Tomorrow I head up to Pittsburgh, PA for the annual MAPACA (Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association) Conference. This year I am presenting my paper titled: “Travel Channel: Singlehandedly Delegitimizing the Paranormal Field.” My show is an early Thursday event scheduled at 1:45 PM. Upon my return, I will post excerpts of it. I’m looking forward to returning to Pitt–it has been many decades since I visited.
There should be more truth in advertising new TV shows. According to the Discovery Channel, owner of Travel Channel, the new TV series The Holzer Files, is based on newly discovered tapes from Hans Holzer’s most famous cases. Really? They just now found these tapes? I don’t think so. In fact, their press release had several errors or misleading information. However, misleading audiences was nothing new to Holzer, who knew how to entertain.
Holzer died in New York City at the age of 89 in 2009. He was an established author, writing somewhere between 120-140 books on the occult and paranormal. Most of his books focused on the paranormal; however, he wrote several books on witchcraft. His interests were eccentric and varied.
Fleeing with his family from Vienna, Austria in 1938, Holzer was born in 1920. According to Holzer, he held a Master’s degree in Comparative Religion (names vary depending on publications) and a PhD in Parapsychology from the London College of Applied Science. Unfortunately, this school does not exist. In fact, it is doubtful he completed any advanced degrees.
Holzer entered the entertainment business early in his career. His interest in the paranormal shifted his focus to paranormal research-esque. Although Holzer employed several mediums, he merely recorded his investigations and did not conduct much research beyond the visits. Armed with a Polaroid, Holzer shunned all gadgetry. He preferred to take the word of the mediums and never fully validated their observations.
Some say he coined the term “other side,” but this term was already in use. Instead, Holzer popularized the term. He did not like the words “supernatural” or “belief.” One of his famous quotes is: “A ghost is only a fellow human being in trouble.” This may be the case.
He did not create the “Holzer Method,” the process of determining natural vibrations. Further, it is debatable if he actually applied scientific fact to observations/investigations. He is most known for investigating the Amityville house, claiming (erroneously) that Rolling Thunder, a Shinnecock Indian Chief, possessed Ronald DeFeo. It’s a shame. He may have been a qualified paranormal investigator, but his credibility was undermined by his fabrications.
It’s disappointing that Travel Channel is sensationalizing Holzer. Press releases and advertising should not claim that his tapes were recently uncovered. It should have stuck with the truth: A paranormal team is reinvestigating former cases investigated by Holzer.
Tune into the Travel Channel on September 15th for the 2-hour documentary profiling the latest scientific research conducted in search of Nessie. Professor Neil Gemmel, University of Otago (New Zealand), collected 250 samples of DNA from Loch Ness. His team captured, extracted, and sequenced the samples, and the results were announced this week. Gemmel proclaimed, “We’ve used science to add another chapter to Loch Ness’ mystique.”
Turns out the samples support a very large eel swimming in Britain’s largest body of fresh water. Researchers created a comprehensible spectrum of life from the samples. None support a Jurassic-age reptile or unknown sea monster. Instead, the DNA showed that eels were quite plentiful in the loch.
Gemmell concluded that more research is needed. Catch the documentary on your local Travel Channel.
Andry Plantation: 10 Facts Before You View Haunted Towns
Season 2 of Haunted Towns, titled “Voodoo on the Bayou” sends the Tennessee Wraith Chasers to the largest slave revolt in American history. (Note: It’s not the largest on North American soil. That distinction goes to the 1739 Stono Rebellion commencing on September 9, 1739—when America was comprised of 13 colonies). The team heads to the Andry Plantation where the “German Coast Uprising of 1811” began.
10 Facts to Know Before You View:
- Louisiana was not part of the Union at the time of the revolt. It was known as Territory of Orleans. It was admitted to the Union on April 30, 1812.
- The revolt was coordinated by Charles Deslondes (1780-January 15, 1811). He worked at the Andry Plantation.
- Manual Andry built the Andry Plantation in 1793. The main crop was sugar cane. The main house is 3,982 square feet with a separate guest house in back. The plantation is also known as “Woodland.” It makes researching confusing as there is another more well-known and well maintained plantation with the same name.
- The main house was built in the French Creole style. The plantation was abandoned in 2004 and is a fixer upper. It was listed for sale in 2016 for $550,000. The owners at that time had the plantation in their family since the 1920s.
- The revolt lasted 3 days. It commenced on January 8, 1811 and ended on the 10th.
- The path led to New Orleans and included 10 plantations.
- Reports vary as to the number of slaves involved. The number sits between 200-500 joining over the 3-day revolt.
- Again, numbers vary, but records show that between 20-100 slaves were killed. The heads were placed on poles and displayed. Fifty slaves were captured.
- Early Jazz pioneer Edouard (Edward) “Kid” Ory was born in the guest house on Christmas Day 1886.
Enjoy the episode.
Read my latest blog at Haunt Jaunts:
Historic Holbrooke Hotel (CA) Closed Indefinitely for Renovations: https://www.hauntjaunts.net/historic-holbrooke-hotel-ca-closed-indefinitely-for-renovations/
Mediocrity Is Travel Channel’s Business Plan
Travel Channel announced that the subpar and totally faked “paranormal” show Paranormal Caught on Camera has been renewed for a second season, ordering 26 new episodes. Hopefully, they will hire a new slate of “experts” and writers who actually vet and verify these stories.
