Hayley is a Ghost

The Paranormal 5: A review (cont.)

Posted on: May 24, 2011

Part one of this review can be found here

Episode Four – the team meet a little boy sent up a chimney to his death

Locations visited: Shoe shop, Gloucestershire & Country hotel, Petty France
Reported activity at the shoe shop:
 Spoons resting on a cloth in the kitchen were ‘flung’ onto the floor
– Often smell smoke or floral perfume
– One evening when closing up a staff member saw a light on upstairs, went in to turn it off and heard a man whispering
– It is claimed a photo taken from outside shows a face in the attic window
Reported activity from the Country hotel:
– lady is seen walking along a passage and through a wall
– Cat didn’t like going into a certain room
– owners daughter wouldn’t go into a room as a presence in there made her feel uncomfortable

Shoe shop

In the attic of the shoe shop Wayne and Andy set up a beam barrier to see if anything passes through the area near the window in which a face was supposedly photographed from the street by a passer-by.

original photo & lightened version with ‘face’ (4)

They also put a Dictaphone in the window and a data logger to collect the temperature. There were no results from any of these but even if there had been it wouldn’t have proven anything as beam barriers can be set off simply by a slight drop in temperature, or by particles falling in front of the IR sensors – in a dusty attic it would likely for this to happen.

In the kitchen they replicated the spoons on the cloth to see if they would be moved, they weren’t moved and the investigators were not able to explain why they could have fallen off, attributing this to the spirit of a young boy that Paul the medium had sensed. Personally I would have looked at ways in which I could have made the spoons fall off to see what other causes there were – if I slam a door somewhere else could the vibrations make the spoons move? Was the surface slippery? I don’t know because the team didn’t explore these options…

The staff in the shop also reported that an employee once heard whispering in a corridor area of the shop and so the team conduct an EVP session there. Wayne explains that when “took the material back to the lab nothing was found”.

I’m presuming the lab he speaks of is a dog, because there is no way they actually use a laboratory, and to suggest so is done merely to add authority to the proceedings and that is misleading.

Country hotel

At the hotel Andy and Wayne take an EMF reading of the area around the wall through which the apparition of a lady is said to walk, Andy also measures the temperature and explains the temperature reads as 21.4 (centigrade? Fahrenheit?) but at the same time he is moving the thermometer around the room as though trying to detect the difference in temperature in different parts of the small area. The thermometer he is using doesn’t measure temperature like that and so this is another example of inaccurate use of equipment.

In another room of the hotel they used a trigger object and also put a dictaphone down and left the room, upon reviewing the recordingyou can hear a clattering noise but I do not believe this suggests anything paranormal in nature took place as there is no indication for viewers of how secure the room was.

Episode Five – an emotional encounter for Paul
Locations visitedAshton Court, nr Bristol & ex-asylum, now a private house, Wells
Reported activity at Ashton Court:
– woman seen walking through great hall into inner hall but is never found and doors are all closed
– friend staying over to develop films saw the ceiling vibrating with waves and fled
– owner heard a window banging all night, went to investigate and found the catch broken, when it was nailed shut he heard it again and a pane of glass was actually smashed.
Reported activity at the private house:
– things being moved, towels being left untidy
– computer switches on unaided
– owner saw apparition on three occasions, always on Sunday morning between 2am – 3am – a dark blob mass.

At Ashton Court Andy and Samantha set beam barriers by the hall doors through which an apparition is said to walk and they also set up a data logger to capture the temperature when and if it fluctuates. The use of beam barriers suggests that they intended to detect something walking through that area which is a biased approach to the case.

They do call that the friend who saw a wavy ceiling may have been suffering effects from being in an enclosed area with developing chemicals, however they then go on to conduct an EVP session in another part of the building and claim to capture two sounds of somebody breathing, that are provided as some sort of evidence of paranormal activity when, in all reality, it’s very unlikely that this is so. At this location Paul the medium also gets overwhelmed but the names he picks up on do not match any records and he does not comment on any of the reported experiences, which is a common theme.

Private house

This was a really rubbish investigation and the only technical investigation we are shown is the team making the occupants bedroom dark to see if they can recreate the sightings he reported to them. It’s a difficult case to investigate, granted, but then if you choose to take on a case it’s your own fault if you limit yourself by the phenomena reported in the cases you choose.

Episode Six – a frosty reception for Paul
Locations visited: Arnos Manor hotel, Bristol & Victorian Coach house, nr Cirencester
Reported activity at Arnos Manor Hotel:
– A nun reputed to haunt the location is seen walking up a staircase
– A man in a flat cap is seen sitting in the bar on a non-existent sofa
– An orb was caught on film above a bed & a fluctuation in the temperature was recorded
– One guest awoke to feeling of someone sitting on top of him, he couldn’t breathe or move and the bed shook slightly
Reported activity at Victorian Coaching House:
– used to hear footsteps in the passage way
– sounds of a Victorian bell ringing when there isn’t a bell in the house
– the owners friend saw a man walk across the top of the staircase.

