The 'Ghost Hunters' Halloween Special
October 30, 2008
Although I absolutely love to scare myself--usually with horror movies--ghosts have always been at the top of my list of "Things That Almost Make Me Pee in My Pants in Fear." Sci-Fi Channel's "Ghost Hunters" always gives me a weekly dose of fright.
The Ghost Hunters team is actually comprised of members from The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) based in Warwick, Rhode Island. Co-founders Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, who have day jobs as Roto-Rooter plumbers (I guess ghost hunting doesn't pay much), go out on investigations with other members of their team. These members include not only investigators, but researchers, technical/equipment specialists, evidence analysts, and more.
What I've always loved about the show is that the group isn't out to jump on the smallest bit of evidence that a ghost or a haunting may exist at a given location. In fact, during every investigation, they first set out to disprove that something paranormal is going on. This typically involves Jason and Grant looking at the location structure, pipes, heating system, electrical outlets, etc. Using basic science, [their] experience, and a lot of common sense, they explain away what some people might immediately attribute to a haunting.
The team also uses modern technical equipment to capture their evidence, and they do not rely on their eyes or personal experiences alone. They use thermal energy cameras, digital recorders, special computer software, and more.
This Halloween, the Ghost Hunters team will embark on their third annual Ghost Hunters Live event, filming at historic Fort Delaware in Delaware City, Delaware for seven full hours (Sci Fi Channel, October 31 at 7 p.m. ET). In addition to watching the event on TV, fans can also go online to access the thermal imaging cameras the group will set up. These cameras will send instant alerts to the team if they spot anything they think is paranormal.
I recently had a chance to ask Jason and Grant a couple of questions about their ghost hunting experiences:
What causes a place to be haunted? What would cause one place to be haunted by ghosts and another place not to be haunted?
Jason: Honestly, it could be anything. We've dealt with 300-years-old places that have had a lot of activity and some 300-year-old places that have had no activity. Vice-versa with brand new buildings. You find a lot of it has to do with what happened on the property prior to the building or while the building was there, the people in the home, and what they are doing. All of these factors come into play.
We've dealt with what appears to be just a spirit passing through that, for whatever reason, decided to stay, [maybe] because a child can actually see it so it stays in hopes that the child would grow older and still be able to communicate with it. To a child, anything is possible. Santa comes down the chimney every Christmas. The Easter Bunny drops off a basket every Easter. There's nothing that's impossible.
Grant: There are two main types of hauntings, and I won't go too deep into them, but one is just like a leftover memory in a place, that pops up at certain times. The other one is just a ghost of people who were once alive. Anything that can make a person stay or be attracted to another person, an area, or an object in a house is reason enough. It's pretty broad and that's why we call ourselves paranormal investigators because you really have to put clues together and figure out what would cause a person to stay in that location, whether they are dead or alive.
There's definitely an intersection between science and belief on the show. We often see you guys trying to debunk things by first using science, rather than simply believing a location is haunted based on personal experiences. Do you ever find yourself wanting to ignore what the science is saying over your feelings that a place really is haunted?
Grant: I don't think that you could ever ignore the science of it. The only time we even entertain the idea that it's paranormal is when we've exhausted all the science at our fingertips. That doesn't mean we have all the answers, but if we've exhausted all our expertise and our knowledge, and we don't know what it is, we will put it out there for experts to find out. Once they don't know what it is, then it's truly paranormal. It's just something you don't encounter every day, but you never ever want to overlook anything, be it one way or the other. You don't want to overlook the paranormal and just brush it off as some excuse you've made up, and you don't want to brush off the science just because it'd be easier to believe that it's an entity.
Jason: Sometimes you do want to overlook the science because science can only explain so much right now. There are those times when you're sitting there saying, "Well, all this activity happened. There's no scientific explanation for it. Maybe it does have to do with something paranormal."
The paranormal field will never be figured out in my and Grant's lifetime. Maybe, a couple hundred years from now, investigators will have all the answers. If TAPS played some role in that, even helping build the foundation to do that, then what we did was worth every second.