Purported psychics meet with continual failure when tested under controlled conditions or when asked to demonstrate their ability in the presence of someone who knows their tricks like James Randi or Susan Gerbic. Some genuinely believe it, which are the types that lend themselves to these tests. Meanwhile, the charlatans know to stay away from skeptics and prefer to ply their trade in the presence of grieving family members.
Then we have aliens, which are cool and exciting, but which are seemingly restricted by distance or which require the granting of super-advanced technology to an unknown species without evidence this has occurred.
Then there are crypto critters, also an intriguing idea and which requires no wormholes or triple warp speed travel. Zoologists discover species all the time, right? Sure, but assuming the existence of a new terrestrial creature of significant size necessitates that all such representatives escape capture, hunters, cars, and steady cameras for decades.
But what about ghostly apparitions, which are confined to a time and place? McGill University professor Jonathan Jarry looked into this with the skeptic community’s leading ghost expert, Kenny Biddle, and reported his findings. Biddle was once a believer but he used ghost-speak as a prank during a hunt and this ended up being reported by credulous attendees as the real deal. When Biddle revealed the ruse, they refused to believe it.
Jarry notes that ghost hunters have adapted for the time and “have traded the embroideries and candlesticks of the Victorian era for” whirring, whizzing electronic gizmos.
For example, most bring a electromagnetic field (EMF) meter to the hunts. Whenever the device is triggered, ghost hunters count this as a spooky score, ignoring or being unaware that the device merely picks up EMF activity, with there being no reason to think disembodied spirits are communicating via this spectrum.
Jarry explained, “In a world ever more reliant on electricity, we are surrounded by electromagnetic fields and it is the duty of ghost hunters to rule out normal explanations for their readings. But in Biddle’s experience, they typically do a very cursory look around to rule out anything obvious before concluding that it could be ghosts.”
Flashlights are also used, the purported idea being that the ghosts will communicate to “yes” or “no” questions by flicking on and off. While this sometimes works in the sense that the light comes on, it has nothing to do with a Medieval knight or a 19th Century Baltimore aristocrat contacting us from the nether realm. Rather, Jarry writes, it is merely heat science at work. And even then, it has to be a Maglite sporting a xenon bulb. Additionally, it must be a screw-on model turned to where it is almost on. A vibration can set it off, and if that fails, Jarry writes that “the light will cycle through its on and off states if its head remains on the cusp of its on position. The plastic lens in front of the bulb heats up by 13 degrees Celsius when the bulb is on. This causes the plastic to expand, which results in the flashlight head turning by 2.6 degrees, which puts pressure on the metal spring at the bottom of the lamp, resulting in the electrical contact being broken. The bulb goes off.”
Now let’s move from the visual to the auditory. For this we have a spirit box, whose ostensible purpose is to capture ghost speak. Like an EMF meter, it uses scientifically sound principles incorrectly. It scans radio frequencies but does not stop when it picks up a signal. The ghost hunter will ask a question and listen for white noise and passes off any seeming hits as spirit communication.
Jarry also notes the REM Pod, SLS camera, and the Ovilus (a monitor with antennas) are also used to seek ghosts, but again are being misused and apparent successes are just the devices acting as they would without an associated poltergeist present. Having primed the audience, and combined with humans’ desire to find patterns, these noises appear to be working.
In conclusion, the notion of ghosts accessing and utilizing electromagnetic field is supported by so studies or sound evidence. The devices are working by picking up and sending off signals but there is nothing to suggest the animated deceased are responsible. And while the devices are modern, the ghost hunting method of talking to the dead without ever hearing back, and still claiming success, is the way the field has always operated, and this stagnation is a pseudoscience hallmark.