About Dexter the ParaGeek

I'm Dexter. I'm the Para Geek.

Para Geek Peeve #5

Para Geek Peeve #5: Alien Hunters who spend all day scouring the internet for flying saucer evidence, but find it necessary to comment on how it was a waste of their time to watch an eight-second fake video.  So you thought that something titled “REAL UFO! NOT FAKE!!!” with one million hits on Youtube was going to be the proof to convince the world of an alien invasion…  Really?


Para Geek Peeve #4

Para Geek Peeve #4: I’ll never understand the morbid fascination with investigating cemeteries.  Just because a tombstone is on the ground doesn’t mean spirits are haunting the place.  Isn’t that what old creepy houses are for?  I think investigating a cemetery must be a lot like walking into a bar 15 minutes before closing…  Shame may be what you’ll feel in the morning, but you’ll tell yourself it’s worth it if you get lucky.

Para Geek Peeve #3

Para Geek Peeve #3: Paranormal Unity sounds nice, but I can never tell whose version of unity I am supposed to be united with.  There should be a gathering like when the gangs all got together in that 1979 movie, The Warriors.  I don’t want to be in the gang wearing vests, though.

EVP and EAP: the difference

What’s the difference between EVP and EAP?

In the paranormal sense, EVPs and EAPs are gathered in the same way: by use of a recording device.  These gadgets can range in type… it doesn’t really matter if they come from an H4 or a K-Mart blue light special, they are both sounds that are captured while attempting to gather evidence of the afterlife in audio form.  They are most often fumbled across when paranormal investigators are straining to hear any voice but their own from a little doohickey they’ve brought with them to an investigation.

Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP, is an audio recording of a ghost talking.  More often than not, these will be one- or two word phrases that have absolutely nothing to do with a question that was asked and should be considered 100% proof that a spirit is trying to communicate.  Sometimes they are crisp and clear sentences that directly answer an investigators questions, but these are only worth 50% proof because it is probably a misinterpretation or some dummy talking.  Electronic Audio Phenomena, or EAP, is a recording of other stuff like eerie sounding music and the sound of equipment that may/may not have ever been at the location.

A lot of people have adopted a rating selection for both EVPs and EAPs and like to label what their own audio captures are when they present them:

  1. A: super duper crystal clear.  Everybody can hear the same thing, without a headset or being told what it is.  These are probably fake so toss these out immediately.
  2. B: darn close to clear.  Most people can make out what is said or heard, but some people will have to be told what it is or swear it says something else.
  3. C: kinda clear, but not really.  These are the majority of really good captures because when they’re played back for people, the person who found them has to tell everybody what’s being said.  This makes the investigator look dedicated and everybody else look dumb if they don’t say, “Ohhhh, now I hear it!”
  4. R: who came up with this one clear.  Played backwards, the EVP says something.  It doesn’t matter if others hear it or not – it’s played backwards.  Only do this if you are an expert and only show this off if you can stand being revered by your peers.

According to ancient paranormal textbooks, EVP and EAP should not be confused with a disembodied voice; both EVPs and EAPs are never heard with the human ear whereas disembodied voices are heard by others at the time.  Of course all bangs, clicks, claps, smacks, dings, rings, bells and whistles are automatically caused by ghosts who do not have the power yet to fully manifest a whispered voice (everybody knows a ghost has to be dead for at least a hundred years for this omniscient ability).  So be sure to tag all of these as a ghost trying to communicate and spread this around.  It doesn’t seem to be catching on for some reason.

Toss Maddie A Bone

Yes, a ghost hunting dog.  Why not?

Other groups have had canine companions accompany them to supposed haunted places, so why is it suddenly an eye-rolling deal when TAPS does it?  Oh, that’s right – because they’re on television.  And as we all know, these sellouts deserve our consternation for it.  You decide if it’s because of the dog or because they’re on television…

Now before people start blabbing all over their Facebook pages about Ghost Hunters’ newest member (too late!), let’s take a second to put this all into perspective: having a dog on a paranormal team won’t end world hunger.  It doesn’t cause babies to cry and it won’t make a difference to your boss if you’re late for work (“But boss, there’s a ghost hunting dog on the boobtoob!”  “Oh, in that case, here’s a raise!”)…  It can’t predict any winning lottery numbers and it will not bring back Elvis.  And really – if it can’t bring back The King (who we all know is alive and roaming distant galaxies with an alien race; his death was a conspiracy), what does it matter?

It matters because most of us have a compelling need to be accepted and the easiest way to do that is by focusing attention away from our own downers.  Like how those jeans really do make your ass look big so you wear a blingy necklace, or that we call other people stupid because deep down we’re not sure if we’re actually smarter than a fifth-grader…  Or the sinking feeling that nobody is really fooled by the fact that our interest in the paranormal and everything we learned about ghosts was by watching a show so we go out of our way to piss on it…

Any group that has investigated hundreds (thousands?) of locations that any shoe-string budget group could only dream of visiting has a little wiggle room to try something new in my opinion.  Whether they deserve a break from the criticism is a personal choice I suppose, but none of us are immune to hypocrisy and we all have dirt to wipe on the floor-mat of self aggrandizement.  Whenever I see a group tossing put downs about some t.v. show, I immediately go to their website and see what they’ve put up for all to see.  Try it some time.