Stop watching this crap. Travel Channel is single-handedly ruining the paranormal field, which is the basis for my 2019 academic conference presentations. Stay tuned.
Do Better, Travel Channel: The Orb that Didn’t Transform into a Ghost
Travel Channel is undermining the paranormal community. The new series Paranormal Caught on Camera is a prime example how. The series debuted last week. There were serious errors and omissions in the researching for that episode. This week the misrepresentations continue in Episode 3. Travel Channel televises some truly compelling paranormal shows. Unfortunately, Paranormal Caught on Camera in not one of them.
Case in point: The video of an orb transforming into a face in a 2016 video. Elaine Hamer, mid-fifties, sought to capture a meteor shower around October 2016 at her Blackwood, South Wales, UK home. She was testing her camera phone at 1 AM on a Saturday morning. Her sister was assisting in the recording. Elaine noticed an orb floating in her dining room. She continued filming as the orb moved throughout the room. The orb transformed into a blurry mist and then appeared to rush the two women. The women scream; the video stopped shortly thereafter.
Elaine’s son-in-law, Jason Hughes, and self-professed Spiritualist uploaded the video to his YouTube channel. (Watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxJjfh4FgTU) The story was picked up by a local newspaper and was covered for a hot minute. Some 90,000 views (and 91 thumbs up versus 41 thumbs down) later, the video is now the property of a licensing company.
The video clip was briefly profiled in Episode 3. Afterwards certain people in the paranormal field attested to its authenticity and proclaimed it real and undisputable proof of a ghost. Jason was interviewed via video link to corroborate the proclamations. Sadly, it’s not undisputable.
First, at least one expert based her assessment on the erroneous fact that the video was shot in the daytime, stating that capturing orbs in the daytime is so difficult, thus it must be proof. The video was shot at 1 AM in the morning. At night. In a house. The orb could have easily been a flying bug or dust. Without a proper investigation, no one will know for certain.
Next, the segment fails to specify that the video was shot on a camera phone. Instead, the producers lead the audience to believe it was a digital camera by using the word “camera” instead of “camera phone.” Arguably, this is an important distinction. For one reason, it casts doubt on the story that the then 56-year old woman needed help using the video function on her phone. (Yes, it’s plausible, yet somehow not really)
Finally, the producers and Jason don’t disclose that Jason is a Spiritualist. He’s a believer. There’s nothing wrong with that. The issue is that everything he says will be biased toward his belief that the video is real and that the video captured a ghost. At no point is the video debunked. It is taken at face value, which is not criticism or assessment. It’s going along with the script in order to be on a T.V. show.
I’ve no doubt that the video is real. Yes, a real person videoed on her camera phone what appears to be a white circle moving across a room. That’s not the point. The point is whether or not the orb was an orb (meaning spiritual being taking the form of a ball of light) which transformed into a ghost. After watching the video online a few more times, I’m more convinced that the “ghost” was a reflection. At one point, it looks like a reflection from car lights entering through a window. Without knowing all the circumstances pertaining to the video and conducting subsequent investigations, no one will know for sure. Therefore, it is extremely premature for the experts and the producers to claim this is absolute proof of a ghost. It’s not. Not even close.
Another Segment from Paranormal Caught on Camera Called Out
Travel Channel debuted the overhyped series Paranormal Caught on Camera this week. The series profiles numerous “paranormal” incidents occurring around the world. “Experts” are interviewed proclaiming the incidents legitimate with very, very little debunking. That’s a pity. The other day I cast suspicion upon the “Russian Bigfoot” segment. Now I’m calling out the Deerpark CBS School “poltergeist.”
First, I would like to express my deep dismay that no one at the popular cable channel did any Internet searches on these locations. Granted, I hold a M.A. degree in Library Science; however, I’m merely rooting through various credible websites—something someone at Travel Channel should have done.
The segment on the Deerpark CBS School in Cork, Ireland was too contrived. Simply stated: It was too staged. The first video clip showed a rear door slamming closed. Then a set a lockers rocked violently. Papers fell out of another locker adjacent to the rocking set. Finally, a “wet floor” sign aggressively flipped over. In the second video, a chair levitated in the background. A student backpack flew from the top of another set of lockers. Next, a poster flung from the wall. Finally, a chair slid across the floor. All of these are elaborate hoaxes.
It’s nearly embarrassing to go through the obvious. The dramatic slamming of the door catches the viewer’s attention. The aggressiveness of the rocking lockers is absurd. The papers in the other locker did not come from within the locker. Instead, they appeared to be perched ready to fly out. None of the other items inside were disturbed. The sign was not kicked, as one would expect, but flipped as if connected to wiring. The second video is worse. Most notably are 1) the poster being pulled from the wall (as if the upper corners are connected to wires), and 2) the chair dragged by one leg to the other side of the hallway (again, orchestrated by wires). Wouldn’t a ghost push the chair?
