3 March 2015

Ghost Adventures Series 10 Episode 10 Review & Recap


For a while now, people have been telling me I should watch Ghost Adventures, a show that follows self proclaimed ghost hunters Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin as they investigate locations that are reported to be haunted.

Ghost Adventures or GA for short started on October 17, 2008 on the Travel Channel in the States as a TV show, the same channel that at the time aired Most Haunted. So it is safe to say this show will be of the same style.

Ghost Adventures actually started out in 2004 as a "documentary type film".

GA has already had around 140 episodes, compared to 188 of Most Haunted. But GA is widely regarded to be a much bigger show, and has had more viewers worldwide, even the recent reboot of Most Haunted struggled in the ratings against GA on UK TV channel REALLY.

Much like MH, GA has had its fair share of controversies, one of the most widely reported is the Cowboy Bob incident, basically during a Live special Robert Bess the inventor of the "Parabot Containment Chamber" claimed that an EMF Meter was knocked violently out of his hand by ghosties! But because this was a LIVE show, everyone saw what really happened, and the hosts were forced to "debunk" it.

Much like MH, most of the times a show gets exposed as faked is during Live shows when obviously there is no time to edit and cover things up. GA got caught out, but at least they addressed it in a respectable manner.

Here is a video of their response to this incident.



Although I give them credit for addressing this, they really didn't have much choice, and i thought their fancy analysis and slow motion was a bit over the top.

Anyway there is a bit of history about the show to catch people up on what the show is about, and one of the main incidents.

I have never watched GA before, I do not know the characters, their motivations or beliefs, so as far as I am concerned I will give them a totally fresh slate and judge them as such.

Ghost Adventures Series 10 Episode 10
Official Synopsis:
The Ghost Adventures Crew, along with Darkness Radio host Dave Schrader and Bill Chappell, travels to a quiet suburb just outside of Seattle to investigate the residence of a local Bothell man who claims that a demonic entity is wreaking havoc in his home by burning bibles, throwing furniture, and burning demonic symbols in his walls.

Review and Recap by Jon Donnis
The first thing I notice while watching GA compared to MH is the much higher production values, this show is clearly quite slickly produced and directed.

They begin by talking to a man who claims his house is haunted and that Bibles have been set on fire, things thrown etc. Zak Bagans asks the man a really good question, why stay in the house? The man comes out with some bull, about being grounded at the house, having a job and so on. We get to see some home video footage, which looks blatantly faked to me. Its noted that he rents the house, so no problem to leave, yet he chooses to stay despite all of his claims. Hmmmm....

The first problem I see is that the GA crew are starting off from a position of belief, instead of skepticism. The home video footage is very very dodgy that the man has given. If any of what he had claimed was really true, there is no way you would stay in the house.

Within the first 10 minutes, I have decided that this looks like a scam by the man and woman who live in this house, attention seeking. This is just my opinion. The thing is, I know that ghosts do not exist, so that means someone in the house has to be behind it. They haven't shown any children yet, who are usually behind these kinds of things, so it has to be the adults.

They then trot out a "Paranormal Investigator" a strange looking woman called Jennifer Madsen, who instantly annoys me, a quick google of her and I cant find anything of interest on her.

She claims to do a lot of Native American Cleansing, so instantly you can understand she is a bit of a loony. Unless of course she means literally she likes to wash and clean Native Americans!

The man of the house seems to believe that it is an evil Native American spirit that is behind the haunting.

So the format of this show seems to be the first 15 minutes are history lessons, interviews with relevant parties and then the show moves on to the investigation.

One of the first things I have noticed is the lack of women on the crew at all. No screaming idiots, no sexy make up girl.

Anyway the investigators start off by reviewing Keith's (man of the house) videos, much like me they seem suspicious, so that is a good start. Although we are now nearly 20 minutes into the show, and nothing has really been done, or explained. Just a lot of talking and explaining.

Still my main issue with this show is the starting point of belief, it instantly means everything they say and do lacks all credibility, even if they are suspicious and bring up some good points. Another problem is the huge amount of people involved, so many camera guys, people watching monitors, the investigators and so on, it really adds nothing to the show, other than giving more people the chance to fake stuff.

