Has the Paranormal Bubble Finally Burst?

By Tony Harrington

paranormal bubble
Photo by Fabian Oefner

When “Ghost Hunters” premiered in October of 2004 on the SyFy channel (Then still called SciFI), there was nothing quite like it on the U.S. airwaves. The program introduced the world to Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, two plumbers who in their free time headed up “The Atlantic Paranormal Society” (TAPS) out of the New England colony of Rhode Island.

The program became an instant hit, drawing record numbers and putting the network on the map.
The show spawned several spinoffs including “Ghost Hunters International”, “UFO Hunters”, and “Ghost Hunters Academy”.

Additionally, the immense popularity of Ghost Hunters caused an insurgence of similar thematic programming on other networks. Paranormal State, Ghost Adventures, Most Haunted, and more found their way into the homes and the collection consciousness of American audiences.

Encountering a haunting went from something private and embarrassing to vogue at breakneck speed and suddenly groups of amateur paranormal investigation teams began cropping up across the US to meet the ever-increasing demand of people wanting to have their homes or businesses deemed “haunted”, or to have their home cleansed of unwanted spirits.

At the time, a lot of the organizations that came to fruition on the coattails of TAPS subscribed to the New England company’s model of investigation, taking a lot of what was presented on the show as fact and incorporating it into their investigations.

Many agencies sought out TAPS accreditation, to become a sister company of the famous organization.

While it seems logical for an organization wanting to be connected with the most popular of paranormal teams, it could very well have been the beginning of the end for the paranormal bubble.

As of today, the number of cases organizations are getting has dwindled considerably, often weeks or months separate inquiries and actually landing an investigation has become burdensome. So what caused the sudden decline in paranormal popularity?

A lot of it has to do with trends. At the height of its popularity, Ghost Hunters was probably responsible for the resurgence of paranormal investigations. Conversely, as the show’s viewership began to wane over the decade, so too did the interest in the paranormal. Contributing greatly to the decline was rumors of TAPS faking certain findings to keep viewers hooked. When the team responsible for making the paranormal cool was questioned, that began to signal the beginning of the end.

TAPS can’t take the full brunt of the blame. In addition to the interest in the pop-culture phenomenon declining, there were some high-profile cases of groups doing some rather unethical things such as when a Texas paranormal team burned down a historic building out of anger because they couldn’t capture any EVPs or proof of paranormal activity.

The biggest problem with paranormal investigations is that anyone could start a group. All they needed was some friends, some equipment, and the desire to spend long nights camped out at an allegedly haunted location in the hopes of catching proof that ghosts do indeed exist.

Another issue with the “paranormal bubble” is that there was no unifying body or organization in charge of setting standards of practice for how investigations were to be conducted. Every group could conduct investigations in any manner they saw fit. There was no education being conducted for the most part, any information about the world of the paranormal was obtained from the Ghost Hunters television program, but who were they to set the standard? They are nobodies to be honest. They were simply a group of people doing what other groups of people do all over the world. They just happened to get a television deal. It does not make them subject matter experts. It makes them quasi-celebrities with opinions on certain things.

Market saturation became a problem and it ultimately led to animosity or rivalries between competing local groups. When every group out there is belittling every other group, it undermines the entire industry.

Perhaps the worst aspect of the entire paranormal bubble is that most agencies sprung up simply to cash in. They became more obsessed with becoming celebrities than actually caring about the cases they took on. Radio show appearances, book deals, television appearances, etc…derailed the true focus of the organizations. It could be said that we created our own demise by losing focus on why we chose to become paranormal investigators in the first place.

As with all things, interest in the paranormal is cyclical. Ghost Hunters is still on the air, The Conjuring and Insidious franchises are still strong and rake in some big bucks at the box office, and paranormal themed scripted shows are being produced regularly. In time there will be another resurgence and there will be a great demand for established groups.

The best the remaining long-standing groups can do is use this downtime to educate themselves and revamp their teams in preparation for the next inevitable boom. Let go of people not willing to stick it out. Part ways with team members who don’t contribute to the betterment of the team but are only interested in when the next investigation is. Stay in the public eye by keeping your websites current and conduct networking workshops within your community. Take on social causes such as volunteering to clean up parks, or work adopt a road and maintain it. Doing community services can bolster awareness for your organization and presents your team as upstanding members of society and community. People won’t know how to reach you if you allow your team to slip into obscurity.

