Ghost Hunters International 2.8: "Silver Shadow"

Case #1: Eden Hotel, Argentina

Case #2: Monte Cristo, Australia

The previous episode was a solid enough return from hiatus, but there were several elements that proved challenging. Many of them were franchise-related, but others were self-inflicted, such as the focus on Hitler and the over-reliance on the static meter as a “communication device”. As I’ve said before, I’m not keen on the idea of using technical instruments as some kind of modern Ouija board, whether it’s the easily-manipulated K-II or anything else. And in the case of the static meter, the more I read about it, the more questionable it seems. There are too many ways to generate a false positive and draw conclusions from bad data.

On the other hand, I don’t have the feeling that the static meter is something that could be reliably manipulated for effect, as compared to the K-II meter, so my impression of the sincerity of the team remains intact. I’ve often been amused by those who bash GHI for being a terrible team because of a lack of sensational “evidence”. If anything, that has been an ongoing testimony to their honesty and, dare I say it, integrity. Not one thing on the show has suggested fabrication. (And in some ways, the lack of “evidence” gathered by GHI, on par with the level of “evidence” found by most investigators, highlights the more questionable findings on “Ghost Hunters”.)

I think it’s also important to note that consistency is a good measure of sincerity. Dustin, for example, is extremely consistent with his statements over the years, and he’s also very upfront with his religious perspective. This carries through his comments on the show, his portions of “The Complete Approach” (his book with Barry), and even his Twitter entries. His stated desire to prove the existence of life after death, as an affirmation of his personal beliefs, informs his investigative style and his assumptions regarding activity.

This episode reminded me of the other side of the equation: the client’s expectations. In both cases, GHI was brought in to validate the experiences and reports of the clients with hard evidence. That made it twice as likely that anything unusual would be accepted as paranormal in origin, because the client’s wishes aligned with the preconceived notions of the team. Debunking can and does take place under such circumstances, but it’s not going to involve anything elaborate or substantial.

Keeping all this in mind is important to me, because I’m occasionally accused of projecting my own preferences and investigative approach onto these “entertainment” groups and finding them wanting in comparison. Part of that is accepting that the edited footage may be deceptive, and considering it from the perspective of what I would think if I caught that “evidence” myself.

But it’s also an attempt to judge a group by the measure of their stated purpose and approach. I’ve come to criticize TAPS more and more because their actions and interpretations have strayed dramatically from their original stated approach. Similarly, I criticize shows like “Ghost Lab” that don’t live up to their own premise. GHI, on the other hand, has evolved into a group that is very consistent with their mindset, at least in terms of their core investigators, and I appreciate that for what it is.

Case #1: Eden Hotel, Argentina

I find it ironic that this location, which was edited down to only half an episode, yielded a lot more “evidence” than the previous episode as a whole. I would have much rather seen this location for a full hour, rather than the overdone Hitler hunt. I’m not sure about the interpretation of all those EVPs, but they were worth closer examination.

Since I already brought up the effect of personal belief, I have to wonder how much that played a role in Dustin’s interpretation of the “child playing” EVP. The intersection between the alleged EVP and Dustin’s personal experience cannot be denied, but to me, it sounds like it could have been an animal outside, perhaps close to the location itself. It’s hard not to understand, though, why Dustin and the others would have drawn the conclusion they did, under the circumstances.

I wasn’t at all impressed with the use of the tri-field meter as a communication device. It’s much better than using a K-II meter, however, because I have a solid reason for dismissing the footage. It’s clear from the footage that the tri-field meter’s audio alarm was set to trigger at a very low magnetic field reading, no more than 1 mG. It doesn’t take much to get that kind of reading, even with a natural tri-field meter.

This might seem, at first glance, to be identical to the behavior of a K-II meter under similar conditions. But this is exactly why I prefer to see them use a tri-field meter in such experiments. The K-II supposedly spikes all the way to red when investigators communicate with an entity. Assuming the K-II is calibrated, this would correspond to a magnetic field on the order of 20-30 mG. On a tri-field meter, that would immediately produce a significant swing of the needle. That didn’t happen in this case, so it’s not at all the kind of extreme shift in EMF that one supposedly gets with the K-II meter.

Part of that could be the difference in sensitivity, or the lack of calibration of the K-II meter. But a lot of K-II meters seem to be close enough to the right calibration for the qualitative nature of its design, so that shouldn’t matter. Even if one meter is more sensitive than another, it shouldn’t result in wildly different final results. If so, then one of the results is wrong. Yet, unfortunately, a lot of people are going to accept both examples as valid, because they want to believe.

I think the same applies to Robb and Brandy’s reaction to the “cold spot”. Without any data to back up the claim, it’s hard to know what they were really encountering. Was it really an anomalous mass of cold air, or was it natural air movement for that abandoned building? I wasn’t shocked by their own interpretation of the event, but I don’t see any evidence to back up the case.

Case #2: Monte Cristo, Australia

I loved the client for this case. I’ve always had a fondness for Australians for some reason (maybe it’s the accent), but I really thought this was a lively investigation. The team seemed to pick up on the energy of the client. Cases like this make me wonder how critics can claim that GHI is less energetic than TAPS, because the difference in overall drive is palpable these days.

Two things strike me as intriguing about the EVPs, beyond the context in which they were recorded. First, to my ear, the recorded voices had a distinct Australian accent. One thing that has bothered me about other EVPs captured by GHI is the lack of regional connection. Not only are many of the voices in English, but they don’t sound “local”. It’s one reason why I agree with the possibility that many of GHI’s EVPs are the result of pattern recognition, despite the many theories offered to explain the apparent contradictions.

On the other hand, I also thought that these EVPs had a very unusual “tinny” sound to them. EVPs often sound distorted as compared to normal speech (which is why many conventional explanations aren’t universally convincing), but these EVPs almost sounded like something from a transmission. To be fair, that could have been the result of Barry’s attempt to clean up the audio, so the EVPs were more easily discerned.


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