They start off the investigation by getting Keith and his girlfriend to wonder about the house and see if they can encourage the ghosties to do something on camera. Keith seems suspiciously well rehearsed for what he is saying. As they walk about and talk to the ghosts, nothing happens, and they even act surprised that nothing is happening.

Also another thing to note is they are doing everything in the dark, yet Keiths own dodgy footage showed things happening in the day or with the lights on! Of course night vision makes everything look more spooky! You can blame the Blair Witch Project for that!

25 minutes in, and I have to say I am getting a tad bored. Although as I say that an Infra Red light belonging to the crew has gone out, as usual the claims of it being on a full battery are trotted out.

So far the only thing that has happened is that an IR light has gone out. Zak tries to claim that Tina the women who lives in the house is giving off negative energy, and that he feels nothing from the house.

Eventually Keith and Tina are told to leave and they go off to a hotel. Leaving Zak and the crew on their own in the house to see what they can find. They get to play with some fancy equipment, which in all honestly is completely useless, but they got to spend the budget on something I guess.

Thermo cams, SLS cameras, EMF meters and so on.
You could wave a banana around for all the good it would do when it comes to detecting ghosts.

What I would do right now for a Stuart Toreville to appear and suddenly throw some stones!

The GA investigators are talking out loud to the ghosts (which do not exist). Just think about this for a moment, I am sat here watching grown men, pretend to talk to ghosts while stood in the dark in some strangers house. Who is the crazier person here? Them or me? That is something I need to get my head around.

30 Minutes in and a camera has gone down! Yay! Come on you ghosties, you have to build up towards the end scenes, that's TV Paranormal Investigations 101!

The camera that has gone down is in Keith's office and the so called hub of all things that go bump in the night. After investigating it, its just a dead battery. Why don't these idiots ever plug these things directly into the mains!

The investigators are starting to get bored, and realise that nothing is happening, I think they have realised that the problem is Keith and his Girlfriend, and I am sure they are either gonna claim that the woman herself is haunted, or that Keith is faking things.

They now proudly state they are going to take this investigation to a "Maximum Scientific Level", with Electrical Engineer Bill Chappel conducts an experiment with a brand new device he invented which is basically a projector (that he did not invent) projecting some read outs onto the wall. Lots of crap like Humidity, Barometric pressure, temperature and so on.

It also has a built in EVP recording feature and a female computer voice that asks questions.

All seems like a huge waste of money to me, especially as we know that EVPs are evidentially worthless. But then again it makes idiotic believers go "wow" and "they are so professional and scientific".

Remember just cause you use fancy equipment, doesn't make you a scientist.

Either way they waste some time, and get nothing of interest happen from the machine.

Less than 5 minutes left and they have no evidence whatsoever of a haunting.

Zak desperate to try and save the show, decides to do one final walk around of the house on his own. Nothing happens, so he pulls out an digital recorder to try and get something.

Zak suddenly gets shocked, and its a bug on his face. Lol, That made me smile.

And there investigation is basically over, and nothing has happened.

Ok so what can I take from this episode, Zak comes across as a nice enough genuine man, I cant really say anything bad about him from watching this one episode. The show didn't fake anything.

I would've preferred them to take a more skeptical approach and call out Keith and his Girlfriend, since obviously they are behind the so called haunting.

Will I watch again? Not sure, probably not. You see when you have a show that doesn't fake things it is incredibly boring.
I can understand why some uneducated believers might like the show, afterall there is that old claim of "things don't always happen, so we have to show that too"

Its almost like the lack of proof is used to prove the ghosts. Its an excuse I don't buy personally.

Zak seems likeable and honest, the show has really good production values, but the rest of the crew have little to no personality, so to watch for them is pointless.

They have an over reliance on useless equipment that they really don't understand, and a starting point of belief which leaves them lacking credibility.

Watch it, don't watch it, I don't care, but can I personally as the UKs most knowledgeable and experienced skeptic, can I recommend it? NO.

Sorry guys.







29 January 2015

Russian Ghost Car DEBUNK



Captain Disillusion deconstructs the viral dashboard camera video showing a "ghost car" appear on the streets of Russia.

24 January 2015

Scariest Places Victoria Inn Chester (Most Haunted Spoof)


Take the Cake proudly present Scariest Places, the Most Haunted spoof around...

