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Jason Hawes, Where Art Thou?

This is a guest post by William Collins.

How many things can the typical skeptic get wrong on a vast subject on which they deny exists? Can you deny arithmetic exists because you’ve never studied for a math test? Do you tell people there’s no such thing as an elephant just because you’ve never been to a zoo?

The documentation of paranormal activity in the media is a weird and wonderful thing. We either get witness accounts of paranormal accounts over-dramatized and needlessly exaggerated in movies like “The Amityville Horror” and “The Conjuring” or condensed and watered-down in TV-series like “A Haunting” and “Unsolved Mysteries,” but then we get shows like “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures” which show different people using different hunting techniques and getting different levels of proof. The differences are there: “Ghost Hunters” is straight, serious and diligent in its efforts to look for the truth. Meanwhile, “Ghost Adventures” is fun, animated and sometimes irreverent as it searches for proof.

In the sidelines, we have programs like “The Dead Files” which treat hauntings like procedural crime dramas, and “Ghost Lab” and “Haunted Encounters” documenting experienced researchers employing new and creative experiments to contact the spirits of the dead.

However, for all these series, we have skeptics going “Fake, fake, fake, fake, fake…” like the needle skipping on a vinyl record without any sort of logical opinion or credible reason.

All I know is, when you ask them to elaborate, they are unable to come up with one point that indicates the documentation was hoaxed. In fact, skeptics are noteworthy for being belligerent and even obnoxious in their “proof” that there are no such thing as ghosts, but let’s look closer at some of their wild claims and comments.

“Everyone knows there’s no such thing as ghosts.”

Just who qualifies as “everyone?” because a CBS poll in 2005 revealed 48% over 45% of people believed in ghosts, and women are more likely to say they believe in ghosts than are men. 56 percent of women believe while 38 percent of men do. More than half of younger Americans aged 18 to 45 believe in ghosts; those over 45 are less likely. Also, women are about twice as likely as men to say they’ve seen a ghost. More than one-quarter of younger Americans under 45 say they have encountered one; those over 45 are much less likely to say this.

While skeptics deny the existence of ghosts, claiming there’s no real evidence, polls and surveys have shown the public strongly disagrees. Of the 1,000 adults interviewed, a HuffPost/YouGov poll revealed 45 percent believe in ghosts, or that the spirits of dead people can come back in certain places and situations. When asked if they believe in a life after death, 64 percent responded yes. While 59 percent of adults don’t believe they’ve ever actually seen a ghost, 43 percent also don’t think that ghosts or spirits can harm or interact with living people.

There’s never been any evidence that ghosts exist.”

Well, if you consider more than a thousand hours of footage and audio tapes and enough photos to fill a library as nothing….

The truth is that paranormal investigations working several years apart and several miles distant have discovered amazing similarities in cases to suggest that a similar phenomenon that we do not understand has happened and continues to happen. Even if you stick your head in the dirt and pretend to go deaf, dumb and blind to ignore all the photos and recordings, there is more than sustainable evidence of an activity “that is yet to be explained.” Most paranormal teams to tell the truth don’t go looking for “ghosts” – they go looking for the truth, often exposing and discovering logical explanations for unique events, but still finding unexplained events and odd phenomenon that defy explanation. Bottom line: there is a large volume of photos, sightings, recordings, experiences and data that suggests that there is an existing phenomenon that cannot be explained. Even if you ignore the most uneducated rubes claiming activity, there are a vast number of credible intelligent witnesses reporting events that they cannot explain.

Only people who believe in ghosts ever see ghosts.”

If that was even remotely true then we would have proof years ago! How many times has a witness stated, “I never believed in ghosts until…?” I have never heard anyone say, “I used to believe in ghosts until….”

The truth of the matter is that smart intelligent people who don’t believe in ghosts ranging from heads of state, doctors, lawyers, scientists and teachers have experienced activity “that they could not explain.” In fact, it is increasingly difficult for believers to get activity to occur on cue. A decent researcher can quickly debunk even the simplest activity, but that still leaves 10 to 15% of cases where activity has been recorded that cannot be explained. Even though we can’t prevent the most uneducated and itinerant from making reports, there are enough educated and rational witnesses to drown them out.

“If I saw ghosts in my house, I’d be out the same day.”

Oh, skeptics love this excuse to berate witnesses. The concept is that if your house is haunted, why would you stay or why did you stay so long? It’s like the first conclusion on the prelude to a hoax theory, but the truth is that human beings are more intelligent and inquisitive than you expect, sometimes even distracted, and contrary to the “Casper” cartoons, people do investigate strange noises and sights and often pass on them. It is usually until the activity becomes hard to ignore, anywhere from a few months to more than a year, that an intelligent home-owner might choose to start steering toward, “I’m starting to wonder if this place might be haunted.” Meanwhile, the uneducated that have been force-fed over fifty years of Hollywood horror movies are under the misconception that ghosts start from Day-One to try and drive you out of the house. The major bane of any paranormal researcher is that ghosts don’t perform on cue, and as much as you prefer to believe it, there is no such thing as a mass hallucination. If eleven people watch the exact same figure cross before them, guess what? They’re likely explaining something they saw but can’t explain.

You saw a ghost? Oh, well, I saw a leprechaun.”

People have a right to be as obnoxious and uneducated as they want to be. You can’t stop the ignorant from showing their contempt to things about which they just don’t want to learn anything relevant. Only an educated person is going to know the difference between the “legendary” and the “mythological.” One has a fossil record, the other has an oral history. However, a paranormal history of sightings stretches back to the Roman Empire and covers practically every civilization on Earth along with a strong record of evidence consisting of photos, recordings, witness accounts and scientific anomalies. Can you say the same thing for leprechauns?

The Amityville Horror was proven to be a hoax.”

Uh, actually, it was never properly researched. The hoax claims were all derived from the book Jay Anson wrote that was based on the true stories on the Lutz family’s experiences and further embellished by the creators of the movies, but beyond the Warrens in March 1976 and Hans Holzer in January 1977, a serious scientific investigation has never been performed. The movie was a hoax based on actual accounts, but the actual stories of the Lutz family have never been truthfully been told. In fact, Ronnie Defeo never reportedly said “voices made him do it” until long after the movie came out and became a success. The Lutzes never received a dime from the movie franchise, but DeFeo’s lawyer did try to use the publicity to start an insanity plea after the fact.

So, if you don’t want to believe in ghosts, I don’t care, but at least do some research on the field you’re attacking before making up your own ridiculous conclusions.

William Collins
William C. Uchtman has spent much of life listing haunted locales from across the world. He is the author of “Volunteer Ghosts,” a book dedicated to listing obscure haunted houses in Tennessee. He is also the creator of the Collinsport Ghost Society website (The Collinsport Ghost Society, a fictional ghost society for fictional haunted locations from television and the movies. He also maintains or is affiliated with the following websites: * The Nitpicker Society for Dark Shadows * The Official Guide to the Mythological Universe * Unsolved Mysteries Wikia * The Our Gang Wikia * The Marvel Appendix

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