One of my biggest pet peeves lately is when the media (or even ghost hunting groups) claim that any devices used in paranormal investigations are “ghost-detecting equipment.” It just furthers the myth that anything caught with these devices is automatically a ghost, and prevents people from thinking more critically and searching for rational explanations first. I came across this article today, which features some amateur ghost hunters (“amateur” is even in their group name) and it is quite apparent that either these guys or the author of the article thinks that this equipment can find ghosts.
Matthew Zyderveld, core member of newly minted Brisbane Amateur Paranormal Investigators, began researching ghost-detecting gadgets after reality TV rekindled his interest in the supernatural.
“I started looking around online to see how much equipment was, and I realised ‘Hey, it’s cheap. I can afford this’,” he told the Courier-Mail.
The basic equipment the group uses on a ghost hunt includes an electromagnetic field meter – available for around $60 online – a voice recorder, an infrared thermometer to check for temperature fluctuations, a digital camera and a 99c smartphone app that claims to translate supernatural communication into English.
Mr Zyderveld and fellow investigator Andrew Small have already used their equipment to investigate two supposedly haunted locations in Brisbane including historic Wolston House, an 1852 National Trust homestead with a reputation as a haunt for troubled souls.
They said their investigations left them convinced their equipment was picking up evidence of supernatural activity, including communication from another realm.
“People can be sceptics until they actually go in and get some kind of results,” Mr Zyderveld said.
“I don’t fully understand how death and what happens after death works, but I have no doubt the devices do pick up some kind of responses.”
Other paranormal investigation groups using similar technology have been springing up in Queensland and around Australia, using social media to share resources and information.
Brisbane Ghost Tours operator and author of Haunted Brisbane Jack Sim said more people were becoming interested in the supernatural and he regularly saw amateur ghost hunters out in the city’s spooky nooks and crannies.
He cautioned against wannabe paranormal sleuths relying solely on gadgets to detect the departed.
“They’re really useful tools and a lot of fun and they may well lead to some big breakthrough one day but to my mind you’ve really got to begin with, ‘Is there a history of a joint being haunted?’ ” he said.
“To my mind, if you combine a bit of scientific equipment with some good history, you might be onto something.”
But University of Queensland Associate Professor of Philosophy and paranormal sceptic William Grey said anecdotal evidence should be scrutinised carefully.
There was no scientific basis for believing modern technology could detect paranormal activity, he said.
“I don’t dispute for a moment that this equipment will detect electromagnetic fields,” he said.
“What I find extraordinarily dubious is the suggestion that these technological devices can be used for detecting a ghostly presence.”
Ok, first off…there is no smartphone app you can download that will actually let you communicate with ghosts. If you believe that it can, I have a bridge that I can sell you, for a very good price. We don’t know yet how to communicate with ghosts, and anything we do in this field is an educated guess, at best. So to think that someone came up with an app that can convert your phone into a ghost communicator, and is only selling it for 99 cents, is just ridiculous. I sort of understand the theory behind it, but any knowledgeable investigator knows that using a phone on an investigation can wreak all sorts of havoc with the rest of your equipment. Bad idea. But I am glad to see that professor William Grey chimed in on this. As he said, these devices, such as an EMF detector or K-II meter, merely search for electro-magnetic fields. Not ghosts. The theory is that ghosts may use EMFs in order to manifest, and if a high EMF reading is found where there shouldn’t be one, than that is a bit outside of the norm (or paranormal, if you will). But that doesn’t mean it’s a ghost. It is completely irresponsible for these people to go out, form a team, and conduct investigations when they have no idea of how to use their equipment and what their findings might mean.