Join Annette Pielding, Merrick Alora, Carl BT, Chris O'Beef and Dick Feelit for a spine tingling ghost investigation at The Victoria Inn Chester.

What will the team discover after spending the whole night in a pub full of spirits.



Written by Tim Benge

Co Written by
Michael D Roberts
Kevin Fowler
Phil Woods

Directed by
Michael D Roberts

Produced by
Adam Blackburn

www.facebook.com/takethecakeproductions

Twitter: @takethecakepro @michaeldroberts @MerrickAlora @SimonSPHealy @AnnettePielding

www.takethecakeproductions.co.uk

31 December 2014

Talking to the Dead: James Van Praagh Tested

Happy New Year to all BadPsychics readers.

Here is a classic investigation into James Van Praagh, showing exactly what he is, what he does, and how he does it


18 December 2014

Are Psychic Stage Shows Entertainment?

All the world is a stage, according to the bard, and all the men and women merely players. Well, in the second decade of the twenty first century the stage is big business. Once the arena of Shakespeare, Alan Bennett and Tennessee Williams, it is not just the play-write who can make a living: the stage show can earn good money for the modern psychic. If people are willing to shell out for pure entertainment that is one thing, if they are shelling out for the promise of distress-mitigation or greater understanding of the unknown then that is quite another. Big claims, especially attracting big money, are bound to attract the skeptical.

There is a growing body of people who want a justification for a practice that seems to have passed from helping the bereaved come to terms with their loss to entertainment. If there is something in it, fair enough, but prove it. If possible scientifically. It must be in the interests of all for what seems on the surface to be an unlikely phenomena to justify itself. Especially if it is raking in the big bucks.

Psychics unhappy free speech works both ways
When the skeptical activist Mark Tilbrook wanted to issue leaflets to people planning to attend psychic shows by Sally Morgan, the UK’s biggest stage show psychic, he was approached by members of Sally’s “team”. After publishing footage of these ‘approaches’ in later shows, he was then further approached by Sally’s “legal team”. Psychic shows on stage are now something that is big enough to pay for, and indeed require, a legal team. As a result of Tilbrook’s publications Sally Morgan was forced to sack her manager and her tour manager. Especially embarrassing for her as they were her husband and son-in-law respectively. That’s show business. 

Academia gets involved too. London’s prestigious Goldsmith’s college, founded by Goldsmiths in 1891, staged a Halloween Challenge for two mediums to undergo scientific tests. The tests were designed by Professor Chris French who at the time, October 2012, was Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at the college. An interesting degree to have on one’s CV. In 2009 Professor French hosted the James Randi Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge. One Million dollars! Presumably the Educational Foundation is confident they won’t have to pay up.

It is not just the skeptics who are querying the validity of psychic stage shows. The Daily Mail took great delight in reporting the two medium’s failure to pass what they saw as fair tests. Psychics, and the attending skepticism, shifts copy.

The problem with psychics as a stage show
In the UK the TV popularist Derren Brown has made a name for himself, among many other things, for testing the authenticity of psychic phenomena. Brown tends to concentrate on the stage show aspect of psychics rather than the healing one-to-one. Professor Richard Dawkins, too, likes to wade in on the side of the skeptics, and he comes with a harder line than Brown but both are interested in putting science in front of those who are driven to engage in stage shows, now firmly in the world of entertainment by presentation if not by content, so are open to examination and, if by failing without proper justification, to ridicule. The heartache being the lonely people reaching out for comfort. 

Why are these shows so popular? Curiosity may well attract some; some may attend for the entertainment value alone. Often, however, the audience is people lost in the aftermath of bereavement. There are many stresses in life and although moving house or losing one’s job are particularly painful none compare with the heartache of bereavement.

Is it right to make money from bereavement?
Bereavement  can make people vulnerable. Vulnerability within the human condition is dangerous for not only can it lead to a position of victimization, it can lead us to unhealthy ways of ameliorating the vulnerability.

There are two issues, equally powerful forces. The ache or loss in the first place and then the recognition, even if subliminal, that there is a vulnerability. If low self esteem sees this as a weakness then the hole is too often filled by turning to substances that help us forget. Alcohol, tobacco, drugs may not make the vulnerability go away, but often they help us forget. 
For some contact with a psychic may provide solace, but for many this is not enough. When human beings find themselves on the painful side of the human condition it is incredibly important that those offering to help are doing it for the right reason and genuinely helping. Not just doing it for the cash. There is already enough snake oil in the world.


