Debunking Ghost Adventures

There is a show on Travel Channel that I came across recently called Ghost Adventures. It is hosted by three guys Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin. They travel to some of the places in America and sometimes Europe and Britain to document paranormal phenomena. Most often they are lucky and bring back a lot of EVPs or Electronic Voice Phenomena or sometimes even light anomalies and orbs. On some occasions the guys have also captured dark shadows and even moving objects. While most of what they have documented so far seems genuine, I am yet trying to debunk some of them and explain ‘scientifically’ and ‘logically’ what they could actually be. But boy, the shows do leave you kind of creeped out!

 

Let me begin with the EVPs which the guys record in each and every episode. The question is ARE THEY REALLY GHOST VOICES? To explain that we have to consider the two types of haunting: residual and intelligent. In a residual haunting, events from the past keep playing over and over again like a record. These are most likely to happen in places rich in history like battlegrounds, a historical ruin, the execution chamber or even in a house where some emotionally charged incident had happened. Scientists explain this as the discharge of personal energy which gets imprinted onto the surrounding environment. In fact the whole ‘theory’ of so called ghosts and spirits are based on the premise of energy- which can neither be created nor destroyed. Our bodies are storehouses of energy. Innumerable electro-chemical processes take place within our organ systems and in each of the processes large quantities of energy are released. We use some of the energy for our vital processes and daily activities and the rest of it may be dissipated into the surrounding environment. So when a person dies, when all his vital processes cease, what happens to the energy which was inside him. It would no longer be required so does it die along with the person? NO. The energy is released into the environment. We do not know yet what form of energy this is. But we can know for sure that it is released into the atmosphere but certainly not destroyed. (Law of Conservation of Energy) Coming back to residual haunting, these voices or visions which repeat themselves over and over again are nothing but the dissipated energy left over when the people died. In this case, the energy morphs itself into sound energy or light energy which we then hear as voices and see as visions. The loud ‘thuds’ and ‘dragging noises’ which Zak and his team hears are thus nothing but residual energies left over from a disturbed past. It is no surprise that most of these ‘dragging noises’ are actually noises from ‘dragging a dead body’ across the wooden floor or something like that. The ‘thuds’ are most often people falling down the stairs and injuring themselves which led to their death. The ‘disembodied wail’ and ‘woman crying’ are similarly remnants of a disturbed event which had greatly altered the courses of the lives of the people who made those sounds in the past.

 

A second kind of EVPs we get to hear are the intelligent voices which ‘answer’ questions posed by the guys or even give them valuable advice like: ‘DIE’, ‘COME HERE’ and ‘LAY DOWN’! How would you explain these voices? The intelligent EVPs are mostly results of extreme taunting techniques that Zak and his friends use to coax a reaction from the ‘other world’. There have been times when Zak had asked: “Do you live here? Knock once to say yes…”, and there was a knock. What if…what if…Zak himself made that noise?! If they have to ‘fake’ all of it, they have a pretty good excuse: In the opening of the show, Zak tells his viewers that he never believed in ghosts until he came face to face with one. So he set out on a journey trying to capture what he ‘once saw onto video’. He then says:

 

“With no big camera crew following us around, I am joined only by my fellow investigator Nick Groff and our equipment tech Aaron Goodwin…”

 

The point that there really are ‘no big camera crews’ following them makes it so much easier for them to ‘fake’ the whole show. Shaky images from hand held camcorders, pitch darkness and the green glow of infra-red vision- elements that give a ‘documentary’ feel to the show, elements that attempt to make it realistic can also be potent weapons in ‘staging’ the whole affair! While Zak points his camcorder towards him and asks, “Make some noise to tell us that you are here…”, he can intentionally knock on the wall with his free hand and then say “WHAT THE F*** WAS THAT! NICK DID YOU HEAR THAT?!”

