October 8, 2008

GH: Oak Alley Plantation

Well I just had to rush this review to press. This investigation gives us much to talk about so without further preamble, here's my take on the Ghost Hunters investigation of the Oak Alley Plantation.

First off, this was a full-episode investigation, which I would say is always a good thing. It also started off with Jay & Grant receiving a phone call while plumbing in Rhode Island again, despite the fact that this involves us somehow believing they go to work with a camera crew (while there is a similar camera crew with Kris in the office getting a synch shot) and despite the fact that we know they just filmed at two locations in Florida prior to this (and Steve doesn't fly) so why would they go back to Rhode Island in-between Florida and Louisiana? I'll roll my eyes one more time and leave it at that, let's move on.

Barry Fitzgerald, who worked with TAPS originally on their first (and only) overseas investigations in Ireland and is currently of Ghost Hunters: International fame, came to America on an apparent working vacation to fulfill his dream of investigating an old southern plantation, just as Jay & Grant fulfilled theirs of investigating an old European castle when they first visited him. Also, surprise: Joe Chin & Kristyn Gartland came along for the ride (we see them in the van with Barry), so welcome back guys. On second thought, maybe everyone did drive back to Rhode Island in between investigations. Otherwise I might be suspicious as to whether or not they "re-enacted" their road-trip radio chatter between the van with all the people that were at the Florida investigations and the van with all the people who were not at those investigations. Odd that they couldn't fit the extra three people in that big truck Jay & Grant drive with only Kris in the back. All the equipment is in Steve & Tango's truck after all.

Of course, this is all probably just me being unnecessarily cynical, so I'll just drop it and move on to the meat & potatoes of the investigation. Besides, it is fair to say that re-enacting the process of who found out about the investigation, when and how, and when and how everyone arrived on-scene has no bearing on the substance of the investigation. It's just mildly annoying for those of us who insist on trying to keep everything straight with a fine-toothed comb. Our own fault, really.

So most of the activity that has been reported at this plantation revolved around a woman, often reported as a shadow-like apparition, who is believed to be the former owner and resident. As usual I'm not going to spend a lot of time on what other people reported, because the GH team will either catch corroborating evidence (in which case we'll discuss) or not (in which case it doesn't matter). Suffice it to say that there are a lot of reports about this woman and they involve everything from seeing her (shadow-like form) walk across a room, in a mirror sitting next to you, or making an impresion sitting on the bed in what is believed to be her former room.

Right away, Jay seemed intent on making a lot of people very angry. He went up to the 2nd floor with Grant, holding the FLIR like a ghost detector as usual when he saw a heat signature in a couple of window panes. Immediately it was clear to me this was a reflection, but Jay insisted it was coming from outside. He sent Grant outside and aimed the thermal camera at the window again, seeing nothing even though Grant was right on the other side. This is absolute confirmation that heat signatures are not passing through the window, and therefore the heat signature Jay saw must have been a reflection. Rather than accept this blatantly obvious fact, Jay & Grant shrug and say they don't understand what their evidence means.

Worse: they show this to their guide during the reveal and leave her describing how impressed she was with the footage of the "man looking in the window". Back in season one when they caught the "civil war soldier" on the locker it was somewhat understandable because they had this high-tech, expensive device but no real concept of how it worked or what it was showing them. Even though they continue to cite that "civil war soldier" as some of their "best evidence" (I am retching right now) at least they started recognizing the mistake in later investigations and saying, "I thought I caught something on the FLIR, but it turns out it was just Grant's reflection", etc.

Sometimes they caught a reflection, made a poor attempt to recreate it and then claimed (wrongly) that it couldn't have been a reflection, but very clearly they understood the concept of a thermal reflection and the circumstances under which they occur. For Jay to put Grant outside that window, not see him on the FLIR and then still insist that whatever he caught on the original footage must have been outside the window — without even once mentioning the word reflection either means Pilgrim did a hatchet job on the editing (I don't think so, considering he showed it during the Reveal) or Jay should get to the doctor immediately to make sure he doesn't have early-onset Alzheimer's (I say this not to mock, but in all seriousness and to offer a less offensive alternative to the next possibility) or Jay is conducting an intellectually dishonest investigation by deliberately playing dumb.

