First and foremost I want I express that I am not only a believer in angels, demons and ghosts but I am also a skeptic. My skepticism doesn’t come from a lack of belief in the paranormal but from the fact that I have met many people with gifts I can’t explain as well as many absolute frauds.
Now to give you some background information about myself. I was raised in the Episcopal Church from birth until about 20 years of age. I left the church after I lost someone close to me and in seeking answers was told “God works in mysterious ways,” which just wasn’t an answer to me. I got angry and I started to doubt organized religion but never the existence of God.
I spent the next 16 years studying word religions on my own. I found several that made some sense to me, Wicca for one and Buddhism for another though none ever felt completely right. I worked as a professional psychic, reading tarot cards and people for about 7 years and had a decent sized customer base. During that time I met a lot of people who claimed to have gifts. I eventually gave up the business because I found that a large number of my clients didn’t want me to tell them what the card really said, but what they wanted to hear. I felt frustrated with this and spoke to a co-worker who said “this is how you pay your bills. If they don’t want hear what you have to say then tell them what they want to hear!” This didn’t sit well with me, not one little bit. So, I quit doing it.
When I was 36 I suffered another terrible loss and hit a bottom. I lost all faith in my own skills and I spent a lot of money looking for someone, anyone, who could tell me that my loved one still existed, someplace. Not one person ever connected with her or anyone that I could definitely identify as any of my loved ones. I couldn’t do it either and although I saw signs and thought there were messages, I doubted myself.
I also became fascinated with paranormal shows in that time. It started with Ghost Hunters (which was really the first show I ever saw that had some evidence) and as their popularity grew, other shows began to sprout up all over the television. Now, as you know, there are hundreds of shows.
Now, in order to give full disclosure, I have returned to the church of my ancestors and am planning to attend seminary shortly. This in no way has changed my few and I am, if anything, even more fascinated with paranormal research. For that reason I’ve decided to start to talk about some of these shows. While I believe that many of the people on these shows have good intentions I also think that there is a lot of misinformation and harmful information given to the general public on a regular basis by the mediums and investigators on some of these shows. I hope to address these problems in my reviews and blogs of each show that I encounter. Since this fascination (at least the full blow side of it) started with the original Ghost Hunters show, and T.A.P.S. in general, let’s start there!
Ghost Hunters (and at times various spin-offs) airs on the SYFY channel and has been on for 10 seasons now. Of all the shows this is the one I’d call if I were to find myself living with a haunting. Not only were they one of the first shows on TV but they are also, in my opinion, one of the most reputable—though there are several ex-cast members who claim that they are not always truthful—but they are certainly the most professional.
First they have good equipment with knowledgeable techs to man it. My only complaint here is that they are slow to add new tech and shy away from things that most other paranormal teams take for granted now, like the Spirit Box for instance.
Second they have a “prove it” attitude. In the beginning it was not uncommon to have a whole show where they found no hauntings, though this has changed from season to season. More importantly you almost NEVER see them run screaming from evidence unlike other investigators on other popular shows.
They do not use sensitives of any kind (though some of their staff has claimed those abilities elsewhere) and they work solely based on what hard evidence (video, evp, etc) that they find. I think this is a two edge sword though. I see nothing wrong with using sensitives as long as they are not the only source of information and especially when information they give is later supported with research evidence.
For the most part their crew has been consistent though there seems to be a frequent turnover in staff over the last several seasons. They almost never say the word demon which I think makes them unusual at this point. It’s important to use words like that sparingly because, while I do believe in demonic oppression and hauntings, I do NOT believe it’s as common as some other shows imply or outright state.
The most important thing about this show is that they NEVER leave a client feeling frightened or helpless, even when they confirm a haunting. They put the power into their client’s hands or they put them in touch with someone who can help. This and this alone is the number one reason why I give Ghost Hunters a thumbs up.
My biggest problem with this show is that over the years they have developed a more “Hollywood” feel in the way they report. I also find that they are less likely to say “No Haunting” than they were in the early seasons even when they find much less evidence than would have been expected in the earlier seasons. I suspect this happens for one of two reasons; either they get called for the better cases now or they are trying to make their television execs happy. There are also the rumors—outright accusations actually—from people who left the show that evidence is faked or enhanced. Although to be fair many of those seem to be based around personality conflicts with the Co-Founder, Producer and Lead Investigator, Jason Hawes. I am suspicious when someone is “let go” and then makes these accusations rather than leaving publicly for these reasons. The personality conflicts were seen in some of the early seasons as well but seems to have become a regular issue for crew members, but hey I’ve never been a member of a large group of people where at least one person didn’t rub everyone else the wrong way (usually me)! For this reason I cannot put stock on the rumors, though they could certainly be true they also could be the invention vindictive ex-employees.
As with all paranormal shows, I am suspicious when investigations are at businesses because without a doubt a “proven haunting” increases business in this day and age. It should be a fast and clear rule that businesses are not promoted in a paranormal shows but I cannot see that happening any time soon.
In the end, Ghost Hunters and T.A.P.S. gets 4 out of 5 Ghosties from me.
**Photo credit, SYFI Channel, Ghost Hunters