 

I would like to draw attention to two instances here. Both happened in the La Purisima Mission, California. In the early nineteenth century, a great revolt took place between the inhabiting tribe the Chumash Indians and the Spanish soldiers before the independence of Mexico. Many Spanish soldiers were killed here by the Chumash Indians. At that time Father Payeras was in charge of the mission. He died in 1823 and his body is buried in the mission itself. It is believed that his spirit still roams about in the mission and would often mess up the bedsheets in his room that is still preserved. But before even the guys could fix up their ‘static night vision camera’ in Father Payeras’ bedroom, they found the sheets all crumpled and messed up! It is strange that the guys didn’t really think of setting up their cam earlier so they could capture whatever messed up the bed on camera. Oh man, what a fantastic piece of evidence would that have been! The second incident happens when they visit an old weaving room with looms where Chumash Indians would weave while some would play flutes. To entice the spirits, Zak plays traditional Chumash Indian music on a CD. They set up a digital sound recorder and a static camera to capture any paranormal activity. What they captured would definitely make the hair on the back of your neck stand! They captured the sound of typical Chumash Indian flute music! The guys were ecstatic! They had reason to be except I just figured that the flute music they captured sounded very similar to the one they had just played a while back to lure any disembodied being into the weaving room. Could it be that by mistake Zak had switched the digital recorder on while still playing the CD?

 

I am being a hardcore skeptic here which is quite unnatural for me. When they analyzed the music it was interlaced with static sounds which weren’t there when they had played the CD. And all the while they were talking while the music was being played. So had Zak even intentionally recorded the flute music from the CD, it would definitely be interlaced with their own voices. But then again, modern editing softwares and digital special effects have revolutionized post production techniques. But how would you account for the ‘flying brick’ in the Goldfield Hotel in Nevada? No way could it have been intentionally thrown by someone for there was no one there. And the trajectory of the brick made it clear that it would be impossible for us humans to throw something that would not have an elliptical trajectory. The path followed by the brick in the Goldfield was a STRAIGHT LINE! And it would also be impossible to attach very thin strings to it and pull it from the other end as the string would snap owing to the weight of the brick.

 

So have I been successful in debunking Ghost Adventures? No. Not hundred percent. For every debunked theory, there arises as new theory to make it seem more credible. To Ghost Adventures’ defense, what they do is one hundred percent credible. There lies a world very close to ours, a world that is full of the unknown, that is invisible except for certain instance when the curvature in the space-time fabric allows light to pass through from that world to ours- what we in common lingo call ‘portals’. These are not only portals to the spirit world but are also gateways to other dimensions of space of time and of spacetime. I would say scientists should be thankful to ‘ghosts’ because for them, we now know that there is a dimension beyond the visibly perceived three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. I can foresee a future where gazillion dollars would be spent on trying to investigate unknown dimensions and trying to construct a travel path to and from them. Till then, we would prefer ghosts and spirits to keep haunting us and preserve the ‘mystery’ of the other world. We love getting scared don’t we?

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28 thoughts on “Debunking Ghost Adventures

  1. Hi,

    Just read your post. I can tell you that Ghost Adventures is just for entertainment. I feel its actually kind of wrong for these shows to go on and lead people on. First off its the same as psychics and hand readers (they are masters at trickery like magicians) They make easy money and play on people who easily believe. Its the same thing but even easier to edit on tv. More evidence and scary scenes the more money for the producers so they often take common sense sounds ticking and creaking (normal in old houses) to say its a ghost to get the easy believers.
    For the brink toss it wasn’t a toss at all. It was more of a organized easy to catch magic trick. It involves a steady hand a block the same shape as the other bricks and a shaky camera. Ways to break it down. First the brick is not real you can tell this by when they first enter the room the brick is slightly hovering and swaying back and forth. ( as if someone is holding it up with magic string (very thin fish line) and hovering prepairing for the trick) You have to slow the video down and even do frame by frame to catch this. You can tell its being held by some form of pulley system or even as simple with someone with a stick and a pole that someone is holding out of view. Not to mention when they first enter they pretend to view all around, but mysteriously zoom in even making the light brighter right when the brick is supposedly thrown. How convenient.
    Third when the brick goes flying (or so called flying) it isn’t pulled so they totally cut off the part at the end where the doctor is explaining how its not physically possible to have someone throw this. What the doctor likely said after the tape was ended is it was either catapulted or lifted across. Exactly supports my evidence that someone set this up above the view of the camera. Take a look at TAPP which goes over shows like this to prove to people who take these shows to heart. They do a whole segment on youtube about the brick toss and even show my theory how this would look in real life. ( looks exactly the same down to the t. )
    If someone captures real evidence that has not been tampered with it would be all over the news and even examined by other doctors not ones set up by the crew themselves. Professionals can tell perfectly if a tape is authentic or not as long as they are not paid for there testimonial by the producers. :)

