I identify with skeptics. I like indisputable proof and hard, reliable evidence. Nevertheless, I occasionally watch TV shows in which so-called “paranormal” events are either investigated by a crew or presented documentary-style. You know the shows I mean. Ghost Hunters, Destination Truth, Paranormal State, The Haunted . . . the list goes on.
There is one annoying trait (among others) common to all the programs of this type that I have seen. Most of the investigators are too liberal with assignations of the term “paranormal”. If they are unable to find a simple explanation for something, well then it’s paranormal. Destination Truth is the only show I’m familiar with that at least leaves alternative possibilities available by occasionally saying things along the lines of “due to lack of evidence, it may or may not be paranormal”.
The investigations that are seen being performed in these shows are pseudoscience. Frequently, when monitoring an environment for paranormal activity, devices such as electromagnetic field (EMF) meters and thermal imagers are used, together with audio and video equipment, and sometimes they’ll even bring in someone who claims to have psychic abilities. (Let’s pretend I didn’t mention that last one for now.) In my opinion, the A/V gear can at least be put to good use if something is seen or heard, but who decided that ghosts emit EMFs or create temperature variations? In addition, the investigations often take place in natural, outdoor areas rendering most thermograms practically worthless. In an uncontrolled — and usually night-time — outdoor environment, who’s to say your mysterious temperature readings aren’t coming from a raccoon or some other manner of nocturnal animal?
I would love to see a TV show where debunking is the goal, rather than proving. I have yet to find a program where the investigations are carried out by true skeptics who won’t cry “paranormal” whenever they can’t explain a strange hot spot on their thermal imager. If you know of a show with skeptical investigators, be sure to let me know. I want to watch it.
Being skeptical means that if you want me to believe in Bigfoot, you’ll have to show me a Bigfoot — one that you can prove isn’t a man in a suit, and that has been scientifically confirmed as a new species by several professional and qualified members of the scientific community. A foot print isn’t going to cut it, even when it’s claimed that the footprint is completely perfect and has all the right contours, measurements, and signs of weight distribution that could only have been made by the foot of a huge ape-like creature in an upright walking motion. Humans have built skyscrapers that tower hundreds of feet in the air; humans have sent astronauts into outer space; humans have built pyramids. I’m pretty sure that a human could fake a convincing Bigfoot foot print. And don’t you dare say that the pyramids were built by aliens.