There is a new show on Cartoon Network called “The Othersiders” that is exploitive trash, representing a new low in entertainment, as it takes advantage of a group of very naïve children, for the cynical purpose of chasing ratings.
It follows a group of five kids from southern California who go around looking for “evidence” of “ghosts.” It’s sort of like “Ghost Hunters,” except these poor kids are still young enough to not know any better.
I believed in ghosts when I was a kid, but I outgrew it. For awhile, up until about my sophomore year of college, I believed that UFOs occasionally visited the earth. This is embarrassing for me to admit, but I actually once had a conversation with a friend of mine in which I made the statement, “Some crop circles are obviously caused by humans- but there are a few that have unexplained radiation around them, and are too elaborate to have been created by anything other than ETs.”
But I learned. I moved on. I stopped reading crap like “Fate,” and “Above Top Secret” and started reading “Skeptical Inquirer” and “Skeptic.” I discovered the work of James “The Amazing” Randi, Martin Gardner, and Michael Shermer, and I started reading the investigations into “hauntings” done by Joe Nickell. I grew up.
These poor kids on “The Othersiders” will hopefully meet with similar fates. In the meantime, Cartoon Network, the producers of the show, and, most importantly, their rotten parents, ought to be ashamed of themselves, for allowing these credulous children to be manipulated in this way.
I was only masochistic enough to sit through one full episode, in which the kids were inflicted upon the famous Queen Mary. This is a big boat docked in Long Beach that now serves as a hotel and a place for hosting parties and “paranormal tours.” Given the fact that the “paranormal” features so prominently on the ship’s website, you will I’m sure be unsurprised to learn that the credulous kids find enough “evidence” to call the place “haunted.”
But, the appearance of impartiality must be maintained, so the voice over asks, “Can the team collect the evidence they need to call this boat haunted? Or, can they find the evidence that will sink the ship’s lore?”
Just how impartial are they? During their briefing at “Othersiders HQ”, Riley, the “team leader,” impartially lays out their mission: To pick a “haunted” location “to find cold, hard facts to help us decide if the place is haunted or not.”
That kind of open-mindedness is important in any search for the truth.
Of course, this is typical of these types of shows. You gather together a group of credulous people who are in no way qualified to carry out an actual scientific investigation and turn them loose with flashlights and “EMF detectors” and let them find anything, and then call it “proof.” The jerks on “Ghost Hunters,” for instance, are- or were when the show started- plumbers. In no way do I want to be perceived as disparaging plumbers- they are necessary and do a great job. They perform a useful function and I am grateful for their service.
Plumbers, in essence, are the opposite of “ghost hunters.”
But as smart and as skilled as they might be, they are not scientists. You need only watch a few minutes of their show to see that this is the case.
And just as you start to feel a little bad for these kids, that they’re in over their heads and being exploited, KC, who is 16 years old, comes on the screen and says, smugly: “Some people in southern California like to go surfing, but we do something different. We go out and investigate reportedly haunted locations, searching for the unknown.”
We’re not doing anything frivolous, like going outside and getting exercise and experiencing nature. We’re walking around in dark buildings while being followed by a camera crew.
This is the same thinking that allows people like John Edward to say, with a straight face, that their exploitation of misery is actually a service- that they’re helping to provide “closure” to people who have lost loved ones.
Another "Othersider," Sam the webmaster, says he wants to meet a girl on an investigation, but worries she would probably be “invisible.” But don’t worry, Sam- I have a girl for you:
Anyway, while scouring the web in a totally unscripted scene, the team does some “research” on which “haunted” place to “investigate” next. The Queen Mary, they learn from one website, is very haunted. “Paranormal experts say there’s 150 known spirits lurking on the ship.”
I thought that the website from which they gathered this compelling information might be the official Queen Mary website, but I found a lot of websites that claim the “150” number.
And on the Queen Mary website, I found a page in which one “world-renowned psychic,” Peter James, claimed to have “identified more than 600 resident spirits haunting the ship- 150 he said he had spoken to personally.”
Since the number is made-up anyway and can’t be verified, why not go with the “600” number? Maybe this is yet another example of their impartiality and open-mindedness. The “600” number was only reported by one person (and he’s dead now, so they can’t consult with him- wait a minute…), and is therefore the less credible number.
Anyway, “the Othersiders” are after EVIDENCE, so they bring their “equipment,” and their senses. On the way there, riding in the car, they discuss how excited they are to get to the boat and see the over 150 ghosts. So they’re not exactly going in with the open mind you’d expect from a group of people who are dispassionately searching for evidence of the unknown.
In fact, it’s almost as if they’re actually expecting to see ghosts. To quote Joe Nickell:
The power of suggestion can help trigger ghostly encounters. According to noted psychologist and fellow ghostbuster Robert A. Baker, "We tend to see and hear those things we believe in."
To that end, they meet with “Queen Mary Historian” Dustin, who probably works in the Queen Mary’s publicity department (or perhaps he's Dustin Officer, described in this article as a "tour guide"). He gives them information that is in no way intended to influence them- it’s all merely for historical/research purposes: There have been “52 recorded deaths, not to mention hundreds of deaths of the soldiers as well…Quite a few real ‘hot spots’ on the ship, if you know what I’m talking about. One of them is the pool; they’ve got a vortex area there. Also, there’s a little girl who’s known to visit the pool…”
Well, now they know what to look for- and they’ve gotten this insight from a “Queen Mary Historian,” and we all know how sober and dispassionate historians are. They are seekers of the truth, not tourist dollars.
