Have TV shows ever found real evidence of ghosts?

It’s not just a skeptical question. Plenty of people ask me why they’ve never seen a real ghost on TV. They want to know if ghost hunting TV shows ever found real evidence of ghosts.

TV shows — and paranormal researchers, in general — don’t find real evidence of ghosts because, so far, there is none.

We’ve found nothing convincing that we can show others. Skeptics like the (not so) “Amazing Randi” will always find flaws, shortcomings, or weaknesses in the recordings of all kinds.

Investigators can show that something odd is going on.

1839 photograph of R. CorneliusBy process of elimination, and with an open-minded witness on the scene, they can show that it had no obvious (normal) cause.

Despite that, no one can prove a ghost caused whatever happened.

Shows such as the Ghost Hunters franchise and Ghost Lab have impressed me.  They’ve shown the world fresh, effective research techniques and tools.

However, that’s not scientific (“real”) evidence of ghosts.

For now, I doubt that anyone will produce scientific evidence on ghost-related TV shows… or in real life.

I hope I’m wrong, but I haven’t seen the progress I’d hoped for.

What’s the worst TV show about ghosts?

Among shows I’ve seen, Extreme Paranormal was one of the worst TV shows about ghosts. The stars of that show can tell you why.

Many other, short-lived series — especially “fear” style shows — have been perfectly awful, too.

annoyed catDon’t blame the stars of those shows. They’re usually good people. Some of them are actual paranormal researchers, and good ones. (Sadly, you’d never guess it from the shows.)

Where do the problems come from? Usually, it’s how the shows are produced, written, directed, and edited.

From the few snippets I’ve seen, Dead Files is on my worst list… but only if people take the show seriously. What I saw looked like a parody of what researchers like me really do.

The Haunted Collector show disappointed me more than most. I’ve know John Zaffis since we both spoke at paranormal conferences in the late 1990s or so.

John is a tremendous researcher, and one of the most authoritative “walking encyclopedias” of paranormal insights and information.

The show’s producers never seemed to get that, or showcase his expertise. That was tragic.

But, in general, ghost hunting and TV shows are two very different things. When I do watch a ghost hunting TV show or movie, I try to remember that.

I’m interested in ghost research, not the TV shows.

The only reason I check ghost-related shows is to understand the context of the emails and comments I receive.

When something seems to come out of left field, it’s usually the result of a TV show.

I’ve been sorry to see good TV shows get cancelled. However, the demise of the worst TV shows about ghosts… that’s been a relief.

Which ghost hunting TV show is (or was) the best?

Regularly, people ask me to rank ghost hunting TV shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and Paranormal State.

Old TV and remoteI think they’re establishing my attitudes towards ghost hunting. (If they’re looking for an argument, that’s a waste of time.)

Each ghost hunting TV show has taken a different approach to the subject.

If I had to name just one favorite ghost-related TV show, Ghost Lab wins. The Klinge brothers explored more innovative research techniques than most similar shows. In addition, I respect their integrity.

The big brands

I’ve liked episodes of Most Haunted, Ghost Adventures, and Ghost Hunters, each for different reasons.

Most Haunted visited locations with fascinating histories. (I only watched the UK version of that show.)

I’m not sure about the accuracy of the channeled information or the stories. But, if you don’t take ghost shows seriously, that was a fun TV series to watch. Great locations. Silly pranks. Fun cast members.

Ghost Adventures intrigued me for different reasons. Though I only saw a few episodes, I liked the details included in each episode. I don’t mean the narrative, but the filming of each episode. Their cameras captured more nooks and crannies at investigation sites. I’m always interested in that.

In addition, I think many viewers like seeing the stars of that show. During the few episodes I watched, the guys seemed genuinely interested in paranormal research.

Ghost Hunters is one of the most authoritative production among ghost hunting TV shows that launched at the start of the 21st century trend. I liked every series in the franchise.

I wish they’d allowed Barry Fitzgerald more input for the international episodes. He was one of the most challenging researchers, and — though I often disagree with him on fine points — his voice was important.