Article by freelance writer Helen Hunter

2 December 2014

Robert W. Lester Gets a Reading from a Psychic/Medium

By Robert W. Lester

Barely educational, but fits the bull by the fact that such tricks are passed off as ESP, whether it's psychics or other traders it makes little difference, it's easy to learn methods to read a person, and in this case a debunker gives wrong responses in order to see how the reading works, although body language may have nearly given the game away. By giving the medium bad information the so-called psychic gives the client bad information, which is strange if she as a medium claims to speak for my dead grandmother.

Note that this Medium, Psychic, Healer, is a teacher/master of Reiki, this is why she pushed the angle of the Reiki healing, well that and the idea of a link to Asia that was assumed by the box.

She also said I could call her any time to get help, I think she wanted me to buy into her Bullshit training in psychic and reiki abilities, luckily I'm not a moron. Her mistake was to assume of my clothes and speech that I was an educated person who travels for work, as an improve I made up my higher education, I was never in university, yet by spinning a series of ideas I was able to let this idea grow from nothing, and I only offers small bits to feed the psychic. Her description of my Grandmother was not anything like anyone I know, and was yet another display of nonsense from the gifted, but note the way she avoided responsibility for the reading by saying it's up to you(me) while saying my nan (grandmother) was telling her this information. Interestingly she didn't seem to give names, dates, ages, or anything any good, and works with a crystal ball at this event, so she was simple very poor at what she claims to have and do. The box is old, repaired, part restored, 19th century, but not worth much, and was purchased off ebay for a small sum, and is Chinese, not Japanese, nor Tibetan, and is not a family antique at all, yet I chose to trial out this deception to see how the psychics medium reacts, see if she has any gift, or if she is taking people for a ride.

Note that she asked am I a sceptic, about 21 minutes into the video, I avoid exposure myself by staying with the act, but note she seems to think scepticism was drummed into me by religion, and that there opinion is they are "all mad, need to be drowned, burn, or hung". Odd as it may seem most religious folks in the UK don't think this at all, nor do non-believers, and yet many spiritualists do say their critics think they are evil and should be abused or even killed, as if any rational human being in this century in Britain would think that is a good idea. The thing that sparked the idea of sceptic or scepticism in this reading was wondering about the questions, she thought maybe this intelligent guy who is recording this reading may have questions, when I didn't fire a dim question about the points of the reading she may have assumed some doubt on how the reading is going. Any discussion on this event is highly hypothetical, and not the way to be sure of the facts.

Next time, I will see a new psychic and spirit medium, he will get honest responses from me, I won't tell him hardly a thing, BUT I will tell him I got the box of the internet as a haunted box, the ghost story will only be suggested and little information given, unless pressed for information. If pressed I will claim I have only had a few bulbs blow at home in the last few weeks, and this was a reported idea that the previous owners said happened to them, I will say I'm open-minded and not a sceptic, because in the end that's half true, I am open-minded and a sceptic.

30 November 2014

The Skeptic Zone Podcast #319 - 30.November.2014



http://www.skepticzone.tv

The Podcast from Australia for Science and Reason. Join Richard Saunders and the crew for interviews and reports from around the world.


0:00:00
Introduction
Richard Saunders and Stefan Sojka

0:03:35
SGU in Australia
Interviews with Evan Bernstein, Steve Novella, Postie Linley, Michael Marshall, Jo Benhamu, Ross Balch. Jo Alabaster and more!

0:24:10
A Week in Science
The Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus) is a national scientific not-for-profit organisation with a mission to bring science to people and people to science.

0:27:00
Ghost Adventure Part #2
Join Maynard, Alethea Dean and Richard Saunders has they wonder around the Field of Mars Cemetery.

Skeptic James Randi challenges psychics

We’re joined by James Randi, the magician and escape artist who has spent most of his career debunking the claims of psychics and paranormalists.

27 November 2014

The Psychic World Newspaper Interviews Jon Donnis

A few months ago I was approached by John Sutton, a former associate of Derek Acorah, who now runs The Psychic World Newspaper, this is a Newspaper that is sold and distributed around various Spiritualist Chuches.

