By Christiane Elin
Criteria for a case: compelling evidence, available witness and experiments to replicate the evidence. Once again the Fact or Faked
team, consisting of Team Lead, Ben Hansen, Lead Scientist, Bill Murphy, Journalist, Jael de Pardo, Tech Specialist, Devin Marble Photographer, Lanisha Cole, and Stunt Expert, Austin Porter uncover the truth behind supernatural phenomena caught on video or in photos.
This season, Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files
Team Lead, Ben Hansen, teases that the stereotypical definition of what is paranormal will be expanded upon. Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files
returns on a new night and time on Tuesdays, 9/8c on Syfy beginning on April 17th.
Scifi Vision recently talked to Ben Hansen, Lanisha Cole, and Austin Porter, who shared with us the sometimes physically grueling task of recreating the videos as well as what to look forward to in season three.
Syfy Conference CallFact or Faked
Ben Hansen, Lanisha Cole, and Austin Porter
April 4, 2012
Now that you've been on for three years, do you find that you're getting a lot of videos for your scrutiny to be sent to you, as opposed to when you were on before?BEN HANSEN:
Yes, I would say so. We are connected more on the Twitter and the Facebook scene. I can't speak for these guys, but I get flooded with stuff all the time, and there's actually a few of them that have panned out that have come from me just showing up at conferences and connections like that where we've actually, gone to other countries to do these cases.QUESTION:
What can we expect to see in season three? Is it going to be a little broader than before, or is it going to be focused a little more?BEN HANSEN:
Definitely, yes. We are expanding horizons. One of the things that we are trying this season is to expand kind of the definition of what people think of paranormal, so you'll see a couple cases in there where we're looking at superhuman abilities. You'll look at things that don't fit the maybe stereotypical paranormal. When people think of ghosts or UFOs, we've got some really funky cases that you just can't categorize.LANISHA COLE:
Yes, we definitely do. It's going to be an exciting season to say the least.BEN HANSEN:
And Austin's - it looks like he's got part of a bagel in his mouth. Hold on a second.AUSTIN PORTER:
Yes, so this season is going to be just, chock full, I mean, seriously, of some really cool stuff. I know last year kind of our thing was we're doing bigger tests, explosions. Now we're kind of delving - we're keeping that, but we're kind of delving into some just kind of funky cases, and some things like I said, superhuman abilities and expanding the definition of paranormal.SCIFI VISION:
Throughout the time you guys have been filming, you guys have had updates and given clues on Twitter and Facebook that maybe the team will diverge from its usual format of the two men and one woman on a team. So are some of these rumors true that we'll see Lanisha and Jael work together as well as Devin and Austin?BEN HANSEN:
Well, well, how about we can neither confirm nor deny?SCIFI VISION:
No, I think you could look forward to something like that perhaps. I think you might be in store for a little change-up.LANISHA COLE:
Lots of surprises this season, definitely.SCIFI VISION:
With the prior cases that you guys have worked on, from past seasons one and two, has any more information come to light since this show has aired, since it got out to more people, some of these videos? And are there any cases that you've found out more things and you might have changed your mind, or something became more fake or more fact?BEN HANSEN:
One case in particular you would - everyone talks about the Fresno night crawlers. Everyone wants us to do a follow-up to that case.LANISHA COLE:
It's popular.BEN HANSEN:
It is. We have seen at least two other videos. (Jaime Masson), who's a - the big-time UFO and paranormal guy in Mexico did a whole program based around the night crawlers and kind of our show as a base, but revisiting a case like that, like the videos that have come out for me, there's more anecdotal evidence that the actual videos themselves seem to be copycats, I would say.
So there hasn't been anything that has brought us back to that case in particular. But there are a few cases - I still am in contact with the witnesses, the (David Eckhart) case in Florida where he had the entities entering his bathroom and stuff. I lecture on that case when I travel around the country and still am in contact because he sends me pictures of things that we didn't see online.