There is no question what he sees is a reflection, the fact that we can't see Grant on the other side of the glass in the second shot proves this beyond all doubt, end of story. For someone who has had four years learning how the thermal camera works from trial, error and feedback from fans there is absolutely no excuse for Jay's supposed befuddlement over the footage.

Onto a lighter subject: Barry headed outside with Joe (and the FLIR) and chatted Joe up, eliciting basically Joe's entire life story condensed into ten seconds. I know this investigation was filmed months ago during the summer, but it's almost like the producers are reading this site — through a time machine! Of course, without a time machine it's still possible that someone went back and re-cut this episode to include some more Joe & Kristyn footage after reading my post "A Note to the Producers" but I doubt it. If so, that would have to be some pretty fast editing!  Still, I'll throw out a relevant pointer here: show us, don't tell us.  When Tango came into the show, he showed us who he was. Joe (and Kristyn) still seems very one dimensional because they haven't really had the opportunity to do that, or if they have they haven't used it well.


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Comments on GH: Oak Alley Plantation »

October 9, 2008

CrowTRobot @ 7:26 am

Good call on the heat signature. I actually thought someone was looking in, but on Grant's 'reinactment' I thought he didn't register because (it seemed to me at the time) he didn't get close enough to the window.

A couple of nitpicks:

1)They go to the Buffalo Train Station, which is the size of Montana, with only five investigators. But to a plantation, they take…what….eight?

2)The two bimbo Krises see a cockroach and flee the room, much like Steve does. A couple of years ago Brian ran because he was caught off-guard by what he thought was a spirit, and gets ripped a new one. These clowns run from bugs, interrupting their investigation, and it's ok.

3)This show is thrown together so haphazardly, it's like no one watches the final product before it airs just to make sure everything fits.

Anyway, off to work…

Harry @ 9:25 am

I can't wait to read Logisti's comments about the use of a flashlight with a mechanically weakened switch as a paranormal research tool.

I'm impressed that someone who passed to the Great Beyond before the Civil War can figure out how to turn on a flashlight, Maybe people back then were smarter than we give them credit for being.

And it was too bad they couldn't get Jay's hand into the same shot as the flashlight when it supposedly went out. I'm sure it was just some unfortunate screw-up by the inept production crew instead of a really lame attempt at deception.

Patrick @ 9:31 am


Even I, lying on my couch eating ice cream and drinking beer (not necessarily together or in that order) could plainly see that was a reflection. Probably the camera guy, who wasn't in the same place during the "re-enactment". I immediately said the same thing, if you don't see Grant outside, then the heat signature can't be from outside. I have never owned a FLIR, and only have seen one in GH, GHI, MQ, and DT, and even if could use simple deduction to figure that one out.

Secondly, and I know you haven't addressed this one yet, but the bit about Steve stopping his elbow from going back because he thought he would hit someone. Instead of "someone", how about "something", like the freaking chair that was about a 1/2 inch from where you took your arm back. He never once recognized the chair right next to his arm.

blinddog50 @ 9:38 am

Absolutely the most crap laden episode yet.
Bugs, bells, bootsteps?,shadows not seen, armadillo chasing, funhouse stairs, bored looking Jason.
At this point the best use of GH is that it gets the TV warmed up for DT.

P.S., What's with the new tats that J&G have?

HoopDreams @ 10:12 am

The worst part about SciFi's GhostHunters marathon every Wednesday is that occasionally you see old episodes where they at least made an effort.

I agree with Logisti about the investigation taking the entire show – that is the way to go. I don't know how the show is edited, but there is not enough EVP work and/or staying in one place long enough. But, it could also be a case of there was absolutely nothing going on at the Plantation.

Agree, Grant looks bored…

Flip flops and armadillos…good gravy. The light outside that no one sees but Jay and Grant. The shadow on the bed that only Grant sees. The moving door that is NOT picked up on camera. I stare at the ceiling anytime they pull out the K2 or the flashlight.

