Something spooky appears to be happening on Wilkes-Barre’s South Welles Street, but don’t chalk it up to unsettled souls from the spirit world.
No, this is merely “woo-woo.” That’s the fitting term used by James Randi, well-known investigator and debunker of so-called supernatural occurrences and psychic abilities, to describe the collective — and always unsubstantiated — claims about the paranormal. In other words, the man ain’t afraid of no ghost. Nor should you be.
Nor should you consider the “pseudoscience” of ghost hunting, and the franchises it continues to spawn on television, the Internet and elsewhere, as anything more than entertainment.
A trio of men purportedly were searching for “evidence” of paranormal activities this weekend in a home at 46 S. Welles St. Much to no one’s surprise, they — gasp! — apparently had strange encounters, suggestive to those who believe in such things that the place is haunted. One participant in the goings-on, which were broadcast live on YouTube, told a reporter the house has “that heavy feeling.”
Ghost hunting, while perhaps a fun way for groups of like-minded people to, uh, kill a weekend, has become big business for some proponents who profit from radio programs, television shows, equipment sales and tours. The phenomenon also has paid off well for people such as actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, who played the curvaceous and ultra-communicative star of CBS’ “Ghost Whisperer” series.
In many ways, today’s ghost-hunting intrigue seems eerily like certain Americans’ alien fascination and UFO “sightings” of the mid- and late-20th century. It, too, resulted in cottage industries and Roswell-ian merchandising opportunities. (“What happens in Area 51 stays in Area 51” T-shirts and such.)
Interestingly, an Aug. 3, 1997, article in the New York Times explained away a good number of those UFO “encounters.”
“In the darkest days of the cold war,” the article stated, “the military lied to the American public about the true nature of many unidentified flying objects in an effort to hide its growing fleets of spy planes, a Central Intelligence Agency study says.
“The deceptions were made in the 1950’s and 1960’s amid a wave of U.F.O. sightings that alarmed the public and parts of official Washington,” the article continued. “The C.I.A. study says the Air Force knew that most reports by citizens and aviation experts were based on fleeting glimpses of U-2 and SR-71 spy planes, which fly extremely high.”
Apparently, in some cases, “seeing” definitely shouldn’t be “believing.”
Keep that in mind when considering claims of extraterrestrial landings, Yeti sightings and, yes, “detectors” that supposedly spot earth-bound poltergeists.