Don Philips: the desperate ghost hunter

“Even if it’s really quiet, my ears are quite tuned to hearing these guys. We’re actually communicating with them on a device that’s not actually made for communicating with spirits – it’s a digital recorder. The frequency is not perfect but they’re obviously somewhere in that range.”

Don Philips is the founder of the GSI Paranormal team and the above quote is taken from an episode of the television show ‘Man vs. Weird’ in which comedian Simon Farnby travels the world to meet people who claim to have superhuman powers. At the beginning of this particular episode he joins Philips and the GSI Paranormal team on a ghost hunt. A really, really boring ghost hunt… an almost homeopathic version of a crap Most Haunted knock off type ghost hunt…

“We’ll go anywhere, and we’ll usually find something” one of the team members tells the camera, “…even places that haven’t been reported as being haunted, we can usually find something there.” Well, the right crappy techniques and the will to believe anything is evidence will enable you to find ghosts where you want to find them, but that doesn’t do anything to prove a haunting.

Don Philips became involved in paranormal research after he had a scary experience with what he calls “a black mass” in his bedroom when he was seven years old. Some time later he started a paranormal investigation group.

“… straight away I realised I didn’t need any equipment but a digital recorder … they answer any question I ask them. I’ve asked about parallel universes and alternate realities and yes they do exist apparently.

Philips believes that he had the ability to capture the voices of spirits of the deceased on hand held digital recorders and offers these recordings as evidence that the soul survives after death, but in reality his recordings are a poor quality and likely caused by external interference, internal mechanisms (the recordings often sound clunky) and the auto-gain control of the device. He offers these recordings as evidence and calls them Actual Voice Phenomena (AVP), alluding to the idea that they are a class above Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), but they’re not. Those interested can read about what causes EVP recordings here.

In the programme produced for Channel 4 and available to watch on 4OD, Philips leads an investigation at the local council offices in Wigston where staff have reported hearing the sounds of children in what was a nursery, a baby crying near a back staircase, the visual apparition of a grey lady, and the sound of a child falling down a staircase where a boy actually once broke his neck from doing just that.

Philips begins the investigation by scouting the building out. “I’ll have a walk around, see where it feels strongest then invite the spirits to come to me and speak to me.” As he does this, his right hand man Nick Stoppani explains to the camera just how good Don is, saying “I can tell you hand on my heart that Don is the only person I have worked with that, for me, has given me the proof.”

The investigation is, quite frankly, pants. They smell something a bit weird in one room, then in another room Don suddenly proclaims, in that voice ghost hunters use for when they’re standing in dark empty rooms “I’ve got a lady with me now. Sweetheart I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me your name as loudly and clearly as possible, please.”

They get nothing.

Don also does some recording on the staircase where a child died after falling down the stairs, commenting wisely “this is sad just here” as he enters the area. He plays back the recorder and there’s a loud static sound that he swears is a voice saying “Wanker I will kill you!” Stoppani agrees enthusiastically that he has heard it too, but something tells me he’d agree with Don if he claimed he was the Son of God as long as there was a television appearance involved somewhere… then again, I’m a skeptic so I would say that.

There’s a moment where Don starts hyperventilating and coughing. “I just got blasted into next week” he claims, seemingly overwhelmed by… something. “I’ve never seen Don to that extent. Shocked me, shocked me, mate” Stoppani informs the camera man, shaking his head in an attempt to make the viewer understand just how edgy and exciting life with GSI Paranormal really is, but failing.

A little later they hold a seance, Don’s trusted digital recorder is still in his hand as he asks “who is behind me then?”, playing it back shortly later and listening intently, “…all of them” he whispers dramatically, but all that can be heard is a static clunking noise.

Don Philips isn’t the controversial character that some would have you believe.

I mean, yes, technically he threatens to sue people just for criticising him and his team, and yes he and his team mates aggressively harass people who don’t agree with them

..but in reality Don Philips is just a sad product of pop-culture paranormal – a man who talks to the dead and insists that they really, really do talk back even if you can’t hear it. The only controversy that comes with these particular ghost hunters are the awful over-hyped claims they make time after time again as they desperately try to stay relevant in a community where even the most open-minded believers eye them with caution and skepticism.