Arnos Manor Hotel

Samantha and Wayne conduct the technical investigation at this location, but before they even came onto the screen there was an interesting conversation between Ray and the location manager/owner. As phenomena witnessed in a guest room is being described to him Ray asks the location representative “Why that room?” and the location owner replies “it’s part of the original house” to which Ray nods. Making a connection between the history of a location and what is perceived as paranormal phenomena assumes that what is being witnessed is related to the buildings past and that is a rather naive assumption to make as a paranormal researcher.

In the guest room in which a cold spot was detected over the bed the technical investigators wave a hygro-thermometer over the bed briefly and state that they cannot detect a change in temperature which isn’t an accurate way in which to take a temperature reading. The least a paranormal researcher can do when deciding to use pieces of equipment is to learn how to actually operate them before making conclusions from using them.

can be seen on table in background (5)

Sam sets up a trigger object experiment on the table with some marbles and they leave the room – the marbles don’t move, but if they had I wouldn’t have been convinced because a bit later we see the film crew back in the room with Paul the medium as he does a reading. The marbles can be seen sitting on the table in the background quite clearly which suggests that such experiments weren’t as controlled or as secure as we were led to believe.

A data logger is also used in the room and it records a spike in the temperature of the room that then falls back down, but viewers are told nothing more about why this could be significant or what the team think the cause is, instead we’re left to consider it as mysterious. As I mentioned before, when Paul did a reading in that bedroom the trigger object was visible in the background which would suggest the data logger was also in the room – I would suggest that perhaps a concentration of bodies in the room for a prolonged period of time while filming Paul and the others could have caused the temperature to rise, and then fall when the crew left the room.

In fact, at one point while in the room Paul comments “we were all getting hot” and we clearly see Ray stumble as he apparently becomes disoriented which would suggest nothing out of the ordinary, simply too many people shoved into a small room. We see mystery where we want to see it, and this is a great example of magical thinking.

The report of a man sleeping in a guest room and awaking to find he couldn’t breathe or move and felt as though someone was sitting on his chest was put down to a spirit that Paul the medium picked up on whose lungs he said were full, suggested some sort of breathing problem due to illness. The obvious suggestion I would make is that actually, the experience the man staying in the room had is likely to have been a product of sleep paralysis, staying in unfamiliar surroundings (such as a hotel) is a known trigger, so for ‘The Paranormal 5’ to miss this was like shooting themselves in the foot and difficult to watch.

Victorian Coaching house

The only technical investigation done at this location was to conclude that the bell noise could have been a cat wearing a collar outside of the building which is true, the team also did EVP recordings in the passage way that footsteps were heard in with no results.

Episode Seven – a spirit is delighted to see Paul
Locations visited: Private cottage, Cirencester & private house, Petty France
Reported activity at the private cottage:
– footsteps heard on the staircase
– radio & tv turn themselves on
– daughter & friend were sleeping in the attic when they were woken by a clattering sound they couldn’t trace
– trap door in the ceiling of a bedroom often gets knocked on
–  one daughter was awoken by the sound of hands slapping a wall, when she went to look she heard someone running up the attic stairs
–  one daughter heard the piano on the ground floor playing on its own and when she went to look the stool was a meter away from it.
Reported activity at the private house:
– in the laundry room people sense a nasty presence and often get touched
– A shadow man has been seen walking through the kitchen
– Son has seen two apparitions, including a man standing at the window watching the son mow the lawn.

Private cottage

This was an interesting case with a vast amount of phenomena being witnessed and I wish I could visit the location to see what I can work out, unfortunately ‘The Paranormal 5’ only saw fit to conduct some EVP recordings next to the piano and to sweep the EMF meter around that area, both with no visible results. At one point Wayne Punter states:

“creaking floorboards don’t sound like footsteps…”

…as he explains to the camera how they tried (and failed) to rationalise the other experiences the family had reported. I disagree with him completely on this because creaking floorboards can creak, thud, squeak and even make a hissing sound through friction – noises I have heard often and mistaken for footsteps.

Private house

At this house Andy and Wayne visit the laundry and take an EMF reading in the area, they also do some EVP recording before Andy declares that it is possible that if laundry was hanging around the room like it was at the time of them being there then the people who were touched may have just brushed against some of the clothing, which is a valid point. They move to the kitchen in which the shadowy figure of a man has been seen and set up a trigger object experiment with some coins (despite the fact that nothing has been reported to move in that area), they sweep the area with an EMF meter and conduct some more EVP recordings.

