Ghost Hunters 4.22: "USS Hornet"

Much like the railway station in Buffalo not so long ago, this is one of those locations that seems overwhelming just on the screen. I recall being concerned about the personnel control issues when they investigated other naval vessels, and I think some of the same issues could have been in play in this situation. It's difficult to separate out the normal and the unusual in a location that has such unique properties. Even with a slightly bigger group of investigators, I can't imagine they even hit a fraction of the entire site.


This is the lead-in to the massive "Ghost Hunters Live" event on Halloween night, and I suppose that the inclusion of Colin Ferguson was another example of Sci-Fi Channel cross-promotion. Now that "Ghost Hunters" is the top-rated franchise on the network, this is going to happen more and more often. The live event is practically bloated with guest stars (including, yes, ECW wrestlers).


Ferguson, however, is a genuinely nice guy (we have mutual acquaintances, and they speak well of him). I think he brought a sincere interest to the investigation. Perhaps not a studied or scientific interest, but a sincere one, nonetheless. It might have been a better programming choice to air this investigation when "Eureka" was also running, but I suppose that would have made too much sense. (ECW, unfortunately, is running all the time.) Still, Ferguson had a much better showing than, say, Chris Fleming.


In terms of the "evidence", I wasn't particularly impressed by most of it. I didn't think the "EVP" heard by Steve and the others sounded like a voice; it sounded like a random noise. The overlapping voices in the other apparent EVP were more interesting, but the translation didn't quite make sense and certainly didn't sound like something someone would actually say.


The light on the leg of the chair was hard to characterize, because it did look just like a reflection from the flashlight. With so many reflective surfaces in the room, how could they be sure it wasn't the flashlights, even if they weren't pointed at the chair at the time? It's not a definitive answer, but it's a viable explanation. (That may be why Jason and Grant didn't mention it in the reveal.)


There was a return for the K-II Meter, and at this point, I have nothing more to say on the subject. Grant published a blog entry defending its use, and it is what it is. A reality television show is probably not the best place to evaluate such a device (or any device, for that matter). There was also the odd magnetic field around the chain, but since I don't recall them checking the entire length of the chain to see if the effect was localized, it's hard to draw conclusions.


The big-ticket "evidence" was the thermal hit, and it was well-presented. Everyone knows my position on the thermal footage. FLIR systems record surface temperatures. Human-looking figures with heat emissions that appear identical to human beings are, logically speaking, rather likely to be human beings. Yet it's unlikely that Jason and Grant would miss someone standing a few meters away in a cramped metal compartment!


Skeptics will claim that this is proof positive that TAPS is faking "evidence" by claiming that a real live person was an apparition for the sake of ratings. (They just love to point out that the ongoing ratings climb has coincided with the documented increase in "evidence" per episode.) So it comes down to taking them at their word (again).


Just for the sake of speculation, what would be true if an apparition were to manifest enough to create a boundary layer capable of registering on a FLIR system at a temperature close to human-normal? I'm not sure that something like that wouldn't be visible, but even if it was completely invisible, wouldn't there be other evidence of it? For example, if it manifested, and then dissipated shortly thereafter, how would the accumulated thermal energy (necessary for the emissivity caught by t

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Nov 6, 2008 6:47AM EST

You write very good reviews for Ghost Hunters, I do have one question, because I am new to side reel and Ghost Hunters chat area, but why do you not like the K-II meter?

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Nov 6, 2008 7:42AM EST

Kevalin:
There are a few reasons.
First, it's how the device was introduced to the paranormal community. Chris Fleming, a regular on TV, radio, and conventions and self-proclaimed psychic, started selling the devices quite some time ago as "ghost detectors". He claimed they were specially calibrated for paranormal investigation, and has been selling them like hotcakes since first bringing them onto "Ghost Hunters" in the infamous "Manson Murders" episode.
The problem with this is twofold: the device had been around for ages as a cheap magnetic field detector for contractors looking for wires behind walls, and there's no way to calibrate something for phenomena that has yet to be defined. So Fleming (and now many others) are pushing a device for profit under false pretenses.
Second, the design of the device is such that it is vastly inferior to other devices already available for the same purpose, sometimes at a lower price. The K-II is nothing more than a cheap version of a standard EMF meter, using lights as vaguely representative instead of a determinate value (digital display, analog range, etc.). A number of people have tested the device and state outright that the K-II is horrible at giving an accurate reading of EMF strength.
More importantly, because the device is for finding wires in walls, it has been intentionally designed without a means of screening out RF, cell phone, and other common sources of interference. Just turning a phone on or off in its presence will set it off. Wireless systems definitely set it off. So there's a high probability, when using a K-II meter, that the readings are false positives, caused by interference.
Third, let's assume that ghosts can and do communicate by manipulating an EMF meter (huge assumption). The K-II may be visually informative, but it provides no solid data to study or correlate over time. Since the K-II is just an EMF meter, and nothing special, one would think that a proven and well-shielded device like a tri-field meter, which gives a meaningful numerical value, would be just as effective and would provide more data for research purposes.
The main problem here is that TAPS claims that they are merely evaluating the K-II. But what are they evaluating it against? Why don't they routinely use another, more reliable meter alongside the K-II to correlate readings and prove that the "spikes" are real? In fact, why suggest that viewers and other investigators buy a K-II meter when they could use the EMF meters they already have for the same experiments?
Some people swear by them, but they also seem to dismiss the very real technical and scientific shortcomings of the device and how it is used. If the goal is to uncover meaningful data to lend credence to paranormal phenomena, using debunking as a way to find the strongest evidence, then why use a device that gives unreliable data?

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Nov 6, 2008 8:21AM EST

Well I can see you have put a lot of thought into why the K-II is a bad piece of equipment to use. Thanks for the prompt reply to my question.
I really don't have any complaints with the Ghost Hunters series, unlike Paranormal State & Most Haunted, the show does not come off as hooky, even with the K-II meter. I really don't care for ghost . paranormal investigators that do seances. I do how ever, for some unknown reason, like Chip in Paranormal state, but some of the other things they do in the show I don't care for. As a result I don't keep up with the show and rarely watch it unless something else is on.
In the case of Most Haunted, the lady in it annoys me a lot by over reacting to everything and the close up shots of her head are always highly annoying. I also don't consider Derek Acorn to bring any real substance to ghost investigations. I think he is just a show man who tries to hard to sell his act "Sam". The parts where he supposedly gets possessed is just unbelievable fake and really detracts from the show.
So what are your thoughts on paranormal state & most haunted?

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Nov 6, 2008 9:36AM EST

"Most Haunted" has already been exposed as faked, particularly Derek's psychic act. That ship sailed long ago. Someone on the show provided the details.
"Paranormal State" is really no better. Ryan Buell believes in essentially everything, sees everything as being demonic in origin, and has no technological expertise. I stopped watching the show in the first season when many of the cases started to tie into Ryan's previous experience with a demon who could not be safely named (yet was, constantly), despite the fact that those cases had all been solicited on MySpace and Craigslist!

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