About Hayley Stevens 420 Articles
Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

17 Comments on Don Philips: the desperate ghost hunter

  1. Don just wants to be a TV STAR! Don has NO interest in trying to understand the phenomena he purports to experience. The correct scientific method is to show by elimination of all other possible causes that the effect you experience/demonstrate is repeatable and genuine.

    Don probably wouldn’t pass GCSE General Science but that should not stop him taking a few simple precautions to show that his “results” are 1) Repeatable and 2) Unexplainable by modern scientific understanding.

    Don claims he has a “spirit guide”, Becky, an idea he probably copied from another well known TV “personality”. If this fantastic connection to the “spirit world” was genuine then you would expect anyone with just a few brain cells to use that source to glean some insight into the “spirit world” …… but sadly Don seems to be incapable of even that! Perhaps Don could enlighten us as to how his “spirit friend”, Becky, manages to travel all over the country with him whilst the other “spirits” he visits in places like houses, museums etc do not travel.

    Dont’ get me wrong I am not dismissing paranormal effects….. I lived for 15 years in a house (interestingly a new build) with an “entity” that scared the shit out of me on a regular basis. At that time in the 1960s, even though I was studying Electronics at university, there were not the devices available to me, and my expertise was not great enough, to do any serious research.

    So, at the risk of boring everyone who has seen them before, I challenge Don to show he is more interest in trying to understand the paranormal than becoming a media star.

    Don, place your digital voice recorders in wire mesh boxes (Faraday Cages) so that you can demonstrate whether the “voices” are being transmitted by air pressure waves or by EM coupling into the circuitry?

    Don, please use two identical recorders to show that both pickup identical messages.

    Don, please explain why you have to have the lights switched off.

    Don, start giving this friend of yours, Becky, a thorough interrogation.

    Don …. stop complaining and threatening your critics with legal action and do just a little bit to prove you are genuine or not.

  2. With all due respect for a fellow paranormal researcher, you are thick, What you’ve sputtered through your pie-hole is so unbelievably stupid as for me to question how you get yourself dressed in the morning. I can’t fathom you being more than, what, 13 years old? For me, after 40 years of paranormal study, inquiry and the witnessing real time oddities, you have no standing to deserve attention by any one of the hundreds of associates I have. I will be forwarding this piece all over the US and Australia. Don Philips has more integrity in his corner than you can even imagine. Do yourself a favor… stop your tabloid style prattle and spend what small piece of your grey matter you have learning, watching, reading, you know..EDUCATION in this field of paranormal investigation and research a bit of what it is to be respected by peers. You haven’t a clue.

  3. Ms Whitehurst …. with absolutely no respect to you at all due to your worthless diatribe [meaning: a forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something] ….. I think your short outburst is exceedingly more deserving of the description “prattle” than anything else I have read this year …. anywhere!

    Let me ask you a few questions Ms Whitehurst which, after 40 years of paranormal study, you should be able to answer to at least some degree. In your opinion, do you think the “voices” Mr Philips purports [meaning: appear to be or do something, especially falsely] are genuinely recorded on the devices [meaning: a thing made or adapted for a particular purpose, especially a piece of mechanical or electronic equipment] that he uses by Sound Waves or by Electromagnetic methods?

    You see, as someone who studied electronics at university [meaning: a high-level educational institution in which students study for degrees and where academic research is done] and then had a career in electronic instrumentation, my first reaction is to enquire [meaning: investigate; look into] how these “recordings” come about. It’s only by proper scientific investigation that we can come to a real understanding of phenomena (in your words “oddities”) like why it rains, why magnets point north, how diseases spread or why Don Philips thinks he records “Spirit Voices”.

    In my opinion there are several ways these “voices” could be being “recorded” and these will be dependant on the type of recorder utilised. Let me list them for your enlightenment [meaning: understanding, education, learning, instruction]

    A) In the case of the now mainly redundant analogue [meaning: using signals represented by a continuously variable voltage] reel-to-reel or cassette type recorder the “voices” could be either genuine representations of air pressure waves at the microphone diaphragm; audio emanating from the mechanisms within such devices or, perhaps, mechanical oscillations of the tape; or electromagnetic coupling to the internal electronics or side-effects of the internal circuitry such as automatic gain control or the bias/erase oscillator circuitry.