The set up and premise were solid. The investigation was shoddy with too many investigators.

The only positive I will give them is in the debunking aspect of the claims. Too bad they don't do as much with their 'evidence.'

I still watch the damn show though.

robfrmpgh @ 10:29 am

I must say, I've followed this site for awhile now and never felt the need to actually comment cause I felt that you guys usually were dead on with your comments…

With that said I must disagree with what everyone is saying with the FLIR hit in the window. It seems everyone has grown so content with dismissing everything that noone has actually taken a closer look at this.

I do admit it could quite possibly be a heat reflection but feel it should be looked at a little closer for a few reasons.

For instance when Jason enters the room he is standing in the doorway when he gets the FLIR hit. So the theory that it is the camera mans reflection is null because both Grant and the camera man were standing behind Jason. Therefore if it was a reflection it was Jasons. Jason was standing on the right hand side of the doorway therfore no one else would've been seen as a heat reflection from behind Jason. Even if the camera man or Grant were to Jasons left you would've seen the signature disappear behind Jasons heat signature which wasn't seen.

Also it's fairly obvious that it wasn't Jasons reflection either since he was stationary and the FLIR hit was moving.

Now don't get me wrong it's easy for someone to be outside the window looking in that gave the heat signature and they could've easily shown Grant standing in front of a different window. Notice we were never shown proof Grant was standing at the correct window.

As i said i'm not fully convinced this was anything paranormal but i would expect a better explanation than what everyone has posted. If you're going to debunk it then you should explian how you're doing it a little better than "it's clearly a reflection".

I honestly believe it wasn't a reflection. I feel it was someone on the balcony (Just picture Fort Delaware) then they showed Grant at a different window. There is no reason why the glass in the window would have blocked the FLIR from picking up Grants heat signature…

Logisti @ 11:28 am

robfrmpgh, if you watch closely in other investigations you will notice that glass consistently gives thermal reflections — some reflects better than others but there have a been just a ton of times in GH or GHI where they've noticed a "black spot" and gotten all excited only to realize it was a pane of glass that was missing — meaning that all the glass was reflecting thermals from inside the room and the black spot was the only area that the camera was getting a reading from outside.

As far as the specifics of this case go, we can't be sure who was standing where or even if the footage we see is a recreation because maybe the cameraman was still downstairs when Jay got the thermal hit. And yes, the thermal hit seems to move, but then again Jay is also moving so it could easily be him.

Also, we've seen many instances where Jay insists something isn't a reflection because they've tried to recreate it, but during the recreation he was provably standing in a completely different place — which I will assume is out of unprofessional inattention and not deliberate. Of all his skills, I have the least faith in his ability to accurately recreate an event.

Ultimately, it's a bit of a stretch to think Grant was accidentally standing in front of the wrong window and it's a fallacy to think getting closer to the window will overcome the window's thermal reflectivity and allow such a strong signature through (and then vanish suddenly, without leaving the glass warmer than its surroundings).

But the problem here isn't (directly) that it absolutely *had* to be a reflection. The problem is that anyone who has operated a FLIR camera inside buildings as often as Jay has should have automatically jumped to a reflection as the most likely explanation, and putting Grant outside virtually *proved* that explanation was correct, yet Jay made no attempt to address it or suggest a reason why he believed it was not a reflection.

I mean, the guy knows thermal reflections can be a problem for his investigation and here is a case where you have pretty firm evidence pointing to that conclusion but he doesn't even address it as a possibility. That's the real problem. If I drive to the supermarket and my car just sputters out halfway there and won't start, am I going to blame it on gremlins or am I going to look at the fuel gauge to see if I ran out of gas?

melissa @ 11:39 am

so sad. i was a huge fan until about 2 yrs.ago. just so fake. really upsetting to the people who would strive to get any answer about the after-life.well i guess i will keep looking. very disappointing!!!

robfrmpgh @ 11:58 am

Trust me I completly understand and follow what your saying. As for the glass blocking a heat signature from blocking comming from the outside i'm forced to agree with you since i'm not familiar with FLIR technology.

