Ghost Hunters International 2.11: "Tasmania Death Sentence"

After a couple of episodes with semi-controversial “evidence”, GHI takes a bit of time to focus on some of those bread-and-butter cases that inevitably come with the paranormal investigation territory. I say semi-controversial, by the way, because there was remarkably little discussion. At least, to some degree, it sparked some conversation about what could truly be determined from photographic “evidence”.

In short, there is always the debate as to whether or not it’s enough for investigators to record or prove the effect. Does the EVP, video, or photograph really prove that an anomaly is a ghost? Does it expose anything new about the nature of the phenomena, so as to point towards the next advance in research? I would argue that it all depends on how the information is collected, interpreted, and used.

As much as I may prefer that all paranormal investigation be geared towards scientific methodology and strict interpretation of data, to the point of factoring out “ghosts” from the equation completely, until strong evidence warrants that conclusion, I know that’s not the case. Different groups focus on different things. I happen to think a lot of them leap to unwarranted and even dangerous conclusions. I also think that there are a lot of people out there using the interest in the paranormal to commit fraud, either by selling gadgets that they know don’t work as advertised (one individual recently comes to mind), or by misrepresenting investigations through fabrication or creative editing (and I’m not just talking about television).

This is why I try to judge a group by their stated intentions. Some of the groups I work with as a technical consultant don’t follow my preferred methods. On the other hand, they’re not focused on researching the cause; they want to document the effect as reported by the client. Sometimes it’s a somewhat uneasy mixture between the two. And as much as it may infuriate or disappoint some of the more vocal skeptics, I think there’s validity in those approaches, so long as everyone is honest about their intentions and assumptions. At the end of the day, the client has expectations, and the investigator has to keep that in mind.

Usually this sort of episode would generate some skepticism because of the lack of activity and the ease of debunking. It’s an oft-repeated criticism that “Ghost Hunters” will intentionally produce such episodes to make cases with questionable “evidence” more credible. The difference here is the small matter of detectable chronology. On “Ghost Hunters”, it’s usually rather obvious that the low-activity cases are shelved until desired, sometimes for months, and then mashed together into an episode.

But in the case of GHI, their unfortunate rate of turnover and travel considerations make it easy enough to recognize that the cases are less juggled. In fact, when they shuffle cases out of order, it’s usually very easy to recognize. It makes it easier to accept the ebb and flow of “evidence” as genuine.

What I really liked in this case, however, was the direct link between the previous episode’s case at Port Arthur, and the first case in this episode. The team made a specific effort to draw on the experiences and context of that previous investigation in an attempt to draw out activity. Say what you will about whether or not those personal experiences should have been the basis or not, but I thought that was a very nice touch. It makes me wonder if that kind of thing is considered unnecessary by the editors, because I imagine it happens quite often.

And it’s something that a lot of the audience would love to see, especially if it would carry over to “Ghost Hunters” as well. Not just occasionally pointing back to previous investigations at a given location or some highlight of “evidence”, but showing how the team adjusts tactics based on recent findings or experiences. Of course, in the case of “Ghost Hunters”, that would break the format, because ever since they chose to abandon the idea of weaving “storylines” into each season (as they did with the Brian Harnois mess in the second season), they’ve packaging episodes to maximize the ability to air out of order.

Maybe that’s the hidden benefit of how GHI must be made. Because they have to reconfirm the team members before every filming period, there’s a built-in narrative of time and personnel. There’s a greater sense of the continuity from case to case. If that means that the editors are more willing to show the team in a more holistic light, then I certainly won’t complain.

Case #1: Supreme Courthouse, Tasmania

There’s a definite theme to this episode, and it starts with this case. Everything that the team encountered could be explained by mundane circumstance, and GHI did a good job of presenting the alternatives to the client. I particularly liked the analysis of the reported activity surrounding the clock and the analysis of Robb’s picture. And it’s not like they didn’t try: I already mentioned how I enjoyed Robb’s attempt to draw out the same entity that apparently bothered Ashley at Port Arthur. (And the look on her face was priceless.)

But the interesting thing was the reaction of the client. He didn’t seem at all pleased with the conclusions drawn by the team, and he pretty much indicated that he was going to consider the place haunted, evidence or not!

Case #2: Kellie's Castle, Malaysia

I liked the fact that the team members recognized the likelihood of audio contamination from the various animal and environmental noises. In this case, it was pretty easy to do, but other teams (“Ghost Adventures”, anyone?) have a bad habit of mistaking natural ambient noise for something paranormal.

To be honest, I’m not sure how much time passed between the previous case and this one, but it doesn’t seem like it was a long period of time, since Paul and Ashley are still with the team. At this point, it really feels like the team is coming together very well, and there is a confidence that comes with a shared vision. In other words, there’s probably very little time left before the team changes again!


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