Ghost Hunt Gadgets That Insult Your Intelligence

Owning a collection of gadgets that you claim detect ghosts in one way or another is a staple part of belonging to a ghost hunting team. By explaining to the layman just how Electromagnetic fields can cause a minority of people to experience sensations of being watched while you wave around a plastic box that has coloured bulbs that light up randomly is all that you need to make it seem as though you’re an expert in your field, despite the fact that you’re spouting pseudo-scientific bullshit.

As long as you’ve got the gadgets in your hand it doesn’t matter if you completely make nonsense up on the spot – people will believe that you know what you’re on about because using scientific looking devices makes you seem like a legit person.

My personal collection of silly ghost gadgets.
My personal collection of silly ghost gadgets.

In my own personal arsenal I have a KII meter, a laser thermometer, a GhostBox, a Mr Ghost EMF iPhone antennae and a Ghost Laser Grid (as well as torches, dictaphones and other similar bits). This little collection set me back well over £300 over the years and the gadgets do not do what it is claimed they do. I knew this when buying them, though, and bought them as demonstration items.

Yet, as useless as the gadgets I bought are when it comes to detecting other-wordly presences, ghost gadget continue to develop, change and “progress”  with new items being released into the market on a regular basis. I thought I’d share some of the more spectacularly bad pieces of crap marketed as ghost hunters.

Behold…

The Teddy-bear K2 Meter. It is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a K2 meter (a basic sort of Electro-Magnetic Field meter) built into a teddy-bear that the creators suggest will make K2 sessions “more successful” because ghosts are more likely to interact with something they recognise instead of a bog standard K2 meter which ye olde spirit might not recognise. It also lights up, which is always a bonus for ghost hunters what with working in the dark for no good reason and all…

These meters were originally used by Ghost Hunters to detect changes in naturally occurring Electro-Magnetic Fields which were believed (incorrectly) to be caused by ghosts manifesting themselves and giving off energy discharges that caused the EMF in a location to fluctuate. Get a fluctuation on your meter and you’ve probably got a ghost manifesting around you…

but these days teams are too lazy to take baseline readings and compare other readings to these every 30 minutes or so. Instead they use EMF meters as a sort of hands free planchette and ask ghosts to light the bulbs on a meter up to indicate yes  or no in response to questions.

See the Teddy-bear KII Meter it in action:

Then there is the V Pod which emits its own EM Field which interacts with other fields around it, apparently. Any disturbances (i.e ghosts) will make the pod light up the closer it (the ghost) gets. The GhostHunter store sells this item with a useful reminder in the copy that states ‘Please keep in mind that EM Fields can and will be affected by materials and or objects that conduct electricity’. No shit, Sherlock!

V Pod and REM Pod
V Pod and REM Pod

The REM Pod is similar to The V Pod. It does exactly the same as the V Pod but happens to have the antennae and light-bulbs positioned differently. These devices are basically designed for detecting ghosts and ignore even the faintest scientific link that there might be between Electromagnetic Fields and Anomalous Phenomena.

spring board

The Spring Ouija Board is one of the more ridiculous things I have seen offered and used by ghost hunters. It takes the nonsense associated with the traditional ouija board to a whole new level by offering ghosts different options.

They can either spin the base or use the planchette attached, for some reason, to a spring to select different letters. This utterly baffling bullshit appears on more and more ghost hunting team websites and makes me want to weep.

I haven’t seen one of these in person but I’d imagine that a spring loaded planchette would be much, much easier to influence than a traditional planchette which is dragged across the surface of the board. I also think the design of this board is hideous. Give me a good old-fashioned Parker Brother’s board any day of the week over this monstrosity…

ovilusThe Ovilus comes in many different forms with different numbers to indicate how advanced the device is. The picture here shows the Ovilus III which allegedly ‘takes reading from the environment using several sensors including one for electromagnetic readings and uses a mathematical formula to convert these readings to a number that responds to a certain word that is stored in the word database of more than 2000 words.’

Guys, it uses a mathematical formula so why am I even incluing it on this list? Oh yes, it’s here because it’s laughably bullshit. It is claimed that The Ovilus will “speak” the corresponding word through its built in speaker or, on the latest models, show words on a text display. I’ve used an Ovilus device and it emits random words that ghost hunters make fit their situation by ignoring words they don’t expect to hear and only focussing on those that they expect to hear. Ridiculous… and if you don’t believe that ghost hunters use this on their ghost hunters here is a video of it in action

There are plenty more devices on the scene than just those I’ve shared above. What are the most ridiculous devices that you’ve seen marketed at budding ghost hunters?

About Hayley Stevens 425 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.