    With judicial [meaning: wise, sensible, prudent] experimentation [meaning: perform a scientific procedure to determine something] each one of these possibilities can be eliminated to show what is genuinely and, more important repeatably, causing the – in your words – “oddities”. With suitable methodology we should come down to two possible causes:- 1) The “voices” are due to air pressure waves at the microphone diaphragm OR 2) The “voices” are caused by electromagnetic coupling into the recorders circuitry.

    In the case of the latter we then have to eliminate the possibility of other extraneous [meaning; irrelevant or unrelated to the subject being dealt with] causes such as direct breakthrough from local radio/TV transmitters, other transmitted radio sources, even baby alarms. Or cross-modulation [You can look that one up yourself] of the bias/erase circuitry from such aforementioned sources. Some use of Faraday Cages could be employed to advantage.

    B) In the case of digital voice recorders (which Mr Philips appears to use) only mechanical related and those pertinent [meaning; relevant or applicable to] magnetic tape use can be ignored. Except that the recorders should not be held in anyones hand. Also they should be left to record continuously. Not to do this leaves the effects of power rail surges, reset and timing errors and other possible transient effects open to question. 2) As we now have digital circuitry involved it is necessary to bear in mind how, if at all, “spirits” could be manipulating the binary 0s & 1s of an audio A to D converter or even the 0s & 1s of data on buses or in memory.

    If Mr Philips were to do some proper scientific research he could possibly show that his “spirits” were A) Using sound waves to communicate or B) not using pressure waves and were directly influencing the electronics in his recorders. To date he is either not interested or is incapable of doing even a simple bit of research!

    So, please, Ms Whitehurst with YOUR extensive 40 years experience in the field of paranormal investigation, and the accrued knowledge of your many friends around the world, can you enlighten me as to which method the “spirits” are using to leave messages on Mr Philips recorders? Pressure waves or EM Coupling?

    Further more if Mr Philips “spirits” can genuinely communicate via electronic devices then there are many engineers who would be only too happy to push things along a bit in our understanding of the paranormal so that one day Don, or his successor in 100 years time, will have his friend Becky typing words on a screen …. perhaps even running her own blog on WordPress!

  4. Ms Rebecca Whitehurst, have we not met before? Oh yes, we have, yes I recall everything now. Nothing changed here then with your remarks. 40 years you say? How sad the 40 alleged years has taught you never to ask important questions such as, to whether someone is telling/showing the truth or not.
    You’d think we all would be suffering from mental health issues if we just ignored such claims and believed all one man told us. Just in case you are religious, remember this. Even Jesus had to prove himself!
    Don is no Messiah, not to me anyway!

  5. David C, most EVP are not sonic and recordings must be resorted to. So a Faraday cage should block them unless the gost occupies the room inside the recorder. One kind of “spirit box” receives spread-spectrum statements. This means the EVP are most likely radio waves that skip the drum and couple with the recorder’s audio band tank. Gosts interact in the static limit, radio, far infrared, white, and ultraviolet.

    The ones who don’t leave buildings can be recordings themselves, don’t know they’re dead, or don’t want to leave. A Haunting on the Discovery Channel featured them in homes mostly; they were exacerbated by personalities, remodelling, or confrontation; the solution to get rid of them was usually kemical (sage burning; salt) or threats (prayer) if they were intentional. In Latin these classes of gosts (lemures) were the genii, manes, and lares.

  6. So, alysdexia, you state that “Gosts interact in the static limit, radio, far infrared, white, and ultraviolet.” I think you mean “Ghosts” …. unless you have discovered some other form of paranormal entity.

    As you claim to be knowledgeable on the subject: please can you furnish more detailed information about this “interaction”. Do “Gosts” [sic], in their interaction with this breadth of electromagnetic wavelengths, use amplitude modulation, frequency modulation, frequency shift keying or some other form of imparting information in their desire to communicate with us?

    You see that, in order to reproduce a faithful interpretation of this ‘communication from the spirit world’, it’s necessary to know in what form the information was encoded in the first place.

