Everyone knows the Super Deluxe Wobble-Wonder Ghost Detector works!
Look at all the ghost hunters that use it and see amazing results! It's even being used regularly on reality-ish television programs! Just plug it in and it finds the tripherion particles in the atmosphere and everyone KNOWS that a heavy amount of tripherion means ghosts are about!
...so might say a ghost hunter store.
Of course, one might ask a few questions... like why do I know this works? Are there any studies or documents to show these statements to be true that aren't from either reality-ish television programs or ghost hunters who seem to be finding any port in a storm in terms of justifying why they feel "X" place they visit must be haunted? What is a tripherion particle and how do we know a deep concentration of them is indicative of ghosts? Again, is there any studies or the like to back this up?
The answer to the above, of course, is there is no such thing as the Wobble-Wonder Ghost Detector (either super or regular models), there are not studies that show anything (even if a ghost teevee show uses it,) and I made up tripherion particles while writing this article... they don't exist.
...but what about EM meters?
Various audio recording devices?
Do they work?
Well, according to ghost hunting stores and many "ghost hunters", amazingly well!
Obviously so, because this must be why ghosts are an absolute proven thing without a shadow of a doubt to everyone and RIGHT now, ghostilogical boards and committees forming at every university!
Oh, wait... that's not happening...
Why is that?
...because in order to make ghostly phenomena an empirical fact and study (outside of psychology and parapsychology,) you'd need to substantiate the existence of these events. Simply be able to capture, measure, quantify, and examine multiple instances of ghostly phenomena in both "natural" and controlled environments with neutral verification from an academic or accredited body.
To date, the total amount of data that has done the above perfectly is... zero.
This does not mean all things ghostly do not exist... it means they have not been empirically proven to exist. Effectively and correctly, this means ghosts might exist, and they may not.
Personally, I think one way or another, the answer will eventually be Yes
, there is some form of measurable phenomena when it comes to things we consider "ghostly"... but that remains a "hope", not a theory, a hypothesis, and especially not a fact... but I believe we will eventually find something to show to the world.
...but this isn't about me... I was egotistical in my last blog entry... this is about ghostly gadgets and what to buy.
It seems many ghost hunters (I don't consider myself one of those really,) in an attempt to capture, measure, quantify, and examine things, fly off to ghost hunting stores, buy the gizmos the "best of the best" are using because they're wonderful and woo-hoo!
Too bad most of them are doing it very wrong.
I'm about to give EACH and EVERY ONE of you reading this some amazing advice... feel free (PLEASE!) to pass it along to others...
If you're intent is to capture, measure, quantify, and examine ghostly phenomena, pinpoint what phenomena you are trying to capture... and then learn the elements therein.
Although this works for pretty much anything, let's work on sound recording as a first example.
A good "ghost hunter" will immediately go out and buy tested, tried, and true recording equipment that's received RAVE reviews from fellow ghost hunters and use it as they've been shown (usually on teevee or through a handful of YouTubes and perhaps a website or two... all of which is otherwise described by many of these ghost hunters as "tonnes of documentation and information"
,) and begin capturing stuff.
...and yet, here's a thought... they don't even really understand how a recording happens in the first place.
Have they taken a few minutes to remind themselves of the basic principals of how sound is made? How it travels? This is important because, no word of a lie, if you don't, you won't understand how a sound wave/vibration makes a mic work and... well... how about that?
Do they understand how the microphone works... I'm not talking about the nuances of a model of microphone or what might have been written about it on the ghost hunter store's website, do they understand recording basics?
I bring this up because before you even contemplate making a recording as data, shouldn't you understand the very basics of how a recording is made?
I suppose you could ask the folks at the ghost hunting store...
...because, as stated, no one has succeeded yet in managing to make ghostly phenomena an "absolute" measurable fact...
...or maybe ask someone who is a "normal" record specialist who is very familiar with general recording...