Has your organization seen a decline in cases or interest in the paranormal overall?

What, in your opinion, aside from what was mentioned above, do you feel caused the bubble to burst?

Share your thoughts and ideas in our comments section below.

6 thoughts on “Has the Paranormal Bubble Finally Burst?

  1. Great article !
    Yes absolutely there has been a decline .
    I have seen people want to be a part of a group and if nothing happened of paranormal , they would loose interest . I think so many groups were started to get fame or to get on the paranormal bandwagon and most did not realize the time that is spent in an investigation .
    Research , interviews ,traveling costs , equipment , etc. and most is done on the groups own time and money .
    I have never been a big fan of the paranormal shows , I feel like at times things are done to make the show exciting . I mean come on who wants to watch a paranormal show with no paranormal activity ?
    I have been on plenty of investigations and left with absolutely no evidence of a haunting . So a lot of time spent and money and no evidence would discourage people from wanting to
    “Volunteer ” for the next investigation . I got quite disgusted with the way some people would do their investigating as well . Calling out verbal names and trying to stir up a ghost .
    I am glad to see the decline so many groups don’t educate themselves as to what to do or even how to handle a situation . If they encounter a ghost , piss it off , then they get their evidence and leave case done ..
    “Yes your house is haunted ” and then leave and never to be heard of again. The people who called the group in desperate need of help , are now left with feeling even more scared and confused .
    A good group will investigate , research and if needed come up with a resolution .
    Whether they handle it or have another person come in to help the situation .
    I also believe with all the uneducated people who have tried their hand at investigating ,have open doors to have more chaos to happen .
    I am a firm believer in the paranormal . Is every investigation a haunting ? Absolutely not !!! But the ones that are need people with some kind of knowledge of what they are doing ,
    When people call a group for an investigation they are scared and they are depending on the group to help and make as much sense with the situation . Not to come in and make it worse or put more fear in the clients .
    The groups that are dedicated and spend time researching and are
    In it to help people they will rise above this decline .
    You do not need Tapps or any other group to make your work a success . You need time lots and patience and an understanding of the paranormal .
    I have dedicated many many years to the Spirit world and helping people and educating myself by research and learning from others with experience . Still til this day I continue to learn . The Spirit world is a mystery and just when you think you got it figured out something happens and you realize ..
    I know that their is always something to learn . Sandyi

    1. Totally agree and hate to see groups or individuals go to a home and in the end scare the family to death. We at Spirit Seekers have been following certain groups around cleaning up their messes. I hope when the time comes for the ghost hunting business booms again that only the good are left standing. Thanks for the post.

  2. Sandyi:

    I agree 100% with everything you said. Whether as an investigator you encounter something during your investigation or not doesn’t mean you have done your job in one visit. Ghosts are not trained animals, they won’t perform on cue.If someone reaches out to us, then what they are experiencing is very real to them. They are scared and want answers.

    Whether we find proof of the paranormal or not we should offer both scientific explanations where applicable, and advise them of any paranormal explanations for what they may be encountering in the absence of scientific/natural phenomenon. Not everything is going to be a haunting, and if it is, finding that concrete elusive proof can be daunting.

    While the industry is in a lull, those within it should take advantage of the downtime to train, educate, practice, and engage their communities. It is what will separate us from the pop-up shops that come about from the next boom.


  3. 100% great article. I have been in the field a number of years and seen teams come and go which is sad and unfortunately seen many teams “fake” evidence to try and get noticed. Sat endless investigations with no evidence and other fantastic evidence that’s how it rolls and I push my team to learn and educated themselves in the field as no point doing this if you are not willing to learn what you are doing. We are always learning in this field you never stop learning Well done and saying what loads of others think.

    1. Thank you for the reply and for stopping by! I am glad that there are others out there who continue to pursue education in the field during the slow down. I wish you and your team continued success in your investigations!

      Tony Harrington
      Editor, Spirit Seekers Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s