So yes, we do keep in contact and do follow-up, but we have as yet had enough new evidence to do a whole new episode on one of those.QUESTION:
Just wanted to find out if this year we'll be seeing any type of new equipment. There always seems to be something new coming out on the market, especially for paranormal investigations these days.BEN HANSEN:
Yes. We have - my goal actually is to introduce something new every single episode. Sometimes we're working with these, labs and developers that we don't get everything every - every episode, but we've got some new ghost hunting equipment. The situation room itself, you'll see probably just from the promo, something that I've been wanting to incorporate since the beginning is a - our kind of touch screen - I want to call it magic wall, but that's what CNN uses.LANISHA COLE:
It's something similar in a smaller scale, which is great because it helps us to be able just to walk up and show each other what we're talking about, enlarge this, move it over here, do things like that. So - and in the field, yes, we're always trying to use new things and you'll see some new technology that we're using on the cryptozoological cases. I don't want to give away specific details of it, but some things that people don't generally use in one field that we're using as crossover technology.QUESTION:
As far as, I mean, the show's very popular now, how do you deal with that aspect of it? I mean, for a lot of you, you just sort of had careers, and now you're kind of in the limelight. It must be a little different for you.LANISHA COLE:
Well, I'm kind of the newbie, so I'm still getting used to it all, but these guys have been doing it for a while now, and they have quite a huge following, and I know, Austin, if you want to...AUSTIN PORTER:
Hey, what's up, guys? As far as how things have changed, I've gotten used to sleeping in a hotel. That's - the pressures you think would come with it are basically I'd say one or two things. One comes from the fans kind of asking questions and wanting to know what's going on, but our fan base is absolutely amazing. If it wasn't for them we wouldn't have this show, and it comes down to it. They're all great people.
And on the second part I would say, before this, you know a lot of us were just ghost hunting for fun, doing paranormal investigations just for fun. But now there's a pretty big responsibility on our heads in order to kind of bring the science up, so like defined fields and (unintelligible) respected to a sense, because of the fact that we are one of the mainstream tunnels for people to actually understand the paranormal world.BEN HANSEN:
I agree with what they're saying. It's strange. It's very strange, because you know most of us really had no TV experience.LANISHA COLE:
Well, aside from me.BEN HANSEN:
I have a little bit, a little bit of television experience, but...BEN HANSEN:
Right. Yes, most of us had not been in this field, and you know what? It honestly - unless I'm at a convention or somewhere where it's expected I'll be there, I don't get much attention from people. And the cool thing is I learn quickly just to avoid the negative, cynical criticisms online, because who wants to read that stuff about you? And the good thing is I don't see that, I don't hear that. Really all we're hearing is just such positive feedback about the show as it goes further along.LANISHA COLE:
Yes, and as we go through airports sometimes we do have people approaching us, that are fans of the show, and everyone's been so successful, and we do have some of the best fans out there.AUSTIN PORTER:
You know I will say, I - it's still kind of confusing when someone walks up for an autograph. You just don't expect it.LANISHA COLE:
It's like, I will always give a picture, a hug, an autograph, whatever, a smile, with them, but I just don't - I still don't understand it. If they were to walk up and be like, hey, can I have $5, now I would still expect that. But the whole autograph thing? That's still weird.BEN HANSEN:
Yes, and the other thing is my entire team, I've known most of them for years and they haven't changed, and that's really important to me...LANISHA COLE:
...because we're the lucky ones here. We're lucky because we're just able to do what we love doing and be on TV. We're no different than other people who dedicate full time to this, and we just have a lot of fun doing it.LANISHA COLE:
I know that a lot of the experiments that you guys do and the recreating has a lot of physical challenges to it, and I know a lot of the time, that's usually what Austin is there for, but I know that there's been some times that you've gotten hurt before. So is there anything happening this new season? Everybody staying healthy?LANISHA COLE:
Well, that's kind of part of the fun, it's fun getting our hands dirty and being able to build things and blow things up. And there's a few accidents here and there, but nothing major.AUSTIN PORTER:
We're all still here. We're all still here. Our hearts are still ticking, and we're still filming, so I guess whatever's happened as we're filming, it hasn't gone too bad.BEN HANSEN:
And I'm looking at Austin right now, and this is not - looking at him, I don't remember him getting this from filming, but he's got kind of a shiner on his eye. I think he's been fighting MMA again.AUSTIN PORTER:
I'll never tell.BEN HANSEN:
As for me, yes, something interesting happened, and I don't want to give away details, but let's just say that the paperwork, worker's comp, said something akin to I was swinging a medieval tool at a minivan.LANISHA COLE:
See, that's how dedicated Ben is to his job. He's willing to get hurt just to prove...BEN HANSEN:
And the medieval weapon, shall we say, bounced off the minivan and struck me in the wrist. So as of yet, we're not sure what's going to happen. I might need some surgery on it, but yes, those things happen. here we go to great lengths. We don't exactly, plan with all of our safety precautions, yet still we're going to be injured, but for the most part we're really safe when we film.LANISHA COLE:
Yes, yes.SCIFI VISION:
I know that a lot of things with technology have changed, and the way that things can be faked or hoaxed, on the same line, do you think that with the next new technology, we're discovering new things, maybe like with the new cameras we can see different spectrums that we weren't able to see before? Do you find that the technology works, both ways when you're doing a recreation?BEN HANSEN:
In what sense do you mean, that it helps and hurts us, or what?SCIFI VISION:
I don't know if it makes it easier or harder, because, I mean, the tech is there that you can easily fake, but then the technology's there that there's more to be discovered now because we have all this technology, so...BEN HANSEN:
I think it's kind of a - it's a two-edged sword. On one side of the spectrum we have especially computer software coming out that's so easily accessible and becoming more user friendly, coming just with standard packages on computers. That is creating the inevitable of people wanting to kind of hoax videos.
So that in a sense will hinder us slightly, because there's more fake videos coming at us, but also give us the ability to view more videos, which is a positive. As far as replicating the video goes, I don't think it hinders or helps either way because we try to use the exact same camera and the same technology in that sense, so that - it kind of is an even wash.
But I would say it helps - the more the technology advances, it helps us to possibly capture evidence of paranormal activity, because of right now, when it comes down to it, the equipment we have is great, but it's not 100% flawless.
we have to use multiple pieces of equipment in hopes to capture a similar anomaly at the same time with different pieces of equipment in order to kind of correlate data and say, yes, at this point something paranormal was going on. So the more technology advances, I'd say it'll only help us.SCIFI VISION:
I wanted to congratulate you guys on Season Three. You guys I know are very hard at work at it for a while now, and I watched the first episode last night, and it's really good. And it was actually sort of torturous to watch at some points, so...BEN HANSEN:
In a good way, because what you guys had to go through for experiments to be...BEN HANSEN:
Got you.SCIFI VISION:
...it was tough to watch because I can't imagine doing that myself, so.BEN HANSEN:
Thanks for clarifying. Actually that reminds me, there was another - I had another injury on that episode that - the opening episode, yes, that happened to me.AUSTIN PORTER:
Yes, that was - I can't spoil it, but I will say it was rather bone-chilling.SCIFI VISION:
Yes. And I did want to point out that the ladies for this premiere episode are going to be happy, because Ben gets your time in the spotlight, too.LANISHA COLE:
You know what? I think we all kind of get our little - our moment this season. We have some really exciting cases and some of the stuff you guys haven't seen before. Again, we can't give too much away, but I'm definitely looking forward to you guys seeing what we have in store for the new season.QUESTION:
Is there anything you guys aren't open to believe?BEN HANSEN:
There are things that from the beginning of the show starting, that I was more closed to, until I actually saw some evidence and talked to people about and am now more open to. As far as something we're not willing to believe, I think everyone has their own personal belief systems and constructs, but the evidence for me speaks for itself.
For example, if you have something - and I always use this as an example, but like flying humanoids. You have a phenomenon of these humans who are flying around. People are videotaping them, allegedly. Where do you categorize that? So you could either choose to say it doesn't exist, or you could choose to say this phenomenon is real.