    Ghost can not exist due to the simple laws of physics. If you study it as much as I have that is proof enough to anyone that its just not possible. Same with phenomenons and so called acts of god. People want to believe so badly that they will never believe actual proof that they don’t exist. Same with people who believe in aliens and all these people with special abilities. Sorry didn’t realize how much I ranted.

    Keep up the good writing and let me know of any other evidence that your guessing. :) Don’t take offense to any of this please

    Sincerely,
    Jody

    • very well thought out reply and i respect that. but i have to point out 1 thing.
      you mentioned TAPP and how they debunk shows like this or simple misconceptions people make about “paranormal activities”.
      TAPP themselves have been PROVEN to be frauds. on youtube there is a video that highlights when one of their shirts was pulled by a “ghost”
      slowed down you can see a string attached to his shirt. another highlight was a cut portion of video where they are talking to producers about what to do next, if i remember correctly, it was about what to “move” next or noise to make or light to turn on. to be honest, ghost adventures is the show i have the hardest time debunking. the only credible proof i have that its fake is every episodes basically the same. they ALWAYS find a voice, they ALWAYS see this “orb” which he has to point out that its not dust or a bug everytime. its just not believeable sometimes. especially when you hear a knock down the hall, he points the camera there, then back at himself giving whoever made the knock time to hide.

      and you really dont believe in aliens? all the planets and stars/suns in the known and unknown universe, and you think we are the only beings? thats a downright arrogant attitude.

    • Well Jody, I have to say, with you expertise of physics, I guess you know everything that exist in this universe, even outside of earth. When did you take this trip? I must say even from a scientific perspective, it is a very arrogant and ignorant statement to say you are 100% we humans are the only form of life around (excluding animals, insects etc). Just seems like you’re saying you know it all without a doubt.

  2. Wow. So, you dont believe? How sad. I , too, wasnt a believer until I moved into the house I am in now. My son kept hearing voices and I didnt believe him. He then started sleeping in other rooms because he said they wouldnt let him sleep and kept messing his bed up. I tried to show him he was making it up until he made his bed in front of me. We both walked out of the room and two minutes later went back in.
    The bed was a mess. Talk about goose bumps. Anyway, was never a believer, and I dont watch the shows you speak of because we cant see everything but I have to say I do beleive in ghosts and spirits.

    • Its not that I don’t believe. I haven’t had to face any incident yet. Thankfully! Sad to know its happened with you. I am a skeptic. I try to find scientific explanations for phenomena that defy the laws of nature, so to speak. Sometimes I am unable to come up with any explanation. The show that I wrote about is an example of taking something that we don’t know of (the unknown) out into the public sphere. It might be staged but at least we know that such things happen. But I am still looking for that ultimate theory that would explain these. Thanks for your comment though. God bless.

  3. I love this show verry fun to watch I belive some is real and some is staged. I question alot of things in life but I do know their is something else we dont understand .I heard and seen things that I cant explaine it happens more than you relize but people question themselves and dont want to belive it . Thats what I did you fell like people will think your nuts. Just so you know their out their.

    • I believe that there is something out there that is beyond our comprehension. But as far as the show is concerned, I believe that it is staged. It is fun to watch though. It still does not define what really is out there as that cannot be defined…Maybe someday, after years of study into the subjuect we will be able to understand such phenomena. I’ll keep an open mind till then ;)

  4. Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity tells us that
    E=mc^2. Energy and mass interconvert. When an organism dies there is still mass. There is energy “Stored” in mass. Both mass and energy are conserved according to the laws of Physics.
    I LOVE the show. It is a lot of fun to watch whether you believe or not. The guys are pretty brave…! My only complaint – and its a big one – is that they do not do more to critically examine their evicence. I think that they get some comeplling and un-explainable evidence. I would like to see them weed out the crap and focus on the good stuff. That would lend some additional credibility to their results. Also – it would be nice if they made a statement at the begining or end pledging the integrity of their recordings.
    Thanks for the article! Nice job on it too! I bet that you got a ton of hits on 12/25/2010 because there was a marathon on the travel channel that day.

