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T.V. vs Reality


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#1 Robbi

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 06:27 PM

One of the most common things I get when I talk to people about being with a local paranormal investigation group is questions of comparison to television shows like “T.A.P.S.” and “Most Haunted”. Usually the question is something like “are you like those guys on T.V. from that show?” More often than not I give them the standard answer of “yes and no”.

Why this answer? Shows like those stated above as well as others are indeed a good reference for smaller outfits like ours. It gives us the opportunity to see new methods and as well as new devices (sometimes not so new devices, just new ways to use them). It is a reference on procedure when using these techniques and devices effectively. They also show the wide variety of types of people that share the same interests and passion of learning as much as can be learned in one field, that of the paranormal, specifically life after death.

The biggest positive these shows have had on society is exposure to the real existence of ghosts. One of my colleagues who has been doing investigations in one form or another for many years told me once that there seems to be a big increase in paranormal activity. The last five years or so he has seen a big rise in reports on sightings, cold spots, weird noises and all manner of events that have ties to ghosts or ghost related events. After a bit of thinking on this I came to a conclusion that activity in the paranormal has not increased, but people’s awareness of what to look for has. They know a little better about whether to accept a strange noise as normal house noise or something else. As well, those that have had multiple experiences, but never say anything for fear of ridicule, realize they are not as alone as they thought. That is due mainly to these shows. Anyone who may have been sitting on the fence as to whether they believe or not would get a little more aware of the possibility of the existence of ghosts after watching a couple of episodes.

I like to compare it to two things in our history that followed the same route. First is sports, with more T.V. cameras at more sporting events it is hard for anything to happen without it getting recorded. People used to say that referees in football are missing more infractions than they did as recent as say twenty years ago. Through the miracle of instant replay, people at home can see the same play over and over, in super slow motion as well as different angles. Referees only get to see it once, at regular speed and at only the angle at which they are standing. So in reality, they number of penalties have probably stayed consistent, it is just our exposure that has increased. The second thing I would compare peoples exposure to the paranormal is war. As far back as WWI and WWII, war was thought of as an adventure. A romantic journey for our young men, travelling to different countries all over the world to fight evil. Even as far back as the Korean War to a lesser extent, it wasn’t until Vietnam when more and more cameras were being used both in the field as well as at airports, when the bodies of those who have fallen in battle would come home, then that same footage would then get broadcast across the country in time for the 6 o’clock news that everybody realized just what a bloody hell war really is. War just didn’t suddenly become war with the exposure that was created with T.V, just our exposure to it. The same can be said about the paranormal. I don’t believe there is an increase in activity, just everyone’s exposure to it with the following these shows have gained.

Now these shows have had their share of critics as well as controversy. There is always the question of legitimacy when watching anything broadcast on the television. Even shows like “Survivor”, “Bachelor(ette)” and “American Idol” that rule Reality T.V. all go through some form of conspiracy fight to preserve the legitimacy of the show. Due to the influence of Hollywood and technology readily available to all, these shows usually get even more scrutiny due to the nature of the show. The casual observer may, without a second thought, dismiss anything they see on these shows as simple CGI, Photoshop or many other forms of special effects. So, when a story about one of these shows involves some form of faked evidence, true or not, it sets everyone back in the minds of the general public. Not just the show that may or may not have committed the fake, but all other shows, as well as groups like my own. General opinion being if one does it, then it’s highly possible they all do it.

My personal issue with these paranormal shows isn’t how real it is but a simple matter of professionalism, as well as excessive filler that has nothing to do with the investigation they are currently on. My favourite example of what not to do is in an episode of “T.A.P.S.”, where two members are outside. One offered the other, I believe it was fifty bucks, to crawl under a deck that was filled with all manner of bugs and spiders. After all this nonsense was done, the whole process took approximately seven minutes. Absolutely no manner of serious investigation was completed during this time. This is what is called filler. This group came to a site where there is either nothing paranormal going on, or perhaps nothing during that particular evening. They have this production crew who works for a production company that is paying them to film something so they can put a full episode together. They need something to fill the hour long slot. There are many other examples of things that I could nit-pick but it comes down to a simple formula. They are T.V. shows and T.V. is meant to entertain the audience. Sometimes the true content of the show is irrelevant as long as the audience is entertained and they come back next week to watch again.

The reality of the paranormal is in fact, these things do happen. People literally are haunted throughout their lives. Living with some form of entity whether it is real or imagined, it affects them the same. Whole families have upped and moved out of their homes, to be rid of these experiences because they believe there is no other way. These shows tell people they are not alone, so to make fun of their situation by playing at nonsense like offering money to a friend if he rolls around with the bugs sets me off a little bit. These people called these groups because they need help.

So the next time you are sitting down on your couch with a bowl full of popcorn watching a new episode of “T.A.P.S.” or “Most Haunted” or one of the couple dozen different shows out there, keep in mind the people they are helping. Listen to their story, are their children involved. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what you would do.



ROBBI

#2 CaveRat2

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 10:00 AM

I will say TV as a whole has done little for paranormal investigation.

The main positive has been to make it acceptable to report activity. Before TV most people who made a report did so worried that anyone who knew they did would assume they were crazy or worse. To this extent it has become acceptable to admit activity.

But there is a downside there too. These days it has become fashionable to have a resident ghost in some circles. Investigators are getting a lot of calls from those who simply want validation their house is haunted! And these people will not take "no" for an answer even when the evidence clearly points to some natural cause. Of course that's not every case, but it has become more common. As an investigator I have seen about a ten fold increase in requests, yet as far as actual unexplained cases the number has not really changed much over the last 30 years . Just more cases of people wanting to be like the ones they see on TV.

