The Backward Logic of Ghost Hunting Shows

Who doesn’t like a good scare every now and again? It’s human nature to look into the darkness with both fear and intrigue. Campfire tales, haunted houses, movie franchises that go on for 3 movies longer than they really should, America loves a good ghost story. However with the recent rise in ghost hunting shows over the years, it seems that most fall into the same traps over and over again. How they investigate and present evidence seems to be in direct contradiction to the very theories they explain at the top of every show. Here are five of the most common backwards theories followed by reasonable logic.

1. Most ghosts only appear in the dark

Ghosts are bashful because they're so naked they don't even have bodies.

Ghosts are bashful because they’re so naked they don’t even have bodies.

Backwards logic: It seems to fit the criteria of creepy, our eyes aren’t used to the dark so things can look like other scarier things, and it adds to the ambiance. The claim is that ghosts are able to manipulate the energy around them creating cold spots, dark spots, or make the hair on our neck stand on end. Darkness is the friend of the ghost because we can’t see how they’re doing any of it!

Logic: Claiming that ghosts are able to appear by manipulating the energy around them would actually mean the more lights that are on, the better. The more electronic equipment that’s plugged in, the better of a chance they have to appear, right? In fact, in most cultures like Irish and Norse, ghosts appear in full daylight for this very reason.

2. Ghosts are either evil or need help crossing over

Backwards logic: There’s no in between. They either want to hurt us, or they’re lost and confused. They want something from us that they do not have, like blood or a religious cleansing. We never hear about the apparitions who help with the dishes or watch the kids on date nights.

Actual logic: Remember, these ghosts are remnants of former living people. To say most ghosts are evil is to imply that most people who die are evil which is far and wide not the case. Of course, there are exceptions but how many loving grandparents or family members have passed on that emanated love? Logic would dictate their energies would stick around too and not be mean. Also, how are we going to help? We understand death even less than the ghost who’s experienced it, so to claim the ghost needs help crossing over both admits to an afterlife and the spirit has full access to it. If this is the case, it might be time to pack things up and call it a day because the million dollar question of “What happens when we die?” has just been answered.

We're not even scared of live children. What's a dead one going to do to us?

We’re not even scared of live children. What’s a dead one going to do to us?

3. Unexplained sounds are ghosts trying to make contact

"Hello, sir, have you considered switching services to the ghost of Ma Bell?"

“Hello, sir, have you considered switching services to the ghost of Ma Bell?”

Backwards logic: The knocking on the wall, the creaks in the attic, the muffled voice on the audio recorder, those are ghosts trying to make contact with us! All of these ghost shows rely heavily on the use of EVP sessions (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) to get answers from the dead. It’s often theorized that our ears are too sensitive to pick up on spirit voices, but playback on hand held devices will be able to capture their cryptic messages.

Actual logic: Houses make noises. The foundations settle. A car driving by can vibrate through the ground and creak a doorway. Labeling these sounds as “unexplained” is a good way to cause a stir, but take a step back and think about it. Chances are you’ve heard those sounds before, but you just want to look cool in front of your new ghost hunting friends. Also for those voices, our brains do something called “matrixing” where if we hear a sound, we automatically try to label it as the closest thing we know. Whatever vibrations those handheld recorders pick up, it might sound like a human voice saying “I’m being very scary!” or it could just be someone shuffling in their seat and because we’re so convinced that we want to hear a ghost voice, we’ll convince ourselves we do. The best test? Next time a team does an EVP session where they capture something, close your eyes. See if you hear what they do without the leading subtitles.

4. The main cause of a haunting is someone died there

Backwards logic: Perfect for a ghost setup, there’s no argument there. Given the little we actually know about death and dying, it seems fair game, especially if there was a criminal element involved! Murder, cover ups, all work no play, knowing that a person may have died in the place where you are seems to up the scary factor by 100.

Actual logic: Why aren’t hospitals the most haunted places on the planet? People die, it’s what we do and it happens everywhere. If the main criteria put forth was that a death occurred on the property and we take in to account how many people have actually lived and died, it hardly seems ground for much of anything. Does the same go for pets? Insects? Germs?

Cemeteries should be the least haunted places of all. Nobody dies there.

Cemeteries should be the least haunted places of all. Nobody dies there.

5. Paranormal researchers know what they are doing and are here to help!

Backwards logic: It’s basically a profession, especially with how many shows and books there are popping up. If your place is experiencing the unexplained, for a fee (or airtime) they will come in and get rid of the problem.

Actual logic: This sounds borderline scam, doesn’t it? There’s a thing in a house, they don’t know what it is, where it came from, or why it’s there, but they’ll take care of it. I’m sorry but did I miss something? Life after death is based 100% in theory, so if there are any hard and fast rules or laws about ghosts, they haven’t been nailed down yet. The best case scenario that can come out of an investigation is that the experiences stop, which is sometimes as easy as believing they will stop. My house was strange, I did my due diligence, had some people who came in and lit a candle, and now I’m good! In that regard, yes perhaps these teams do help, but in terms of proving any sort of life after death, there’s still a long way to go.

Keep in mind, in no way am I saying these shows are full of it. I enjoy them just as much as the next person, but if they’re looking to do more than just entertain then they need to seeking answers, not just evidence and ratings.

"Who ya gonna call? Anybody else, if you're smart."

“Who ya gonna call? Anybody else, if you’re smart.”


Tyler Paterson is a Chicago native that tours the country with his comedy band. He loves ghost hunting and writing music. But not writing music about ghost hunting.

Tyler encountered other insubstantial souls with his celebrity reporting in Thank Goodness They Failed!

Pepper Potts quits her day job.

Pepper Potts quits her day job.

More from W. Tyler Paterson
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