    • while i like your dedication to scientific exploration, your post exhibits an ignorance of the nature of energy.
      there is a difference between kinetic and potential energy. this is basic 6th grade science.
      a corpse, for instance, represents Potential (like all objects/beings of mass; a lump of coal, for example), and not Kinetic energy: it needs to be buried/composted (or otherwise eaten by bugs, worms, etc.) or burned or something alike to convert its energy into some kinetic/measurable action. in other words, the harvesting of the energy must come from outside the organism.

  5. Personally, I do not believe in ghosts. But, I must admit, I have recently begun to love watching these shows. They are a hoot. I get a kick out of how they take gibberish and make it sound like words – and after they tell you – I can hear it too:) My house is fairly new – only 20 years old – but at night,there are all sorts of noises – houses expand and contract and it’s noisy. Plus — these building they visit are often times old, abandoned buildings – I suspect critters for a lot of the shuffling noises they hear. But it’s all great fun – adult version of ghost stories we told at sleepovers as children.

  6. though people say they edit these out on tv how can you account for the groups of people who saw zak get attcked at Bob Mackey’s Music World?

    • Grab the back of your shirt or pant leg with your thumb and index finger. Use the other 3 fingers to scratch your skin as you move the fabric up.

      Have we ever wondered why there are so many 3 fingered spirits?

  7. My problem with this particular Ghost show is that the three of the guys all seem to be religious. Why do they have “cleansings” and a book ready in case one of the guys gets possessed, as in the Bob Mackey episode (3rd one)? It only feeds the religious nuts out there that this possession stuff from “the devil” could be true. After watching the lot of Ghost shows, I like “Ghost Hunters” the best. They always look at a situation as a skeptic, where the guys from “Ghost Adventures” come into a case already believing that there are ghosts, or demons, haunting the clients home or building.

    • ultimately we must remember that television shows are meant to excite, incite and provoke audience so ad spaces are better sold. some shows make use of the craft and churn out very good stuff. others rely on cheap thrills. my personal reaction to GA is that it falls under the cheap thrills category. though, i must not deny that i believe there IS definitely SOMETHING out there that we don’t know of. GA, clearly doesn’t know of it either :) thank you all for your feedback. really appreciated…

  8. As for the flying brick of Goldfield, remember that in this one, Aaron is missing; supposedly too scared and/or religious to continue after a stay at the mine.

    Not all bricks are heavy. Bricks used in fireplaces and boilers can be light and porous for the same reason the heat shield tiles of the space shuttles are so light.
    I suspect that the line used was stretched across the room being anchored to the far wall. It was attached to the brick in the middle.
    That’s what causes the 2×4 to fall as well in the background.
    Of course, the brick could be a simple foam prop they brought with them.
    (we should also note that both Aaron’s fears and religious convictions have vanished in the following episodes)

    One thing no ghost hunter wanting a TV audience will ever do is derive facts in an interview with a spook. You won’t learn anything that isn’t previously known.
    And what science is it that settles for such cursory “evidence” as proof?
    Can we get a middle or last name? Birth date? Mother’s maiden name?
    Many of these places also come with a mystery of lost items or missing persons. I would think that a spirit who has spent a century wandering around an area might have stumbled upon a clue or two.

    Let’s hear it from the other side.

    It’s a good show and we’re not only treated to ghost stories but short tours of historical places and a glimpses of the societies from the time periods.
    Watch the show and have some fun.