TV investigators often use a lot of equipment they apparently don't understand. Ghost Boxes are a prime example. These things are intended to allow spirits to communicate with the living. But nobody on TV ever stops to ask just HOW the boxes work and HOW a spirit would even be able to manipulate the box to make it work. For that they would need to know the theory behind the box, yet seldom does anybody approach that topic. Reason is if they did the next obvious question, "How does the spirit know how to use the box?" would have to be answered. And also the method of manipulation would have to be addressed. Better for the ghost hunter to just gloss over that area and blow smoke at the viewer.

As for the TV investigators themselves they have not really helped much because of the fact TV does not portray an investigation as it really is. They have led people to expect when they call an investigator he will show up with a truckload of equipment and resolve their ghost issue in an hour, just like they saw on TV. It doesn't work that way!

Real investigations are usually an ongoing process. The only ones that are resolved quickly are those which turn out to be a mundane cause; loose shutter, electrical in nature, creaky floor boards, that sort of thing. Something really unusual takes much longer, often because it occurs infrequently.

Then the TV investigators drag out a lot of equipment, often misusing it. They make an example of this, then when a serious investigator shows up with nothing more than a notepad and maybe a voice recorder with the intent of doing a client interview to get started they think he is incompetent because that's not what they saw on TV. But that IS the way an investigation is done. Client interview, get the background information, determine any motive for hoaxing, possibly a psychological evaluation of the client, environmental studies. All this before the investigator even considers setting up equipment. After all, the investigator has to establish a starting point somewhere!

Trouble is if TV showed it that way it would make for a very boring show. Viewers would never tune in. The show would be canceled after the first episode. So we have an abridged show, add a bit of drama, and keep the ratings up. If their is something going on beyond the mundane then the investigation can go on for YEARS, not 60 minutes. Followup visits, consultants may be called in, it becomes very involved. Which brings up my final problem with paraTV as it deals with private clients. What post-show support do they offer? They claim to help people, but are they around 6 months later if something happens again? Maybe a few are, but to a serious investigator that continuing support is required.

So TV versus Reality? Two different things altogether!

#3 Robbi

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 10:19 AM

I will say TV as a whole has done little for paranormal investigation.

The main positive has been to make it acceptable to report activity. Before TV most people who made a report did so worried that anyone who knew they did would assume they were crazy or worse. To this extent it has become acceptable to admit activity.

But there is a downside there too. These days it has become fashionable to have a resident ghost in some circles. Investigators are getting a lot of calls from those who simply want validation their house is haunted! And these people will not take "no" for an answer even when the evidence clearly points to some natural cause. Of course that's not every case, but it has become more common. As an investigator I have seen about a ten fold increase in requests, yet as far as actual unexplained cases the number has not really changed much over the last 30 years . Just more cases of people wanting to be like the ones they see on TV.

TV investigators often use a lot of equipment they apparently don't understand. Ghost Boxes are a prime example. These things are intended to allow spirits to communicate with the living. But nobody on TV ever stops to ask just HOW the boxes work and HOW a spirit would even be able to manipulate the box to make it work. For that they would need to know the theory behind the box, yet seldom does anybody approach that topic. Reason is if they did the next obvious question, "How does the spirit know how to use the box?" would have to be answered. And also the method of manipulation would have to be addressed. Better for the ghost hunter to just gloss over that area and blow smoke at the viewer.

As for the TV investigators themselves they have not really helped much because of the fact TV does not portray an investigation as it really is. They have led people to expect when they call an investigator he will show up with a truckload of equipment and resolve their ghost issue in an hour, just like they saw on TV. It doesn't work that way!

Real investigations are usually an ongoing process. The only ones that are resolved quickly are those which turn out to be a mundane cause; loose shutter, electrical in nature, creaky floor boards, that sort of thing. Something really unusual takes much longer, often because it occurs infrequently.

Then the TV investigators drag out a lot of equipment, often misusing it. They make an example of this, then when a serious investigator shows up with nothing more than a notepad and maybe a voice recorder with the intent of doing a client interview to get started they think he is incompetent because that's not what they saw on TV. But that IS the way an investigation is done. Client interview, get the background information, determine any motive for hoaxing, possibly a psychological evaluation of the client, environmental studies. All this before the investigator even considers setting up equipment. After all, the investigator has to establish a starting point somewhere!

Trouble is if TV showed it that way it would make for a very boring show. Viewers would never tune in. The show would be canceled after the first episode. So we have an abridged show, add a bit of drama, and keep the ratings up. If their is something going on beyond the mundane then the investigation can go on for YEARS, not 60 minutes. Followup visits, consultants may be called in, it becomes very involved. Which brings up my final problem with paraTV as it deals with private clients. What post-show support do they offer? They claim to help people, but are they around 6 months later if something happens again? Maybe a few are, but to a serious investigator that continuing support is required.

So TV versus Reality? Two different things altogether!



#4 Aesalon

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 09:04 AM

One of our most important questions that we ask in a client interview is "Do you watch 'para-TV'? And if the answer is yes, we try to draw out more specific information about which shows and how the client feels about them. It is important for us to go in knowing what they expect of us and it gives us a chance to mitigate the issue of 'shock and awe' expectations.

On a related note to the negative side - we recently received a call to investigate a B&B a few hours away - after a lengthly pre-interview and a walkthrough of the location it came out that they had two other teams in earlier in the year and neither returned any potential evidence of note. The owner was hoping to market the place with a ghost story and was hoping that someone would come in and stamp the place "HAUNTED!" for him.
-AesCome and visit the FBN team web site!!Fly By Night Paranormal Investigations (Southwest Iowa / Southeast Nebraska)We are also now on Facebook!




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