Friday, November 14, 2014

TV Show "Ghost Stalkers" Full Body Apparition Video Analysis

(Updated 19 November with new information)
(Updated 20 Feb 2015 with new revelation from John E. L. Tenney, conclusions in BOLD - old analysis remains as strike-through text to keep the record straight)
The clip from "Ghost Stalkers" - Or you can go to the Destination Discovery page here:

Enhance & Zoom
I did my usual analysis of the video. It took awhile to get just a clip of the figure, which I enhanced at maximum brightness to help us understand what is going on here:

NOTE: Use the little square-ish box at the lower right of the video to make it full screen. The clip is very short! You'll have to watch it multiple times to get a sense of what is going on here.

When we watched the show, it was pretty dark and hard to see. This enhanced excerpt, however, gives us a definite figure. Unlike my previous analysis of a claimed ghost caught on video by an Oregon paranormal team - but which disappeared in the frame by frame analysis, there is a figure here: You can see moving legs, arms, etc. The shape, although lacking detail, seems clearly human. What was it?

There are three possibilities:
1. They faked it.
2. It's a person
3. It's an apparition/spirit/paranormal event captured on video.

Did they fake it? It's a TV show, after all - but if they ever got caught doing that it would be the end of them. It's important to know that John E.L. Tenney, the star of Ghost Stalkers, is a legit paranormal investigator whose whole life work hinges on his credibility. It's extremely unlikely that he would be a knowing party to a hoax - to the point where this explanation is not believable. (Turns out that while it may not have been a hoax, John Tenney confessed in an interview on a skeptic podcast that he thought it was a homeless guy, despite the fact that he sold it on the show as a possible paranormal entity - LINK TO JOHN's OWN WORDS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE). If there was any hoaxing going on, my vote would be for it being perpetrated by a bored crew member: They would be the only people who would know enough about the positions of the static cameras to be able to get in and out without detection. Or there is also Chad. He was my prime suspect from the beginning. Sorry, Chad, if it wasn't you.

Is it a person? Well, it has all the characteristics of a living being. If it's a person, then it might be someone who sneaked into the building to perpetrate a hoax. And if that were true, they also did a shitty job of it. This tiny clip is all there is to show for their "work." Really, who would do that? But that only speaks to a person who is not part of the show perpetrating a hoax. A crew person is another possibility but I'm told the crew people aren't even there at night; they just set up the equipment and leave. After my conversation with John, this seems unlikely. But again, it could be a person who was accidentally caught on camera, in which case John should know better than to suggest a paranormal cause. I can only go by his word at this point.

Is it an apparition? It has a very solid form and even though it's as gray as the back wall, you can see moving arms and legs. Watch it about 10 times. Or more. It looks more like a solid thing - a human being, than a spirit - but I can't draw a firm conclusion about this. (UPDATE: My inability to draw a conclusion was based entirely on John. E. L. Tenney's equivocations on the subject. His words led me to think there might be something here. My apologies to all!) What would a ghost look like? I would expect something a little  less solid but that's only an expectation.We'll have to have additional information. With what we have, a person seems the slightly more likely explanation (except for a detail or two). However, a captured apparition is a definite possibility!

Oh yes, the detail!  Or two.
1) Well, John. E. L. Tenney, the legit investigator of this show, is adamant that there was no sound as the figure walked by; no footsteps, whereas one could hear Chad walking around. Okay, that makes it interesting. I'd like an audio comparison of Chad walking in the hall versus this figure, so we could see if this is a big deal or not.
2) The figure was never seen on any of the other cameras, nor by Tenney, Chad or the crew. This is odd. Evading detection by the cameras would be tricky. One may imagine ways to get in and out of the building without being seen, but how would a person pass in one direction down that hallway - toward the room where Chad was located at the time - and never be seen coming back from that direction or anywhere else? The world wonders....

4) Finally, an actual person would be walking around in total darkness: The light you see is infrared, recorded by an infrared camera. This is John's big selling point; the thing he reminded me about in emails when I questioned his evidence. HOWEVER, on viewing several more times; to me, the figure does appear to reach out for the wall on his left, as if to feel his way along the dark hallway. In mid stride, you can see the right arm raise and appear to cross over the front of the body, and just before he exits the view area you can see his shoulders rotate left, as if reaching out. It's hard to tell for sure but if my sense of this is accurate, it lends credence to the idea that this is an actual person walking in a dark hallway. John E. L. Tenney says I'm wrong about that. (UPDATE: Yes, he said that, but he knew I was right).

