What is the purpose of shows like Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State?

Even after seeing an episode of each of these, and a handful of similar shows, I can’t tell what the purpose of the shows are. Are they trying to debunk the paranormal by not finding anything, or are they actually trying to find ghosts and consistently failing to do so? Which hoped-for outcome are viewers tuning in for?

Well, I watch Ghost Hunters mostly because I think Jason is hot. I haven’t seen Paranormal State.

The stated claim on Ghost Hunters is they’re going into houses, hotels, whatever, to try to document and either prove, disprove, or explain what the residents say is happening. Last season they had a guy who thought his house was possessed - he felt creepy all the time, he kept getting sick, he was tired and run down and was seeing and hearing things. They discovered a bunch of badly shielded electrical wiring under his staircase and an attached garage full of leftover paints, thinners, all kinds of chemicals - stored near the air intake for the furnace. Problem solved.

I neither believe nor disbelieve in ghosts (if they’re there, they’re there, and if they’re not, they’re not, is the way I see it) but I enjoy a good ghost story and Ghost Hunters is my favorite show; I get to spend my Wednesday evenings suspending my disbelief and getting pleasantly creeped out. Plus sometimes they go to really awesome places.

I feel the same way as Marlitharn, about ghosts… and Jason.

I only watch the last 10 minutes of Ghost Hunters to see the results.

However, I can’t get past the intro of Paranormal State, without cracking up.

“… and sometimes we’re warriors.” :rolleyes:

They don’t even entertain the thought that the supposed hauntings are caused by anything else. Half the time, they even say it’s caused by demons, or Native American curses. Plus, they have all these cameras set up, but we never get to see any footage, unless it’s something obvious like a chair moving.
At least Ghost Hunters will show what they thought was something, then decide it was just a reflection or something.

Seriously, PS is like an experiment in impromptu Sci-Fi drama, I mean sure Ghost Hunters has your share of “Oh Shit!” false alarms, but Paranormal state had an episode where they (I shit you not, it was the only episode I saw):
Had a Wiccan go out into the middle of a lake, and cast a banishing spell to make the evil nasty shadow people go away. :rolleyes: To use an analogy, if Ghost Hunters was CNN Paranormal State would be Fox.

I’m skeptical about ghosts, GH finds some weird crap (anyone remember the chair in the lighthouse? and the guy who got knocked over in the armory?) but it hasn’t proved Ghosts exist, but at the very least they’re gathering data for someone to do something with at a later date, alternate explanations or whatever. And contrary to popular belief they’re not flaky and tell everyone their house is haunted, in fact most of the time they basically say “no, sorry” except with an ass-covering doublespeak so they don’t hurt the people’s feelings “oh, but we can’t know for sure” which I always felt like they had trouble saying.

The only thing that makes the show annoying is the editing (especially the music), but that’s just Sci-Fi getting ratings.

The purpose however (of GH at least) is to gather evidence for/against ghosts (which depends on who you ask, I’m sure their producers would say prove but TAPS vehemently declares they go assuming they’re going to debunk it and evidence is to BUILD a case, not further a preconceived notion) and also to put people’s minds at rest. They always make it very clear that if something is there it’s definitely not hostile in order to prevent the owner from freaking out if they saw something strange. It also can point out how weird other paranormal shows are. There was one episode of A Haunting on Discovery that revolved around the same family as GH had once and the amount overstating the case in A Haunting is astounding, I knew it was basically mindless entertainment but I never knew the spin was THAT bad.

Ghost Hunters International, however, was terrible.

On second thought I have a better answer: The purpose of shows like Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State is to keep the channel’s ratings up and make money.

A friend of mine went to DragonCon, a huge fantasy/sci-fi convention in Atlanta held each Labor Day, last weekend. One of the panels was skeptics v. believers with emphasis on the paranormal (i.e. not religion) and one of the believers panelists was the host of one of these shows (not sure which one) who swears he’s caught ghosts on film and in mechanical readings on some form of machine that conclusively prove their existence through infrared lighting/heat registering/ectoplasmometerscopulator-that-goes-ding/whatever.