  9. I have never had a paranormal experience. I don’t think I even want to believe that some poor souls are stuck on this Earth, unable for some reason or another to move on. I don’t watch these types of shows for an earth-shattering revelation of the existence of ghosts. I like the show for the same reason I like scary movies. I don’t take it seriously it’s just fun to watch. :-)

  10. Humans are patterns seeking creatures that use their cognitive biases and selective desires to mold the phenomenon that they experience into beliefs. I just watched the “Brick Throwing” episode and I found this blog post while looking into debunkings of this episode.

    Something important to remember when considering questions about this episode is whether or not everything in the show is staged for entertainment value. We don’t actually know if the flying object a brick or made of something else such as foam. Surely it has a brick like shape but what else can we say about it. Is it possible, or even likely, that the entire event was a complex parlor trick? There is just nothing that we can actually say about the event that makes it believable unless you actually want to believe it.

    When people do want to believe in something, they are naturally going to be less credulous about what input is coming to them.

    There are fraudsters, tricksters, kooks, illusionists, entertainers, and the truly delusioned who will play on the fears of others to weave their stories for some gain in reputation or entertainment. The only question for you is, do you want to believe as few false things and as many true things as possible, and how far are you willing to go in the pursuit of making sure that your beliefs accurately represent reality?

    Regarding this brick throwing event. I simply don’t buy it and I don’t think anyone else should either. There just isn’t enough to suggest that it wasn’t a hoax.

  11. i can say for a fact the there are things that cannot be explained by science alone. irealize that ghost adventures may have hoaxed us in some way. i waill also say that i have had things happen to me that i can never explain. i’ve seen and heard things such as laughing children or a harsh whisper in the ear and the not being a soul around.so there is some truth to their findings. i only say this because i have seen some of the things they clam to see. i wont say all is true but some it is.

  12. i just read a lot of arrogant judgmentalism on both sides “oh how sad that you don’t believe what i believe” anyone who looks down on those for having different views I find to be very low. Believe what you want. I find that a little of all answers is the closest to the one true answer, is there a god? probably not a conscious god, maybe just a massively complex unreadble energy mass that keeps the universe in balance and order is god. Something that combines a little of all religions and some science too. Open your minds, even those of you who believe in ghosts without a doubt, expand your minds that you might be wrong, or even just somewhat off.

  13. I want to believe it’s real. I really do. I have had many an experience with the paranormal, the most prominent being a doorbell ringing in my house. This would be easily debunked as someone ringing it outside, except the doorbell was disconnected and had been long since removed from the house. About 10 years, I believe. Some of the evidence they collect is stunningly believing, and some pieces are easier to prove fake. I definitely believe they fake bits of it, but not all.

  14. just read the post, loved it….I will simply tell you this….ghost exist, the afterlife exists, astral travel exists…….and yes, your right, we are beings of energy. How do I know? I would love to tell you, but I will let you find out for yourself. Enjoy the journey of discovery and open your mind……

  15. Living in England I have only fairly recently become aware of the show…and I love it!! I have always been 100% skeptic. However, I can’t help but find myself questioning my own beliefs after some of the things I have seen on the show. A lot of it says “Really? Are you serious?” But, still, some of it says “Oh my God…Did I just see that!?” Like I said, I am a skeptic but only because I have never seen anything with my own two eyes…As much as I would love to! Which must be the reason why I continue to watch :) Credit to all the guys and keep up the good work (real or not I still enjoy a good show) but if there is ANYONE out there that can TRULY prove existence…I look forward to seeing what you got! I want to believe…I need to believe!

    • Hi Johno,

      You are right, it’s a good show. However, certain things can’t obviously be counted out. Those are the things that aren’t caught on camera – maybe the guys are just acting – stuff like the way they are feeling when lockdowned inside a haunted house – feelings of oppression, anger etc… everything that you’d associate with dark energies. There is an unknown world out there and I firmly believe in that. The idea is to have an opened mind.

  16. For all those who commented, here’s a line from the movie Mama that I really liked. I think it’s the best non-scientific explanation of ghosts: When a corpse is left out, the elements withered, desiccated, twisting it into a distorted figure that is barely recognizable as a human being… a ghost is an emotion bent out of shape, condemned to repeat itself time and time again until it rights the wrong it was done.

    Thanks again!

    Check out my latest post on Ghost Adventures….

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