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Midyin

Ghost gadgets

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So I was watching ghost adventures and they seem to have taken an idea from on of those Paranormal Activity movies and set up a Connect Scanner as a tool for hunting ghost, but does it really work? Keep in mind any of the "Evidence" they collected could just be faked for the sake of good TV....

Also there's the Spirit box. Another tool that they use A LOT on that show that the "evidence" could very easily be flacked with maybe a walky-talky or just by being a recording..

I'm not asking if You think they are faking the evidence, but what I am asking is what do you think of the science behind these devises? Do you think they work the way the show wants us to believe they do?

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Not familiar with the Connect Scanner, but with the spirit box, I think you have to question anything that picks up a signal given how many random signals are flying around our planet these days. So, yeah, there's science behind it - it picks up signals. But there's no evidence that those signals have anything to do with ghosts and the paranormal.

It's just like EMF. Yes, there are EMF fields and those gadgets can pick them up, but show me the peer-reviewed studies that indicate that EMF has anything at all to do with ghosts.

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I have a spoon that scares away ghosts.

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I have a spoon that scares away ghosts.

Does it work?

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Does it work?

Haven't seen a ghost since.

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Haven't seen a ghost since.

AMAZING!! :D

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So I was watching ghost adventures and they seem to have taken an idea from on of those Paranormal Activity movies and set up a Connect Scanner as a tool for hunting ghost, but does it really work? Keep in mind any of the "Evidence" they collected could just be faked for the sake of good TV....

Also there's the Spirit box. Another tool that they use A LOT on that show that the "evidence" could very easily be flacked with maybe a walky-talky or just by being a recording..

I'm not asking if You think they are faking the evidence, but what I am asking is what do you think of the science behind these devises? Do you think they work the way the show wants us to believe they do?

Ghost hunting gadgets are mostly common electronic devices horribly misused.

Spirit Box (Franks Box?)

This device is nothing more than a radio scanner that sweeps through commercial and civil radio bands returning bits and pieces of speech and noise. The output is basically audio guacamole. Pariedolia kicks in and the "researcher" will hear pretty much anything. Because of the short dwell, these devices are not very useful as radio scanners.

EMF Detectors

These are simple tools used by electricians, technicians, and engineers to detect EM fields around equipment and conductors. They are meant to detect fairly strong fields and are not terribly accurate with the tiny fluctuations of a few milligauss that normally get ghost busters all hot and bothered. Besides that, ghost busters NEVER attempt to control out natural and manmade sources of EMI. There are literally thousands of possible sources that have nothing to do with spirit entities. Despite that fact, every little dip and flicker of the meter is interpreted as paranormal activity.

Digital Voice Recorders

Ghost busters like to use inexpensive handheld recording devices to record voices from the other side. These devices are usually poorly shielded which makes them susceptible to RF ingress. In other words, they act as radio receivers. The circuitry is typically tuned to attenuate the ingress but ghost busters tend to jack the gain when they analyze their collected audio. It is entirely possible to hear fragments of speech in the low level signal but the voices are very likely radio broadcasts. And if that is not bad enough, there is also the CODEC to consider. Because these are digital recorders, the incoming analog signal from the mic has to be converted to a digital signal before it is stored. This requires a sampling rate at a frequency limited by the CPU and the efficiency of the coding algorithm. CPUs powered by a pair of AA cells are generally not going to be very powerful so the coding algorithm will be highly optimized for a fairly narrow audio band. That band is roughly the range of human speech. Sounds at the edges and just outside of the range will tend to be chewed up. There will also be some noticeable artifacts within the optimized range. All of this translates to randomized noise. Whenever there is random noise there is the chance pareidolia will take over and the listener can (and will) hear pretty much anything.

Digital Video Cameras

It's no secret that ghost busters like to make videos in the dark. Most digital video cameras have low light or night modes where they operate in the IR range. Their optical sensors are generally not very accurate in that range nor are the CODECs. DVs are susceptible to the same ingress and CODEC noise that are found in digital audio recordings. Pushing the camera to its physical limits will tend to produce lots of noise and suspicious artifacts.

FLIR Cameras

FLIR cameras were designed to detect large temperature differences in relatively small areas. They are commonly used to map thermal leaks around doors, windows, and industrial equipment. The IR radiating from heat sources like the human body will reflect off of nearby surfaces and depending on the distance and angle will look more or less like a human form. Some ghost busters recognize this and will discount some "evidence" because of it. Good of them really, considering how little evidence they ever collect. The big issue here is that ghosts are said to create cold spots. Why then are the FLIR hits always warm? They are nearly always in the range of human body temp. That is just not consistent with reported observations of lower temperatures.

Digital Thermometers

Many ghost busters use remote digital thermometers as ambient thermometers. What they are really measuring is the temperature of the nearest solid object to the sensor and not the air temp. This explains many of the so called cold spots they detect.

Personal Experiences

This is the catchall for the ghost buster. When the gathered evidence is thin, a generous helping of personal experiences spices things up nicely. I feel cold right now. Something just touched me! I heard a whisper in my ear! I feel sad. Well they should feel sad for attempting to fool people and foster irrational beliefs. Personal experiences are all nonsense and serve no scientific purpose. Not that there was any science here to begin with.

Edited by sinewave
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Very nice post sinewave, I like the last example by far. A majority of the ghost hunting shows try to hinge on the anecdotal more so than their questionable instrumental evidences for a reason. It's easy to debunk the process involved with the equipment they use, but it is impossible to debunk someones conviction. I'm not doubting that many people experience something they truly can not explain. There is just no way to prove or disprove that it is a spirit or ghost or whatever your cultural identity describes such phenomena.

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Very nice post sinewave, I like the last example by far. A majority of the ghost hunting shows try to hinge on the anecdotal more so than their questionable instrumental evidences for a reason. It's easy to debunk the process involved with the equipment they use, but it is impossible to debunk someones conviction. I'm not doubting that many people experience something they truly can not explain. There is just no way to prove or disprove that it is a spirit or ghost or whatever your cultural identity describes such phenomena.

Thanks man! That's my somewhat tongue-in-cheek response to assertions that ghost busters do science. To the uninitiated all of that gadgetry looks pretty impressive but it really isn't. I mean a FLIR costs between 7 and 10K depending on features but a misused tool is worthless in any application. There are other devices like that little gem that spits out random words. Zak Beefcake from Ghost Adventures usually gets a boner over that one but it is every bit as worthless as the other tools I listed.

Edited by sinewave
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Yeah that ghost box doohickey always gives me a laugh. I didn't know screaming obscenities at the spirit world could get a paranormal investigator so much heat! The potential to hoax a reading off that contraption is paramount.

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During one season of Ghost Hunters they played around with using a Geiger Counter. Apparently ghosts are also radioactive.

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Damn if that were the case, it would explain the high cancer rates. We need more Ghost Hunters and Priests to abolish these ghosts!

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