Yesterday, I received an email from my blog alerting me to a comment left for moderation. It was left on my 2014 post titled ‘Huff Paranormal Didn’t Contact the Ghost of Robin Williams‘ written shortly after Williams died, and Steve Huff- who claims to contact ghosts using unscientific devices -had claimed to capture the ghost of Williams on such a device. He has a reputation for making such tactless and unscientific claims.
The comment said ‘After all these years, you are still hating and defensive of Huff.’
How actually quaint.
The fans of Steve Huff, it seems, are incredibly sensitive to criticisms of their man. Ever since writing that blog post 4 years ago, I get comments almost every week on the post from people pouring scorn on me, my blog, and my audacity to write my thoughts down on my own website. If you head over to the blog post and scroll down, you can read the thread in full (all 80+ glorious comments…) to get a taste of what I’m talking about, including how unpopular my use of sarcastic gifs can be.
However, what does this sort of behaviour tell us? A few things, actually…
By criticising Steve Huff and his nonsense claims, I have criticised something which many people believe in, something which is important to them. Yet, in defending Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), many people in that comment thread have not been able to make convincing arguments and so have taken to insulting me. This is because there is not a convincing argument for the claims they hold to be true. It goes beyond that though, because it isn’t just the concept of Electronic Voice Phenomena which I have critiqued, but actually an individual proponent of EVP – Steve Huff, and that’s where things get funky.
There seems to be a trend in the ghost hunting movement where people become overly protective of people within the movement who become hero-like figures for them. Usually it’s because these individuals are saying things that are appealing (“ghosts are real”, “you can talk to ghosts”, “here is evidence of hauntings”), but also because in recent years and with the rise in popularity of ghost hunting television and associated media (i.e. online video streaming channels), certain aspects of ghost hunting have taken on an almost hyper-masculine persona which a lot of viewers cannot get enough of. Not only do they swallow every word and ever claim made by their heroes, but they also start to mimic them in the way they act, talk, dress and even investigate the paranormal…
I mean, hands up if you’ve ever had to stop yourself from rolling your eyes on a paranormal investigation when an older man starts confronting a ghost as though he is Zak Bagans from Ghost Adventures while also dressed as though he is Bagans, too. In fact, there’s a paper on this very subject which observes and discusses the behaviour of Mr Bagans in particular which makes for very interesting reading. Once you realise what his behaviour represents, you can see how such behaviour starts to show up elsewhere. That isn’t to say that Steve Huff in particular is hyper-masculine, but those who champion his work certainly seem to go over-the-top in their defenses of him. Becoming openly hostile and nasty in a short space of time. The same behaviour was demonstrated by fans of Rupert Sheldrake whom I dared to critique on this blog once – one fan still has a page of his non-paranormal website dedicated to how stupid I am.
That’s not normal behaviour.
There’s nothing wrong with having heroes or people whom you admire, but this aggressive, over-the-top behaviour which drives you to abuse and harass anyone who criticises or questions your hero is not healthy and is really closed-minded. Just like the heroes these people worship and abuse others on behalf of.