You may think that I’m defending Ghost Hunters and this ratings-grabber move, but my world doesn’t spin around a television show unless it involves people being punched in the junk by carny midgets or being shot from a cannon at a wall of Velcro by women dressed in dirndl.  Yes, I watched the show and really – the dog thing was no more a distraction than spilling salsa on my t-shirt.   So if they want to use a dog, a ferret or a ghost-sniffing parakeet for that matter, more power to them.

Come on, people – isn’t there some evidence to go over?  Isn’t there a case to jet off to or some new scientific piece of equipment to school members up on?  Or is it really all about following the pack of reality t.v. hounds in the hopes of drawing attention away from something?

Just thought I’d ask…

Para Geek Peeve #2

Para Geek Peeve #2: The terms: client, evidence and debunk… for example: “We show clients our evidence we can’t debunk.”

These terms should be replaced with words from a thesaurus at random to sound more educated.  For example: “We only show the proselyte our dictum we can’t animadvert.”  It would probably impress fans of Scrabble, although clodpates may become a little discomposed.

Hoaxes and Hits

The Para Geek finds himself in the position of having to point out the obvious: any clip of video can be hoaxed. The interwebz is chock full of them and their production values range from frisbee-tossed UFOs to masterfully constructed digitized phantoms.  Some are so artfully done that the only thing stopping people from believing them is that they’re just too good to be true for all but the numbest of minds.

More to the point though is that any video effect can be recreated. It isn’t difficult to look at a video clip and say: “I can do that.”  Within minutes you can go from viewing a “Ghost Head” video to uploading a recreation of your own.  Now all you gotta do is kick back and watch the hits roll in!

Shows like Fact or Faked will routinely launch into this mode of “can it be done?” hypothesis.  Never mind that most sham artists aren’t walking around in public with bulky fog machines, projectors or huge pieces of glass in order to create a hoax.  There are less extravagant ways to fake things.  And any self-respecting Youtube huckster probably isn’t going to spend more than a few bones to create a grainy short video on the off-chance it may go viral…

It just doesn’t prove some random footage is fake if all someone does is throw up a debunked clip to show that they can do it, too; this cat-and-mouse game of finding an unbelievable video, recreating it using different methods (or perhaps the same – who knows) and then announcing to the world it’s been proven to be a hoax with yet another video doesn’t really prove it to be a fraud.  Even if you know it is.

But we all know it isn’t about proving a video is fake…  It’s about showing geeky ways to create the fake!  I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be watching cool ways to fool people with a hologram than be told how it was (probably) done.

It’s kind of like that masked magician who explains how to do all of those tricks: we love the “magic” part because we don’t know how the trick was done, but we do know that none of these butt-rocker-mullet-slinging magicians are drawing from some unseen force to pull a rabbit out of his hat.  If all that was said was “it’s done by placing a mirror here at precisely a 90 degree angle,” we’d be thinking: “boring!” as we change the channel.  But when he shows us how the trick is done, his ratings shoot through the roof.

We all love fake paranormal videos because we all love to think we know how they’re done.  If we can figure out how to self-promote our opinions, then we’re going to do just that.  Because in the end, it doesn’t matter if we’ve proven something is a hoax but whether we can get others to go along with it.  In a round about way, we’re really just creating the same type of illusion for the same audience.

The investigation will not be televised!

Why do paranormal investigators hate shows about paranormal investigators so much? It seems like they’re always putting them down and I don’t get it.

I had initially figured that the answer to this question could only come from the wisdom of a withered old yak herder found roaming the foothills of the Himalayas.  Or at the very least, from the savvy street smarts of a Comic-Con vendor with a full set of X Men action figures to impress the ladies with.  But just like those REAL GHOST! NOT FAKE!!! vids plastered on Youtube, the trick is to look past the blinky lights and mute the eerie soundtrack long enough to see what’s really going on here.

But let’s set the record straight first: not all investigators hate on the paranormal television.  I myself dig on Destination Truth, and I must admit that Ghost Adventures is a show I’ll sometimes watch (but only because I can’t help but stare at Zak Bagans’ porcupine hair and wonder how he can afford all of that product but can’t seem to be able to scrape enough nickels together and go buy himself a belt).

So what preternatural force could possibly grip the devil’s ball-sack so tightly to cause such disdain for these shows?  It is puzzling that the interest in all things paranormal tends to follow side by side with the Nielsen Ratings, yet so many find it necessary to distance themselves from what is responsible for getting complete strangers to seek out other complete strangers for the sole purpose of coming into their homes to sit in the dark for a few hours.