A few people have asked if I could publish the interview here on BadPsychics as they are morally against purchasing a Newspaper that helps fund a fraudulent industry and a cult, so I thought I should oblige.

The interview appears in the December 2014 edition of The Psychic World

--

THE JOHN G. SUTTON COLUMN
Off The Cuff

Jon Donnis: Badpsychics.com

There has over the last decade or so been a great deal of bad publicity leveled at professional psychics/mediums and whilst such adverse criticism in itself is nothing new the orchestration behind a lot of this has been refined using the internet to spread the bad word. One of the main exponents of this deliberate, somewhat disturbing phenomena, is a gentleman called Mr. Jon Donnis the webmaster of BadPsychics.com  Jon is a man who is rather forthright in his description of those that he selects to discuss on his site. 

In fact quite recently Jon very kindly referred in writing on his Blog at BadPsychics.com to me in the following terms: ‘I see no problem in humiliating a criminal, someone like yourself who is a grief vulture.’  Jon Donnis went on to indicate that in his opinion I was a ‘nutter’. This intrigued me as I had spoken to Mr. Donnis in the past and tried to help him so I thought maybe there is something that he needs to say. 

(Note: When John Sutton claims he tried to help me in the past, he is referring to him trying to expose Derek Acorah, I refused his help, as I have a problem with any fake psychic trying to expose another fake psychic, I told John Sutton at the time I was not interested, he then went to another Skeptic who happened to be a former member of my forum going under the name Echolima/Emma Gee, and helped her in her Doublexposure website - Jon Donnis)

After all, a man of his undoubted erudition would surely not want to waste his life just posting abusive insults on a website for all to see when he could be doing something constructive. So I contacted Jon and asked if he would consider an interview with myself as the feature editor of the Journal of Spiritualism ‘Psychic World’. I am delighted to say that Jon agreed. Here is my interview in which Mr. Jon Donnis of  www.badpsychics.com answers the questions I put to him. Please note these questions and Jon’s answers are exactly as given and received.


Q1.
Jon you are the founder and main researcher for the website Badpsychics.com please advise me of your mission statement:

I am not the founder, that would be Nik Donnis my cousin, and the originator of the BadPsychics brand. I took over from him in 2004.

My mission statement is one that we should all agree on, to expose fraudulent psychics and mediums, and educate the public as to the methods behind fake mediumship.

Q2.
In pursing your research into the work of professional psychics have you at any time found evidence to support the claims made for paranormal phenomena by these professionals.

Never, not once, in 100% of cases whereby I have had readings from mediums (well over 200 personally), I can explain exactly how they do it. I also have a 100% record of explaining how every reading given to someone else and analysed by myself is done. From Gordon Smith, to Derek Acorah, from Colin Fry to Sally Morgan. I have never been stumped by a medium, I have exposed the methods of every single one ever put in front of me.

Q3.
Are you stating that it is your belief that all psychics and all mediums are frauds, fakes and deliberately misrepresent themselves for whatever purposes.

My beliefs do not matter, all I deal in is facts. Historical and Scientific fact dictates that mediumship is statistically improbable, and to a level where someone could confidently state it as being impossible.

There are two types of mediums, and here are two terms you will be well aware of John Sutton, that being "Eyes open" and "Eyes closed", for the readers unaware of these terms, Eyes Open refers to mediums who are deliberately defrauding their clients, using cold and hot reading as well as other methods to create the illusion of mediumship. Eyes Closed refers to mediums who really do believe in what they do, usually due to client verification, and a general misunderstanding of psychology and what they are actually doing. Only one fact remains though, that being that no medium in history has ever been able to prove a single paranormal claim under credible controlled conditions. Not one. All have failed when the chance to cheat is removed. Usually you can tell the difference between an Eyes Open medium and an Eyes Closed medium straight away as the Eyes Closed (deluded) medium is more than happy to try and prove what they do is real. The Eyes Closed mediums, will always have excuses and try to blame the operator of any test, or the conditions of the test itself as flawed. The reality is that any claim of mediumship is incredibly easy to prove if the claim was real.

In the past many Eyes Open mediums would happily take tests under the assumption they were too smart for the operator, or that they could fool them. Other examples of such tests will be when there is blatant bias by the person conducting the test, usually they claim to be psychic themselves, or they are part of the psychic industry. And such tests always lack credibility, and the conditions are seriously flawed.