On a blog one of the stars, John E.L. Tenney,  said this:
"Honestly, I don’t know what it is.

I took the footage to our head of photography for the show and had him check it out. I wanted fresh, skeptical eyes to see it. Our head of photography has worked on hundreds of paranormal reality shows and after seeing this footage and running it through all kinds of image processing software eventually told me, “This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen working on a paranormal show”

"The building was sealed off and sweeped by the crew before they left, we do this at every location to make sure no one is in the building. Since Chad and I are alone when we investigate it is a safety measure we take to make sure there isn’t anyone who might hurt us when we’re alone in the building.

"I saw the figure I saw it in real time.

"Although it’s often mind-numbing to stare at the check-in camera monitor all night long it’s necessary and in this case was worth it. I honestly didn’t even know if I saw what I saw. By that I mean the camera is a live feed I have no way to go back and look at it until the morning. So I saw the figure and then I was like, “what did I just see?” It wasn’t until the morning after Chad was done that I could go retrieve the camera and check for what I thought I saw."

The fact that one of the show's cast members isn't selling it as totally real is interesting. (UPDATE: And as it turns out, it was because he was selling it as possibly paranormal when he never actually believed that was the case). It may mean that there is a lot of room for a more natural explanation. Or maybe he's just trying to maintain a certain distance from it, in case a more prosaic explanation comes to light. That's an excellent policy,  now that I think about it.

SUGGESTION TO PRODUCERS OF THE SHOW: Invest some money in a recording FLIR heat detection camera and add it to the check-in site. Two would be even better; one to carry with whomever is in the building at the time. If this figure had no heat signature, we could rule-out an actual human messing with you. Please consider this.

VERDICT: Possibly paranormal phenomenon captured, with some caveats and subject to further revelations and information. As a matter of intellectual honesty,  we have to consider the possibility that there's a crazy naked homeless guy living in that building who only comes out at night (or a bored crew member who decided to pull an unethical stunt... or Chad, who is always pretty wired and seems like the kind of guy who might do this). If it was a homeless guy, it would be easy enough (a necessity, in fact) for him to find a never-visited crawl space/attic/duct system to hide in. On the other hand, it is strange that he wasn't caught on any of the static or perimeter cameras, so there's that. And that's the only reason I mention a crew member: John E. L. Tenney wouldn't pull anything like this, in my opinion, (UPDATE: But he has no problem with misleading his audience. In John E. L. Tenney's skeptic interview, he tells us that he doesn't believe that ghosts exist, or "any of that" - so any statements he has made in the show suggesting paranormal phenomena were disingenuous) but we know nothing of the crew people and they alone would have the information necessary to evade detection.

FINAL VERDICT: Debunked, thanks to John Tenney's candid admissions on a skeptic podcast show. If we just went by what was on television, I couldn't say that. On Ghost Stalkers, his show, Tenney referred to this image over and over as an entity and an apparition, and suggested various supernatural explanations. But when John Tenney recently spoke to skeptics, he informed them that he didn't believe that, that he doesn't believe in ghosts or anything else. He told the skeptics he thought it was a homeless guy. I don't know if that is true, but I know he never told the Ghost Stalkers audience anything like that.

Who was it? For what it's worth I DID tell John E. L. Tenney in an email way back when this all started that I thought it was a homeless guy - or maybe even Chad, which he assured me was wrong. Now I'm more inclined to think that I got it right from the beginning and I let Tenney mislead me into thinking he had something genuine. After his interview on the skeptic podcast (A MUST LISTEN!) it seems pretty clear that you can't really take Tenney at his word.

ONLY John E. L. Tenney's disingenuous commentary made it seem real. He never thought it was paranormal. Even when he commented on this post back in November (you can still see that comment below), he was still selling the high points of what he thought made this video paranormal... but now we know he didn't believe that. Listen to the skeptic interview of Tenney and get the inside scoop. (Link below)
FINAL THOUGHT, February 20, 2015. Well, here we are, with me doing a mea culpa. I'm all about honesty with my readers, so I have to confess that I was duped by this one. John E. L. Tenney did a good job of selling this video as paranormal evidence on the show, and in email communications to me. Even though he tempered that position in his own blog, he still left it out there as possible paranormal evidence. And I was gullible enough to buy his testimony, since I wasn't there and I misread his character. Well, that just goes to show you: Never ever trust anything on one of these shows, or any of the people on them. They will say and do anything for ratings. In the end, you'll just get burned.  