Even without viewing the videos (posted in early October 2017), one should consider the timing of the postings. The school hosted a Halloween event, where tickets were sold, to tour the “haunted” school shortly thereafter. Aaron Wolfe, one of the deputy principals, claimed that administrators just found out that the school was built on the former Green Gallows, a popular historic location where people were hung. In public. In the 19th century when nearly everyone attended public hangings.
A school was built on the former grounds of the Green Gallows—just not Deerpark CBS. In 1852, construction began on the Old Greenmount School. In 1855, the school opened as St. Finbarr’s. The street name of Gallows Green Lane was changed to Green Street. (Admittedly, looking online at the old map, the Green Gallows was situated on Bandon Road—still a healthy walk from Deerpark) Deerpark sits on St. Patrick’s Road, a 10-minute walk away.
Incredulously, Mr. Wolfe attempted to link Deerpark’s building to that of an historic school. Maybe he presumed no one in America would Google it.
This is another example highlighting the egregious errors and misrepresentation of paranormal events to lure viewers to watch mediocre shows. Do better, Travel Channel!
Travel Channel’s new show Paranormal Caught on Camera debuted this week. The show highlights various international paranormal stories accompanied with expert “analysis” of the events. Unfortunately, the experts don’t debunk. Instead, they casually deem the individual event credible. Producers cram as many paranormal events into each episode. The first episode is mediocre and downright disappointing—specifically the “Russian Bigfoot” segment.
A dashboard camera in the car of two Russian co-workers captured a bipedal creature crossing the single lane snow covered road ahead of them. The creature appeared to glide across the road. The driver slowed the car to a stop, restarted the stalled vehicle, and then slowly drove past where the creature crossed. Then the driver placed the vehicle in reverse, crossed back over the tracks, and then (presumably) continued driving on. It’s presumable since all the video postings of this event end shortly thereafter. This is a shame. Viewers could glean so much more had the video continued to play. Possibly, that’s what the witnesses wanted.
The video was posted on November 17, 2016. Predictably, it went viral. Several news media outlets covered the event in brief, often copied, articles. One of the witnesses, Vadim Gilmanov, postulated that it may be a hoax; however, who would go to the trouble?
Many people go to the trouble of filming hoax videos. Their intentions vary. In this case, the sighting occurred in the Ural Mountain region in the Republic of Bashkortostan, an area notorious for Bigfoot sightings but short on actual evidence. The two men are speaking Russian. None of the videos translated the conversation. A few articles claimed that the men were talking about Yetis. The Travel Channel episode claims the men say “Moose.” I heard both; however, I don’t speak Russian.
Travel Channel should have spent more time perusing the various articles to see what the public’s consensus was about this event. Had they, they would have found that no one could conclusively proclaim this as a Bigfoot sighting. In fact, quite a few people leaned toward hoax.
Here are my observations: The road was not isolated. There are at least one additional sets on tracks before the creature crossed. The bipedal creature maneuvered the terrain quite well. He seemed to glide, or possible ski, across the road. The film footage does not capture close-up images of the tracks, even though the car slowed down, crossed, and then re-crossed them. The men don’t seem excited about the sighting. A translation or transcript would bolster the claim. And finally, the video footage stops too soon. In an area ripe with Bigfoot sightings yet no evidence, surely these two men would have filmed the tracks. I’m not asking that they get out of the vehicle and give chase. Just, film the tracks. Take the time to look down. Had they, we may not be analyzing a paranormal show’s presumption that we’re all suckers.
Travel Channel should have down this much analysis…at the very least.
The Dead Files Confront a Skin-Walker
Spoiler Alert: This article contains elements from the episode.
The season 8, episode 5 of The Dead Files saw Amy Allan confronting a skin-walker. Skin-walkers come from the Navajo Indian culture. They are shapeshifters who disguise themselves as animals. The difference in this episode is that this skin-walker takes on the image of a known person, either dead or alive, so that the person encountering the skin-walker will feel relieved. Boy, were they wrong.
The Navajo Nation is centered on Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Their culture is rich with folktales. According to NavajoLegends.org, the skin-walker is a medicine man or witch who has turned evil. These walkers shapeshift into 4-legged animals; “The term yee naaldooshii literally translates to ‘with it, he goes on all fours.’” This was not the paranormal problem at this location, Indiana.
Amy never addresses if this skin-walker is tied with Native American lore. Her description showed a spider-like creature that drained the souls from a person who died on or near the property. Amy spoke of a car accident that occurred between the 2 houses in 1979 where a 16-year-old boy died. Amy claims that the skin-walker stole this boy’s soul. However, it collects souls, many souls. This specific creature is extremely old and has always existed (as opposed to being born human). In addition to stealing souls, this creature borrows images of living people to trick the living. The concern is for the elderly patriarch of the family.
One of the short-term solutions Amy suggests is for the family to contact a shaman. Dictionary.com defines a “shaman” as “a person who acts as an intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, using magic to cure illness, foretell the future, control spiritual forces, etc.” As with many other families on The Dead Files, this family was still searching for one when the episode debuted. Maybe the production company should employ a shaman, and I happen to know one who would be fantastic and a huge help. Just a thought!