I liked how Steve and Dave were portrayed in the “academy” episodes; they’re both sincere, funny, caring guys. I felt that they deserved their own series.

Paranormal State started out with an interesting edge. Before long, my “gut feeling” was that someone connected with the show attracted unpleasant energy. So, for me, the show lost much of its credibility, early on.

Ghost-related episodes of Destination: Truth highlighted fascinating locations. Too many segments seemed rushed, but they brought something different to the niche. I haven’t seen newer, related series.

Older paranormal TV shows

Though it’s long gone and not a ghost hunting TV show, per se, I liked John Edward in Crossing Over.

Of course, I’m aware of the criticism of the show and take most of it with a grain of salt.

The reason I liked the show was its authenticity.

Genuine mediums have a certain way of talking. They trust “the other side” more than the people in front of them. Those mediums do their best to articulate the odd images and sensations that come through from the other side.

Sometimes, those translations are so subjective, the medium can’t get it right. That’s normal, and it can be worse under the pressure of “performing” for an audience, much less a TV crew.

Through his accurate readings and his shortfalls, John Edward helped me understand my own psychic gifts.

Among all the TV shows with a paranormal theme, I think I got the most from his shows, and watched more of them. I’m sorry that rumors, duplicity, and production quirks cost that show its ratings.

But, the same could be said of almost any ghost-related TV show.

Also, I’m still a fan of the really old TV b&w series, One Step Beyond. When I find episodes on “oldies” channels, I watch them.

The shows are dated and usually include very bad acting. However, most episodes are based on true stories, and can give you fresh locations to investigate, yourself.

What’s ahead for ghost hunting TV shows?

Regularly, producers contact me with plans for new ghost hunting TV shows. So far, it seems like they’re still reinventing Ghost Hunters. I’m not convinced they get what’s changed in this field — and the viewing audience — over the past few years.

Will ghost hunting become trendy again in the near future? I haven’t a clue. However, these things tend to go in cycles, and I’ve seen some interesting spikes at search engines.

Whether future ghost hunting TV shows will be innovators or purely commercial trend followers probably depends more on the producers than anything else.

What are the best TV shows and movies about real ghosts?

“Best” is in the eye of the beholder. Also, ghost-related movies are usually different from ghost-related TV shows. So, I use different standards when I talk about them.

In general, when it comes to ghost videos on the big or small screen, I’m very opinionated about this topic.

My favorite ghost-related movies include the 1963 version of The Haunting.

So far, nothing else has measured up to that. Not even close.

Although the marsh scene and the ending spoiled the Daniel Radcliffe movie, The Woman in Black, I thought much of it was compelling.

I like many dramatizations of The Turn of the Screw.

The old Roddy McDowell move, The Legend of Hell House, can seem ridiculously dated and sensational. However, some elements in it are excellent.

It’s one of the more popular ghost-related movies that air on TV around Halloween. Expect some unintended laughs, keep your expectations low, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

My favorite ghost-related TV show was probably the Ghost Lab series by the Klinge Brothers. It seemed the most genuine, though I winced at much of the editing.

When I met them — and got past my starry-eyed fangirl moment — they seemed genuine and had some great ghost insights. (They’re the only ghost hunters I’ve gone fangirl over. So, that says a lot.)

Here are a couple of their investigations, from a YouTube video:

I’ve liked some episodes of Ghost Hunters, mostly because I’m dazzled by the locations they visit.

(Well, to be honest, I’m actually envious of the access they have to great, haunted sites. I just wouldn’t trade my privacy for that.)

In terms of the show itself, I know (and like) many of the cast members, so I am biased… and I’ve seen fewer than a dozen Ghost Hunters episodes.

I just can’t watch friends on TV shows, when they’re edited to look gullible, ignorant, belligerent, or… well, very different than they are in real life.

So, I’ve avoided watching Ghost Hunters.

Ghost hunting on YouTube

I like about 3% of ghost-related videos on YouTube. Maybe less.

