Friday, February 12, 2021

#2440: John Zaffis (?)

Haunted Collector is a “documentary series”, at least initially broadcast on Syfy (we don’t know if it is still running and cannot be bothered to check). The show features John Zaffis, his kids and crew members searching for ghosts in buildings people call upon him to investigate, and the point is to find an item in the building that may have some sort of connection to a haunting. Zaffis is, however, a veteran in the field, and has been a paranormal investigator for decades. He has made numerous appearances on shows devoted to the ridiculous and to conspiracy theories, such as Fox News Live, Discovery Channel documentaries and Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures; he has been a frequent guest on Coast to Coast AM, and there is even a documentary film on his work and personal life, John Zaffis: The World Within. He currently runs the Museum of the Paranormal in Stratford, Connecticut, co-hosts the radio show Paranormal Nights, with one Brendan Keenan, and is a frequent guest and co-host on the Beyond Reality Radio program hosted by The Atlantic Paranormal Society’s Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. Zaffis himself is apparently the founder of the Paranormal Research Society of New England, whose website contains numerous tips on gizmos and equipment you need to detect spirits and demons. 

 

Borrowing a trope from religious fundies, creationists and other pseudoscientists, Zaffis claims to have been very skeptical of the existence of ghosts until he met one (other sources state that he became interested in demonology at a young age – his backstory seems rather malleable, and can be tailored to fit any audience). Then he promptly went on to study with his aunt and uncle, the infamous Ed and Lorraine Warren, best known for their impressive ability to milk money out of “The Amityville Horror” hoax. 

 

The premise of the Haunted Collector show (more here) is that the investigators find haunted stuff, which they keep. Yes: John Zaffis travels around and steals valuables from vulnerable people by telling them the items are haunted and need to be placed in his care to prevent them from emitting evil vibrations. The shocking thing is that it is actually perfectly legal. The investigation part consists of Zaffis’s team waving around some electronic tools and convincing homeowners that their homes are infected by ghosts, demons or portals to Hell, whereupon Zaffis enters, selects the valuable item he wants, and claims that it is connected to some kind of tragic event by referring to some hastily googled “research” done in advance by his team. He claims to have over a thousand “haunted” objects taken from people’s homes stored in glass or plastic cases “so the energy can't get out.” Apparently destroying them would reduce their valuerelease the energy” onto the world, which is apparently “very bad”.

 

Diagnosis: Well, we don’t rule out the possibility that Zaffis, at least at some level, believes his own tales. We find it hard to imagine that anyone would think that this is anything but a hoax, however, but then again, Qanon is even bigger, so who knows? 

 

Hat-tip: Rationalwiki

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