Local Version of Ghost Hunters Coming Soon?

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mdg (August 19, 2009, 12:58:37 PM):
South Africans will be able to watch a local version of "Ghost Hunters" sometime soon.
I'm not sure how soon "soon" is, and I suppose it all depends on if and when the SABC sorts itself out.

Anyway, the ghost hunting team is S.P.I.T.S.A. and they have an intro of the pilot show up on YouTube. See http://www.youtube.com/v=Bk0YbSDEdX8#
I'm sure that creative editing, such as in the U.S.A. Ghost Hunters series, will prevail and not a single sceptical point of view will feature.

Let me just add some background to my interest in SPITSA. I've been looking at doing a couple of posts about the paranormal on my blog, after a discussion a while ago about ghosts - I also live near the area where the "Walkerville Ghost" is supposed to haunt a lonely stretch of road. So I decided to go onto SPITSA's website and have a look at some of their investigations. There were a few things that stood out for me...

1. They claim that their investigations are scientific.

2. There were a lot of discrepancies in the investigations - for eg. they use orbs as a means of detecting ghosts, but in some cases where orbs were found, they claimed that there was no paranormal activity, and I wondered why.

3. They claim a high "strike rate" in terms of successful investigations

So, I contacted them via email and asked some questions.( I also wanted to try and get myself invited on one of their investigations and hopefully get one or two of you -fellow sceptics - to come along too.)
They were quite prompt in their reply and, perhaps I misread them, but they didn't seem too keen on having a sceptic along. Although they said that they welcomed observers - for reasons of transparency- they were concerned that I may not accept their findings as definitive proof and that I may "tarnish" their reputation with what I had to say on my blog. Not that I was going to mention them by name on my blog, I was just going to talk about my experiences with some ghost hunters and about how an investigation was conducted. Perhaps I still may get lucky and be invited after I replied to their concerns this morning.

With regard to their investigations being scientific, I asked whether they thought it was scientific because they used technology. Every single member of the team talks about having had a paranormal experience, so I felt the investigation couldn't be all that scientific seeing as it was being conducted by "believers". I was told that in fact the team were all sceptics "in their own right" and that that's how they conducted their investigations, but reading through their cases it's very obvious that each investigation is approached from a believer's point of view.
I've gone through all the evidence they've compiled in each investigation, most of it is photo's of orbs, EVP's and more recently, thermographic imaging - and very flimsy as evidence goes. However, one EVP stands out - I'll link to it as soon as I find it again - it is either an outright hoax or the clearest ghost voice I have ever heard caught on tape.

If anyone is interested in reading the correspondence between me and SPITSA, I'll post it on this thread.

bluegray (August 19, 2009, 13:55:45 PM):
Although they said that they welcomed observers - for reasons of transparency- they were concerned that I may not accept their findings as definitive proof and that I may "tarnish" their reputation with what I had to say on my blog.
If they are afraid of tarnishing their reputation, they should make sure they have solid evidence before making extraordinary claims. Then they have nothing to worry about from any skeptic.
If anyone is interested in reading the correspondence between me and SPITSA, I'll post it on this thread.
Yes please. ;)
Mefiante (August 19, 2009, 15:00:10 PM):
The mouseover texts on the members page are revealing. You can forget joining SPITSA unless you’re an uncritical dupe. It seems that the person closest to a neutral, dispassionate demeanour is their “Engineering Specialist”:
Quote from: Reynhard Heymans
His interest in the paranormal was more curiosity, setting his own objective in proving / challenging the phenomena scientifically implementing all available engineering equipment.

The remainder of SPITSA’s staff already appears to know that the existence of the paranormal is simply unquestionable:
Quote from: Tracey Johnson
Through out [sic] her whole life she has been passionate about matters pertaining to the afterlife . This is a subject, which Tracey has been researching for the past 10 years.
As far as she can remember, she always had an interest in the paranormal field and did lots of research in this field on her own. She investigated any possible haunting on her own until she met Tracey. Her knowledge and personal experiences makes her an asset to the team.
Quote from: Mitch Tuba
He … started gaining interest into [sic] the paranormal world after some very explicit personal experiences. His 20 years of [sic] working in industry mainly in the technical field has lent some value expertise to the group.
[A]lthough he was a bit sceptic [sic] about the existence of the paranormal at first, he soon realized that it was a reality and therefore decided to join SPITSA.
Quote from: Alex Kotsis
[H]e … himself has had some paranormal experiences in the past, which has prompted his fascination with the subject and this has lead [sic] him to join Spitsa.
Quote from: Alfred
He started gaining interest in the paranormal after he had a couple of experiences since the age of 6, wich [sic] left him with many unanswered questions.
Quote from: Ashley Do Casal
I am based in Johannesburg but originate from Zimbabwe, I have been involved with the paranormal for about 8+ years now and have had a few experiences of my own.
Quote from: Belinda Buckle
I am South African and started gaining interest in the paranormal after working in a restaurant which has been declared haunted.
… and the pièce de résistance …
Quote from: Art Long
I am a hypnotherapist, Traditional doctor, explorer and writer, originally from Australia. Involved in naturopathy and hypnotherapy for 40 years, I also have been studying esoteric subjects and supernatural phenomena for 37 years, lecturing, and training people in psychic abilities. … I have been fascinated by the spirituality and ancient history of South Africa since I was asked to take a curse of the Mapungubwe Museum of the University of Pretoria. This was placed upon it after a Sangoma walked barefoot from Tzaneen to ask for the return of his ancestors and was refused. After removing the curse, I pursued the return of the skeletal remains archaeologists had removed from Mapungubwe. Finally enlisting the help of our then President Mbeki who vowed to make this happen and did so in November 2007. Since then I have been endeavouring to discover as much as possible about the lost histories and mysteries of Africa to record future generations.