Episode Eight – a landlord recalls a scary experience in his pub
Location visited: The White Hart, Cross
Reported activity:
– ghost is said to be a victim of Judge Jeffries who held court in the village
– posters for a ‘medieval night’ with a picture of Judge Jeffreys were put up around the pub and the activity increased
– one lunchtime the landlord was stood behind the bar under a light and a customer said he should run for government, he replied “I’d bring back village stocks and hanging” and the customer replied “Judge Jeffreys is still alive at The White Hart” and the electrics all went off and a cold breeze drifted through the bar area
– one area of the pub always has a constant ‘cold spot’
– one night a drip tray ‘jumped’ six inches into the air on its own
– cat hisses at nothing and the dog reacts to something that nobody can see
– landlady once was a man in a feathered cap looking at her from a mirror instead of her own reflection
– customers in one area of the bar often report seeing a customer waiting in the other area when there is nobody there
– somebody heard moving around upstairs when nobody was up there, on investigation nobody was found.

When testing to see if they can detect a cold spot in the area it was reported in Andy and Wayne both claim they can feel it and then go on to be unable to detect the cold area with the thermometer and Andy suggests that it is the power of suggestion causing them to experience it which is a valid point. Had they used a couple of thermometers in different areas of the room over a longer period of time (say, for at LEAST 1 minute or more….) they might have been able to determine if there was a difference or not.

The area in which the landlady reported seeing the figure of a cavalier in the mirror was testing for what Andy called “energy anomalies” with an EMF meter, perhaps hinting that she may have hallucinated due to a high level of EMF in that area which shows an attempt to think logically about the case but, unfortunately for Andy and Wayne, the EMF meter they’re using isn’t able to detect experience-inducing fields that are thought to cause such effects for a small minority of people because such fields are, at present, thought to sit “on top” of naturally occurring electro-magnetic fields (research is still ongoing).

They also check the drip trays to see if there is any way in which a drip tray could be thrown, unaided, six inches into the air and they report that this could not have happened naturally. One way that it could have happened naturally is if the plastic drip tray had been put into a dish or glass washer and then placed back in its holding while still warm, probably not, but just an idea.

They also do some EVP recording which provides nothing for them. It felt very much like this case was being made to sound more infamous by the owners than it probably was and I felt that a lot of the reported activity could have happened simply due to chance or coincidence and some of it may have been misremembered – but as I haven’t properly researched the case it’s impossible to say for sure.

What I can say for sure though is that with ‘The Paranormal 5’ it’s the same old repetitive methods being used again and again despite the fact that each case is different and has different factors at play and a unique approach should be taken each time. By the time I got half way through the episodes was getting extremely tired of watching the show because of the uninspiring techniques and ideas coming from ‘The Paranormal 5’.

Although this review may seem to be me taking a chance to have a dig at people who I don’t get on with, I will point out that it isn’t that at all. Although I was skeptical that the television show would be that good (and my skepticism was proven right) I saw this as an opportunity for others to see how paranormal researchers who do not do their proper research can be made to look like experts when in fact they don’t know what they’re talking about.

The show may claim to be technical and to use the latest technology available, but this simply isn’t accurate – the show is a simple Most Haunted rip off done badly. I would urge anyone interested in becoming a paranormal researcher to watch this show and make sure they don’t fall into the same trap that the team in the show did by not conducting proper research into what methods and theories you are using. It’s easy to work out the correct information if you are serious about conducting good, open-minded research, but if you’re not, then it’s even easier to simply copy what you see on television…

Footage used in this article is from ‘The Paranormal 5’ and is used under ‘fair dealing‘ for a critique and belongs to ‘Serendipity productions’, ITV, and ITV West.
Photo credits:
1 – http://www.uk5paranormal.com
2 – http://www.paulspiritmedium.co.uk
3 – Screenshot from ep 2 of ‘The Paranormal 5’ by Serendipity productions for ITV
4 – 2 Screenshots from ep 4 of ‘The Paranormal 5’ by Serendipity productions for ITV
5 – Screenshot from ep 6 of ‘The Paranormal 5’ by Serendipity productions for ITV   

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3 Responses to "The Paranormal 5: A review (cont.)"

Very well presented piece Hayley. I watched every episode and agree with your analysis. The methods used and conclusions drawn are inappropriate, irrelevant and suffer from bias. I appreciate that a TV show has to pander to both the viewing demographic and the wishes of the production company but here, once more, we are given a skewed, unscientific portrayal of paranormal investigation.

I’m still learning about ghost research, what exactly is the logic behind triggers? It appears to me that arbitrary items are being placed along with a claim being made that they will cause a ghost to do X. Based on what prior evidence?

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Hayley is a ghost

Hayley Stevens is an advocate for science-based research into seemingly paranormal experiences and occurrences. With a background in the pseudo-scientific research into ghosts, Hayley offers a unique insight into the strange world of ghost hunting through her experience.

She describes herself as 'a ghost hunter who doesn't hunt for ghosts' and this is her personal blog where she writes about ghosts, people, and other interesting things. Read more here.

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