Ghost Hunters International 2.5: "Spirits of Italy"

Sometimes I wonder if those of us with a more critical eye are a bit too willing to assume the worst. I make a particular effort to be fair and give reasonable doubt, because I’m not coming into this sort of show with a chip on my shoulder. I’m not one of those critics who, certain that paranormal activity is an impossibility, want to catch a team “in the act”. I’m just not certain that the protocols and methods in use are suited for anything other than entertainment.

A lot of the criticism comes from what is apparently missing from case to case. Sometimes, it can be very hard to acknowledge that what isn’t on screen might have been left on the editing room floor. It’s much easier to say “if it’s not covered on camera, it didn’t happen”. Of course, we all know that hours and hours of footage, both investigative and pre-planned for show purposes, are culled down to anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. It makes sense that something would get lost in the process.

Episodes like this make me wonder just how much we lose in that process. Does Barry conduct that kind of careful analysis of every potential EVP, and we simply don’t get to see it? How often are hour-long EVP sessions made to look like they last a few short minutes? These are just basic examples, but they came to mind as I was watching these two cases. It made me wonder if it would be more appropriate to consider the aggregate examples of their methods and practices over the course of a season before criticizing the details of a single investigation.

After all, we take the long view whenever there is something negative to associate to a case. How many times will a critic of “Ghost Hunters” bring up a questionable moment from the first season to question something they’ve done in the fifth season? Quite often. But how often do we acknowledge a positive example from earlier episodes, when it would shed light on their interpretations of “evidence”?

Of course, it’s easy to say that when discussing a team that has demonstrated a surprising level of competency and sincerity. I think they want to believe just a bit too much, and that leads to a lot of unfounded assumptions about what they capture, but what they introduce from a technical point of view is far above K-II meters and bogus “paranormal pucks”.

That earns a certain benefit of the doubt in my book, even if I would love to see more detail on how they analyze and “verify” their EVPs and other “evidence”. The trick, I think, will be remembering to take the long view when I think they’ve missed a prime opportunity for some debunking.

Case #1: Malaspina Castle, Italy

It was interesting to hear that Ashley was down in that dungeon by herself for quite some time, because the footage makes it look like she had activity right away. They noted that the EMF meter responded every time that Ashley prompted, but the movement was minimal and there was no indication of whether or not it registered a slight spike without a prompt. Given the location, though, it’s intriguing.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with the EVPs, either, since they were rather faint. They did rise above the background noise in the audio file, though, so I suppose we can assume that enough analysis was done to satisfy the team that they were genuine.

So this is another case where it’s easy to see why they would conclude that the location is haunted. From their perspective, there was evidence of intelligent response. One can quibble over whether or not those responses were substantial enough to trust, but GHI obviously thought so.

Case #2: Palazzo Ducale, Italy

I’ve said before that I tend to enjoy the cases with plenty of debunking more than the cases with vague activity, and this is another such example. I was very worried that the team would mistake the bird calls for paranormal moaning, but they got it right. (An awareness of animal sounds is often lacking; “Ghost Adventures” seems to feature a ton of animal sounds!)

I would love to get more detail on the EVP analysis that Barry conducts, particularly what he considers to be telltale for ambient noise and what would lead him to conclude that it was a genuine EVP. If nothing else, it’s a sign that GHI is trying to do more than simply clean out the noise and run some filters.

I also liked the example of the halogen lamps, which is not something that usually would happen on an investigation, but felt instructive nonetheless. What if a location had only one or two of those lights? Would a typical team suspect that was the source of a loud bang? I tend to doubt it. Ice machines, however, are fairly common, and I’ve run into locations before where that has been an unforeseen factor.


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