March 20, 2009

GH: Kimball Castle

It was a dark and stormy night when Jay & Grant pulled into the looming shadow of Kimball Castle. After a long moment of pause to take in the awe-inspiring structure, they opened the doors to their black SUV and stepped outside. Rain stung Jay's cheeks. Somewhere behind him he could hear Steve cursing as some piece or other of expensive electronics received an inevitable, but unwelcome shower.

A door opened and light from within flooded the muddy driveway in a pool of visual warmth, broken only by the silhouette of a small woman — the shadow of whom fell directly across Jay and stretched out to eerie lengths into the darkness of the night. Somehow, standing in that shadow within a pool of light made him feel even colder, but that was probably just in his head. He stood there quietly, smoking a cigarette in the rain as his producer spoke with the woman. Finally, with the cameras in place and their client coached on what to expect, the signal was given. Carefully extinguishing the remaining half-inch of his smoke between his damp forefinger and thumb, Jay pocketed the remainder and began walking towards the castle entrance.

"We're TAPS. Here to help!" the sound of Grant's voice grated on him a little more each passing day but as usual Jay just looked down for a moment, took a breath to calm himself and put on his best false smile as he shook the client's hand and introduced himself. Steve followed suit and thus their tour commenced.

<end scene>

Obviously some of that actually happened, some of it might have happened, and some I just made up. It really was a stormy night though and Grant felt it was important to let the audience know that could have a serious impact on TAPS' investigation, although not the way you might expect. According to Grant, the ionized air created during an electrical storm could offer an abundant energy source to spirits in the area, actually increasing the level of activity. Since that's not actually what happened, and since I've never seen any proof it ever has happened, I'm going to call BULLS%#T.

It's not as if there wasn't potential activity one could hope to spike. The family didn't just claim they heard footsteps or felt someone touch their shoulder. They reported seeing multiple full-bodied apparitions in a few specific locations. I'll spare you the suspense and reveal that none were caught on video… or were they?

Okay, so I'm keeping in in suspense. Sorry. :)

Aside from the visual phenomena the family also reported two other specific events TAPS deemed significant and worth investigating. The more interesting of the two was the sound of horses in a building which used to be a barn, something that had been reported by multiple people on separate occasions. Unfortunately TAPS didn't get anywhere in regards to either confirming or debunking those sounds. The other, from their hosts description, seemed to be just a single incident where a door believed closed was later found open. A single incident does not a phenomenon make and as it turned out the door in question was prone to not latching properly when shut. Add in several other doors close nearby and we have a verifiable airflow condition that can easily cause the one door to open when another is either opened or closed.

Since I just went off on a rant about how TAPS seems to isolate (rather than integrate) the women it would only be fair to acknowledge that they seemed to have read my mind in advance and had Amy Bruni investigating with Dave Tango for some portion of the evening. Let's see more of that, TAPS — and start including the girls during evidence review too.

Jay and Grant caught something interesting on the thermal during their walkthrough. It was a heat signature that seemed to be a little above chest-height and the size (and possibly also the shape) of a person's head. To me it looked like it might have been on the other side of a chest-high wall, but Jason reported they were unsuccessful at reproducing it and even that they "tried to figure out where it was, to no avail."  This brings back one of those points that's been made over and over again: It's difficult to make out what you're looking at on a thermal camera. Putting it on a rig side-by-side with a regular camcorder can instantaneously solve this problem.

Barry from GHI did something similar with his full-spectrum still-camera, but rather than take some cues from him it seems Barry is taking cues from Jay & Grant because he stopped doing it after the first few investigations. What's the matter boys? Is it hard to carry around a rig like that? Does it make your arms sore? Do you want me to kiss it and make it better? Seriously, how is anyone supposed to take you seriously and consider your work even remotely scientific when you're so obviously cutting corners because you don't feel like carrying around the proper tools?

During the evidence review this thermal footage continued to supply laughs (or :rolleyes: depending on your perspective). Dave, rational as always, was trying to figure out what the thermal hit might be when he suggested the possibility it was a reflection. Steve offered his own equally valid hypothesis that it might be a rodent. The problem with the reflection idea is that the heat signature was quite hot (a reflection would usually look slightly cooler) and that it seemed to move on its own, independant of the camera's movement (although this could be explained if the person being reflected moved). The rodent possibility is primarily dependant on the location of the heat signature. It looked like it was more than a few feet in the air, but we can't really tell because Jay & Grant were unable to determine where in the room the heat signature actually was.