Q4.
You are aware that all religions in every corner of the globe have as the basic tenets of their belief systems an absolute faith in life after death. How do you explain this.

One word, Ignorance. Human evolution and history shows that when we do not understand something we give it a supernatural meaning, from people looking up at the Sun and Moon, and see them as Gods chasing each other, to people praying to trees.

Religion is often a way to cope with this ignorance, as well as the sheer terror for some of not being able to accept we are just Apes on a planet that really doesn't matter.

Q5.
In some of your statements published on your Badpsychics.com website you state that professional psychics are in effect obtaining money by false pretences. Given that you understand all religions are founded on a belief in the paranormal, communication from beyond i.e. The Holy Ghost etc do you therefore hold that all religious practices are essentially fraudulent.

To clarify here, any medium who uses a disclaimer of "For Entertainment Purposes Only" or something similar, is effectively admitting they are a fraud, but they do so with a nod and a wink to the client/audience, as if they are somehow forced to add this disclaimer. This is not true, there is no European Legislation that dictates that any such disclaimer needs to be shown, in fact if you are a real medium you can call yourself a real medium. But if we are to look at psychics/mediums broadly, they all take money by performing an act, which they claim is real, when it clearly is not. This is fraud, and this is why so many mediums use such disclaimers.

All religious practices are based on ignorance, and if money is accepted, then there is an element of fraud involved, however more so than that the tax exemptions that religious groups get to me is much more of an issue.

Q6.
You are aware that Spiritualism is a recognised religion that has ministers and churches throughout the world. Do you believe that all the mediums standing on the platforms of these churches are deliberately misleading their congregations.

I am aware that Spiritualist is a recognised religion, but then so is Scientology, a religion dreamed up by a Science Fiction writer!

It is relatively easy to become recognised, however this does not make it real. Did you know you can legally put your religion as Jedi on the census?

I would say the vast majority of Church mediums are indeed deliberately misleading their congregation, we know they use prior research, we know they have the "Blue Book" method of cheating. Ever wondered why they get you to leave messages in a remembrance book when you attend a Spiritualist Church!? The sad thing is that often the very people who run the church are often not even in on the scam, and believe it wholeheartedly, that is very sad to me.

Q7.
You have on your website created a list of your top Bad Psychics is it the intention of your website to expose these individuals and if so why them in particular. Please give examples.

In the beginning we would expose the big name mediums like, Derek Acorah, Colin Fry, Tony Stockwell, Gordon Smith, Sally Morgan and so on, because they were the easiest to expose, plenty of material, and a large fan base meant that we would reach more believers by exposing these people. Let me make it clear, I have exposed each of those mentioned, and not one has ever tried to sue me for calling their mediumship fake.

These days although we will write about a big name medium if a story comes up, we actually prefer to expose smaller time mediums, and on a more personal basis with direct victims of the crime, we help them get their money back, we help them go to Trading Standards and we help them with any other issues they have resulting from the financial and emotional scarring of being the victim of fraud. Sometimes just using my name and the name of BadPsychics is enough to scare the medium into giving a full refund. 

So many victims of these types of crime are embarrassed and do not want to speak out, they put it down to just being "a foolish old woman" or something similar, in fact people like this we want to help the most.

Q8.
The Top Bad Psychics list is effectively made up of all the most successful professional psychics in the UK. All of those listed have been featured on TV, written books and toured the major theatre circuit in the UK. All their work is promoted as being for entertainment purposes only.  What are your thoughts on this.

As I mentioned earlier, by saying this they are effectively admitting they are frauds, it is a way to cover themselves legally, as they can claim that they are working in the same capacity as a mentalist/magician, it is a cop out, and disgusting that people can get away with causing such potential harm with a one sentence disclaimer. They take no responsibility for the problems they cause. These people are grief vultures.

Q9.
What will be your response when you eventually make the inevitable transition between this material world and the next. What are you going to say to your guardian angels when they welcome you Jon into the next dimension.

Nothing, because I will be dead.

14 November 2014

The Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge 2014 featuring Fei Wang

The Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge 2014 featuring Fei Wang that took place at The Amazing Meeting 2014 in Las Vegas