Some insist these shows only fill the heads of viewers with buzzwords and falsehoods, like “EVP” and that playing with Ouija Boards will cause your house to explode.  Others will say that these shows don’t represent how “real” investigations go down, but those don’t sound like reasons to hate a show – they sound like something said in order to fit in… in other words, paranormal investigators *say* they hate paranormal television shows because of peer pressure.

No way, you say?  It couldn’t be that simple?  I can prove it: conducting an incredibly complex and scientifically challenging experiment, I hit the Googly and spent some time snooping around half a dozen paranormal forums chosen completely at random.  In nearly every instance, the number of topics filed under “Paranormal Shows” nearly tripled all of the other categories, combined.  The short and sweet of it is that when they say they don’t like paranormal shows, they’re fibbing.  If they didn’t like them then they wouldn’t watch them and they certainly wouldn’t spend so much time discussing them.  This is concrete science here, peeps.

And hellz-yeah I’d love to investigate with any of them – although some would be better than others – for example, would you rather be spending long hours looking for ghosts in a dark, cramped attic with Jael de Pardo, or Aaron Goodwin?

So to (finally, sheesh!) answer this thought-provoking question, paranormal investigators don’t hate shows about paranormal investigators.  They just say they do because they know if they don’t go along with what everyone else says, they’ll be outcast like that guy who farts on the elevator and everyone knows he farted (and he knows they know – how awkward).

And sorry about the earlier jab, Aaron – Jael is just way prettier than you are.   Please don’t fart in my elevator.

The real reason to investigate

Paranormal investigators are kind of… a weird bunch.  From the eclectic to the esoteric, from the outspoken to the ones who seem desperate to be as invisible as the ghosts they search for in the dark – there are all kinds of them.

I’ve secretly always imagined many of them to be the adults who were picked on and teased as a kid, those unpopular children that never really found their calling or reached their full potential.  So, locked away in their rooms in front of a computer screen or curled up under the covers reading about fictitious characters with more of a life than they had – they found a cozy little niche where being on the fringes of society, rather than being at the heart of it, is not only accepted – it is expected.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not picking on paranormal investigators.  I am pointing out my assumptions from what I have observed over the years.  Before you start assuming that I hold myself removed from this observation, I will be the first to admit that I consider myself to be an introverted person; I do not go out of my way to draw attention to myself – at least not publicly.

Now that I’ve covered my ass in that respect, let’s get back to the paranormal investigators.

You see, there’s always been something about the troops who march off into dark and damp basements, hang around tombstones by the light of the moon and pontificate about why ghosts hang around such cruddy locations that bothered me: they never seem to do any real scientific study.  Sure, they can spout off a dozen paranormal theories faster than you can spank a monkey and their resolve is like a steel plate when it comes to their convictions about said theories – but what do they actually do?

It is not scientific to sit around in a grave yard taking pictures of dust.  It is not adding any credibility to some Supreme Consciousness to post a 30 second video of something that, with all due respect, could be anything other than a ghost – and I do mean anything…

But you know what it is?  It’s fun.  Yes, I am letting the cat out of the bag – if you want to know why a large portion of people investigate the paranormal, it is because it brings a lot of happiness to them.  It isn’t about proving ghosts exist or that some place is haunted really – it is about the social aspect of getting together with a bunch of like-minded people and having fun.

Let me stop you right there before you start getting all huffy & puffy over not taking this seriously.  Stowe your fake consternation in your bag o’ snob for a second and hear me out…  I never said they didn’t take what they’re doing seriously.  I said they did it because it was fun.  Contrary to some stupid, made up rule that a lot of other paranormal investigators like to preach about, belonging to a group and scouting locations that are rumored to be haunted can be interesting, entertaining, and yes – enjoyable.  It can bring people together who don’t find bragging about their kid’s latest triumphs with the Jones’ a nice way to spend their time, or who otherwise find the bar scene to be nasty and more of a fraud than many of the 30 second videos their Youtube account is competing with.

The majority of paranormal investigators probably didn’t get past high school science class and now, what… they’re supposed to provide credible scientific evidence of the afterlife armed with a video camera and a 6mp Kodak?  I don’t think so.  Let’s be honest for once and just say it: we do this because it is fun and we continue to do this because we are having fun with other people who are having fun.  Mystery solved.

Sorry if this bursts any bubbles, but it’s true.  And for those of you sitting in front of your computer screens right now, ticked off that I am demeaning your chosen field, relax.  You can still act like you’re on a mission to bring the average Joe the truth.  It will eventually be earth-shattering for them, I’m sure.

But for those of you who are planning out your latest adventures to creepy, abandoned old mansions and forgotten sites with your group of paranormal homies, take heed, friends… you are not alone.  Happy Hunting.