...or heck, even an audio authority from a normal electronics stuff, because much as we don't have an absolute recording that is inarguably absolutely considered a "ghost" by even 90% of the planet, we have managed to record concerts, music, conversations (normal ones, not "ghostly" ones,) bird song, and many other things and perhaps, just maybe, in learning about the best ways to record those things, you could tailor your equipment and purchases the right stuff to do the job of making a recording properly from an audio engineer's (or even educated enthusiasts,) point of view.
Of course, there is always (instead) meeting the exacting standards of...
...who's happy to sell you... er, help you gather perfect ghostly stuff as PROVEN by ever so many other ghost hunters.
This scenario is unbelievably true for everything.
I've often pointed out that lab thermometers, if looking at a room or space's temperature, are vastly superior to the old (and once preferred by "ghost hunters",) laser and distance IR thermometers... because although the ghost hunting stores loved to crow about them (and had an easy sale as they look like Star Trek phasers and who DOESN'T like playing "I'm Not The Red Shirt on the Away Team"
!) they weren't built to be absolutely accurate. They were built to take a series of measurements of hard-to-reach areas at a distance (like the top of an electrical pole as an example,) and then the user extrapolate an average temperature. Most of them also require a hard (or at least existing) surface to read the temperature from... in other words, it's not telling you the temperature of the air in a room, but the temperature of the surface of the wall it's aiming at.
You should ask me right now, if I didn't learn this information from a ghost hunter's store, where did I learn this?
In 1998, I went to purchase a laser thermometer at a science shop. (There was no online "ghost hunter" stores back then and no bricks-and-mortar options either,) and I asked the guy at the counter about them. He asked me a question that, as a computer technician, I'd ask 99% of the people that have come to me asking me for a computer... "What are you going to use that for?"
Now, I'm going to admit something that I can already hear the shout going up from some quarters... WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL HIM YOU WERE GOING TO BLAST GHOSTS WITH THE LASER THERMOMETER!?!?! ARE YOU ASHAMED!?! CHICKEN!?! WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM!?!?!?!?
First of all, I did tell him the truth... I said I wanted to take the ambient air temperature of a room and monitor it for potentially quick variations.
Secondly, had I told him what I was going to do with this with a full explanation, as it was NOT a ghost hunting store, there was the chance he would not have taken me seriously and kinda blown me off happily selling me what I wanted as opposed to what I needed... Sorry to say, probably 4 out of 10 people on the planet still are affected by the giggle factor with these studies and see it as a bit of a joke... and YES, you can thank things like Scooby Doo and the like, but bumbling idiots on teevee trying to give the audience a cheap scare and overusing the words, "What the hell was that?"
have a LOT to do with this now-a-days.
That salesperson took the time to explain the various options I had, and sold me the best item... not for "ghost hunting", but information gathering in general.
Let's face it, the ghost hunting stores are THRILLED to sell expensive toys of dubious quality (in terms of effectiveness,) because they make money ONLY from happy ghost hunters... and PLEASE be honest with yourself, most of them are happy with what they want, especially the latter day paracelebrity cosplayers ("costume players"... click here
for information on them...) and thrill seekers, and not what someone who is serious in trying to find legitimate data needs if they're in the field...
A science store makes money from effective equipment in general use. People will only be return customers if they get what they need that's effective, not what they want.
Before closing down, let's look at something that of late has reared it's ugly head again... and that's misconceptions about photography.
Can you take a photographic image with no light source?
No. Even "night vision" uses IR emitters which is a type of light. Basically, if the IR emitter and filter of a night vision camera or gizmo can "see" it, turn on a white light (normal light) and you'll see it to. It's not magic.
You can see something because the light of whatever flavour is either reflected from an object (think white paper) or slightly reflected or refracted from it (think those prisms you played with in school that made rainbows) or absorbed by it (black stuff)... Shadows are cast because something solid which breaks the rays of light (of any sort) are stopped by something solid... no light on something, you can't see it...
