Paranormal Investigation 'Reality' Programmes..

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Paranormal Investigation 'Reality' Programmes..

Postby Shuggy » Thu Apr 29, 2010 5:01 pm

This is a post I made on another forum ('MH' refers to the UK programme 'Most Haunted'; Google 'Kreed Kafer' if you're unfamiliar - it's a great story!)

All the various ‘Paranormal Investigation’ programmes I have seen (I have MH mostly in mind because it was the first of that kind I saw) get the absolute basics wrong from the word ‘Go’. They are all – without exception – instantly biased towards paranormal/supernatural explanations in one way or another. From the theme music, the programme title fonts and ‘scary’ voiceovers, the whole tone of these programmes instantly suggests the supernatural.

The lack of objectivity goes deeper than that, but in many cases is disguised with ‘pseudo-science’: the producers/presenters imply that there are strange, mysterious or unexplained events that they are going to ‘investigate’, but everything is geared towards a supernatural explanation, and they seem to be assuming that the existence of ghosts is a given. If ‘ghosts’ were not a foregone conclusion, then why take a medium every time? It’s not like they go prepared to find rational explanations for any occurrences, and then call in a medium at a later date as a last resort. Which raises another problem – the producers are also assuming that mediums have scientifically proven psychic/paranormal abilities, which is far from the case. In fact the ‘Kreed Kafer’ incident on MH goes a long way to providing proof AGAINST the abilities of mediums.

One of the biggest problems I have with the objectivity of these programmes is something else that seems to be taken for granted; the investigations ALWAYS take place in darkness at night time. This might seem like a stupidly obvious thing to point out, but if you’re trying to objectively investigate a location, why do it in total darkness? Do ghosts only come out at night? Apparently not – the vast majority of these ‘ghost photos’ have been taken in broad daylight - . So is there any need to film/’investigate’ at night, beyond the theatrical?

As human animals we have a primal fear of the dark embedded within us – it’s a survival trait. As animals we are pretty useless in the dark with limited vision and poor sense of smell (only our hearing and touch become slightly more sensitive) – we make easy prey for any unseen hunters. Therefore the night has always been physically and culturally associated with fear and danger.

Then there are the physical limitations – limited vision leading to people jumping to conclusions/imagining things, or not being able to correctly identify anything seen; fear causing people to be highly over-sensitive to the slightest sound or perceived movement. Also, you have similar problems with camera equipment in the dark, and ‘night vision’ camera equipment is notorious for producing anomalies (infrared cameras attract a lot of insects which can show up as glowing, ethereal shapes that close to the lense, which accounts for a lot of ‘sightings’). And as for ‘unexplained’ or ‘ghostly’ noises at night – we all know that temperatures drop at night causing wood and structures to contract, making noises. Also, given that most of these programmes are filmed in old houses which can have a whole host of reasons for making strange noises, especially at night, why make the job more complicated by filming at night?

Bearing all the above in mind, the confirmation bias adds up pretty quickly: You put a presenter of a show geared towards ‘investigating’ ghosts (which they are pre-disposed to believe in) into a house they are told is ‘haunted’, in the pitch black of night, with a theatrical medium, there is no way you can expect objectivity.

What we need is a ‘Mythbusters’ type approach, using the scientific method wherever possible, but retaining entertainment value. A suggest format could be:

Pick a Location

Once a suitable location is decided upon, research it; but research it objectively. Examine all the ‘ghost stories’ surrounding the location, but then research how much truth is in these stories, giving priority to the weight of evidence.

This is fairly easy to do, and I have done it myself: ‘The Thing of 50 Berkeley Square’ apparently the most haunted house in London. Here is the most popular ‘version’ (I’ll get back to that) of the story:
The problem is, once you start digging into the ‘facts’ of the story, you turn up the following:

There is no record of a ‘Sir Robert Warboys’ outside of stories connected to 50 Berkely Square.
There is no record of ‘Warboys Hall’ in Bracknell.
A knighthood being awarded to a 20 year old would be an extremely rare and thus noteworthy event. There is no recorded mention of it.

In fact, in some versions of the story, Sir Robert Warboys does not exist; he is an unnamed nobleman, or replaced with a Capt Kentfield/Raymond/Kerwick, but the story is exactly the same.

Straight away one of the most famous ‘hauntings’ in England is looking shaky.

Then onto:

Physical Investigation.

Go to the location in the daytime, if practical. Stay there; film there – conduct the investigation just as you would at night, but interview any relevant people in the location, or if it is a public location, ask them what (if anything) they know about the location.

At night time, spend a few hours sleeping normally – if possible – with lights on and cameras covering the room – if it can be seen in the light by a human eye, it can be seen by a normal camera. If it can’t – it’s not real. After this, spend a few hours investigating the location with all the lights on, then repeat the entire process with the lights off. Then contrast and compare and draw conclusions.

One thing to remember – Just as UFO doesn’t equal ‘alien’, neither does ‘unexplained’ equal ‘supernatural’.

Does anyone else have any suggestion for an objective Paranormal Investigation programme?
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Re: Paranormal Investigation 'Reality' Programmes..

Postby TomCotton » Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:01 pm

I know someone that believes all of that stuff on the TV about ghost investigations. It does no good to explain all about the clever editing and the other stuff you point out in your post, along with the bogus instruments and misuse of actual instruments that goes on.

It is so easy to make a startled movement and ask "What was that?!!" in a way to convince someone that something extraordinary has happened.
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