SPITSA’s findings will no doubt hold very few surprises, if any at all. What is needed is a team of sceptics that does a parallel investigation (or an immediate follow-up), and which has a channel for publicising its findings on the same cases. But people don’t want to know about rational explanations. They’d much rather be wowed by woo-woo until the novelty wears off and/or more exciting woo-woo comes along.

Mandarb (August 19, 2009, 15:33:28 PM):
That last bio made me laugh.
mdg (August 19, 2009, 16:45:29 PM):
Quote from: Mefiante
What is needed is a team of sceptics that does a parallel investigation (or an immediate follow-up), and which has a channel for publicising its findings on the same cases.

Exactly! I think I was a bit naive in thinking that they would do a "proper" investigation or at least have one sceptic on the team.

Anyway, below is my first set of questions and their replies. I'll add the comments I sent this morning below in a seperate post, I'm not sure if they'll reply.

1. You say that your investigations are scientific, why? Is it because you feel that you are using technology to find ghosts? The reason I am asking is because not one of your investigations offers up any other possibility for "supernatural" causes - for instance, faulty wiring or plumbing, or draughty areas. Also, you're approaching every investigation with the premise that ghosts do exist, so that's what you set out to prove or disprove instead of looking for other possible explanations.

I would just like to back track here for a moment. The whole object of our
work is not necessarily to find ghosts or paranormal activity, rather to
document any allegations of such. Clients will mail us with reportings of
various types of activity and request an investigation. We do not disbelieve
or try to disprove these allegations, but rather approach it from the stand
point that "if it is there", we will document it in one form or another. In
order to do that, we do make use of various pieces of equipment and
technology, but again, only in the pursuit of documenting these alleged

2. On your blog you have an article describing what ghosts are and you say that orbs are a manifestation of a haunting or presence, yet on some investigations where you have found orbs, you state that there is no paranormal activity, why?

Yes, I have to concede that the subject of "orbs" is rather vague. There is
so much speculation around orbs and what they are, and even the opinions of
those learned in the subject vary from being nothing more than dust and or
moisture to ghostly apparitions about to manifest. What I will say is that
we do believe that it would be incorrect to assume an investigation site
haunted, purely because of the presence of orbs. We are certainly by no
means the experts in this field. As time has gone on, we as a group are
slowly giving orbs less significance than ever before.

3. Do you offer your clients any other explanations for what they're experiencing other than a paranormal one? For example, with regard to your last investigation where a person was pinned down in their sleep and choked, this person was possibly experiencing sleep paralysis. It's called hypnogogia and hypnopompia, something I've personally experienced, but have never related to paranormal activity.

Yes indeed. And that is one of the reasons why we make use of certain
equipment like electromagnetic field detectors.
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (ES) is a physiological disorder
characterized by symptoms directly brought on by exposure to electromagnetic
fields. It produces neurological and allergic-type symptoms. Symptoms may
include, but are not limited to, headache, eye irritation, dizziness,
nausea, skin rash, facial swelling, weakness, fatigue, pain in joints and/or
muscles, buzzing/ringing in ears, skin numbness, abdominal pressure and
pain, breathing difficulty, and irregular heartbeat. Those affected persons
may experience an abrupt onset of symptoms following exposure to a new EMF
such as fields associated with a new computer or with new fluorescent
lights, or a new home or work environment. And what we have found is that
when people do not understand the effects of high levels of EMF and
experience such symptoms, they may often attribute such, to paranormal
activity. Debunking is the primary function of a credible and responsible
paranormal investigator. It defeats your purpose if you accept natural or
explainable events as paranormal phenomenon. An often overlooked natural
cause for some reported " paranormal activity" is EMF exposure, and the
symptoms that can follow..

4. Are there any sceptics on your team?

Our team is made up of individuals with very specific expertise pertinent to
the very tasks they are expected to perform. We have on our team qualified
engineers, thermographers, professionals and others. Because of our
approach, each team member in their own right is in fact a skeptic. The aim
of their work is to prove otherwise..

5. Would you consider allowing a couple of sceptics to tag along on one of your investigations to observe?

We would always be too glad to have observers present on any of our
investigations, and in fact would even encourage it from the point of view
of transparency. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to present your
findings as they have happened/occurred, there will always be a small
fraction of people that will question your integrity and dispute the
validity of any evidence that is captured, citing that is very simple (and
especially in today's technological era) to manufacture, fabricate and
duplicate evidence. By doing that, we have absolutely nothing to gain other
than a bit of sensationalism, which in most cases, is easily disproved with
the net result being that once your credibility is tarnished, it becomes
almost impossible to regain it. And then who is the laughing stock?.

6. Do you charge for your investigations?

We do not charge any fee for our services. All our work is completely
voluntary. Our members give up their time and disciplines simply for the
love of the work and camaraderie we share in our group. Our operating
overheads are completely self funded, however, from time to time we do
receive generous donations from clients who have appreciated our efforts and
time. These donations are generally used for the improvement of our
equipment and acquisition of new equipment.

I sincerely hope that your questions have been answered to your
satisfaction. We look forward to hearing from you again and always welcome
any critics, comments and or suggestions. Please feel free to write us at
any time.

Fond regards,

The Spitsa Team..


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