Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is the USS Salem Haunted?

Word is that the Cold War era vessel USS Salem is haunted. Strange noises are heard echoing through the cavernous metal halls. Deck hatches bang open and shut. But the clincher, apparently, has been the multiple sightings of a ghost-like figure working away at the machinery on the ship's bow.

Mass Paranormal of Quincy is on the case:

Armed with infrared cameras and parabolic microphones, Mass Paranormal scoured the decks of the 718-foot vessel in July. The Salem never fired its guns in combat but was a symbol of America's power in the 1950s.

"The first 30 seconds on the recorder we heard a woman telling us to 'get out' three times," said Tom Ventosi, co-founder and vice president of the Quincy paranormal group. There were additional "appearances," but the team doesn't want to ruin the surprise.

I was initially quite intrigued by this story. Then I saw this part of the whole deal:

The team is planning an all-night investigation aboard the ship on Aug. 23, and it is inviting others to experience the spooky happenings with their own eyes and ears.

Mass Paranormal and the Salem are charging $85 per person for the experience, which will feature an appearance by Shannon Sylvia from the Sci-Fi Channel show "Ghost Hunters International."

Sigh. Charging admission and getting TV exposure (before you prove anything) are not hallmarks of a serious investigative effort. I mean come on, guys. I'm not saying that making a little dough and getting some publicity automatically equals a con, but it's just the kind of Barnum and Bailey hucksterism that gives ghost hunting a bad name - continuing to make it harder for those of us who endeavor to approach the field as actual science gain credibility.

Way to go.

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