GHI Gets Controversial

Got around to watching the controversial GHI episode a bit earlier tonight, and despite the late hour, felt the need to chime in.

If you didn’t see the episode, the team went to investigate some Mayan ruins in Belize. Due to reports of activity escalating after a bloodletting ritual (the site was a place of ancient human sacrifice thousands of years prior), the team decided to repeat the ritual to see if that activity would increase the way it did in the reports. The ritual involved cutting the volunteer, Susan, with an obsidian blade on her forearm to draw a bit of blood that was then mixed in an incense bowl and lit aflame.

When the episode aired, Twitter blew up. Concerned parents expressed their distaste, Kris Williams spoke out about her thoughts and people supported and rebutted and the team seemed divided and general drama ran downhill.

But it’s never so simple. Here’s my breakdown on what needs to be considered:

Cultural Differences.

This is an international team of Ghost Hunters studying different cultures, ancient history, and various supernatural occurrences.

We in the West have this inherent popular notion that we know better, that our science is more accurate, and that other cultural customs are barbaric and uncivilized, by our own lenses and standards in how we view the world. (It’s this kind of thinking, I might add, that leads to the eradication of culture in western colonialization of such continents as Africa and Australia and the Americas.) But there’s more than one way to make an omelette. And some seem pretty strange to us, yet may well be no less valid.

We cannot call unfamiliar thinking ridiculous or inappropriate simply because we do not understand it.

So when you take a team of western investigators and look into different cultural traditions and beliefs, we have to considers them as valid as our own. We have to consider that indeed, we may well (in fact, do not at all) know everything. (In fact, what we know as science will be turned on its head in another hundred to five hundred years. Already Newtonian mechanics and Euclidian geometry have been radically modified by the work of mathematicians like Albert Einstein).

The team even stated that they intended to compare the different ways, the modern versus the more ancient, and see which got more activity. This is the work that needs to be done, especially as it applies abroad.

We also have to consider the efforts of teams to recreate circumstances of eyewitness experiences. Where the event happened, what time of day, who was present, what was happening. Here, a ritual was taking place that might well have drawn the activity, if it’s harmless, why not recreate it?

Which leads to my next point,

Was it harmless? 

Physically, for Susan, it was only a small cut. They weren’t sacrificing the poor girl.

Is conducting cultural occult rituals that we don’t know much about possibly dangerous? Quite likely. But such is the risk you run not only as an international investigator, but a ghost hunter in general. You are absorbed in a world quite possibly very dangerous to yourself and your family. This fact has been exploited by many shows and popular representations of the field, but just the same, taking personal protective precautions are always important, and mindset and intention are key when exploring unknown territory.

And I happen to know personally that Barry is a very aware and safe investigator when it comes to darker forces in the field, and is someone I feel very comfortable with standing over my shoulder.

But what about the children? 

Many parents expressed objections that such a ritual was shown on a family television show. Also valid.

Teenagers are likely enough to hurt themselves, one twitterer said, why give them another reason?

The sorry fact of teenagers hurting themselves these days has little to do with the occult and more to do with acceptance, community, self-image, respect, and mental disorder. Watching a ritual for bloodletting on GHI won’t effect that.

If your children now decide to hurt themselves to call upon spirits, well, that’s certainly very dangerous and likely situationally inappropriate. But this is really not so different from any other part of a ghost hunting program. Controversial techniques are often used. Provoking being one of them. Opening one’s self up to possession or other various forms of witchcraft or occult methods that might make appearances can lead to harmful consequences.

The consequences that come from (your children, or even you yourself) doing these actions at home (or anywhere else for that matter that is not safe), come not from the awareness of these actions happening on their television sets, but from the misunderstanding of their purpose.

If your children watch this episode and think that cutting themselves is a great way to contact their great uncle, then they probably shouldn’t be watching the show in the first place.

But harming yourself is stupid.

Indeed it can be. Blood is gross and makes many people very uncomfortable, and if they want nothing to do with being a part of, or being around, such a ritual, that’s of course fine.

But that’s a big difference from objecting to it on principle. The principle of it is a very layered debate that can take a deeper form in any of the categories I listed above.

I beg you think though, that if it’s only the fact of a bit of blood for an otherwise good cause (granted, debatable on the spiritual safety, yes), then what’s so bad about that? We give blood by day in the west to save people after various tragedies and accidents. If you’re not into blood, fine, but don’t condemn the act.

Because then people get upset

If people want to express their opinion over it all on twitter or facebook, that’s also fine. It’s just a shame when it gets personal and people feel attacked or thrown under busses or whatnot,

but as with everything, there are deeper reasons, deeper considerations begging to be mentioned, and it’s never as simple or as personal as it might look.

But those are just my thoughts.

Think I’m off base on any one of my points? Sound off in the comments down below.

7 thoughts on “GHI Gets Controversial

  1. I think you made the point crystal clear through your thoughts. GHI stands for Ghost Hunters International, not Ghost Hunters In-My-Own-Little-World. Being a ghost hunter is dangerous. Provoking is dangerous. Traveling to see ghosts is dangerous.Going home after investigating is dangerous. And filming these things is really dangerous, because you expose the entire world to this practice. If Kris Williams wants to talk about stupidity, danger, and bad influences, then she should recommend that EVERYONE turn off their TV and throw it out the window. She should NOT be attacking both Susan and Paul for their beliefs and practices. =)

  2. Meggin Lewis says:

    There is something to be said for respect. If a spirit is prancing home with people and terrorizing them, i can see why he would want to take action. Is blood letting and performing rituals to awaken the spirit further a good idea? I wonder what type of research they did on the ritual itself before they decided to perform it and take the chance. I don’t hold it against them, as of course you are right, culturally that is what the spirits may respond to. This leads me back to the sleeping spirits though… perhaps if a spirit is active enough to follow you home, ritually spilling blood in its honor isn’t the best- or most respectful- idea. I can see both sides here, and it really shouldn’t be such a controversial topic. I would just tend to take caution when trying to awaken and royally piss of the spirits of sacrificial mayans. This man might have been happy to perform the ritual but others might think it disrespectful of the dead. I’d be interested to knw what sort of research was done before hand.

  3. Buffy Clary says:

    Everyone with an opinion thinks their opinion is better than other peoples opinion. But, that’s all they are. And, as the saying goes, opinions are like (a certain orifice on the body), everybody has one. As opinions go, we can learn from them. I can understand the disdain as it is pretty taboo in Western culture, as you mentioned. But, I also see why it was done. And, why not? What makes it any different than trying other equipment? Aren’t we in it to learn? There are negative opinions about provoking, as well. But, it’s been shown to work. All in all, as Ghost Hunters INTERNATIONAL, methods used by natives should be considered. And, after reading your blog post, I don’t think it could have been better said. Good job.

  4. Karen says:

    Are u sure you are only in your early 20’s.. u have wisdom beyond your years.

  5. eduardo says:

    So, karl, did kris get upset with paul, scott, barry, susan or joe? Why she was in such a bad mood?

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