What it is, we're not exactly sure. And I think that's where most of us are, because if we see videos of some type of anomaly over and over and over and other evidence of it, you can't ignore that something's going on. Where the belief comes in, is, well, what is it?LANISHA COLE:
Yes. I think for what we do, we definitely have to be open to all possibilities, and our job is to go in there and find the truth behind some of these occurrences. And you have to be open to do that. We want to do the best job that we possibly can, and the only way of doing that is by just really being open to all possibilities and diving in.AUSTIN PORTER:
I think for me it was kind of the opposite. Before the show started, I was more just open to anything, because there was no pressure of being right or wrong. You just kind of go out and do an investigation, kind of want to just get lost, and have the excitement of it to an extent.
But now the scrutiny - public scrutiny of saying, hey, you need to be truthful to the field and actually provide real data and evidence, I have to come at it with more of a skeptic approach, more of I'd say, maybe more bias, but I'd say more to the skeptic. I can't just say everything's real until you actually go in and prove it yourself. So with that said, I would say it was the opposite of Ben.QUESTION:
What do you think people watching are more skeptical about?BEN HANSEN:
You mean which type of phenomenon?QUESTION:
Well, no. like they do surveys on this type of thing, CNN, Roper polls and if you look at those, I believe - I could be wrong, because I don't have them in front of me, but it seems that most people - they're - it's pretty much even as far as how many believe in ghosts and how many believe in UFOs and things.
I have found it interesting, though, in my personal experience in talking with people that a lot more people seem to be - well, not a lot more, but a significant number seem to be uncomfortable with the UFO subject, because - and I don't know why, but maybe it's one thing to believe that there's life after death and there's spirits. It's another thing to believe that we're being visited from another world with - by possible entities that don't look like us.
And even though they might believe in the possibility, they don't really want to think much about it, some people. But the cryptozoology, the Bigfoot, all of the phenomena seems to hit pretty well with people. It's just a matter of - yes, I don't know. Have you found that there's one that people don't believe in more than another? I guess I'm interviewing you, now, Guillermo.QUESTION:
I guess probably sometimes the movies and the TV shows may not help with some of the phenomenon. I don't know. Now some (unintelligible) vampires and stuff. Maybe we fantasize a lot about those kinds of phenomenons, and I don't know when to draw the line from truth to science fiction.BEN HANSEN:
I would agree with you there. The media popularizes many different aspects of it, and it's kind of this circular thing. like are we being - sighting and new occurrences, is that being influenced by the media or is the media influencing the other way around? And as far as vampires go, even things like that does have a legendary basis.
Whether they're actual, people that live - immortals, sucking blood, is another thing, but most of these phenomena, whether they're, based in concrete evidence or they're based on legend, there is some truth to it.AUSTIN PORTER:
I think for me it's two parts. One, I think the more popular the legend or the myth as far as being around a lot longer and more people knowing about it, the easier it is for people to accept it. Myths or legends that are maybe not very well known are a little bit harder for people to kind of put their hands on because they're not so familiar with it.
And on top of that, if you kind of dissect it down a little bit, and take as Ben said, UFOs for example, if you were to ask most people about UFOs as far as an idea base, I would say the majority of people, very high over 50%, would say yes, they believe in the idea of there being - of us not being alone.
Now if you break down and say a specific event, and you talk about a specific sighting, people are more likely to be skeptic in that sense. So specific sightings and events, more skepticism. Ideas, I'd say more believers.QUESTION:
What's episode do you think fans will enjoy most from this upcoming season?BEN HANSEN:
Episode one through twelve of this season. I don't know, because the ones that are my favorites, I have different favorites for different reasons. I - personally, there's one that is in the UK in England that I know because I've lectured a little bit about it, and there's one other in Florida where we captured some great actual UFO evidence ourselves.
So that one and the one in England where we have a woman who allegedly on film disappears from her bed. Those two cases I think are going to generate a lot of buzz, especially just because of what I've heard people talk about it already.AUSTIN PORTER:
I think it's a hard question to answer, because one of the great things about the show is that we cover so many different fields of paranormal activity. And it's cryptic, ghosts, UFOs, going into all different spectrums. Of that, it's hard to really limit it down to say what's going to be the favorite, because depending on whatever you like, I feel like we have some niche that is in a show that you're going to love.