Into the Shadows with the Lead Investigator of the Ghost Adventures’ Crew, 2011 (VB Books)
Whether you are a fan of the hit TV series Ghost Adventures, or just learning about it for the first time, this telling autobiography by the show’s creator and star, paranormal investigator, Zak Bagans, is quite a story! His experiences have been frightful, his commitment arduous, and his passion and honestly unflagging. A must-read. Below, is the Foreword to Dark World: Into the Shadows with the Lead Imvestigator of the Ghost Adventures’ Crew, Zak Bagans (with Kelly Criger), VB Books, 2011.
There is arguably no topic in human history that incites as much contemptuous disbelief and passionate dedication as the existence of life after death. As humans, it is our natural instinct to belittle what we don’t understand, and then follow with statements of derision and ridicule. Even mentioning that ghosts might exist can cause instant damnation and persecution among the religiously devoted and staunchly pragmatic, which causes many people who have had a paranormal experience to remain quiet about it. Maybe that’s the greatest achievement of the dead: they’ve convinced the world that they don’t exist, so the majority of us are either disinterested in proving it otherwise or too convinced in our own beliefs to recognize a new viewpoint. Yet most of us are at least curious to know what happens when we die; some may say that information is even a right of humanity, that if another world exists after our physical bodies die, then it’s our right to know about it.
I wrote this book for several reasons. First, I want to take you on my seven-year journey through the world of paranormal investigation from the documentary film in 2004 through the many seasons of Ghost Adventures. I want to tell you about the things that didn’t make it onto the screen and dig deeper into the most significant events that did. We sometimes spend four days filming an episode and have to boil it down into one hour, so there’s always stuff we want to show, but don’t have the time to. And sometimes even the most significant phenomena that we capture have to be covered quickly because of time constraints.
Second, I want to use our adventures to address leading theories on life after death….
…Most paranormal investigators only seek to answer one singular question: Do ghosts exist? This approach is too narrowly focused and too shallow. I believe there needs to be a study on the bigger picture. I don’t claim to be a quantum physicist, but I think some of the leading theories of quantum mechanics can help explain the paranormal in terms of natural physical occurrences. Quantum mechanics suggest the paranormal phenomena that we investigate is not only real, but also can be explained as natural processes of the universe. I think the two fields could mutually support each other, so I will take examples from my investigations and use them to explore the possible explanations.
Third, I want to instruct an interested individual on how to make contact with the other side by conducting a proper paranormal investigation. There are inherent risks and benefits of ghost hunting that need to be understood before buying a boatload of expensive equipment and staking out a cemetery at midnight. I’m not telling you to go out and hunt for ghosts, but if you’re going to, then let me educate you on the process that will give you the best chance for success.
Finally, I want you to experience an investigation through my eyes. I want you to feel what it’s like to be scared, pushed, cold, sluggish, whispered to, creeped out, and touched by an ethereal being or a demonic spirit. It’s not like trying to pinpoint the cause of a knock in your bathroom in the middle of the night. The feeling is oppressive, heavy, sometimes evil, magnetic, and even addictive. I want you to know what your body goes through when the flight instinct tells you to run and the intense emotional struggle you can go through when you try to ignore it. When you’re already amped up, physically and psychologically, simple noises seem much greater than they are. You don’t just hear them—you feel the shockwave from them as well and have to train yourself to deal with them appropriately. It’s a lifestyle that takes years to adjust to and I want to pass on those emotions and experiences.
Are You a Skeptic?
Before we go any further, I would like you to ask yourself this question. Are you going to read the rest of this book with an open mind? Many scientists and skeptics are quick to call researchers in the paranormal field shysters, cheats, and profiteers. While there certainly are those types out there, many of us are legitimately trying to perform research in the same manner as traditional scientists. We seek answers through a scientific process of observation, theory, hypothesis, experimentation, and analysis. Traditional scientists seek answers through the known laws of the universe, while people like me seek the same truths by understanding the unknown phenomena around us. We are very alike in our goals, but approach the question from different ends of the spectrum.
While I don’t pretend to represent the entire field of paranormal research, I want to be an advocate for its advancement, since the burden of proof has always been on our side of the question (which I don’t necessarily agree with). I think it’s unfortunate that skeptics and believers stand on different sides of the issue and point fingers at each other instead of working together to find answers. It’s even more unfortunate that skeptics only scoff at believers instead of offering solutions. The skeptic community doesn’t take the time to develop theories or take action to disprove the existence of spirits. They choose a passive approach of disbelief instead of scientific inquiry, which I would like to see change.
I’ve had many experiences with the afterlife and believe there are forces of nature that we simply do not yet understand. I know that ghosts exist. I know that spirits of the dead roam the physical world. I know that there’s another realm beyond death that cannot be ignored, which is why I’ve dedicated my life to understanding it. The irony is that I was a skeptic myself until a paranormal experience changed my life irrevocably. I have now transformed into a sensitive; a person who is able to detect when spirits are present. It’s a skill that’s evolved over hundreds of paranormal investigations and has taught me that the human body is the best means of paranormal detection. I’ve become a fine-tuned instrument of spiritual sensitivity.
Although I’ve made believers out of many people, by no means do I want a following of sycophants and gullibles; in fact, I respect your right to question everything. There are those who will not believe in the afterlife, no matter what I provide as evidence in these pages or on TV. Those are two-dimensional mediums that cannot convey the senses of touch, taste, or smell and are limited in realistically capturing sights and sounds. That’s why I like to take people on investigations personally to let them feel the forces at work there. Nothing can replace the feeling of actually being there when a spirit makes its presence known.
Many people are taught from an early age that the idea of spirits walking the Earth is impossible, and therefore won’t even entertain the prospect of it, despite the evidence. You might be one of those people; if so, I only ask that you open your mind and realize that there are many forces on Earth that we simply don’t yet understand. I’ll be the first to admit that not all of those forces are paranormal, and could be perfectly explainable by physical and cognitive means. But before you go hiding behind the walls of scientific dogma, let’s remember that science was once convinced that the world was flat and disbelievers were burned at the stake as heretics. Science is continually evolving, and the goal of paranormal investigators should be to augment scientific discovery to better understand the world around us. Scientific researchers readily admit that they only understand about 25 percent of the world around us, and only about 50 percent of the human brain. That leaves a lot to be discovered and explained, including the paranormal.
I’m not writing this book from the standpoint of someone who wants to convince you that the paranormal exists. Instead, I want to present the evidence for you and let you draw your own conclusions. Although I’m a believer in the afterlife, it’s only through hard work and determined investigation that we as a people can endeavor to discover which side of the “do ghosts exist” question is correct. For that reason, I prefer to work with scientists rather than against them. Throughout this book, I will give the skeptics their time on the pulpit to promote their position. After all, that’s only fair.
Here we go.
Zak Bagans, 2011