Improved science in paranormal investigations

Ghosts, ghouls and other things that go bump in the night now have their own reality shows, like Ghosthunters on the SciFi Channel. Lately, an abundance of paranormal television programs have jumped in to cater to our fascination with all things supernatural.

My interest in the paranormal started with Stephen King and has led me to investigate further.

I’ve concluded that people tune in for different reasons. Some watch purely for entertainment, skeptical of the evidence that The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) team captures on thermal-imaging cameras and digital voice recorders. Some watch to appease their appetites for the lurid — the same reason they’ll attend Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream or Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure’s Halloween Horror Nights next month. Some watch out of hope, grasping tightly to the little evidence one can collect of life after death.

I enjoy watching a group of scientific-minded individuals set out to prove, through the scientific method of falsifying evidence, things that human beings cannot always detect. The fact that these individuals do investigations free of charge and try to debunk their own evidence and personal experiences lends credibility to their investigations and removes the hesitation I had about the show being aired on the SciFi Channel.

Their experiences with the paranormal have led TAPS members to remain skeptical as they set out to prove hauntings by trying to disprove them. Though somewhat skeptically, they occasionally employ the help of famous psychics and mediums such as Ed and Lorraine Warren, a couple made famous by their work on the Amityville Horror case.

Normally, I’m not a fan of television shows that make a big production out of setting forth to prove something that’s not tangibly provable, but the professionalism of the team both on and off the show is admirable.

What clinched it for me was the book Ghost Hunting: True Stories of Unexplained Phenomena from The Atlantic Paranormal Society by cofounders Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, which details many confidential cases not aired on TV and the professionals who investigated them.

“These people work for NASA, the CIA and the FBI,” said Hawes. “They include a forensic scientist, a nuclear physicist and even a Secret Service agent, but they’re so dedicated to ghost hunting that they don’t mind doing it anonymously.”

In order to expand their horizons and appeal to different audiences, the TAPS group also has a weekly radio show called Beyond Reality Radio and the TAPS Paramagazine, which covers everything from poltergeist activity to UFO sightings and Bigfoot.

If you are teetering on the edge of belief but think that ghost hunting is a pseudoscience, look into the investigative techniques of TAPS and other ghost-hunting groups that utilize scientific equipment and logical reasoning to gather evidence of spirit entities walking among us.

Even if you can’t bring yourself to believe in some of the conclusions drawn from the evidence, you have to give the TAPS team kudos for approaching the preternatural empirically. The team spends hours analyzing evidence to disprove its own data and attribute certain phenomena to natural forces. At the end of the day, they walk away from very few cases in which they can absolutely ascertain a structure is haunted. Yet, audiences continue to watch the show and subscribe to the magazine, knowing that despite the vast amount of evidence collected, very little of it actually amounts to any spirit activity.

This is because they know to watch for the evidence that can’t be disputed, the electronic voice phenomena that can’t be denied and the thermal images that can’t be ignored.

This is why on Wednesday nights, you’ll find my family and me gripping the arms of the couch and biting our fingernails in anticipation, tossing around our own theories and suppositions in response to the investigation.

I invite you to do the same.

Daylina Miller is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.