Ghost Adventures

Season 4 Episode 7

Stanley Hotel

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Oct 15, 2010 on Travel Channel
out of 10
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Episode Summary


The GAC travel to Estes Park, Colorado to investigate the infamous Stanley Hotel, the haunted resort that inspired Stephen King's novel The Shining.

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  • First half: Great. Second Half: bad.

    The GAC travel to Estes Park, Colorado to investigate the infamous Stanley Hotel, the haunted resort that inspired Stephen King's novel The Shining.

    Pretty much what the title said First half: Great. Second Half: bad.

    Overall, an okay episode, most of the EVPs were compelling

    Overall, this episode will get a 5.5 out of 10 from me.

    5.5 out of 10
  • Technology is meaningless without a solid scientific rationale

    As usual, for the sake of simplicity, I will simply make the following disclaimer: if I don't discuss a specific EVP, one can make the assumption that I think it was just background noise and nothing remotely paranormal. (And seriously, if they want to get EVPs that can be taken seriously, they need to put the recorders down and eliminate their own movements and noise! I guarantee, they wouldn't get a quarter of the "EVPs" they keep claiming they get!)

    The Stanley Hotel has quite an interesting haunted history. Before a few years ago, it was mostly notable for being the hotel that inspired Stephen King during his writing of "The Shining". There were a few stray stories about potential reports of paranormal activity. Then it was featured on "Ghost Hunters", and suddenly it was on the map. Now, there have been dozens of "ghost hunt events".

    The veracity of the claims are up for debate. Much like the Waverly Hills Sanatorium in the previous episode, the standard folklore of the hotel has changed and evolved in a relatively short period of time. Areas that were never discussed as "haunted" in previous investigations now have entire histories supporting various claims. As with all such public locations, especially the more frequented ones, it's hard to determine what stories have a true pedigree, and which ones are designed to feed the paranormal need!

    Oddly enough, I think the psychic, Vera, had an excellent point. She told Zak that because he and his teammates are constantly hunting for dark and dangerous spirits, that's exactly what they find. Setting aside the fact that she was cold-reading Nick and Zak during their little session, and therefore not displaying any paranormal abilities in the slightest, she is quite correct.

    Zak is obsessed with finding something evil and dangerous, and so he finds it. Not because it is necessarily there, but because he wants it to be there. Ever notice how almost every investigation has EVPs in which Zak is threatened? Or how often shuffling clothes and other background noise gets interpreted as some menacing statement? Or how often animal noises are interpreted as screams and moans? The "Ghost Adventures" crew finds what they expect to find, and there's very little that can be objectively taken at face value as a result.

    I have mixed feelings about the long interview with the girl. I'm not going to doubt her personal experiences, as there's little to be gained in that, but I was taken aback when she boasted about provoking seemingly negative entities. This is exactly the kind of thing I mean when I talk about how people learn the wrong things from these paranormal investigation shows. If these are evil spirits with malicious intent, is this the sort of thing we want children to be emulating? (And yet, there are those who belittle and mock our disciplined, scientific approach. Figures.)

    (Oh, by the way…I have received some comments that essentially boil down to: "if you're so skeptical, why don't you go to these places?" Well, some of them, I have. Others are a bit out of my travel budget. But hey, if anyone would like to pay for our travel and lodging expenses, we'd be happy to investigate. We'd stay in those "haunted" rooms at the Stanley without hesitation!)

    All three of the team members were worked up and feeling the usual hysteria as soon as they went into their rooms. So of course, they interpret every little anomaly as proof that activity is taking place.

    A few words about Bill Chappell. While I could go into great detail, I will simply say this: nearly all of his little inventions are absolute junk. He is the man behind the Ovilus and other such devices, which use pre-programmed word banks that are supposedly triggered by specific paranormal energies. That these energies are never explained or detailed is just one issue I have with that concept. I personally consider Bill Chappell to be a fraud; he openly admits, even in his devices' manuals, that the output of the devices is likely to be random chance. He also refuses to explain how his devices work, when explanations are requested. So why does he sell these devices as paranormal tools at ridiculous prices? The answer is plain as day.

    But let's focus on the technology in this episode. The full spectrum video is a fine idea. It's gained a lot of traction. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are "fudging" the full spectrum technology. Real UV video recording requires very expensive software to take the light at the more extreme UV frequencies and render the image in the visible spectrum. That costs thousands of dollars. It's possible, however, to modify a regular camcorder by removing the filters that eliminate UV frequencies very close to the visible range. This only takes a few hundred dollars, if that. The net result looks the same, but they are very different in terms of scientific specifications and implications.

    The EMF-triggered camera is also a nice concept, but there are some fairly simple pitfalls that I would want to have addressed. First of all, they assume any unusual spike in EMF is a ghost. But what about the usual false positives: RF signals, cell phone, walkies, and so forth? Does the EMF sensor being used eliminate those potential sources? Remember, they are near an operating hotel; there are plenty of guests using common RF devices not so far away.

    The problem with the therma-sound device is pretty much the same problem that one encounters with the FLIR thermal cameras. As they explain in the episode, the equipment only registers solid objects. And sonar works by reflecting off solid objects; it's a rather well-understood principle. So cold spots and ephemeral spirits would not be "captured" by such a device. I would expect someone with Bill Chappell's apparent credentials to understand this. I suspect he does.

    But why focus so much on Chappell in this review? It's because Zak and his team are not scientists. They rely on people like Chappell to be honest about the science. And by extension, those in the audience who don't know the technology and scientific principles rely on them as well. So when these scientists come up with devices that don't really work they why they pretend they work, and then they sell it for outrageous prices on the internet, it hurts legitimate investigators who have to waste time explaining to clients that they spent hundreds of dollars on a glorified paperweight.

    As always, I would be happy to hear whatever explanations might be offered by Chappell for the inconsistencies between the capabilities of the equipment and what is being claimed in the episode. If a solid scientific rationale can be offered, then I would be happy to retract my criticisms and post those explanations for anyone who might want to read them. There's no doubt I'm interested in any scientific approach and instrumentation that has actual value to detect and study these unexplained events. But as a scientist, I demand that the technology be used correctly, and that the data be interpreted and presented correctly. Anything less is an insult to those with honest and sincere scientific goals.

    As far as the investigation as a whole is concerned, I will also point out that the bulk of the time was spent in a building that was, by everyone's admission, never investigated before and off limits to pretty much everyone else thus far. In other words, there's no way to replicate the results. Unless, by some chance, that building is suddenly and coincidentally available for future ghost hunt conferences.moreless
Bill Chappell

Bill Chappell

GAC Scientist & Electrical Engineer

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Zak: (standing outside the hotel) You can feel the living coexisting with the other side. My room is over in that corner. The second I got my key in and shut the door, I pretty much said, 'All right, listen. I'm going to have to get naked a couple times to take a shower, sometimes in the middle of the night I get up to get water, and I can't guarantee that I'll be wearing everything...'

    • Zak: (believing a spirit is in his room) Shut that door.
      EVP: Somebody's coming.

    • Aaron: (staying in the room where a ghost once kissed a woman on the forehead) If there's a cowboy man kissing me, I'm out!

    • Zak: (saying he could feel the spirits at the Stanley right away) As soon as I started walking down the hallways, I started with immediately picking up on feeling different people checking me out, and it wasn't too welcome! I don't know if maybe that's me...
      Madame Vera: Well, you have a strong presence, too. I feel that when I first saw you.
      Zak: Do you think that we're going to attract darker...?
      Madame Vera: You will attract what you are looking for. You're looking for that, so you're on a hunt for that.

  • NOTES (1)