A couple of years ago, I wrote about one of the dark sides of the “Ghost Hunters” effect: lockouts. No, not something Ghost Adventures has made famous, which is lock downs.
Rather, lock outs occur when a paranormal investigation group, show, or ghost tour company signs a contract with a site giving them exclusive access to it. No other groups, shows, or tour companies are granted access.
In the case of the ghost tour company, it’s good for their business. Other tours can’t hone in on their territory. For instance, I was hellbent that the day in Key West on the Halloween Cruise included Robert the Doll. The Ghosts and Gravestones Tour of Key West has exclusive access to the East Martello Fort where Robert the Doll currently lives. (Luckily they are willing to do a special day tour for us, because I really want to see Robert the Doll!)
But just how ethical is such an arrangement?
Again, in the case of a business trying to make money, exclusivity behooves their bottom line. If all tours were going to the same place, especially one of the most popular haunted places in town, the company willing to fork out the biggest advertising bucks will end up winning. Why? Because people will associate it with them being the best tour.
Exclusive contracts actually help stimulate fair competition. Unless there’s only one haunted game in town. We’ll get to that in the cons.
When it comes to exclusive contracts with investigation groups? Again, I can see how it benefits a business. They have a set group they can count on to be their in-house ghost hunt team leading events and such.
As far as the group itself is concerned, it benefits them to claim a site as “theirs.” They get to develop a relationship with the people who run, own, or occupy it, and become an authority figure on the place.
But when it comes to truly benefiting what might be found at the site, does it do more harm than good?
Key West has loads of haunted places. It’s not as much of a problem for a tour company to set up business in a place with many distinguished haunts. There’s enough to go around. In fact, for hard core ghost enthusiasts multiple tours offer a chance to experience multiple places.
However, even that creates problems. If tourists only visit for a set amount of time, how many ghost tours can they really take? Often they have to pick and choose. More popular haunted venues will win out. Less popular ones can still compete, but how many of those get overflow clients from the more popular one because of tours being booked up? That can happen where there’s an imbalance in quality haunted sites.
Also, this can create a competition for recognition as a most haunted place, which could lead to exaggerations of accounts of paranormal activity, or all out falsifying of photos and such (as was the case in the Barwon Ghost Girl Debacle and faked ghost photo on Edinburgh Ghost Tour.)
As far as investigation groups, exclusivity hurts any real research trying to be accomplished. There really isn’t room for competition amongst groups, even though it’s rampant.
The point is not who has the better evidence. Actually, technically no one has any evidence of anything except unexplained phenomenon. EVPs are not proof of ghosts. An abnormal temperature reading is not proof of anything except an unexplained fluctuation in temperature. Until someone can prove what made that EVP take place and why, or that hot or cold spot happen, it’s not conclusive of anything.
People have lost sight of that in their quest to have captured the best “evidence” and boast about the best techniques for having done it. By limiting whom investigates where, it also limits the chance for different techniques and equipment and practices to be used that might result in new findings and progress in the field of paranormal research.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
What do you think about exclusive contracts? Are you for or against them? What pros and cons do you see? Do you think they’re ethical or not?