Why Paranormal Reality TV Gets Me Angry

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Paranormal Reality TV enchants many, but RICK HALE sees it as mere illusion, lacking in ethical paranormal investigation.

paranormal reality TV

What’s wrong with Paranormal Reality TV?

“Reality is the only word in the English language that should always be used in quotes.” – Anonymous

The great 20th-century pop artist Andy Warhol was once quoted as saying, “Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” This quote has always fascinated me, mostly because it was so prophetic of the age we live in.

People desiring the promised 15 minutes are everywhere these days. You have tens of thousands of videos on YouTube displaying this desire.

You can spend countless surfing videos of kids setting their genitals on fire or exploring abandoned buildings.

You have television shows such as The Voice, where millions of young vocalists hope to make it on the show with their vocal acumen.

Or my favourite, America’s Got Talent, which has a high freakshow turnout. Believe it or not, I actually watch this show because it’s so damn fun.

You have shows where extremely attractive people vie for love and stab each other in the back for no other reason than one-upmanship, and I quote, “I will do whatever it takes to have him. And I will beat all those bitches that stand in my way.”

This quote was so eloquently spoken by one of the charming young ladies on The Bachelor.

Yep, reality TV is everywhere, and everyone wants a piece of the action. It’s the new dream to make it big regardless of having actual talent.

Which brings us to paranormal reality TV. Commenting on paranormal shows tends to get my big, fat mouth in trouble.

So in the interest of not annoying many people, this will not be a slash and burn,because despite my objection to a few shows, I rather like some of them.

They can sometimes be very informative and entertaining. But sometimes things get a little too weird, and you’re left questioning the reality of it all.

Prior to the ‘Great Paranormal Boom’ as I like to call it, paranormal-themed TV shows were few and far between.

In the 1970s, Leonard ‘Mr Spock’ Nimoy rocked the ‘stache on national television as the host of ‘In Search Of…’.

Robert Stack brought us tales of everything from mysterious deaths to ghostly hauntings on ‘Unsolved Mysteries’.

And ‘Sightings’ pretty much had the 1990s locked down. You will find very few paranormal researchers who found these shows objectionable because they reported paranormal phenomena from a documentarian point of view.

A New Type of Paranormal TV Show Emerges

But then something happened in 2004. A new kind of television show was introduced that would change the paranormal forever. Ghost hunting shows.

In October 2004, the SyFy channel aired the very first episode of ‘Ghosthunters.’ I will be perfectly honest; I liked it. I really did.

I remember thinking, Wow, finally a TV show that shows the world that you do not need a Phd to investigate parapsychological phenomena. Needless to say, the show started an entire pop culture phenomenon.

Other shows documenting paranormal investigators at work began popping up practically overnight.

Most Haunted‘, ‘Paranormal State’, and ‘Ghost Adventures’, just to name a few, were instant successes because they catered to the viewer’s sense of adventure as well as being scared by the unknown.

The great thing about these shows was that they introduced the world to the possibility that intelligence survived the death of the body. In other words, ghosts.

Many old schoolers found the shows lacking substance and oftentimes exploiting a very touchy subject.

Not to mention, some of us did not agree with the methodology. Others cited a rejection of real spirituality. So let’s take a look at these concerns.

The Methodology of Paranormal Reality TV

One of the things that really got on the nerves of old schoolers was the whole provoking spirits thing.

The idea behind this was to use harsh, demanding language to provoke a response from whatever spiritual being was supposedly inhabiting a location.

Many regarded this as unprofessional behavior. Yours truly included. Thankfully, this method is rarely used anymore. Because do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The Research Is Shoddy

The thing that bothers me about a few of these shows is the lack of research.

A few stars of these shows are quick to label an unpleasant spirit as demonic or a human spirit that has somehow become a demon.

I have said it before, and I’m sure I will say it a thousand more times. Inhuman spirits are exceedingly rare.

And human spirits cannot become inhuman entities. Inhuman or demonic entities are spirits that have never been human. Human spirits can have demonic traits, but they cannot change their orientation.

This is an almost endless battle and one I rarely engage in these days.

The Shows Lack Spirituality

Those who hold this view believe the shows are overly reliant on equipment and oftentimes exploit spiritual beings. I strongly disagree with the first and strongly agree with the second.

Modern ghost hunters are not the first to use scientific equipment in the field. The controversial 20th-century ghost hunter Harry Price was the first to use cameras, thermometers, etc. This is the part about experimentation and moving the field forward.

The second point I agree with is exploitation. The producers of these shows care about two things: money and ratings.

The ghost hunters on the shows really are not exploiting. The people worried about the bottom line are.

Although I would suggest that some of the stars of these shows should step up and say no.

Accusations of trickery

Let’s face it, this is TV we’re talking about, and through the magic of television, you can fake a ghost.

This is not an accusation that should be made lightly. People’s reputations are on the line here. I’m not going to say it doesn’t happen. But I am also not willing to yell shenanigans too quickly, either.

I have been accused in the past of bagging on the shows, but one cannot help that when you’re about the truth.

So, how do we fix them? You may ask. It’s quite simply, really, accountability.

Hold Paranormal Reality TV producers accountable for their shenanigans. And hold some stars accountable as well.

They need to understand how bad it makes all of us look to the public.

If they fake evidence, then it throws this entire field of inquiry into doubt and puts all of our reputations on the line.

Some of us are trying to fix this problem, though. My colleague and cohost of The Shadow Initiative Paranormal TV, Stephen Lancaster, has created a show.

No producers, no ads, no faking evidence. Just two real investigators who didn’t answer a casting call investigating claims of paranormal activity

I can really give you details at the time, as both of us have been ripped off and plagiarised in the past.

If you want to donate to get this new kind of paranormal TV show off the ground go to crowdfundr.com/shadowinitiative

I look forward to telling you more in the months to come!

Tell us your thoughts on Paranormal Reality TV in the comments section below!

Rick Hale Shadow Initiative Crowd Fundraiser
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Rick Hale
Rick Hale, is a native of Chicago, Illinois and first became interested in the paranormal after having a positive interaction with an apparition at a young age. Rick is the author of The Geek's Guide To The Strange and Unusual: Poltergeists, Ghosts and Demons. Behold! Shocking True Tales of Terror...and Some Other Spooky Stuff. And Bullets, Booze and Babes: The Haunted History of Chicago and Illinois. Rick is the co-host of The Shadow Initiative Paranormal Talk. Rick was featured in the documentary Ghost Tapes 2. Rick is a featured writer for Spooky Isles and Paranormalstudy.com. Rick has also been published by Haunted Times, Paranormal Underground, The Supernatural Magazine and Legends Magazine.


  1. I think you have hit the nail on the head here, TV paranormal shows are something of a shambles at the moment, The Victorian ectoplasm and mediums cabinets have now manifested as EVP and other charlatanic devices, which makes it so hard for the real good guys if there is such a thing: cabbage TV has really taken over the world.


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