I've really debated on whether to reply in regards to the "philosophy of paranormal investigations." Let me clearly note that what I am about to
say is based upon my observations of both the phenomena AND what I have gathered as the motivations behind why people do these investigations. I feel
this is relevant because the same "logic" applies to why people continue to watch this show....
My foray into fringe science, including what might be termed "paranormal," began in 1991 when I went off to the Academy. The Academy was a special
school for gifted children...not Charles Xavier's type of gifted children (at least, not everyone...
). At the Academy, I was on a science and
military track which means that my studies carried a heavy basis in those areas. During my time there, we were regularly flown to particular military
bases where we worked on a classified projects, including some that can be termed "paranormal" in nature. These projects were spearheaded by the
Defense Dept, National Academy of Sciences, and certain corporations.
In 2006, I was approached by a friend who asked me to collaborate with him in creating a scientific research organization whose principle function
would be to study the paranormal. This friend is a fellow physicist and works in law enforcement (former FBI, currently works for the State in a law
enforcement capacity). We obtained non-profit status and set up funding & collaborations with government and select academia. Utilizing over
$300,000 in scientific equipment, we set up paranormal investigations using true scientific methodology. This was NOT anything like Ghosthunters...
We didn't run around in the dark, scaring ourselves. We used real scientific controls, and shared our gathered data with our international team.
Then, in 2007, my co-founder and I had so many people approaching us because they wanted to investigate the paranormal too. Many of them were
enthusiastic about the "field" from watching Ghosthunters. We wanted to teach people but also steer them away from GH "hysterics." So we set up
an application & training program which was meant to allow interested people to come into the organization and be trained on proper scientific
controls, equipment usage, etc...
It is through working with the "average person interested in paranormal research" as a scientist that I make the following observations. Those who
research the paranormal generally fall into one of two categories:
1. They have a genuine interest in the SCIENCE of the paranormal. This means that they approach the work with objectivity and even skepticism. They
do not pretend to accept or believe that any "strange" event is evidence of the paranormal. Instead, they work to find ways to independently
corroborate an event (#1) and then work to break down the mechanism by which it happened (#2). Personal experiences are nice to talk about but they
cannot be independently corroborated (usually) so they hold little or no scientific value. People who fall into this category (such as me) care only
about the data and the science, not things that can't be quantified. Investigations are about gathering an understanding of the criteria of what is
happening to create repeatability.
2. Some people have a preconceived belief system in regards to the paranormal and it is these beliefs that drive their motivation to "prove
themselves right." (Note - This doesn't always mean they are "pro-belief.") However, there are many pro-believers who refuse to accept scientific
proof if it refutes their preconceived notions of what has or is happening around them. There have been countless people who fall into this group who
have told me that they are simply interested in investigating the paranormal to "make sense of a past experience" or to "see for themselves."
Inevitably this leads to a positively skewed belief that something is evidence of paranormal because that is what the WANT to believe or because it
fits into their limited frame of reference.
I am not saying that those who fall into the 2nd group are wrong. The question ultimately depends on what the agenda of the investigation is about.
If it is to find real scientific "proof" of the paranormal (such as TAPS claims they want to do....), then your team should be composed of the types
of people who fall into #1. If the purpose is to have some sort of personal validation or epiphany, then there is NOTHING WRONG with being an
individual who falls into #2.
All this being said, I feel that the majority of people who continue to watch GH fall into this second category.