    You state that … “ One kind of “spirit box” receives spread-spectrum statements.” These, so called, “Spirit Boxes” are nothing more than radio receivers that jump from one frequency to another (hopefully) picking-up odd words from different broadcast radio stations.

    Wow!! So the “spirits” were capable of time division multiplexing and frequency hopping long before someone just came up with an ‘electronic box of tricks’ to detect that phenomena or are “ghosts” just keeping up with our technological advances? So if ghosts are that clever why haven’t any left some SMS (text) messages on my mobile phone ….. or Don Philips’ for that matter?!

    As for the “Gosts” not wanting to enter a Faraday Cage they seem very willing to penetrate the excellent EM screening that is within the recording devices people, like Don Philips, use to ‘record them’. You see, alysdexia, when an electronics engineer designs a piece of equipment it has to pass stringent tests that prove it is capable of functioning in inhospitable environments. These test will include the capability to operate over a certain range of ambient temperatures and more importantly in the presence of electromagnetic radiation (radio waves from LF to microwave frequencies) that it may experience in normal use. If a voice recorder were to pick up radio waves then it would be ’back to the drawing board’!

    There are many tests Don Philips could do to show his ‘recordings’ were ‘genuine. First of all buy two identical voice recorders that have close serial numbers. Clamp, glue or strap them together and have one running continuously whilst the other can be switched on and off. If both recorders produce identical noises then those sounds need to be further investigated. If there is a likelihood of sounds being generated by mechanical vibrations from the hand of Don Philips then an electronic engineer should modify one of the units so that it can be switched on and off by means of an infrared, or similar remote controller.

    Of course, if Mr Philips were to buy himself a wide band spectrum analyser and do some proper research then ….. well flying pigs would be a novelty too!

    And finally, alysdexia, don’t believe anything you see on TV ghost programmes … they are produced to make money and ‘personalities’. It’s obvious from your post about the mythological “genii, manes, and lares” that you are either very, very, gullible indeed or a troll. For the future of humanity I hope you are the latter!

  7. I’ve seen many paranormal investigations and almost all are mainly theatrical attempts to boost the lead investigator to stardom.
    Don Phillips however doesn’t take that path and does produce undeniable results.

    • i do believe bruce d woods has now changed his tune about don philips after i spilled the beans on the fake…don philips stated and put on his videos that he was sponsored by olympus..after checking with the company,we found out that they had never heard of him..olympus contacted don philips and told him to remove all there logo’s from his videos or face court action,,don had to take all his videos down and redo…he is a liar.

  8. If Mr Phillips is genuine why does he never put the voice recorder down or do the spirits require him to scratch the back of the dictaphone to aid communication. The waving around of the dictaphone could also be a means of finding areas of high air pressure do the spirits prefer this to communicate ?????
    Not convinced at all so many gullible people in the world !

  9. I offered to work with him years ago and because I knew what I was talking about he blocked me? Since then he has proven to me that he is a silly man with an ego. Boring.

  10. Hayley I too hear these evp sometimes even avp. Obviously you don’t…I can tell you what Don picks up are spirit that exist in alternative dimensions to ours science does not fully understand this yet but is getting their “Slowly” instead of making attacks on Don research it yourself first because I believe you are not well informed. Some of your topics are educational but in this case Don is providing the evidence as it comes. Try to open your mind this guy is not a fraud or a crackpot.

  11. Paul, Don does not do ‘research’. If he wished to prove that ‘alternative dimensions’ existed then he would be able to demonstrate this in a repeatable manner. If he’s receiving ‘voices’ from another dimension then it would be simple to set up an experiment that could prove he was telling the truth.

    Don claims he has a a young female spirit guide who follows him around. What would be simpler than to get this ‘assistant’ to tell Don the sequence of heads and tails of a row of coins hidden from Don behind a screen? If, under controlled conditions, Don were able to tell the correct evert time then ‘Science’ would have sit up and take notice.

    Until then I think we have to assume that not only is Don fooling himself but also his delusional followers. So until he comes up with some hard, reproducible, evidence we must view him as a showman rather than a scientist.

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