But my point is that Jason is looking right into the window and i never seen the camera perspective change so assume Jayson did not move.The FLIR stays pretty motionless through the entire shot. Jayson is standing right in front of the window. You can tell that from the perspective of the shot at the time it was captured.

If you look closely you can see the window frames and can tell where Jason is standing in regaurds to the window. With that in mind you would expect to see Jasons reflection in the window. Now i conclude that this is not his reflection because the heat signature moves and Jason is motionless at that moment. Pretty much what i'm saying is that from where Jason is standing you would expect to see his reflection and we dont. UNLESS he staged it and held the camera stationary while he peeked around the corner himself which i would hate to assumed happend.

As i said i agree with you 100% that it's not paranormal and probably could be easily explained had they looked into it more. I mean honestly the window could've been slightly open which could have picked up a signature from a different angle.

Unfortunatley neither of us can know for sure how it was caused or whose reflection it was based on what we were shown. And although i agree with you i would rather try to prove HOW and WHOSE reflection it was rather than say it was just a reflection.

On a side note i reviewed the moment Grant stood by the window and shined his light into the room Jason was in and you can clearly see in the FLIR footage a change when the light enters the room, even though it is minor since the FLIR doesn't pick up light. I'm sure if you look closely you'll see what i'm talking about cause it's somewhat hard to explain…

Honestly i think the show could show more of what is actually happening rather than cut and edit everything to fit. I would've liked to see Jason and Grant go back into that room with the lights on to recreate that moment but oh well…

I would also like to see them do a few shows with the lights on. I think in terms of spirts gathering energy to produce themselves it might be easier if there was actually some energy being generated in those areas. But that's for a different topic…

SoupBone @ 12:11 pm

I have been watching GH for about 2 years. I have always enjoyed the show, but I have always been a little skeptical. Mainly because: IT"S ON THE SCI-FI CHANNEL! Sci-Fi is short for science FICTION. Why would anyone expect them to be honest & truthful when filming a show for a channel dedicated to fiction? Anyway, the show is still entertaining only because it's fun to pick out all their fakes & mistakes, that's why I like visiting sites like this. Good site, Keep it up! C-ya around…

Logisti @ 12:50 pm

SoupBone, this has been discussed numerous times but in a nutshell, the show is AIRED on the Sci-Fi channel but it is CREATED by a company called Pilgrim Films & Television that specializes in Reality shows — they make shows like Dirty Jobs and American Chopper. Ghost Hunters is billed as a Docu-Drama — the implication being that this is a documentary of TAPS (as opposed to a straight documentary on ghosts). That gives them license to keep the camera on the investigators instead of on the "shadow" they're all pointing at, but it's still supposed to be an honest documentary.

robfrmpgh, just to clarify, I don't claim to know exactly what happened in that room, but the one thing that's clear to me is that Jay did not attempt to suggest, debunk or even mention a blatantly obvious non-paranormal explanation that he's come across a hundred times and was staring him in the face.

I'd have at least a sliver of respect for him here if he had come up with some unscientific and completely wrong excuse about why he didn't think it was a reflection from inside the room, but he didn't even bother; he just jumped straight into "we have no idea what it was" and left a woman with the impression it was a ghost looking in through the window. Whether the conclusion is right or wrong, the investigative method is so irresponsible as to strain credulity.

robfrmpgh @ 1:10 pm


I completely agree with you. They should've spent more time trying to debunk it. Not saying that they didn't and just edited that part out. That's one reason why i completely love the live shows cause it shows exactly what goes on and how it's usually handled… Like i said i think we both agree it wasn't paranormal we just have different views on how it happend that's all.. Good conversation though…

blinddog50 @ 2:38 pm

It would seem that by now, after years of use, that Jay would know that the FLIR cannot register thermal images THOUGH glass.
"We don't know what that was".
Yes he does.
robfrmpgh, you have everybody located as they were entering the room.
Jason, Grant and cameraman.
Except you forgot about the one that usually enters first and moves out of the way.
Soundguy and his boom mic.

