at the direction to which the field is going. Observe the attitudes.  Look at the new TV shows. Go on a ghost tour with a local group or hire a relatively new paranormal investigative team and see what you get. I can tell you what you will get...psychics, orbs, smudging rituals, self-proclaimed demonologists, occult objects used to detect spirits, crazy theories and made up stories to suit the client's belief systems and stories. Charging money for a cleansing. Tours that fake phenomena like flash lights blinking on and off or K-2 meters being set off by cell phones. Outrageous fees for a ghost tour by inexperienced tour guides who don't know their history.
That's why.

I hope the whole d#@%n field burns down and we get to start over.

In the meantime, thank you, Ghost Hunters; Jason and Grant, Steve Gonsales, Dave Tango, Amy Bruni, Chris Williams, etc. For your integrity, your continued efforts to keep the field from ruin and foolishness, stemming the tide of absurdity with your excellent debunking techniques, being true to your standards, your professionalism. I doesn't make for an exciting show.  There is way less emoting and drama than Ghost Adventures. Way less "Oh My God!!!"s, way fewer demon possessions as in the Dead Files.  Way less paranormal "evidence" than Paranormal Witness. And way less abuse of your team members during a filming. Poor Aaron.  And you aren't nearly as pretty as the cast of Ghost Mines.  I have an idea...bring back Brian. "Dude...Run!!!"  

(Biographical and Historical Information on Ghost Hunters from Wikipedia sources and the SyFy Channel website.)


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