Buyer Beware!

HERE IS THE LINK to the Skeptic podcast where John E. L. Tenney confesses that HE DOES NOT BELIEVE IN GHOSTS and never found anything paranormal. According to Tenney, he acts like he believes in the paranormal so that he can get people to come to his lectures where he hopes to convert them.

HELPFUL TIME CODE GUIDE FOR THE PODCAST! Although the host of this podcast is nice as pie to Tenney (because he's talking to one of his fellow non-believers) the guy is a major dick in general and has a hugely smug sense of superiority (rather unjustified from what I've heard). So you may want to avoid the smugness oozing out of his mouth and skip to the highlights (not that John Tenney seems to have any better opinion of those who believe in the paranormal, but I can't fix that for you):
  • 19:10 The show is NOT about figuring out if a place is haunted
  • 24:10 "It shocks people when I tell them I don't believe in ghosts."
  • 30:40 "It's really funny that someone who doesn't believe in any of this snuck onto a show." (Referring to himself).
  • 42:00 John E. L. Tenney refers to himself again as a non-believer.
  • 45:50 Reiterates once again, "I don't believe in ghosts."
  • 46:20 Refers to what he is doing as somewhat manipulative. In this whole segment, (from this point on) John E. L. Tenney details how he uses the idea of being on a ghost hunting show to get people to come to his lectures so he can "rip down the fabric of what they think they believe." (John's words, again).

This John Tenney revelations reminds me of something from professional wrestling known as the heel turn. You have a guy who says he's on your side, then when your back is turned - BOOM - you get hit in the head with a chair. The "chair" in this case is that John is a nonbeliever who isn't looking for evidence of hauntings at all. In fact, you were foolish if you believed that, according to Tenney.

But who is supposed to be impressed by John's heel turn? Are his new fans now the fundamentalist materialist skeptics? I doubt it. They don't believe John is one of them, despite his insistence that he is a total skeptic and his believer fans are idiots, they aren't buying it.  And the skeptics are skeptical of John for some very good reasons. The first being that he constantly sells his "findings" as evidence of paranormal activity on the show. Tenney tells them it's just an act, but they aren't so sure.

Then, if you just plug John Tenney into a Google search, you'll come up with John declaring the Devil is real! And other such religious pronouncements.All from a guy who says he is a skeptic and doesn't believe in anything. Who is the real John Tenney? We'll probably never know.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this post or blog is meant to suggest that the supernatural or paranormal does not exist. The fact is, I don't know. All I can do is look at the evidence to see if it stands up to the test of very simple scrutiny. If it passes, yay. If it fails, oh well... there's always next time. Investigators are human. I'm human. We all make mistakes. My pointing out the mistakes that others make should not be taken to imply that they are wrong in general, or that the things they investigate are only the product of imagination.  And the number one lesson of this post: TRUST NOTHING ON A PARANORMAL TV SHOW! Assume they are lying (because they probably are).

Investigator John Tenny enters the room (same camera). John is 6'2"
           ...... photo courtesy John E. L. Tenney


  1. I can address you points about my comments.
    There was no one in the building after our sweep and before Chad went in. We do as thorough a search as possible to insure that no one is in there firstly because we don't want to encounter a living person who might be scared, drugged up, etc. and secondly to make sure the scene is free from as much human contamination, interfering with our investigations, as possible. Could I have missed a someone being in there. It's possible but I don't think we did. As to it being someone from the crew, this is impossible. Chad and I are the only members of the crew that stay overnight. This was a huge part of me agreeing to do the show. All production, sound and camera people have to wrap before investigating begins.No other cameras in the location caught anything like the figure. Also two notes which I've seen very few people talk about. One, the camera that caught the footage has a microphone, it did not pick up any sound of someone walking. Two, if it's a person walking around they are walking around in solid darkness. There are no lights in the building aside from Chad's flashlight. The only reason it looks illuminated is because the cameras are shooting in Night Vision. If you have any other questions please feel free to contact me Thanks for the article and your comments!

