The new season of Ghost Hunters Academy started last week, and while I really don’t watch any of the “spinoffs” of Ghost Hunters, I happened to catch it in a rerun late Sunday night (or rather, early Monday morning…thanks, insomnia). And like most things TAPS has been doing for the past 4 years or so, it made me angry. I appreciate everything Ghost Hunters has done for the field of paranormal investigations. But I also despise TAPS for everything they’ve done for the field of paranormal investigations. Sure, they brought attention to the field of serious and scientific paranormal investigations. Before they went on the air, all we had were things like Most Haunted. In the first season, TAPS brought a sensibility to the field that was sorely lacking. They brought, most importantly, level-headedness and skepticism. In the first season or so of Ghost Hunters, good evidence was hard to find. Jason would hardly ever call a location “haunted.” And even the best evidence was left in the “we don’t know what it is” category. Flash forward a few years, and now every little bump or sound is an amazing EVP! Everyone has personal experiences, every week. Which are presented to the client as evidence. Guest hosts abound. Residential cases are largely ignored in favor of commercial clients. “We’re here to help.” Yeah, you’re here to help the business attract customers since they were on a nationally broadcast cable show. I’m not the only one who’s a little fed up with Ghost Hunters and the spinoffs. E! Onlline takes some jabs at them too:
In 2004, after a paranormal experience he won’t discuess, Roto-Rooter plumber Jason Hawes created the Syfy channel show Ghost Hunters. Who knows what dark, evil mass inspired him, but now—like an aged carny handing down his tricks—the clean-domed spook chaser is training new recruits in Ghost Hunters Academy. It’s not an easy job. There’s a reason it’s not called Ghost Catchers.
Hang on. There are a couple more tips that really help if you want to see ghosts:
1. Be delusional.
2. Get thwacked out of your mind on hallucinogens.
3. Make sure you’re a plumber who wants a reality show and are willing to make a complete idiot out of yourself to get it.
They also include a video clip, from the season premier of Ghost Hunters Academy, and Jason talks about the 5 qualities of TAPS members that are super-important to him. Watch the video, and I’ll dissect each point.
1. Skepticism – look for any explanation other than paranormal: Ok, how does Jason even say this with a straight face anymore? Oh yeah, huge paychecks from SyFy. These days, TAPS assumes everything is a ghost or paranormal. Every EVP. Every little spike in the EMF detector. Every time a flashlight blinks. They used to try to debunk things like that, and very rarely do so anymore.
2. Technical knowledge -master the equipment and know how to interpret the readings: Really Jay? So why do your seasoned investigators think that an EMF reading of 1.9 is “high” and therefore, possibly a ghost? Background EMF readings can get into the 2.5 range and even a bit higher. Why is a loose battery cap on a flashlight, making intermittent contact with the batteries and thus causing the light to flicker on and off, interpreted as communication from the spirit world?
3. Honesty: Ok, I have first hand knowledge about TAPS and their “honesty.” I will blog about this specifically in the future, but let’s just say that Ghost Hunters did an episode where they investigated a place that my former group investigated twice, before TAPS ever got there. In the episode, they say that this location called them in because they needed help. False. The producers of the show called this location asking if they could investigate, probably after seieng my group featured on TV investigating it. They then asked this client to lie, on camera, about some experiences that happened in the past, specifically changing the story from “another paranormal team” found this to “some kids” found this. Way to be scientific and fair, TAPS. Jason then decides to debunk said evidence, and when the client tries to explain how Jason’s explanation isn’t correct at all, that gets cut out of the episode. Lies of omission are still lies, guys. Not really very honest of you, Mr. Hawes.
4. Composure: Brian’s “Dude, run!” Steve getting scared out of his skin by a spider on almost every episode. Steve and Tango daring each other to do ridiculous things, on camera, for money, at a client location. This is composure? This is serious investigating? No, this is reality TV and ratings and advertising dollars.
5. Patience – because paranormal activity doesn’t always happen on cue: Well, not the first season anyway. And not for most of the real, hard working, serious paranormal groups out there. But nowadays, for TAPS at least, paranormal activity does happen on cue. Usually right before each commercial break.
And lastly, to address the claim in E!’s article that Jason has a paranormal story he won’t share, that’s not entirely true. He didn’t share it for free on TV. But if you buy his book, “Ghost Hunting: True Stories of Unexplained Phenomena from The Atlantic Paranormal Society” for $15.00, you can read all about it.