This is true for any camera.
, I hear some cry, "Orbs! I can't see orbs! Sure, I accept they might be airborne particles, but I don't see them... my lens and camera does though!"
Well, have you ever watched dust float around in a sunbeam? Orbs.
Your optic nerve is a real interesting thing... Have you noticed if you focus on something far away, in your peripheral (or "side" vision) things go out of focus? If you focus on one thing, the others, by the necessity of the design of your eyes, will go out of focus... the lens of your eye is pretty specialised to pay attention only to what your brain tells it to... just google "optical illusions" or "slight of hand" if you doubt this.
The particles caught by your camera that make orbs are close to the lens and flash... the flash illuminates the dust, the dust reflects the light, the camera catches the light (like a "sparkly" thing... though any reflective colour or surface will do,) and shows a ball of light but it's focusing on the main item in the frame of the picture... be that a person, chair, wall, whatever... so you see a "glowing ball" (which, like that prism effect, can be of any colour, shade, or brightness because of how the light plays on it and what it's made up of and it's surface,) and the main item in the photo's frame... because the flash is a "sudden" sunbeam... and the camera is like your eye, staring into the sunbeam for only a millisecond or so. Imagine the sunbeam and dust standing still... and being right up next to it with your face...
So, again, a basic understanding of how light works, how we see things, and how a camera works could save a lot of trouble... and this is information you will only learn at school, through a photographer (not a ghost photographer, but a normal photographer who spends time doing way more things that are "absolute" with cameras than a ghost photographer,) potentially through books, or through someone familiar with optometry or ophthalmology. This said, even a trained sales person at a camera store could tell you the most important things and how to take good photos in various situations.
A good photographic salesperson will sell and tell you what you need because they know cameras.
A ghost hunting store is more likely to sell you what you "want" because they sell generic merchandise and a "lifestyle".
Now, this has been a lengthy article, but I hope the point is made... which is (oddly enough) NOT that ghost hunting stores are bad or wrong... they can be... most of the ones we've seen aren't too wahoo... but to suggest something more important.
If you want to do things properly and get data that's acceptable to pretty much most folks, ghostly or not... and it's the "or not"s that are the important ones for the advancement of this study...
Figure out what you're looking for and why.
Figure out what that thing is in a "non-ghostly" sense by reading about it in general. (Sound? Visual? Tactile? Anything else?)
Ask knowledgeable people that are not swerving towards a particular belief or hypothesis, but being honest about what things are and in terms of equipment, what an items capabilities and uses in the "normal" (as opposed to "paranormal") world would be.
Become your own authority based on what you've learned and show us NOT ONLY what you're doing and what you've found, but WHY you're doing it...
Be open to constructive criticism... which doesn't only mean kudos or suggestions of a really shallow level, but people that MIGHT have some knowledge that are pointing out flaws perhaps in your entire collection process.
If someone is critical, make them prove their points with something more than they're own "gut" or a reality-ish television program as their citation. They might be right and if so, you can adjust your methods and thoughts, but if they're wrong, don't change to make them happy.... just be honest if it's a good point that's made.
Let all of us know how things are working out... Successful or not successful, all the data is important... and NO ONE should come down on you if you find that something really doesn't work. That information could help lead someone to save time and money and they would have you to thank... and if it is working, perhaps we should all be looking into what you're up to. The more data and sources, the better for everyone! (We will cite you, I promise!)
All of this out of the way, allow me to point out something that's oft said by many... including myself...
The best tools for an investigation are pen and paper... ears, eyes, and a brain capable of critical thinking.
"Ghostly" iPhone apps, gizmos with LED lights that go "ping", and night vision nose cameras that detect EM frequencies and count the number of times someone says, "What the hell was that?"
are, to date, not all that effective as far as we know... even when they're used by a paracelebrity or two on a teevee show or recommended by professional ghost hunters online.
about gadgetry and gizmos with an emphasis on EM meters...