robfrmpgh @ 2:43 pm

Excellent point blinddog… It never dawned on me that there would've been a boom man with them. I guess you just get so used to not seeing them that you forget they exist…

I'm not 100% sure there was a 2nd camera man though because one followed Grant onto the balcony and they didn't have any footage of Jayson while Grant was out there other than the FLIR…

RT @ 4:04 pm

This may be the most written about episode and we didnt get to the compromised flashlight experiment yet. Why would spirits that in the past, showed they can move chairs and lamps and throw (sort of) 2 by 4's at Jason need some help pushing a simple button on a flashlight ?. I would also imagine the floor boards on a 170 year old house might have enough play in them that when Jason walked by the flashlight could be jostled enough to turn off or even on for that matter. The worst part of this I found was Grant's double take when he "first" saw the flashlight lit. It seemed sooo phony to me as if he was a bad actor trying to look casual when he noticed the flashlight was on – this little performance did for me in terms of his credibility and perhaps the show's credibility.

Dixie @ 5:41 pm

The older shows were much better. At least they tried to understand what they were seeing or hearing. Now they just run with it.

Nothing but a tourist ghost show now.

Dr. Peter Venkman @ 6:47 pm

Well, it's interesting to see that they have solved the problem of the timestamps on the FLIR and the handheld cams.

blinddog50 @ 6:47 pm

Just going back over the FLIR image that Jason caught on the second floor(Damn I need to get a life).
Anyway, as Jason enters the room he has the FLIR device almost centered with his body.
As he turns he has the sighting cross-hairs pretty much centered on the window in question.
If you watch closely from the cameraman's angle you will notice Jason weaving side to side a bit.
Don't know, just a little debunk to the debunkers.

Dr. Peter Venkman @ 8:41 pm

I think we have just witnessed the first documented occurance of a completely new phenomenom.

What the FLIR "sees" is recorded on the Mini-DVR.

The Mini-DVR recorded something that appeared to be a heat source outside the window, yet the experiment proved that the FLIR cannot see a heat source outside the window.

Therefore I submit that, like Electronic Voice Phenomena where audio is recorded when none is heard, we have a case of Electronic VIDEO Phenomena, where the Mini-DVR recorded images the FLIR could not see.

October 10, 2008

bullerspoke @ 8:05 am

To the Doctor: I think you have mixed up the FLIR and Mini-DV and the DVR. As you out it forth now, it is quite confusing and well, wrong. A honest mistake, there are many abbrevations thrown around.

Well, I'll throw my two cents into the mix. First, the FLIR footage. Almost a paralel to the Ironing Board incident in that the obvious explanation was not pursued, this time however against better knowledge. It was a reflection, period. Probably someone from the Pilgrim crew, unintentionally creating said reflection. Jason sudden drop in IQ when trying to understand and explain this footage was ridiculous. I believed to be a better man than to resort to such behavior, bordering on fraud.

Overall they caught zilch, nada, nothing. Absolutely nothing. And this was a full episode investigation. But hey did spin the ambiguous happenings that occurred even relaying the faulty assertion from Kristyn Gartland that the door moved when the camera showed it didn't. In fact, this episode was a bonanza of spinning personal experiences into evidence. Nothing was corroborated by the gathered footage, audio or anything else.

The flashlight incident? We have seen it before. Or, the last time we actually saw it turn on AND off on camera. But Stephen debunked that thoroughly in one of the podcasts.

This place would probably been totally debunked if it had been shot in the early seasons, but now it's suddenly worth a full episode not built on the debunking, which was scarce at best, but on ridiculously ambiguous personal experiences not supported by any evidence.

One more thing, as someone pointed out in the forum I think, why is there no footage shown of the flashlight going out? We see Jason's hand and then footage of a black flashlight but the no footage actual turning off, which was said to coincide with Jason's hand moving into a cold spot (whatever happened to the digital thermometers?), above the flashlight is not shown. This despite that the flashlight seem to be positioned so that the DVR camera should catch it.

In short, this show was nothing but a disappointment as far as TAPS behavior is concerned and the episode itself, well, was dead boring.

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