Ghost Hunters

Season 4 Episode 4

The Fear Cage

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Mar 26, 2008 on Syfy
out of 10
User Rating
31 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Fear Cage

The team travels to Pennsylvania to investigate the Cashtown Inn, a bed & breakfast that was a military headquarters during the Civil War.

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  • More controversial evidence produces a fun episode

    According to the rumor mill during the time this episode was filmed, the original intention was to investigate Gettysburg itself. Issues with the organization in charge of the park site prevented that from happening, so the Cashtown Inn was their fallback position. Frankly, I'm more pleased with the indoors location, because all the usual investigative issues are amplified and expanded in the great outdoors.

    I like it when the team brings up the effects of high EMF on human psychology. That segment of the episode was probably the best debunking material in some time. I've known professionals who suffered horribly from sitting in offices with sources of high EMF blanketing the walls, and the effects can be fairly horrific over time. It can cause visual and auditory hallucinations, and it can distort perception. I found Kris' reaction to be consistent with personal experience.

    There will likely be criticism of TAPS' theory that high EMF can also foster paranormal activity, but it's hardly a new concept. There are correlations between high or unexpected EMF and reported paranormal activity, it's been a focus of study for research, and since Jason and Grant have made it clear that they subscribe to those theories, they would naturally raise the possibility. All things being equal, it has yet to be proven, but even natural or man-made electromagnetic properties and effects can explain a number of anecdotal reports.

    I was pleased to see them debunk the television incidents for that very reason. It was also somewhat revealing. Steve wasn't sure what to make of it, and it didn't seem like Jason or Grant had any other clue about why the television would turn itself on. Dave did a nice job of looking into the more obvious reasons why the television would turn on and off, but his eventual realization was happenstance. Had Paula or someone with equal technical skill been on the team, would that unusual but explainable electromagnetic effect have been missed for so long?

    In terms of the evidence, I was less than impressed with the EVP. Frankly, I think it was a huge stretch of their imagination, because the same exact sound could be attributed to clothes rustling from simple movement. I think the client had it right when he said it sounded more like a breath or a hiss than a word. It was also buried deeply in the background, which makes it less discernable and easier to dismiss.

    I'm a bit more intrigued by the footsteps. Critics might say it sounds like someone out of view in the next room, clomping along in boots, but this is one of those instances where I've encountered similar "evidence" in other locations. It's hardly definitive, but it's typically worth a closer look, especially when the source is hard or impossible o determine and it matches the anecdotal reports.

    Most of the attention (and skepticism) will be focused on the moving picture frame. Let me begin by noting that I could predict the inevitable accusations as soon as the footage hit the air in last week's promo. The footage in the episode will do nothing to change the initial impressions of the naysayers. They will point out that this is yet again footage taken in Grant's room, on one handheld camera from one angle, and that the object appears to be moving as if a thread, string, or fishing line, situated perfectly to use the weight of the object to produce a pivot point. After all, the object appears to move as if force by tension is applied to one consistent point on the object. Still others will note that, psychologically speaking, discussing the chair beforehand makes it more believable when a nearby, seemingly unrelated object moves instead.

    At the same time (and this is where the critics will doubtless get annoyed with me), I don't see anything obvious in frame to debunk the footage definitively as a hoax. I didn't analyze it to death, but I did rewind it several times and looked closely. Also, I have personally noted objects that have moved in my presence with no immediately reasonable explanation, in far more demonstrative ways. So, in absence of anything truly definitive either way, I can only say that it would need a lot closer study than a single night can provide, while acknowledging that there are aspects that beg questioning.

    One final note: I wanted to make a correction related to the previous review. I was mistaken in describing the science behind the infrared thermometer. I can only assume I was thinking of a different instrument. The IR thermometer works by measuring the emissivity from the surface of solid objects (based on blackbody radiation concepts). As a result, distance from the sensor is very important. In the end, this error does nothing to change the point of the discussion (that the instrument reads surface temperature, not air temperature), and brings up the additional point that it is unreliable for objects far from the sensor itself. So, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

    Temperature had little to do with this episode (beyond Jason and Grant feeling the air over the empty couch cushion), so it doesn't change my impression of it. I thought this was an entertaining episode with plenty of new material to fuel the endless debate between believers and skeptics.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • The investigation of the Cashtown Inn took place on December 17-18, 2007, according to the date embedded in the camera footage.

    • Also Appearing:
      Investigation: Cashtown Inn - Cashtown, Pennsylvania
      Jack Paladino - Owner
      Maria Paladino - Owner
      Anita A. Murphy - Eyewitness

    • The TAPS team members are able to spend the night at The Cashtown Inn, continuing the investigation as they sleep, which is not something they often get to do.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Jason: I've been wanting to go to Gettysburg for a long time. So many people down in that area lost their lives during the Civil War and it's a shame. But you know what, when it comes down to paranormal investigation or checking out a haunting, it's definitely the place to be.

    • Jason: (trying to communicate with Civil War soldiers) We're sorry that the North kicked your butts.

    • Steve: Why are you wearing red earphones?
      Dave: Red's my favorite color.
      Steve: They should be black or navy blue, man colors...
      Dave: I'm not going to listen to this.
      Steve: ...not pink, not magenta.

  • NOTES (0)