American Paranormal – Eastern State Penitentiary – Part II

So where does all this leave us?

I fully admit that their findings don’t explain away paranormal activity for all people in all situations. However they bring up some very interesting questions and bring to light some serious shortcomings with how paranormal investigations are conducted.

Obviously, far too many investigators rely on the EMF detector to prove the existence of spirits and as we’ve seen that’s unreliable at best. Far too many things can effect those readings. Shutting off the lights will have no impact. Even if a location has no power the very equipment an investigator uses can give false positives. It’s not the absolute discovery tool it’s being made out to be. If anything, it’s results should be taken with a grain of salt. Personally, I think investigators need to ditch the EMF and that stupid K2 meter. They are nothing but faux-science that barely have root in the real world. As we’ve seen, to continue saying a spirit can be detected by such a device is proving to be completely inaccurate.

The results also show that the power of suggestion is a consuming force. People can easily convince themselves of paranormal activity, regardless of whether it truly exists or not. If you believe you’re in a haunted location or someone tells you paranormal activity is taking place you can create all sorts of experiences that may not be real. The mind can subconsciously generate sights, sounds and smells to give support to those beliefs. We’ve obviously seen the power of suggestion at work. Ryan is convinced a place is haunted even before he shows up. He doesn’t need evidence to support that claim, he just feels it. The more compelling the stories are about a location the more the Ghost Hunters try to support those claims even when the evidence is lacking. Everyone says the Stanley Hotel is haunted or Eastern State is haunted, so why would they go against the grain and say it isn’t? They hear what they want to hear in the evidence to make it real. This is the very reason we have urban legends. Stories just build and build.

And obviously the Ghost Adventures team feels a place is haunted, that’s why they chose it. They have it built up in their minds that they are battling the spirits, that dark energy is surrounding them and that they will taunt and mess with the spirits until they get evidence of their presence. When you go into a place with that mindset every bump, creak, bang, noise, car light, and reflection is a sure sign of the paranormal. When you’re that convinced of something, actual evidence isn’t really necessary. Your personal experiences are all you need.

This is perhaps the biggest problem with investigations, the personal experience. Investigators convince themselves something is going to happen and then they get caught up in it. Every noise feeds into the experience and heightens the senses and soon it doesn’t matter what’s really going on, the personal experience becomes the reality. I mean seriously, have you seen Ghost Adventures actually dismiss or debunk anything? They are so wound up as soon as they enter the building no matter what happens they’re going to have a paranormal experience.

I believe American Paranormal also shows the fatal flaw in how investigators work. Why doesn’t Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures and even Paranormal State leave their equipment running overnight with no one in the building so they can "get a feel for a place" and tell what noises are normal? Wouldn’t it be exceedingly useful to know which noises they could safely ignore and which ones to pay attention to? How interesting it would be to record a train at 3:00am or a truck rolling by at 12:30, that causes dishes to rattle or headlights to reflect off mirrors or beds to vibrate. Or they could listen to the sounds of all those animals scratching at the walls or crawling around in the attic. The fact that none of these groups do anything like this is a huge oversight and shows they aren’t applying a scientific method to what they do. Once again, the Ghost Hunters aren’t scientists.

And what about all those claims that lightning and thunderstorms can help the paranormal manifest? There may be some truth to that, but not in the way most investigators think. It can help "stir up the paranormal" because of the frequencies the pounding rain and rolling thunder give off. That low rumble could create the infrasound effect which can make you see things and experience phenomenon that really aren’t there. There’s a reason a ghost story sounds even creepier on a dark and stormy night!

Overall this was an extremely interesting show that brought to light dozens of potential fallacies on how investigations are conducted. The EMF meter is bunk, paranormal groups need to actually record an empty location before they investigate it, the power of suggestion can make you experience things that aren’t actually there and that a lot of ghost hunting theories fly in the face of known physics. Does this episode debunk every paranormal claim out there? Certainly not, but when you take the information from Ph.D. scientists and compare it with the science from a couple of plumbers or a trio of documentary film makers or even a college Journalism student it does make you question some of the results the investigators come up with.


Infrasound – The Ghost in the Machine

Research by Vic Tandy, a lecturer at Coventry University, suggested that the frequency 19 Hz was responsible for many ghost sightings. He was working late one night alone in a supposedly haunted laboratory at Warwick, when he felt very anxious and could detect a grey blob out of the corner of his eye. When he turned to face it, there was nothing.

The following day, he was working on his fencing foil, with the handle held in a vice. Although there was nothing touching it, the blade started to vibrate wildly. Further investigation led him to discover that the extraction fan was emitting a frequency of 18.98 Hz, very close to the resonant frequency of the eye (given as 18 Hz in NASA Technical Report 19770013810). This was why he saw a ghostly figure — it was an optical illusion caused by his eyeballs resonating.

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