Paranormal Tourism – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Halloween is just around the corner, and everyone is in a spooky mood, but before you book yourself onto your local ghost tour or ghost hunting evening you might want to learn about The Good, The Bad and The Ugly sides of Paranormal Tourism.

Members of BARsoc have recently been researching Paranormal Event Companies and just how much of a profit they are making by running their events at reputedly haunted locations across the United Kingdom. It turns out that the answer is ‘quite a bit’. Paranormal Tourism is a very complicated subject though, so rather than just send our website visitors to the newly launched ‘Haunting Profit’ website created to showcase some of our findings, I thought it would be better to elaborate.

The Good

Preston Manor in Brighton is a great example of a location that is responsible with the way in which it approaches its haunted heritage. They have an ethical code that events must adhere to, to ensure that nobody can be harmed physically or emotionally during ghost tours or events, and their events are very clearly about celebrating their heritage.

Ghosts play an important part of our heritage and it’s great when venues embrace this by hosting interesting and spooky ghost tours, or mention the ghost folklore attached to the location in their literature. Money from ghost tours and similar are a great way for historical locations to raise revenue to help fund renovations or the upkeep of very old buildings too. As long as they don’t conduct hoaxes or misinform people then I personally take no issue with this. However…

The Bad

The Paranormal Tourism Companies that we picked at random to study all promote the use of Pseudo-Scientific ghost hunting techniques during their events, and some emphasize the fact that their events include a serious approach to paranormal research when their methodology doesn’t support this at all. The use of self-claimed mediums and psychics is widespread among these Paranormal Event companies too.

As you can see on the Haunting Profit website, a lot of money can be made by taking the haunted heritage of a historic location and milking it for all it is worth while not giving a damn about factual information and rational inquiry. It’s fine to run ghost events for entertainment, but when you start to promote nonsense and pseudo-science and make large amounts of money in the process you cross a line and become irresponsible and part of the problem.

Prestige Paranormal, for example, use EMF meters, Electronic Voice Phenomena, Trigger Objects and similar methods that have been demonstrated to not be significant in ghost research, and yet claim on their website…

We are an intrepid group of professional ghost hunters who wants to create events for the general public to enjoy … not only will our team be of the highest standard, we will be using the very best in technology to detect and record any paranormal activity…

The impression I get from a number of the Event companies that I researched is that they are ghost hunting teams that used to confirm their own biases with their friends at nearby spooky locations who saw the chance to make some money and, without doing any research, are spreading the misinformation they mistook as factual information to the general public who pay them for the privilege.

The Ugly

During our research into which venues allow events to take place and how much they charge we came into contact with lots of locations who had stopped such events from happening because of unruly behaviour. One venue even told us how despite not allowing ghost events to take place they have to deal with ghost hunters trespassing upon their property regularly. In fact, when we contacted them they were in the middle of a police investigation after a member of staff was assaulted by ghost hunters who had been caught trespassing.

A small number of venues also voiced their displeasure of having ghost hunters visit them because previous groups had scared staff members who were unhappy to work alone because of what psychics had alleged was haunting the rooms they worked in, and a couple of venues spoke of having to deal with broken furniture too.

It was also brought to our attention during our research that the Ancient Ram Inn, famed for it’s extravagant claims of being haunted, had to deal with a theft from a group who had paid to go on a ghost hunt there. A comment from the Facebook page for the location warned the owner that they had been stolen from…

Just watched a three part video on Youtube I’d like to bring to your attention in which the four scumbags who John shows around his house make a fool of him refer to him as a pedophile more than once, laugh behind his back and steal a Toby jug and a brass bell. Having met John we are outraged at these people as John is somewhat vulnerable and he is so very kind letting folk see his amazing home.

Paranormal Tourism, just like its big brother Paranormal Research is littered with problems that nobody seems keen to take responsibility for. Is it right that events company bullshit their customers with psuedo-science? No. Is it fair that venues have to deal with trespassing, theft and vandalism? No. Is there an easy solution? No. No, there isn’t and you might question what the point of our research was at all.

We have no instant solutions, but simply hope that by demonstrating to people the extent of misinformation and unethical behaviour being promoted we can raise awareness of why it’s important to think rationally about claims that are made by Paranormal event companies and locations claiming to be haunted.

So this Halloween before booking yourself onto a spooky event ask yourself some simple questions:

1) If your guide is claiming to be scientific, Does their Science check out?
2) Where does your money go? We’d encourage people to support local heritage sites!
3) Do we have permission to be here? Don’t be tricked into trespassing!

We wish you a safe, nonsense-free and fun halloween! Ghosts don’t have to be woooooo!

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