The ridiculousness comes into play when they wrap up their discussion on the evidence with Steve saying, "It looks like a rodent to me" and somehow that's the final word. This piece of thermal footage is more inconclusive than some of the stuff they've insisted must be paranormal in the past, and obviously it's a blob — it absolutely not not look like a rodent. It doesn't look like anything. It's a blob! Not only that, it's a blob that seems to be several feet off the ground. It's entirely possible maybe it just looks that way on the thermal, or maybe there's a shelf there and a rodent ran across. I wouldn't rule it out, but to definitively settle on the idea that it was a rodent and not even show it to the client as potential evidence is absolutely ridiculous and completely inconsistent procedure for TAPS. To quote The Princess Bride, "Boo. Boo. Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. Boo. Boo. Boo."

Coming in 2nd-place was a "reflection" in a window. We didn't really see this evidence being reviewed very much but apparently there was an image of a figure caught on video but TAPS claims to have determined it was the reflection of someone walking by. Nothing more specific than that, and they even showed it to the client for some reason despite this vague assertion that they decided it wasn't paranormal.  Hey guys, jumping to the conclusion things aren't paranormal is our job. Your job is to prove they aren't paranormal, or provably eliminate "normal" explanations in cases where you think it might be. The evidence in this investigation was evaluated poorly, and in the case of the FLIR footage it was also collected poorly — a bad habit TAPS seems determined not to break.  If they can't collect or evaluate evidence then what's the point?  If I just wanted to watch people run around in the dark for entertainment purposes I'd watch Paranormal State instead.

Filed under Ghost Hunters, Posts by Logisti

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Comments on GH: Kimball Castle »

March 20, 2009

CrowTRobot @ 4:13 pm

Cool location. It looked like a prime site for a full-hour investigation; instead, we get – what, 18 minutes? Umph.

Liz M @ 7:59 pm

The castle looked interesting. Does anyone know the history of it? Of course that wasn't covered in the walk through (probably edited out).

Nosfer @ 8:11 pm

A bit of history about the castle and ol' Benjamin

Lar @ 8:19 pm

I can review this investigation. Had an evp been captured it would've said, "ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!"

Learjet @ 8:39 pm

In the converted stables Amy says… "Would high EMF make somebody hallucinate horse hoof sounds?". To which Dave Tango replies "no" and is then cut short by the edit. After I picked myself off the floor from laughing, I was thinking what Tango probably went on to say was….

Yep sure thing Amy! In fact if drug dealers knew how good this here power drill was at making people high and hallucinate, the drug lords would be out of business and power tools would be sold on street corners by the millions! "Hey bud, wanna buy this jig saw? How about this hair dryer? They tell me you can see Elvis with this toaster! Great at parties. It also makes toast. Bonus!

Nosfer @ 8:49 pm

"heyeyy mannn, pass me another three-eighths inch drill bit" "Whoooaaa duude, check out those colors!"

March 22, 2009

The Doctor @ 2:49 pm


This could explain why they didn't think too much of the thermal blob you mention – it looks to me as if they were pointed at the stairs, so the rodent could have been on or in the stairs.

Oubliette @ 5:02 pm

Logisti-your reviews are fantastic! Especially considering the material you have to work with. ;)

I know they're on a tight schedule but if the weather is really bad I wish GH would consider waiting for rain and wind to at least let up a bit. The investigation is tainted and a storm can create all kinds of noise of and by itself, particularly in an older building. But I guess they have to keep to the timetable.

Sounds like Kimball Castle does need an exterminator, not paranormal investigators. Interesting clip, Doctor.

Last winter some rats managed to get in the cellar through a storm damaged window and I can tell you they make the weirdest noises. One night I heard 3 taps, one after the other, not once but several times. Now I don't know if rats can count, but the noise was so like a human that I thought someone had broken in. I take my trusty broom (what I was going to do with that, who knows) and checked out the cellar. Of course it had been the rats, but it had me going for a while. I live out in the country so rodents are a problem out here.

Which brings me to the question as to whether city people like the cast of GH seem to be would really know what horses sound like. Just sayin…

Maybe clients should inform GH if there have been signs of rodents. It might save a lot of time. Beautiful place, though. It did look like an English or Irish castle, with Jay and Grant mentioning something to that effect.