49 Comments on Ghost Hunt Gadgets That Insult Your Intelligence

  1. Probably the most annoying one I’ve read about was an account where a laser/infra red thermometer was used. These things frequently have a standard deviation in precision of +/- 1.5C, meaning a real temperature of say 10C may show on the device as anywhere between 8.5 and 11.5 (a range of 3 degrees). The account I read described someone taking a reading and saying “the temperature has suddenly dropped by 2 degrees”, a range well within the 3 degrees and exactly what could be expected under normal conditions, even with a constant temperature source under laboratory conditions.

    I think you’ve already covered the problem previously concerning the device being aimed into thin air, when they’re actually designed to measure heat emitted from a solid surface, further rendering any data obtained being as good as useless.

  2. I liked the start of the Ovilus III video where he has a video camera, emitting lots of EMF, right next too the measuring device, measuring EMF!! Why is it dark if you have an instrument to detect ‘stuff’? Who calibrates and certifies these devices on a regular basis?

    As a technician who has used calibrated and referenced measuring instrumentation in the Pharmaceutical R&D industry for the past 30+ years I can say all the above ‘toys’ are complete bullshit. Most electronics techs can knock you up a device that will respond to all sorts of stuff in a room for a few ££’s and a weekend work. It’ll even play a tune of your choice when it finds ‘stuff’.

    The think is most of us are honest and wouldn’t dream of swindling the great buying public, even if they are a little gullible to want one in the first place.

    “We cannot have a machine that defines an unknown phenomenon, when a definition of the phenomenon is required to build the machine in the first place.” Quote by Martin J. Clemens who’s review (http://wp.me/pwPop-gc) said ‘The Ovilus is a fraud’.

    ps All the other stuff is crap too.

  3. But how will I scientifically prove the existence of non existent things without my scientific instruments?!?

  4. Both kampani101 and M.J. Clemens, that he cites, are correct. And as kampani101 states “…. most of us are honest and wouldn’t dream of swindling the great buying public, even if they are a little gullible to want one in the first place.”

    Most people are honest and a lot of people are, unfortunately, gullible. If there are genuinely paranormal effects then boxes like the Ovilus III do nothing to progress any possible understandings. They are, in effect, no more helpful than the people who go out at night to produce interesting and artistic crop circles …. they just muddy the waters. Simple crops circles have possibly been occurring since prehistory but the meddling of human creators now make it virtually impossible to conduct any viable research on the causes of possible genuine phenomena.

    As for the “coincidences” mentioned in the various comments on the M.J. Clemens page – if you don’t know what methods/mechanisms are used inside a box of tricks then you are not in a position to qualify any juxtapositions of words.

    As an electronic design engineer, if I were asked to construct a box such as the Ovilus III I would make sure it performed in the most convincing fashion possible. And here is how I would do it:-

    Designed around a microprocessor providing a large amount of simple computing (confusing) power; the most powerful tool that software would give is the ability to generate pseudo-random probability loops. A weighting can be given whereby the possibility of exiting the loop is, for example, 1 in 4, even, or any other value that is suitable at a specific decision making point in the flowchart.

    If the box were triggered by a sound, for example, (ie a question) then the probability for responding to that trigger can be controlled – either with a fixed, randomly generated or pre-programmed ratio. Having eventually generated our trigger then again the use of a randomly generated number could decide which word folder should be accessed first. The words could be sorted into suitable ‘Sets’ such as Names, Numbers, Frightening Words etc. Once in a specific folder a probability of exiting that folder for a different one would be set together with the odds of which folder to visit next. But the ‘choice’ would be generated randomly.

    This way the probability of producing two concurrent names could be set fairly high. A specific folder like numbers could be high on the probability of the next folder to be visited following generation of a name. If, for example,the name “Fred” was generated then I could set the probability of the next word being from either the number folder (age) or again from the name folder reasonably high.

    This way, what are perceived as coincidences are no such thing. The fool who parted with his/her money is being manipulated by the software. With the use of random number generation together with either fixed or variable odds and clever programming no pattern would ever be perceived by the user.

    There is an old saying …. “Bullshit baffles brains”. In the case of people who purchase the Ovilus this is clearly the case!

    • I even think “Bullshit baffles brains” must be used with the widest possible meaning of the term ‘brains’, in this particular instance.

  5. Maybe you should explain how a Maglite on the floor can be switched on and off repeatedly.

    • The relevant Ghost Hunters episode did not loosen the battery, nor did the lamp flicker (which I never said) nor switch randomly. Maybe you should learn to read.

    • I learned to read when I was in Primary School, but thank you for the suggestion.