    1. Your show is as fake as any other show. It disgusts me how you get people to believe in this garbage. These are television shows and they absolutely feel like. It's preying on people's insecurities and fears. I would love for you to conduct a test of the IQ of your viewers. It's always ever a shadowy figure or some tiny light orb with no scientific evidence to back anything up. Why can there never be an aspect to any of these shows where genuine scientists or credible engineers who are outside the show try and dissect your "evidence"? Why must viewers always just take your word for it? Why can't you show pride for your findings and subject them to be studied by qualified people? If anything, why do you hire the worst possible actors to represent your show? Seriously, a man reverting to the mind set of a prepubescent girl over the slightest sound is embarrassing to watch. Since surpassing the age of 12, these shows have become impossible to watch. It's like they don't even believe in themselves. Fake is a less fitting word for Ghost Stalkers. No, you'd need a phrase. "Disingenuous, shameless money grab" That's about right

    2. "take to make sure there isn’t anyone who might hurt us when we’re alone in the building." But you let the show continue after you saw the figure. There is a great possibility that was a person that could hurt chad. Yet you let the show go on. That's why I think it's faked. What better way to launch a new show?!

  2. I'm the host of the Paranormal Skeptic Academy podcast and I can tell you I had certain expectations when I was preparing for the interview but his monkey wrench of saying he doesn't believe in ghost etc. through me off. I think I still pressed him on the disservice these shows do and I'm skeptical of his skepticism as is evident from other episodes.

    I know that these shows are edited a certain way but he still brings on known fraud David Roundtree as proof of his "theories."

    1. Well, I'm grateful for running into your show! (Again). I had been a subscriber for a while, but had unsubscribed because I felt like you were talking down to me in that "I know everything and you're an idiot" way that skeptics tend to have. Later, I randomly checked the show feed and you had just interviewed John Tenney! This post being my biggest deal at the time. Can't be coincidence. ;) ...Anyway, it was an eye opener, for sure. I had thought that Tenney was different, but I was wrong. Or... he IS different, but in a bad way.

      You may notice John provided material support and was friendly to me before that encounter with your show. He subsequently told me that we are no longer on speaking terms. In any case, I think my examination married to your work made a great public service. Thank you.

    2. Sorry it came across that way. When I examine these shows, I take what they give me and Ghost Stalkers is pretty bad in that there is a lot of pseudo science involved and that just drives me crazy. I'm glad I was able to help in someway and hope you'll be come a listener again.

    3. Well, you never know! It isn't you, it's just human nature. Whatever ones beliefs, one tends to believe that one's knowledge base is complete, adequate and likely superior to others with whom we disagree. From that cognitive bias, you are not likely to find evidence that challenges your world view, and if such evidence presents itself, you are likely to dismiss it out of hand as inadequate or unproven. Again, it's just human nature. :)

      I know as a skeptic you'll hate it when I say this, but I find little difference between skeptics who cling to a world view of materialism versus believers who cling to a world view of spiritualism. Views become the filter through which all of reality is measured, and this is true for everyone. I think it might be harder for self-identified skeptics to accept this, because they uniquely believe themselves to be the people who eschew belief. Which, of course, is not the case.

      I don't know about paranormal claims. I keep an open mind because I think there is more than enough wiggle room within current scientific understanding to allow for a multitude of phenomena. That being the case, characterizing phenomena either as "spirits" or an "nonexistent" are both unsupportable beliefs; both based entirely on a pre-established world views.

      That said, your coverage of TV shows (and there are more all the time!) is valuable and helpful. There isn't enough being said about specific shows and methods, and possible "cheats" they might be using to present mundane phenomena as evidence of paranormal activity.

      I just wish you could do it with the mind of an investigator looking at data, and with a less snark. But perhaps that is too much to ask.

      To me, snark comes across as approval-seeking; "look at me, fellow atheists, see how smart I am. You like me, right?" And to those who might have a different view, it comes across as talking down to them. It's not helpful. And James Randi agrees. ...But again, I realize that this is just human nature. It doesn't make you a bad person. I just wish things could be different.

    4. Oh, and I guess I should have made it clear that I was NOT referring to your John Tenney interview. You were more than nice in that one. Almost too nice. :) No, I'm talking about your podcast in general; it is more apparent in your other episodes.

      My husband and I have had this discussion with James Randi a few years ago. It wasn't your podcast we were talking about but a similar one. James made it clear that he disapproved of the snark and condescension, saying, "You'll never change anyone's mind that way." It's something to consider.


Comments are typically moderated to prevent spamming but be assured that I will approve your comment next time I check the queue.