I’ve noticed that, lately, there are quite a large number of shows on television revolving around the supernatural. More specifically, these are programs that deal with people who claim to do something like hunt ghosts. Perhaps the most prominent of these is the obviously titled Ghost Hunters. I must admit to being perplexed at the existence and popularity of such shows. I actually tried to sit through a few episodes to get a feel for what all the fuss is about, but I just could not make it through an entire episode. The events in the program are, to put it mildly, lame. You never get to see anything like a ghost, nor is there anything even remotely close to evidence for the existence of something at all supernatural ever found. Rather, what you get is a few people running around in the dark with over-tuned instruments acting like they are scared at the sounds they themselves are making.
There are some obvious things about these programs that strike me as just odd. For example, if the group examining some supposedly haunted location thinks they’ve genuinely found something, why is it that they pack up when they have enough footage for a single episode? Why not stick around longer and get something that is more definitive than creaking boards or anomalous readings from a cam with nightvision? More importantly, why exactly are they scared at all? They jump and yell when the wind blows, so they are clearly afraid of something, but I have no idea what it is. These are people whose entire job is to hunt ghosts. They have been doing it for years, and in all that time no one has been hurt. Nothing ever attacks the “hunters.” At some point you would think these guys would wise up and realize that, if there really are ghosts, the entities in question either cannot or will not harm them. Jumping at every “boo” just makes them look ridiculous.
But, unsurprisingly, I have some more serious questions about they entire endeavor, and these become objections to the entire premise of the “hunt.” What exactly is the supposed nature of the ghosts? From what I have picked up, it looks like they are supposed to be non-physical, immaterial entities. Indeed, that’s the typical notion of a ghost. So what’s up with all the gadgets? Those over-tuned devices are built to measure physical stuff. Cameras measure light. If ghosts are non-physical, then there is nothing off of which light can bounce to hit the camera, or even our eyes. If these things are truly non-physical, the entire attempt to see them is just…well, stupid. The same goes for attempting to record them. Sound is a wholly physical thing. It is a wave of pressure oscillation in the atmosphere that is picked up by some measuring device, like our ears or an audio recorder. If there is nothing physical there to move the air, then there will be no sound to detect by ears or otherwise. I could go down the list for everything else, from heat to electromagnetic interference. The simple fact is that all such things are physical, and the idea of something non-physical causing them makes no sense.
Of course, someone might suggest that ghosts are, in reality, physical. Ok, great. But then they do not seem to fit what we generally think of as “ghosts,” and it’s unclear on how they’re related to people that died in the past or anything like that. I mean, it seems pretty clear that when people die the physical part of them is done. That’s why people who believe in ghosts, spirits, souls, etc say that such things are non-physical, and thus not harmed by the physical death of the individual. But then we are right back where we started with none of this equipment that measures physical changes being able, in principle, to detect anything having to do with such stuff. That makes the whole notion of hunting ghosts with these gadgets just silly.
In the end, I am wholly unable to understand the popularity of such programs. Every episode appears identical to the last, and each ends with no definitive evidence of anything at all. One would think that people would get bored of grown men jumping at their own shadows and footfalls, and yet… I’m just left scratching my head.