Ghost Hunters 6.7: "Ghosts in the Attic"

One of the enduring complaints about the current direction of “Ghost Hunters” has been the emphasis on businesses and public historical sites. It’s been quite some time since the show has focused on helping regular families. Part of that is the success of the show itself. A lot more high-profile sites are willing to let TAPS come in and investigate, and such locations are typically easier to schedule. There are also a lot more personal considerations that a family must consider when bringing their home and situation under the scrutiny of millions.

There is also the question of how much a televised paranormal investigative group can really help a private residential client. I’m not casting aspersions on the goals of TAPS as an organization. Frankly, there are plenty of other people who are more than willing to question their every move. But it’s fair to say that the format of the show makes it difficult to address the very specific concerns that a residential client has.

The more experience I gain in the field, the more I see the limitations and complications that come with the territory. I’ve expressed a lot of my frustrations with the lack of technical expertise in the field, especially when groups claim that they are using scientific methods and relying primarily on technical data. I know from experience that it’s a constant uphill battle to overcome decades, if not centuries, of instilled tradition and folklore. Too many investigators fall to ask why certain things are done, let alone what the resulting data actually tells us.

But I think a lot of paranormal investigators, the ones invested in the field, genuinely want to help a client understand what is happening. It’s definitely a matter of mutual self-interest, but the thrill of potential discovery is often tempered by the recognition that a client is asking for help because they don’t understand what is happening.

This is one thing I don’t think critics of the field take into account. This latest television and entertainment industry craze for all things paranormal is a cyclical beast, but there have always been people experiencing things they can’t explain. I’m not saying it’s paranormal in nature; just unexplained by the person in question. And those people will eventually turn to someone for help. If it seems like there is an endless supply of paranormal investigators right now, it’s because there has always been a demand. The popularity of the paranormal right now has simply prompted a lot more people to open up and seek assistance (or, in some cases, fame).

But the underlying point is that the majority of residential clients are looking for someone to help them understand their personal crisis, and this usually means a more hands-on, long-term approach. It often means a smaller group, because of the size of the typical home and the targeted nature of the reported activity. And it often precludes drawing a conclusion based on a single visit.

So I actually understand why “Ghost Hunters” would shy away from the residential cases for the show, even if they are very popular and give people a better impression of TAPS and their motives. It can’t be easy to deal with a small home and its subtle character when trailing around a dozen production guys. And while Jason and Grant always leave the door open for future contact, it’s a given that they won’t be the ones doing a follow-up, since they are constantly on the road. (Which in turn leaves them open to criticism for seemingly abandoning clients after making empty promises. These accusations are made regularly, though I have yet to see any evidential basis for them.)

At the end of the day, what matters is whether or not the client is happy. In the residential case covered in this episode, they certainly seem to have appreciated TAPS’ time and effort. Hopefully they were able to come to terms with their situation, from whatever perspective worked best for them.

Case #1: Grzelak House, MA

Like I said, I hope the client was happy, because this one was very frustrating as a viewer.

It’s become a standard thing: Jason and Grant see something like a shadow or light, they run after it, and never catch it on camera. It’s easily dismissed, and sometimes doesn’t even get mentioned in the edited version of the reveal. But this time, it really was hard to believe that all of this was happening and not one shred of evidence was captured.

My main issue is with the shadow that was supposedly blocking out the light in the tiny window (the one that Grant tested by going outside and waving his arms.). Throughout the investigation, there were several shots that were focused right on that exact spot. Some of them were even from Jason and Grant’s exact perspective, when they said they saw the shadow moving in front of the light. Logically speaking, if there was actually something blocking the light, it should have shown up on camera. So it’s very hard to understand why they didn’t grab a camera or keep one right on that spot. Frankly, this is exactly the sort of thing that the critics will harp on for ages, and it definitely makes it look like Jason and Grant are playing up something that isn’t really there.

And to make the point further, consider how the eye works and how the camera works, even under these low-light conditions. If something blocks a light, and both an eye and a camera lens is focused on that spot, the physics of the situation are exactly the same. Both mechanisms should detect a true occlusion. On the other hand, the eye in low-light can see shadows that aren’t there; this is scientific fact. Which introduces a measure of doubt, which in turn means it should have been tossed as potential evidence, by their own rules.

(Oh, and the “It’s paranormal, so the usual rules don’t apply” defense doesn’t work when you’re claiming to use scientific methods and data. Either science applies, or it doesn’t! And if it doesn’t, why bother having any standard of evidence?)

In contrast, Kris heard that hissing noise, and it was caught on the audio recording. So at least there is something to corroborate the experience. And there were the EVPs of a woman’s voice. Unfortunately, I think the voices were awfully faint and buried in the background noise. Also, it was clear to me that Jason and Grant had already drawn conclusions and we basically looking for confirmation, so assuming that result could have factored into some pattern recognition.

All in all, based on what was in the episode itself, I would not have drawn the same conclusions. Except, of course, in the matter of the sleep paralysis.

Case #2: NJ Bar and Grill, NJ

I’m going to say it straight up: I hate the flashlight test. It was marginally better when they made it harder for incidental contact to be made in the circuit, but the fundamental nature of the test is flawed. If you just barely unscrew a flashlight, there remains enough potential for electric charge to arc between the battery and the bulb. In other words, the flashlight will appear to turn itself on, the electrical charge that built up will discharge, and then it will turn itself back off. This will continue for quite some time. The rate of discharge will depend on the distance between battery and bulb, room temperature, and relative humidity. Now, take that, and add a couple of investigators that are asking for some kind of sign repeatedly, and it’s going to look responsive.

I did like the voice captured in the basement. It definitely didn’t sound like Kris at all. It’s hard to make a good argument that something like that is simply captured RF noise, so it’s a small thing, but definitely worth looking at more closely. Still, I’m not sure I would have counted that as an active location based on the one EVP.


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