The ABC Family Channel has been running a Scariest Places on Earth marathon today and I’ve been watching it because it makes me laugh my ass off. Take a bunch of credulous idiots to a creepy location and fill their heads with ghost stories then leave them to explore the place in the dark by themselves. Within five minutes you’ve got people freaking themselves out at every little noise or shadow that they encounter. Best of all is when the place in question is nice and big all you need to do is have a crew member toss some crap around to make banging noises in the distance to set them off. The people are never fully alone, of course, as there’s always a camera crew with them and none of the people ever stop to ask if there’s other crew members running around in the dark making the noises.
The show’s format must have changed over time, though, because some of them seem to take whole families to a location and strap cameras on their chests so you can see their reactions and then give them various ghost-hunting equipment for them to try and verify what they’re experiencing. In addition to the laser thermometer and EMF detectors the show pulls out every would-be psychic’s favorite tool: Divining Rods. With the number of hidden cameras spread around the location you’re left to wonder how it is only the family members are freaking out and running away. Surely if the activity were real the folks manning the hidden cameras on these episodes wouldn’t be sticking around themselves.
The show seems obviously staged as there’s just tons of paranormal activity that takes place in the form of weird noises and shadows and any pretense at it being something more than just an excuse to watch people freak themselves out is thin at best. Most of these folks are on nerve’s end before they ever head out into the dark so it wouldn’t take much effort to push them over the edge. It’s funny shit to watch as well as a great lesson in human credulity and the ability for the fears of one person to spread to others.