Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why I Watch (and enjoy) Ghost Hunters

1) I love the ghost stories they hear from normal people, some of whom don't believe in ghosts, some of whom are simply frightened. Storytelling is a human talent, and ghost stories are as old as civilization.
2) I love the tech the hunters use, especially the thermal imager. I find it cool in a gadget-loving sort of way. I want a thermal camera. I have no use for it, but I want one.
3) It's fun to watch people stumble around in the dark, scaring themselves.
4) I like to figure out how the someone at the location or on the team could fake the 'evidence' they come up with. Most of it would be really easy to fake.
5) I like to watch them figure out how the evidence they gather could be faked. The efforts to duplicate conditions to repeat evidence approaches scientific thinking.
6) I like that TAPS doesn't charge for investigations, asks permission before visiting a place, and at least makes an effort to debunk hauntings rather than always declaring a place haunted.
7) TAPS has saved lives. Their presence at a lighthouse saved a couple of lost fishermen. They alerted a man to a dangerous level of toxins in his house, which he hopefully fixed. They warn people about the possible danger of high, constant electromagnetic fields (high EMFs seem to cause paranoia at the very least, which might make a haunting out of too many shadows).
8) TAPS has comforted people. They constantly tell clients at residential "hauntings" that ghosts are nothing to fear. They perform exorcisms if requested. They empower the frightened to take back their homes. They may be true believers in ghosts, but they want to help people not scare them further.

Altogether, this makes for a show I don't mind watching. Of course, there are a few problems with it. The sound is WAY overproduced. The constant background sound effects are really annoying. The investigations are way too short and never comprehensive... they are just jaunts and not scientific efforts. If you really want to investigate a place, you'd need to stay there almost constantly for at least a couple of weeks. And there is never any true control... have they ever investigated a house that had no claims of the supernatural as if it were haunted?

I do accept the possibility of ghosts. I don't know exactly what they are... whether they are human spirits, or just energy on a level we don't recognize yet, shared psychosis, or something else entirely. But too many people experience hauntings for there not to be something to them. They are part of the human condition. I'm just not sure what part they represent.