The world of paranormal investigating today has been commercialized and degraded by the countless sensationalistic and frivolous reality TV programs produced over the last few years. With the canceling of the TV series, Sightings in 1997 and The Other Side, all attempts at producing quality and credible reality-TV programming about the paranormal has resulted in failure. Gone are the professionally depicted parapsychological investigations seen on Unsolved Mysteries, replaced with such mediocre programming as World's Scariest Places, Court TVs Haunting Evidence or even the Travel Channels, Weird Travels.
Instead of featuring such world-renowned experts as parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach, TV series like Ghost Hunters and X Testers prefer to feature self-proclaimed experts with little or no actual documented field experience in conducting investigations of this type. The investigators on these new TV shows self-promote themselves as experts, but the facts in the paranormal and parapsychological community is well-documented and prove these amateurs otherwise.
Why producers do not utilize such experts as Auerbach is, honestly, quite baffling. Not only was he a university professor who taught parapsychology, but he is also the author of several excellent and very successful books on parapsychology. One can only speculate that the producers agenda of the bottom line and producing the cheapest possible show, coupled by the need to have expendable talent, fuels their creative decision-making.
And now comes word of yet another reality series that will feature college-age students recklessly investigating paranormal phenomena. In the spirit of the atrocious MTV series, Fear, which was cancelled several years ago, MTV has in production a new series that will, in the same mindless way, stumble irresponsibly into the world of the paranormal for the simple reason of shock value. The young researchers (I use the term loosely) will attempt to explore supernatural phenomena in a negligent and unscientific manner, putting to shame the field of paranormal investigations.
A call for professionalism
While it is a wonderful and exciting fact that so many fans of the paranormal have been empowered to conduct their own research, with some even forming their own groups and organizations, the idea that anyone can out-qualify the true masters of the paranormal is absurd and an insult to the integrity of all those who are true connoisseurs of the subject matter.
Perhaps one day TV programming that features the paranormal will once again return to quality and integrity and bring back these incomparable experts in an attempt to restore its respect with the TV audience and stop alienating the true fans of the paranormal.
Carl O. is a book restorer and senior librarian for the main library of an Ivy-League university. He spends his spare time studying and researching articles on paranormal phenomena and parapsychology.