The other 97% are so silly, hyped, or badly filmed, I can’t watch. Still, when a YouTube video is good, it can be great.

Entertainment v. reality

In general, most ghost-related movies don’t accurately represent hauntings.

Likewise, ghost-related TV shows are edited as entertainment. They don’t show everything that goes on at haunted places. They don’t realistically portray ghost hunting.

Often, the team’s research was genuine. Then, the footage was edited to amuse or entertain the viewing audience.

Remember: these shows aren’t documentaries. In recent years, instead of pretending they’re “reality” shows, producers call them “unscripted” shows.

If you want to know the truth about ghost-related TV series, look for interviews with former stars of Extreme Paranormal.

They’re no longer bound by the terms of their TV contracts, and they’re talking about what really goes on, behind the scenes. It’s more chilling than the ghosts they’ve encountered.

My answer to this question: The best way to identify good, ghost-related movies and TV shows, is to become a ghost hunter yourself. Soon, you’ll be able to spot what’s real and what’s fake.

What are good books about ghost hunting?

Any ghost-related books that resonates with you can be good ghost hunting books. My judgments are very subjective, based on my experiences in this field.

If you’re looking for ghost stories — fictional or true — that can be a matter of taste.

Nonfiction

– For years, I’ve been an almost rabid fan of Colin Wilson’s books. Though I don’t always agree with him, I’m dazzled by his innovative ideas and research.

attic windowI like the ghost hunting books by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, because I know them.

So, I understand the context of what they’re describing with each story and case.

– Troy Taylor’s book, The Ghost Hunters Guidebook, is superb for beginners.

– I like the speculation in Marie Jones’ book, PSIence.

– Michelle Belanger may be my favorite authority on paranormal topics, but I’m biased. Michelle is a friend, and I’m always impressed when someone has read more books than I have. (I’m pretty sure she has.)

– I love the insights and humor provided by Lesley Marden’s book, Medium, Rare. And, I’m proud of my own books, including Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries: A How-To Guide.

Folklore and Fiction

– Since childhood, my favorite ghost stories have been those by Edward Rowe Snow. He specialized in eerie folklore of New England. Many of those tales are being updated by Jeremy D’Entremont, who has a commitment to authentic stories.

– Nick Redfern isn’t a ghost researcher, per se, but many of his books touch on related topics.

I believe we need to look outside the ghost hunting field to maintain a healthy perspective on some of the truly weird things we encounter.

Nick Redfern talks about very strange topics. When he publishes a new book, my work is put “on hold.” My husband can count on take-away dinners and store-bought pizzas until I’ve finished reading. I’m that enthusiastic about Redfern’s work.

– In fiction, I still like The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson.

What’s the difference between a ghost hunter and a parapsychologist?

A parapsychologist isn’t the same thing as a ghost hunter or even a paranormal investigator. A parapsychologist can research haunted sites. He or she is likely to investigate local paranormal phenomena.

But, the terms aren’t interchangeable.

A ghost hunter is usually looking for evidence of ghosts and hauntings.

A paranormal investigator is looking for evidence of unusual, outside-the-norm events and experiences.

glassesHowever, parapsychology is a subset of psychology. Parapsychology deals with a wide range of phenomena. That includes ghosts, ESP, remote viewing, and various related studies.

Some colleges and universities offer courses and symposia related to parapsychology. Due to tenuous funding, they rarely continue for more than a year or two.

Also, some interpret parapsychology as the study of specific mental illnesses, including delusions of ghostly encounters. In many cases, that kind of parapsychologist has already made up his (or her) mind. To him or her, ghosts, ESP, and so on, do not exist outside fantasy.

It’s important to examine all hauntings and paranormal activity with an open mind.

With experience, most “true believers” learn that many hauntings can be explained, and vanish after minor building repairs.

In addition, many skeptical parapsychologists learn that some paranormal phenomena aren’t just imagined experiences.

Closed minds — in either direction — create barriers between two fields of study that could help each other. It’s important to try to work together.

But, ghost hunters and parapsychologists aren’t synonyms.