March 24, 2009

Revenant @ 3:13 am

While watching the show, we all perked up a bit when we heard the story of the horse sounds coming from the converted stables. Cool…ghost horses. We instantly thought of the Nazgul (the Black Riders, or the Nine) from Lord of the Rings. They rode the black horses with the red eyes. Now THAT'S a ghost horse! We were excited, but sadly, nothing came of it.

I blame the "ionized air."

D @ 2:07 pm

Personally I wonder what factors turn a horse into a ghost. I've heard the whole "Unfinished business" theme behind ghosts, but that just doesn't seem to fit here very well… Do animals experience an afterlife? If so what factors prevent them from moving on? (All said tongue in cheek of course).

Without consistent protocals in place, I'm anticipating more discrepencies in reporting. Their taking a post-modern approach to a modernist agenda. What I mean is that they claim to be looking for scientific evidence that is empirical (modernist), but they continue to use their personal biases, experiences, reflections, and "gut feelings," as to whether evidence really qualifies as evidence!

bullerspoke @ 3:35 pm

According to all the monotheistic religions animals have no souls, and consequently no possible afterlife. Therefor the old spiritualist mumbo-jumbo (unfinished business) shouldn't really apply to them.

Brenda Lee @ 3:42 pm

I was disappointed there was no evidence of the phantom horses. But I know I've heard of other haunted locations with horse sounds, if not apparitions of horses. That would have been cool!

Besides asking clients to mention pest problems, I wish GH consistently tested Carbon Monoxide levels in the locations. There is a wonderful This American Life episode from NPR that talks about a haunting that turned out to be classic Carbon Monoxide poisoning. All the ghost sounds and experiences disappeared once the leak was fixed. "Ghost problem" solved.

Hal @ 7:55 pm

Brenda Lee?!! Wow! I always loved your voice! Er, that is if you . . . oh, never mind. I'm revealing my age and having a sixties flashback at the same time! ;)

Interesting point you made re: the carbon monoxide poisoning. Hmmmmm . . . so I guess there are times when ghostly activity can just be blamed on bad gas! :)

CrowTRobot @ 8:27 pm

Well, Brenda Lee, there is a theory that ghosts use carbon monoxide to manifest…

March 25, 2009

Brenda Lee @ 5:37 pm

I know all about the singer of which you I was named after her…

The ghostly case on NPR was strikingly familiar – knocking noises, darting shadows, and full apparitions as I recall. All banished with the help of the gas company.

Hal @ 5:48 pm

Well, Brenda Lee the Second, there you go! All we need now is YET another paranormal investigative show with former Gas Company employees instead of plumbers! ;)

March 26, 2009

Oubliette @ 9:10 am

I've loved Brenda Lee's singing since I was a little girl. What a big voice in a tiny woman. It's nice that you were named for her.

One has to wonder how much else labeled "paranormal" is due to toxic environmental causes. Mankind seems to have done a great job in polluting its surroundings, and with the advent of new diseases and conditions, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that some of what is experienced can be put down to chemical sensitivity. The episode where Jason and Grant found all those toxic chemicals in that carpenter's basement is a prime example of this.

Mary @ 1:55 pm

I have a question about swinging doors. Why, oh, why doesn't TAPS have a LEVEL among their 'important' ghost-finding tools? If they had a simple thing like a LEVEL they could place this on top of a door, and thus determine that perhaps, um, gravity is the cause of a door swinging open?

I love this site. It's the only reason I keep watching GH. :)

March 30, 2009

Michael SF @ 6:59 pm

Brenda Lee: excellent, excellent point. Carbon Monoxide bonds to hemoglobin and displaces oxygen and at a high enough dose excludes ALL oxygen and can't be reversed (e.g., automobile exhaust suicides). It's got to produce perceptual distortions akin to Nitrous Oxide. It would explain a lot of the so-called paranormal manifestations and your NPR example
is a perfect example of scientific method viz. debunking. As an asthma sufferer I can tell you reality gets pretty 'altered'
when you have a bad attack and can't breathe. Moreover, when I worked in nursing at hospice you could literally make conscious a patient who appeared to be demented simply by increasing their oxygen saturation. Great point.

Maybe the GH guys could take the "First Alert" detector, paint it black and silver and call it a ???? and when the monitor lights up claim that the light means ?????. Maybe they could be honest about it.

Great input. It just exposes another unaccounted, 'unseen' variable in their 'scientific investigations.' Though when this alert goes off it's a lot more serious than a 'fear cage' and they really would be doing their client a huge favor detecting this gas.

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