Ghost Hunters: Threat or Menace?

Last year there was a discussion about paranormal programs on one of the museum listservs. One woman who is the director of a local Shaker site explained that her site had hosted several paranormal programs that roughly fit with the spiritual beliefs of the Shakers.

Around the same time her site had several break ins that didn’t seem to be vandalism or theft. Both the director and the police believed that the break ins were caused by ghost hunters who had decided the site was “paranormally active.” Adding to that theory is the fact that the break ins ceased after the site ended the paranormal programs.

It seems that the “ghost hunter” craze is causing some people to feel justified in breaking and entering and doing a host of other stupid things. So it’s not surprising that a recent ill-advised attempt to contact the spirit world ended in disaster:

Ghost Hunters Burn Down Historic Mansion

A group of ghost hunters has been arrested for allegedly setting fire to a historic mansion near New Orleans. Perhaps inspired by the hit SyFy television series “Ghost Hunters” and its many imitators, the men climbed through a hole in a fence and broke into the LeBeau Plantation house near the Mississippi Riveron Nov. 21.

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The fire at LeBeau broke out at about 2 a.m. local time Friday, Nov. 21, and the building was almost completely destroyed by the time firefighters arrived. The ghost hunters had been trying to produce a reaction from the spirits they assumed resided there, by doing what TV ghost hunters call “provocation,” essentially making loud noises, yelling taunts at the ghosts and banging on walls. Frustrated that their efforts failed to yield any spirits, the group decided to light a fire. Whether this was intended to smoke the spirits out or simply burn the place down, the resulting flames soon reduced the mansion to ashes and four brick chimneys.


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