The friend went to hear Michael Shermer, editor of SKEPTIC magazine and a writer of whom we’re both fans. Shermer works a lot with James Randi, who walked onstage to huge applause as a “special surprise guest” and asked the host with the ghostbuster device to apply for the million dollar challenge. The guy hemmed and hawed about the unpredictability of the spirit world, but said he’d be more than happy to present his unedited shows for the prize. Randi of course explained that the million dollar applicant’s test has to be falsified with Randi staff present, and suggested a reading at a haunted house. The guy gave a non-committal answer. It’ll be interesting to see if anything comes of it, but I doubt he’ll ever take him up on the challenge.

Sorry for the hijack… to answer the OP, their purpose is to sell ads and make money for the network, same as Ice Road Truckers or the nightly news. I’m just really surprised that they haven’t taken over HISTORY CHANNEL yet since unlike ICE ROAD TRUCKERS and PRISON GANGS and LOGGERS (and their three upcoming reality series- BAYOU LESBIAN GATOR WRESTLERS, PALO ALTO SEWER WORKERS and ICELANDIC WAITRESSES) they do involve past events and dead people.

ARGH yes, holy hell. I feel like they took the very worst, the very jumpiest idiots from their crew and shipped them overseas. EVERYTHING is apparently haunted over there. I loathe Ghost Hunters International. And they go to such cool places, which is shame, because they’re such a waste of space. But oh, snap, Andy felt something brush against his shoulder, so this place is most definitely haunted. Blech. I hate Andy. And Brian. And Donna. I’m glad they sent them to another show so I don’t have to watch them if I don’t feel like it.

I do like Ghost Hunters, though. I watch it in my jammies with the lights out, eating popcorn - so I can feel like I’m 16 again and listening to harmless but fun ghost stories. It’s hardly ever anything they can’t explain, and I love them for that. I work around a lot of electrical wiring, and seeing shadows dart around out of the corners of my eyes isn’t uncommon. It’s nice to have a solid, logical explanation for that shit. No, I never thought it was ghosts, but I did think it was cataracts. Jason is a total straight shooter. He’s reluctant to call anything haunted, even when really bizarre shit goes down. I love me some Jason. Especially when he gets mad. :slight_smile:

I find the ridiculous editing kind of funny, though. Just before a commercial, there’s a shot of Steve screaming and leaping back, cursing. My husband and I roll our eyes and say in unison: “Spider.” For a dude with so many tattoos, he sure is afraid of a lot of little things. Except ghosties. Not the tiniest bit afraid of those. Good man. :smiley:

I like that it’s on the Sci-Fi channel. That’s really all it is. Well, at the very least it’s Fi.

Interesting! Could you give me a link or explain briefly?
Judging from what little I’ve seen of those type of show that air here in Germany, I never thought you could learn something there…

I’ve heard this disputed, but it’s said that strong Electromagnetic fields can screw with people’s heads, so if you have a bunch of unshielded wiring, say, over your bed it may make you feel ill, see things, etc. So in the show one of the first things they do is see if they can find a fan motor with an unusually high EMF or a badly insulated power box or something and usually if they shield it properly they can stop it.

In one of the shows they found a hotel room and one of the speeds on the fan was broken it emitted a whirring noise you couldn’t really tell was there until you looked and was emitting EMF off the scale when that setting was on, so they turned it off and sent one of their team (Kris) in there without telling her what’s up. After an hour of her being bored they went in there and turned it on (after she left the room, again without telling her, so as not to influence the results) and, sure enough, she got really creeped out, felt sick, thought she saw things, etc.

