Watching paranormal reality shows is one of my life's pleasures, even though Jim likes to say they really have nothing to do with reality.. (He's not that big a skeptic, he just likes to hassle me.) This is not news to anyone who reads this blog, even if just occasionally. So while I was musing over past episodes of Ghost Hunters, The Haunted Collector, and The Dead Files, I began to wonder: why do they do all their investigating in the dark?
Turns out I am not the only one who asked that question. I googled it, in fact, and was surprised at the number of hits that turned up. Skeptics as well as believers both agree that investigating in the dark adds to the "creepiness" factor of paranormal TV shows. No argument there. However, their thoughts take different paths immediately after that. The skeptics say that the darkness makes it easier to fake everything that turns up on camera. The believers have a whole list of reasons why they hunt -and film- in the dark, i.e., at night.
That list includes: Less people around, therefore less interference both in general and in terms of energy; less electricity being used, therefore less interference in terms of electromagnetic fields; lots of ghost hunters have day jobs and hunting is a hobby, so there's really no choice with that; businesses being investigated can't close their doors to the public so investigations must take place after business hours; ghost hunters who have the high-tech instruments read a spectrum of light anyway, and some things are better seen on infrared; some say that since people are NOT nocturnal, their senses are on higher alert at night and in the dark, so they become more sensitive to even mild disturbances that might be ignored during the day. I think that about covers it.
My friend Sylvia Shults is a ghost hunter/paranormal investigator, with a specialty in the Peoria State Mental Hospital. (She has written a book about it called Fractured Spirits and was even on Ghost Hunters!) All of her investigations have been at night (she has three jobs; this is a hobby.) She has also invited me along but since this is a volunteer as opposed to a high-paying endeavor (read: "I don't know if you could pay me enough to go there") I don't think I'll be going with her any time soon. She is currently working with a group that investigates all manner of hauntings, but I'd have to interview her and get back to you for more details on that.
The point is, her group also investigates almost exclusively at night. For them, the reasons seem to be the day job thing, and also the heightened sensitivity thing. I will take her word for it.
If hauntings exist, people say, then shouldn't they also be happening during the day? And the short answer is, of course they should. I know lots of stuff happened at my old house during the day, although even those spirits liked night hours. I could -and did- time the most disturbed hours in that house and they were between 10:30 pm and 1:30 am, with many and varied cameo appearances at other times. But I could count on things happening between the above-stated hours. Count on it. Despite the spirit behavior in my house, hauntings are not relegated to overnight hours. They can and do happen at any hour of the day, and people who look into these things will agree with that.
Still, the best hours for investigating the spirit world, even if just for how it looks on camera, seem to be at night. Night is the time of sleep, at one time referred to as "little death," and night is the world claimed by all the scary things, from ghosts, vampires, and werewolves to evil people doing evil things without the sun to reveal them. Night is the time I do not work on my books. Just because.
Some ghost-story writer, huh? I don't write at night. I don't read scary stories at night. And I don't watch my reality TV shows at night, either. The dark may put people on high alert and lead to heightened sensitivity, but in my case, it also leads to a heightened imagination. So I let the paranormal investigators have their day jobs and go hunting at night. I have my day job -and then I turn to the safety of mundane things and try to get a good night's sleep...
PS. Here's a pic of my favorite hunters: