On Thursday evening at 10pm I sat down to watch the return of Most Haunted. My intention was to tweet along with the show and counter any pseudo-scientific claims that they made during the broadcast, and yet I need not have bothered. There was no use of EMF Meters, laser grid pens, thermal imaging equipment, dictaphones or thermometers throughout the whole show. The most “exciting” things to occur were a “strange” humming noise that totally wasn’t a team member (honest), and a roll of cable tape that mysteriously followed the team around the building before vanishing at random moments. No, really…
I’d expected the show to be tedious to watch but when the end credits rolled I turned to those I was watching with and asked “are you fucking kidding me?” and equally baffled faces stared back.
I’ve shared my thoughts on the influence that Most Haunted and similar shows have had in previous posts The Day That Ghost Hunting Died and Television Clones: When Ghost Hunting Goes Bad but to summarise, Most Haunted and its ilk has inspired hundreds and hundreds of fans to start their own amateur ghost hunting teams across the country (me included). These people copy the techniques and methods the show once promoted before it was taken off of the air in 2010. The methodology is unquestioned by fans whose main aim is to speak to ghosts and the influence stretches even as far as the team structure with teams normally having a psychic, a lead investigator, a camera-man, a skeptic and a techie just like pre-2010 Most Haunted.
As silly as this may seem these groups should not just be shrugged off as the ethical behaviour of such teams is concerning and the majority of amateur ghost hunting outfits inspired by the likes of Most Haunted do not have a code of ethics that they base their work around. This should be concerning for everyone.
As a paranormal researcher myself I can confidently say that anyone who becomes involved with paranormal research will come into contact with potentially vulnerable adults, youths and children on a regular basis, and without an ethical framework in place the harm that can be caused by people out to find ghosts in any way they can is scarily unimaginable.
I once interviewed the chairman of ASSAP Dave Wood and respected researcher C J Romer about the ethics of paranormal research and you can read what they had to say on the subject here. Some of the unethical things they’ve encountered from other investigators are horrendous to hear about and match my own experiences with the work of others that I’ve stumbled upon in the decade I’ve been a paranormal researcher.
Every weekend ghost hunting fans enter allegedly haunted business and homes across the country and parrot the bullshit they hear on these reality paranormal television shows as though it’s factual when it isn’t. So although a roll of tape stalking Yvette Fielding through a theatre is laughable the monster that Most Haunted and similar shows have created in their wake rages on. It’s the stuff of nightmares and the worst thing is that there’s no stopping it.
So, mock Most Haunted all you like but I personally eye it with extreme caution because I’ve seen the damage it causes and it is no laughing matter.