I'm reflecting on a "ghost tour" I went on two years ago. I'm not much of a consumer, but I imagine from what I have seen, read and discussed on numerous occasions with others that it was not that much different than most of the ghost tours being conducted all around the world and I have had time to reflect on it from a more critical perspective - I think it's helpful to look back.
My conclusion: It was an extremely interesting night but was flawed by the consistent use of false positives by the operator to the clients. What I mean by that is that at every location we were set up by being told of others experiences on other tours, and the sights, sounds, smells, feelings and phenomenon etc that we would experience. In hindsight, I feel that this either sets the operator up for both sides of the spectrum - the skeptic who writes it all off as a hoax and suggestion and the more easily influenced person who experiences things that are not there. There is a middle ground which I will discuss as well.
By being told we would see spirit faces in orbs, that angry ghosts would manhandle us in the jail, that strange forces would tug on our clothes, that we may feel weak, sick, sad or tired, we were being manipulated - operating out of the power of suggestion.
That's fine for a ghost train ride at a carniva or a kids campfire session, but it's not ok to manipulate people paying for a research experience, a search for the truth and in an emotionally charged environment tied to history, society, spirituality and culture - and we all know that people from all sorts of religious backgrounds use this type of thing on followers - even creating an emotional environment that is more conducive to offerings, imaginary healings and salvation experiences. That does not discount the fact that people genuinely want to be generous, do get healed and make decisions to really follow Christ as Lord.
And it was the same on the ghost tour.
There were a number of experiences that I did not expect that were difficult to explain:
1) When the tour operator cracked a cat'o'nine tails whip in an old courthouse, a white mist like shape with form moved straight at me from the adjacent corner and literally went through me, blurring my vision and numbing my arm on my right hand side.
Also, when the whip was cracked my EMF meter went all the way to the top after each crack, and I can't understand why that happened or what could have caused it.
2) There was an orb of light in the graveyard that in my opinion and observations was not conjured up by any type of mechanical or digital light source, it bounced around of it's own accord and behaved in a manner I would describe as sentient and reactive to the audience.
3) Even though I believe that we were being set up with a story to heighten the experience, I cannot deny that the back of my trouser leg was "snagged" by something which made me snap around quickly with my torch, only to see nothing but grass and no sticks, branches, wire or snaggable items.
4) We were told that on the Highway that the "Black Lady" inhabited a certain bend and when we hit that spot - you guessed it - the EMF meters went off the dial. Now something set them off at exactly the spot we were told they would. Unless there was a way that the operator could have triggered it with a device, there were no overhead lines or other devices noticeable enough to set them off. But that does not mean that something "supernatural" set them off, it simply means that on cue, they went off, which I think is interesting.
The whole time I was on the trip I remained in a highly prayerful state, at every location spending time seeking the Lord and praying protection over the people who were there. I often found myself drawn into the false positives that were being sown. That doesn't mean that the operator lacked integrity, it just meant that he valued experience over facts, emotions over rationale and probably a rollicking good time over a scientific analysis of the events. Which is fine, that's what I expected anyway.
But I don't think that should define what is counted as evidence. A couple of weeks after I got home I came to a lot of conclusions:
1) Orbs are a natural phenomenon, to promote them as supernatural evidence is just silly. The only exception was the one that was visible to the naked eye which moved of seemingly its own accord. It was too high to be a natural "ghost light" phenomenon in my opinion but I could easily be proven wrong.
2) The faces that we were "shown" or "asked to investigate" in our images was simple matrixing.
3) The feelings that we experienced of fear, fatigue and other feelings usually followed an explanation that we "may experience thesde feelings" in the areas we were in. That is manipulation, pure and simple.
4) There was a number of experiences that defied the false positive environment as mentioned in point form above.
5) That when people realised I was a Pastor, a number asked me to pray and felt more peaceful, which can be attributed to a number of things but one was it made people feel like there was a more powerful force present than any 'spirits'.
I think ghost tours which use the manipulative fasle positive techniques could have a very negative impact on people who are susceptible to fear or have an anxiety disorder or any obsessive/compulsive disorder as it could set them up for fears and attachment to fears that were needlessly placed in their life. They may also bring people into contact with a demonic force that they would have not opened the door too otherwise. But for the person who is strong in their faith, prayerful, discerning, skeptical, and emotionally detached from the environments, feeling healthy in their souls, it is certainly an interesting experience, although far too expensive and fraught with exaggeration to make it a regular event.
God bless you - Pastor Baz.