Unless you have been living on another planet the past few days (as I write this is August 15, 2008) then there’s no way you can be interested in the paranormal and not know about the recent Sasquatch excitement. Just in case you were doing the old Klaatu-barada-nikto two-step with ET, I will recount the events for you. Two Georgian men looking for Bigfoot in the woods actually found one. Actually they found the wilderness primate version of road kill. Yes my friends, the legendary ape-man is dead. Well, one of them anyway.
According to Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer there were several Bigfoot (Bigfoots? Bigfeet? Sasquatches?) in the immediate area. They, the rare North American primates, watched as the two men dragged their kin away evidently for fame and fortune. They then proceeded to take their hirsute embellished cadaver to the nearest scientist and forever justified the claims of crypto-zoologists everywhere! Okay, actually they “claim” they took the poor creature to an undisclosed location and tried, unsuccessfully, to freeze it in ice. You see they used a frost free refrigerator.
So, they tried to freeze the carcass until they figured out what to do. So the story goes and they contact renowned Bigfoot hunter Tom Biscardi. Actually, I am not sure if renown is the right word, perhaps infamous would be better. Biscardi has been involved in a number of Sasquatch hoaxes in the past. His questionable reputation began in the 80s with fake Bigfoot video he tried to market for Ivan Marx, a notorious hoaxer. In 2005 his reputation was further tarnished when he was involved in another Bigfoot scam involving the George Noory Show. On the Noory Show Coast to Coast AM, he claimed he would have a live ape-man that he would reveal via pay-per-view internet streaming video. When the day arrived he claimed that he himself was scammed by those detaining the specimen. So, now he is representing Whitton and Dyer and has created yet another media circus. If this turns out to be another scam (which I am 98% certain it is) it is unlikely Biscardi’s reputation will survive this time, such as is already.
So, how is this relevant to ghost investigating? This story is very significant in that hoaxes happen all the time in ghost hunting. They probably happen just about every day actually and mostly by nice enough people that would normally never do any harm at all. Some of these people even believe they are not perpetrating a hoax. Many ghost hunting groups claiming to be “scientifically minded” teams have tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the ghost hunting community. They do this using fake EVPs and altered photographs and fabricated videos. Be wary of any group that regularly produces “evidence” that is too good to believe. It probably is! Often times there are logical explanations for evidence they claim is genuinely paranormal that the team leader will ignore. However, the vast majority of hoaxes and fraud in the ghost hunting community is from those claiming supernatural abilities themselves – psychics.
I get criticized a lot for my skeptical approach to psychics, but I can assure you it is justified. Fake mediums have been around since before the Oracle of Delphi. Their heyday however was during that marvelous time in World History known as the Spiritualist Movement. Ah, the good old days, when mediums had to really work for their dishonestly earned money. A psychic usually needed a staff of people to help with her scam, er, show. They had props like trick chairs that helped with rope escapes. They had make tambourines and trumpets float through the air and play a tune too! This was a lot of work! Today’s fake psychics are getting pretty lazy. All they have to do now is point at empty space and say, “I feel the presence of restless spirit”. Some of the more dramatic ones will fain illness or act as if possessed. But they never produce ectoplasm out of their orifices any more.
Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in psychic ability. I have worked people I truly believe may be psychic. However, they are few and far between what I normally experience when it comes to “ghost whisperers”. Just this past weekend someone told me, “the level of fraud a medium propagates is directly proportional to how much money they charge for their services.” There are exceptions to this rule of course. Some ghost hunting “sensitives” fake it for free. These generally consist of very sad individuals indeed. For the most part they are not out to hurt anyone, they just want attention. Some probably are satisfied with how their lives turned out. Perhaps they expected to have done bigger and better things by the time they reached “this point” in their lives. Others perhaps have low self esteem and are enthralled with the attention and occasional adoration that they receive when they demonstrate their abilities. I believe that these are majority of the fake psychics out there. Depending on how long the reader has been ghost hunting, you may have met some of these people yourself. Even though, for the most part, they do not intend to cause any harm, they are. They hurt all of us. I usually refrain from criticizing these people out of pity. I feel sorry for them. On the other hand there are people out there that don’t deserve pity, but condemnation!
I know a very popular writer in the ghost hunting world, who, a few years ago, never claimed to have any psychic ability at all. Now this person claims to not be able to see ghosts but is able to clear buildings of spirits as well. Nearly pushing sixty this person suddenly gained psychic powers? Perhaps it was a radioactive meteorite or something. This person attacked me as well for wanting to work with a sensitive before assuming their authenticity. Hey, I’m not asking for a background check and urine samples, just a little reassurance. I am supposed to assume that anyone who claims to be psychic is the “real deal”. I don’t do that for techies!
I know some people are going to read this article and take what they want from it. They are going to skip over the fact that I said I do believe in, and in fact work with, sensitives. I will be admonished for having any doubts whatsoever about anyone. Nevertheless, someone has to say something. The Bigfoot community is going to take a major kick in the butt in the credibility department when (OK, or if) this turns out to be a fraud, which of course is very unfair of course. Most Sasquatch researchers are very dedicated to the belief that the creature is real. They would never do anything to harm their credibility. Unfortunately, every time someone “pretends” to be a psychic for the cameras, the ghost hunting community takes a hit. People in the crypto crowd like Biscardi only get this kind of press once every few years. We get press like that several times a year and its really bad at Halloween. Reporters absolutely love making the group sensitive look like a nut-job. The answer to this problem comes in a simple metaphor – “Don’t feed the lions!”
Regardless of whatever reason (money, self-esteem, etc.) they are doing what they are doing; those who would fake psychic ability require attention. This is always the case with frauds. Don’t give it to them! Establish a policy in your group – there is only one team leader and we are all equal otherwise. Don’t give your team members titles like Tech Expert, Lead Photographer or Psychic Investigator for example. Stick with co-captain, administrator, etc. Do not categorize your team members like that since it will single out some members as more “special” than others. If the press asks if you have a psychic on your team, tell them that if you did you would not reveal who they were to avoid them being persecuted by, oh, I don’t know, people like the press! If, instead of admiring your decision to promote equality and fairness among your team members, your resident psychic expresses discontent for not highlighting his/her unique gifts, you might have an ego too big for your group of ghost hunters. Here’s the point: you are trying to prove that ghosts exist, right? If you did that you would be world famous and there is no need to try to become celebrities in the meantime. As more and more teams go “scientific” I see fewer psychics sticking around. Perhaps the ones that do are the real deal. I certainly hope so. As far as the frauds, well, they’ll be OK. Many of them are forming psychic exclusive teams and forgoing any science at all.
Ghosts will be proven to exist one day and so will psychics. Perhaps both will be proven at the same time. Perhaps one will be proven before the other. Either way, they both will be proven with science.