The Cost of Not Being Skeptical: A Look at Haunts, Hoaxes and the Unscientific Ghost Hunters Who Help Create Them

Amateur paranormal investigators love to find what they consider to be evidence of ghosts at private residences and businesses all across the country.  EMF spikes, EVP, and a variety of creepy feelings and photographic anomalies all pass as proof positive of a haunting in their minds.  But what happens when they find out the location they deemed haunted had been pulling the wool over their eyes?  What do they do when they find out their haunt was hoaxed?

That’s a question some of these folks may have to start asking themselves if Aron Houdini has his way.  Houdini, a distant relative by marriage of the legendary magician; and a conjurer and escape artist in his own right, recently took to his Facebook page to announce that he had proof positive of a so-called haunted location faking paranormal phenomena.

Confessing that he had “seen it with (his) own eyes,” he accuses this as of yet unnamed location of “making things move,” and creating “noises, shadows, apparitions.”  Many of his friends and fans, ghost hunters themselves, offered their support and asked him to expose the location and its owners for their duplicitous ways.

Despite their alarmingly unscientific methods, many ghost hunters pride themselves in their pursuit of the truth, and in helping people understand the nature of the spirit world.  Though skeptics have long realized that the claimed “proof” of ghosts is really no more than proof they don’t know what they are doing, I think it’s fair to say that many ghost hunters have their hearts in the right place.  I also think it’s fair to say they have their heads up their rears, especially when it comes to situations like Aron Houdini is referring to.  The ghost hunters, it seems, consider themselves to be the victims in this ordeal.

Commenting on Aron’s Facebook page, Allen Dunski, lead investigator and tech manager for Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators said, “People pay good (money) to go to events and haunted locations to experience something, not to be made to look like a fool.”  Another ghost hunter going by the name of Blade Sighters wrote, “I would thank you for letting me know that I was fooled.  And as for the people that fooled me, well, we will leave it at that.”  Their comments were typical, though some were much more harsh.  What very few of them seemed to understand or want to admit, however, was that it was ghost hunters just like them ultimately responsible for the con continuing in the first place.

Solid scientific investigative techniques expose fraud.  Unscientific nonsensical methods people copy from television shows help perpetuate the fraud.  The fact is, these teams go into locations looking to find ghosts and anything they can’t immediately explain away becomes, in their mind, evidence of ghosts.  They go through the motions of what they consider to be an investigation, call the location haunted, and share their “evidence” with other people and teams in the paranormal community.  Those folks then check the location out for themselves, making the same mistakes the last group did.  More “proof” of ghosts is found and the legend grows.  Soon, the location is charging obscene amounts of money for ghost tours and renting the place out to would-be investigators.  It’s an ongoing cycle.  The hoaxers don’t even have to bother recreating the effects any longer.  The eager investigators are more than happy to find ghosts in blurry photographs, hear them in the white noise from their recordings, and feel them in the tingle up their spine.  All they need is a story to start them off and their lack of critical thinking will do the rest.

In my opinion, the ghost hunting groups who validate the hauntings are just as responsible, if not more so, than the locations engaging in fakery in the first place.  Their unscientific methodology and disregard for skepticism and critical thinking has helped propagate an innumerable amount of false hauntings across the country and around the world.  Who can say how many dollars hoaxed haunts have brought in with the help of testimonials from ignorant ghost hunters?  And how many clients have these same teams unwittingly misled into believing their homes were haunted by using the same techniques?  That’s the kind of stuff that keeps skeptics up at night.

So when Aron Houdini eventually announces the name of the location he caught faking paranormal phenomenon, how many of the ghost hunters who validated that haunting over the years will apologize?  How many will vow to stop investigating until they learn what they’re doing?  My guess:  few, if any.  And why?  Because they’re too busy playing victim to their own ignorance.

Thanks for reading.

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11 thoughts on “The Cost of Not Being Skeptical: A Look at Haunts, Hoaxes and the Unscientific Ghost Hunters Who Help Create Them

  1. You were entirely too nice and a little off the mark. Yes, these morons in some of these groups are equally to blame, but the people who hold the truth in their hands (in this case Aron) are required, if nothing else by morals of fairplay and honesty, to expose those they can prove to be fraudulent. Any other excuse for not outing the frauds also make someone like Aron equally guilty.

  2. David, this article was more about the role ghost hunters play in allowing hoaxed haunts to thrive. I would agree with you that, should Aron not out the location, he should face criticism. But that’s just not what this particular article was about today. According to Aron, he has spoken to the people at the location and offered them the chance to come clean. If they do not do so by Saturday, he will be speaking out. Let’s both look forward to some resolution on this issue over the weekend.

  3. Nice article. Not to take some publicity, but David has investigated this place. And he has gotten evidence from this place. However, the evidence he found,… Was in fact fake. He DID NOT know that it was fake,…. but he had He been fooled,… Like so many others excited in the moment and believed into what he heard….. And it was nothing more than a tape Recorder hidden in the air vent.

    I have begged for an apology,… We are now hours away. I do not think it will happen. I along with so many others are up late preparing our statements. I wish all parties the best.

  4. O,… & as mentioned I gave the people 5 days to come clean and apologize. Kids are involved and the people are very close to loosing their home. I wanted to show a little compassion. And David we spoke last night,… & I DID NOT tell you the location,…. But yet you knew it! Hmmmmm….. Maybe you should expose the location,… & not be guilty like the rest of us!

  5. I’ve never once claimed evidence at the school. I’ve been there several times and we use dogs during our investigation. Our dogs see and hear things long before we do and have had experiences there but we go back to validate them to be really paranormal or misinterpreted. That is partly what sets our team apart from others. We check a place out multiple times before we come to a conclusion. I’ve in fact debunked that stupid slamming door last year before it was even common knowledge of why it worked how it did.

  6. Pingback: The Hoaxing of Poasttown; and What Ghost Hunters Need to Ask Themselves | Fortean Squirrel

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