Josh Murphy of Rocket City Paranormal wrote a neat post on his Life of a Ghost Hunter blog earlier this week: Paranormal TV show explosion! Not only did he plead with people to understand that all the ghost hunting shows on TV are for entertainment purposes only, he called out a group that charges for investigations. Awesome!
Last year I wrote extensively about how I felt regarding ghost hunting TV shows. (See “The NY Times Takes on Ghost TV Shows.” It contains links to many of the posts.) I was pretty disheartened at the turn many seemed to be taking. (ie. The turn Josh notes: more for ratings than obtaining real results or conducting actual research.)
Also, I was concerned about the wrong ideas they give people. Josh talked about some of the wrong ideas people get, like:
- There are career opportunities and money to be made from paranormal investigations.
- Ghosts are everywhere.
- Investigations are very exciting and always turn up results.
Really, it’s the opposite. Unless you’re in the entertainment side of things. Then, yes, you can make a career that earns you money based on the paranormal. And all the fame and interacting with the fans has to be pretty exciting. But the money they make is not from people paying them to come investigate a property. It’s from sponsors, endorsements, speaking and appearance fees, etc.
Okay, so ghost hunting shows have given some the wrong impressions. However, besides entertainment (because they are entertaining if you just take them that way. Watching Ghost Adventures is absolutely one of my favorite guilty pleasures.), have they contributed anything positive?
I say yes.
- Shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures let viewers be armchair travelers and see places they might never get to visit for themselves.
- Shows like the ones named in the bullet point above also teach history. For instance, before I saw it on Ghost Hunters I never knew tuberculosis had ever been an epidemic requiring hospitals like Waverly Hills.
- As I alluded to earlier in the post, paranormal TV shows have been great for paranormal tourism. Even I’ve put places on my list of places I’d like to Haunt Jaunt to after seeing them on TV. (Like the Lemp Mansion. I saw it on one of the Travel Channel’s haunted places specials. I was very excited when I finally made it there for myself!)
- One of Syfy’s newest shows, Fact or Faked, is a great teaching tool. It teaches people how to be skeptical and ways to debunk supposed proof. And they use the most popular viral evidence to do it. I appreciate why Autumnforest of Ghost Hunting Theories holds the show in such high regard. (BTW, she wrote an excellent post about the show and even got to interview Ben Hansen. I highly recommend checking it out.)
So, yes, there is a shady side to paranormal TV. I’m in no way, shape or form disputing that.
But, like with anything, you can’t have shade without a little sunshine too. If you look for it, you’ll find that paranormal TV shows offer that also.