Yeah, and the theory is that some people are ore senstive to it than others - it makes sense to me, because I’ve always had a weird reaction to electrical anything - not supernatural, by any stretch of the word, but I will hear and be irritated by wires humming, “feel” electrical storms coming (many people do), and poorly wired areas or exposed electrical crap literally sets my hair on end, sometimes quicker than other people around me react to the same thing - it’s just that I’m sensitive to it. If you don’t what is happening, the feelings it gives off could be interpreted as “sensing” things, or feeling afraid, ill, queasy, etc - when it’s just electricity. I have a deep, deep phobia of thunderstorms, and to be quite honest, I think it’s just a sensitivity to the electricity in the air, making me feel paranoid and jumpy.

HOWEVER, I’m really glad someone requested a cite. I have nothing to back that up, and I just accepted what was said on that show as fact (a show about ghost hunting, at that!). And while I appreciate their attempt at being logical, it would be good to have some solid facts to back that up, something outside of their say-so and my anecdotes - which together, made the explanation sound sensible to me. But perhaps it is not. Does anybody have any reliable facts about sensitivity to electricity?

The purpose is to get people to watch a show to make the producer some money. Somebody wants shows like that, so somebody makes shows like that.

You know, I actually can’t find a (reliable) cite. I found a couple case studies, but they didn’t look thorough, and found an article that bashed a particular study for preparing badly and overlooking other causes. It seems accepted but half the websites had EMF somewhere in their DOMAIN NAME so I’m not sure if I should trust those. I may open a GQ thread.

I’m unable to find a reliable cite, too. I saw a program several years ago, on TLC or TDC or something, I can’t remember, that addressed this issue. They strapped helmets on people and bombarded them with electromagnetic radiation and it made some of them think someone was creeping up behind them, or they were being watched, or someone was breathing near them.

IIRC, the show also mentioned that granite under pressure will emit an electromagnetic field. I remember thinking that if that were true, it would explain why every bloody castle in Europe is “haunted”; aren’t most of them built of granite? If it turns out there’s anything to the whole electromagnetic field theory, I think that would explain away about 95% of reported “hauntings”, with hypnagogic hallucinations taking care of most of the rest (I’ve had those, they’re NOT FUN).

Back OT, I think another reason I wach GH is because it’s so low-key. I loathe and despise “drama”; it seems like every other show on TV is full of self-absorbed bitchy people with an overblown sense of entitlement that fills me with rage and contempt, or else I have to endure brain-dead plotlines and actors who deliver Shecky Green-worthy lines with an intense self-conscious gravity more suited to Shakespearean tragedy (CSI Miami, anyone?). They guys on GH are pretty cool, the kind of people you can go out and have a beer with.

That would be piezoelectricity, which granite may possess, because it has bits of quartz, which is a piezoelectric crystal, in it.

Mold spores are another culprit. Prolonged contact can create all kinds of health problems. And in some cases, it can affect the brain.

How do you know the gators are lesbians?

I find GH and PS entertaining on different levels.

GH for awhile there was like a freakin soap opera with one of their members. That was annoying. Because of them, I have a long list of places I want to check out for myself.

PSR is amusing. But I feel really bad for those who believe what they’re showing is real. I like the medium guy they use a lot - but really dislike it when they bring in Lorraine Warren - blah.

What’s the purpose? To make money any way they can.

These don’t exist (all the waitstaff is pretty much foreigners) - so that would be an interesting show :wink:

I like GH for the most part. I like the fact that Grant and Jason have from the start gone in to an investigation looking to fact-find instead of trying to prove or disprove a haunting. They are looking for an explaination for why something is happening and only when they cannot find a reasonable expaination do they start to consider a paranormal expalination. Even then Jason and, to a lesser extent, Grant are reluctant to most of the time to say conclusivly that there is a haunting.

The rest of the cast are much more approaching it from a “we want to find ghost” mentality that makes them much more gulible.

The worst of them were spun off into GHI which was a sad joke from day one.

I have not seen Paranormal state but the promos scream GHI clone to me.

I just think these shows are entertaining, same reason why we have most television shows.