They set up their basecamp, in the dark, and then get to work. Cameras are set up in a few rooms, to catch any stray movements or light changes that might occur directly in front of said unattended cameras. These stray movements or light changes can easily be interpreted as “evidence” all on their own, but watching hours of footage of a dark room lit with eerie green light is boring, so the kids suit up with lights, microphones, and cameras pointed at their own terrified faces- everything a good ghost hunter needs. Then they’re followed by a camera crew.
The first room they enter is the Pool Room, which is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a little girl called “Jackie.” Supposedly she was murdered there. Since she’s a little girl (can the dead age? if you die while still a “little girl,” do you remain a little girl?) “the Othersiders” decide to leave her some toys to play with. One of them takes photos of the toys with a digital camera, another piece of their “equipment.” If the toys have moved in subsequent photos, then that’s more proof.
They also use a thermal camera, because temperature change could mean that there is a spirit nearby. It could also mean that the room is not the same temperature all over- a not uncommon occurrence in such a massive space as a room in which a giant swimming pool is located. The thermal camera does pick up a “hot spot,” but despite this amazing evidence the intrepid investigators press on. They need more evidence!
So they break out a voice recorder to engage in some “Call and Respond.” This consists of the living twerps singing “Ring Around the Rosy” and waiting for the dead twerp to join in. That’s compelling television, watching a couple of kids sit in the dark and sing “Ring Around the Rosy.” They get through at least two verses, too.
Someone supposedly died in the Engine Room, and on occasion one can hear “strange noises like the engine turning on, even though it no longer works.” Wow- that is strange. A room with sounds. In a working hotel, restaurant, and events hosting site!
Time to break out the “EMF detector.” We are told in the caption that this device “measures surrounding magnetic fields to detect a possible spirit’s presence.” You have to give it to the producers for slipping that “possible” in there. What they’re measuring could be spirits, or it could be- um, well, I guess it could be something other than spirits.
So why are they using this equipment to detect spirits?
When the investigators hear a sound like the engine turning on by itself (why would ghosts turn on the engine of a ship that cannot move, anyway?), they can take the eeriness no more, and flee for the safety of their basecamp.
Next they hit the Boiler Room, where supposedly people have heard sounds like footsteps and seen glowing eyes. The two kids in this room are Jackie and Riley, and they’re both scared, in particular Jackie.
I don’t blame them. It’s a big room, and it’s dark. Being in the dark is scary, even I think so and I know that ghosts are not real. But that brings up another trait of these shows- the “investigators” always do their “investigating” in the dark. That’s fine, I guess- maybe ghosts only come out at night, or something (since so many ghost sightings are just the result of dreams, that makes sense. again, from Nickell:
The experience is a common type of hallucination, known popularly as a "waking dream," which takes place between being fully asleep and fully awake. Such experiences typically include bizarre imagery (bright lights or apparitions of demons, ghosts, aliens, etc.) and/or auditory hallucinations. "Sleep paralysis" may also occur, whereby there is an inability to move because the body is still in the sleep mode.
), in which case, sure, have the “investigators” stumble around in the dark with terrified looks on their faces.
But then why not turn on the lights and see if you can find any explanation for the “unexplained” phenomena you’ve “witnessed”?
They don't want to see what scared them.
“The Othersiders” become terrified by any stray noise. Despite this, they use their last investigative tool, their senses, to make some powerful observations: “Maybe someone’s trying to get our attention.” “I don’t see a loose piece…I didn’t see anything fall.”
Finally, Riley breaks out the old, reliable “voice recorder” and says, “If there’s someone here with us, please show us a sign or do something previous that you’ve done before. If you could throw something up from above that’d be great.”
That is a verbatim quote. These kids are so scared, they have barely retained their powers of coherent speech.
Anyway, they decide to leave, because, they claim, they have a lot of “evidence” to go through. They do not remain to investigate the rooms with the lights on.
They do not consult with anyone like Michael Shermer, The Amazing Randi, or Joe Nickell.
Instead, they check out the thermal camera footage.
To their credit, they decide this “evidence” is “not credible,” since that hot spot could be anything- a pipe or a wire or something electrical (hey- why not consult an electrician?).
Next, they check out some of the “weird footage” from the cameras they set up in the rooms. They see shadows that seem to move in the dark! In big rooms, they see shadows and tricks of the lighting, so that “evidence” is called “credible.” Did they check their equipment (cameras and eerie green lights) for defects? Did they examine the rooms in the light to see if they could find anything that might have caused the light to change or a shadow to move (could there be rats in the Queen Mary? hope not- it’s a working hotel and restaurant and event center)? No, they did not. They just checked their footage- the camera doesn’t lie.
They didn't even check to see if there were any insects in the room:
Next, they listen to the sounds they recorded using their “voice recorders.” During the “Ring Around the Rosy” song, they hear something. That’s “credible evidence!” Although it sounds to me like the sounds of a party going on in another room of a working hotel, restaurant, and event center, the investigators insist it must be the murdered girl.
Then, they hear the words “Get out” on the second recording, the one made when the “team leader” asked the “ghost” to “do something previous that you’ve done before.”
Naturally, the investigators are spooked by this compelling evidence of ghostly activity.
Riley the leader comes close to reasonableness, when he states, “Who knows; it’s really old, it echoes, so it could have been coming from somewhere else…” But then, he gives in to peer pressure and goes along with the other four, calling the place “haunted.”
An old boat docked in Long Beach, used as a hotel, a restaurant, and event center. That has regular “paranormal tours” for which it charges, in some cases, over $100 to participate, is a location at which sounds are heard. That’s all the proof you need.
I wonder if anyone has told these kids that Barack Obama is Satan? They should really look into that next- since there’s so much proof of it. “Reverse Speech experts” have found it- caught on tape!
Sylvia Browne pic source.