September 2, 2009
GH: Thornbury Farm
Sorry for the extended delay. Aside from a prolonged case of the Labor-Day lazies I also found this episode to be particularly uninspiring and have come to grips with the fact that in a post-collargate world I simply can't be impressed with anything TAPS does. The most impressive thing in the world can happen and at this point all I would think is, "I wonder how they pulled that off". Still, I'll do my best not to let my cynicism drown out any genuine skepticism so here is the review:
Thornberry Farm is apparently a very historic site. One of the largest land battles of the Revolutionary War, the battle of Brandywine took place there with over 18,000 troops clashing on the battlefield. Inside the house there were varying reports but one of the more prominent ones had little to do with the battle and instead surrounded the legend of a little girl. Their hosts said they sometimes hear sobbing coming from one of the bedrooms and during the investigation while Jay & Grant were downstairs from this room trying to talk to dead soldiers they (and we) suddenly heard something strikingly similar to that description followed by what seemed to be footsteps in the room above. Of course they went upstairs to investigate and no further evidence on the matter was found.
In the Spring House, another building on the property, there was reported to be another haunting, also with no apparent connection to the battle. This spirit was described as mischievous and while Jay was talking to it suddenly the small flashlight clipped to his jacket went on. He removed it from his jacket and put it down some distance from either himself or Grant, where it proceeded to turn itself on twice more (after first being turned off again, of course).
My biggest gripe with the entire thing was that Jay and Grant went on about how cold the flashlight was, yet still no trace of all those wonderful thermometers they had back in season one — apparently we're still measuring temperature by touch, proving that as GHI gets more scientific TAPS becomes less so. Also of course there is still the question of whether the flashlight was set up to "help" the "ghost". We know from previous flashlight experiments — direct from Grant's mouth — that they had screwed/unscrewed the battery compartment cap so the flashlight would go on with the slightest vibration. This was supposedly done to make it easier for the spirit to turn on. Even during that demonstration Jay and Grant had mentioned how difficult it was to turn the flashlight on (despite later acknowledging it was not at all difficult because of how they set up the flashlight) so when Grant repeatedly emphasized how difficult this particular flashlight was to turn on I still have to wonder if that's really the case.
Still, it seemed impressive that the experiment repeated 3 times and even with no one near the flashlight, and I still have no explanation for the sobbing/weeping sound. I also lack an airtight explanation for the "true" EVP that was caught following the third time the flashlight went on: a recording that seemed to be a laugh or chuckle. I say it is a "true" EVP because it appeared on only one recording device and that suggests it was not an audible sound but something imprinted directly on the device. The best explanation I can come up with is that the warbling sound could be some sort of unremarkable electronic interference, but of course I have no explanation why it should appear at that particular moment.
Ultimately, when something seems like a genuine mystery as some of this evidence indeed seems to be, I find myself leaning towards the explanation it was hoaxed — and I really hate myself for that because I have criticized other skeptics for jumping to that explanation way too early and without any real evidence. Still, there is some circumstantial evidence at this point: we've seen a number of events that we could probably prove to a jury of our peers beyond reasonable doubt they were hoaxed, and one in particular where it's essentially scientifically provable. We also have the fact that while Jay and Grant repeatedly have these very fascinating experiences the rest of their team almost invariably reports in that nothing remarkable happened to them or around them the entire investigation. Even if we wiped our memories of every specific instance where evidence strongly indicated hoaxing, after 5 years of things happening repeatedly and exclusively to the two guys who founded the team while everyone else comes up with a goose egg we'd be stupid not to be suspicious.
My advice to Jay and Grant: I liked that during the investigation in this season's premiere the tinny-sounding voice came out of nowhere while the girls were investigating in the basement and you two were nowhere in sight. Give us more of that. The stuff where Jay pans the FLIR around in an obviously restricted-and-not-genuinely-searching-for-anything manner and then eventually turns it back on Grant, who takes the opportunity to emphasize that since he was on camera there it couldn't possibly have been him running past earlier — yeah… that whole thing isn't really working for me.
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