      I am always very reluctant to take anything on the Ghost Hunters television show seriously because it is television and it isn’t factual. In the field I have only ever witnessed people using torches/flashlights to “communicate” by taking the battery slightly out of connection.

    • So field experiments are factual until they’re published on television or any other national or international medium?

    • What I said was that television shows are not very factual. Field experiments are often pseudo-scientific whether they’re on television or not. It really depends on the experiment and, well, I’m sorry to break it to you – but using a flash light to talk to ghosts is not factual. It’s bunk.

    • If you can distinguish “factual” and “very factual” you contradicted yourself.

      The dictionary defines bunk as bunkum and bunkum as nonsense. A flashlight can be sensed so the segment where they ask the gost to turn on and off the Maglite was not bunk.

    • alysdexia – I didn’t think it would be necessary to educate you in some basic physics. The most likely reason for a Maglight flashing intermittently will be an intermittent contact – when the flashlight battery compartment is not screwed tightly closed – a trick used by ‘ghost hunters’ – As already clearly explained by Hayley!

      Other than that, when batteries are nearly fully discharged their internal resistance increases: this is can be noticed by the light varying in brilliance. In these circumstances, filament bulbs are more likely to flicker than LEDs which may tend to turn on and off in a more marked fashion.

      Corrosion on battery or bulb contacts can also be a cause of intermittent current flow; hence flickering.

      It seems to me that your need to ‘believe’ is many times stronger than any desire to do simple research. If you would really like to prove to yourself that ‘spirits’ can’t turn Maglights on and off do the following experiment:

      Buy two new Maglights and two new sets of batteries. Make sure that both battery compartments are properly screwed down. Switch on both flashlights. Any ‘spirit’ that can switch a single flash light on and off should be able to switch both on and off ….. but that won’t happen. If it could, then people would have been using Morse code to communicate with the ‘ghosts’ of dead telegraph operators for many years!

      If you wish to read simple FAQs on flickering Maglights then: http://www.maglite.com/faq_details.asp?faqProd=3AA_LED would be a suitable starting point.

    • The “claim” that a flashlight, under the aforementioned conditions, is being turned on by a ghost is bunk. The actual process of the light turning on is physics. To simply “believe” that the only possible way this light can come on is from a “Spirit” is ridiculous. There are many (more likely) factors that can cause this and there is no evidence to even suggest that another “being” is responsible. So many say, “But it went on and off when I asked” – Correlation does not necessarily imply causation. It would need to happen in perfect correlation more than 95% of the time to be viable as evidence, and it doesn’t. The whole premise is hokum.

    • I said nothing about a spirit (breath), nor did I deny anything about fýsics. IIRC, the scene had five asks and five switches; that is 100%.

    • 5 times is not a suitable sample size. I could roll the dice and get what I want on the first roll. That’s 100% too, but it’s doesn’t mean I’m psychic. You need a large sample size for it to be significant. In the world of statistics 40+ repeats is a minimum sample size. 95% of that must be hits.

  6. My thoughts – “for ghost hunters what with working in the dark for no good reason and all”, Paranormal investigations can occur at any time of day, most of us prefer to work at night as a mater of practicality If your married with kids it doesn’t interrupt family life as much everyone is asleep, At night in general noises associated with active normal life drop dramatically- Cars, alarms, TV, Radio, the neighbor remolding his house…. Also No sun = less solar radiation hitting the area of Earth you live in which means cooler temperatures, and significant changes to the ionosphere and how certain radio waves propagate – less chance for stray noise from broadcasters.

    The Ouija board, and Ovilus are toys, made for the point of entertainment Period Dot.

    It’s funny you didn’t once mention a digital recorder, camera, or cellphone the three MOST misused and interpreted devices in the paranormal arsenal. All the other devices posted, are designed to help give information to the operator. That said, criteria have to be met is the user qualified to operate the unit, is the device in correct working order prior to use, and is a reasonable judgment used in interpreting data, through follow up and discussion. All the devices you mentioned, have a use, and can give good information, when used in the correct fashion and the data is tested.

    • I didn’t mention digital recorders and so on because I’ve written about them before and hate sounding as though I’m just repeating myself,t hough I do agree entirely that they are the most misused.

  7. Maybe one of these could be tuned as a “trickle detector” to see if there’s any evidence that America’s 40 year experiment with Trickle-Down Economics is working. Nah, probably wouldn’t be sensitive enough…

  8. dan scott suggests that there will be less likelihood of radio interference at night. He is correct in saying there are changes in the ionosphere however these changes in ‘radio skip’ are just as likely to generate an increase in radio signals.

    There are many more broadcast stations receivable on Medium Wave during the night likely to cause breakthrough in ‘ghost boxes’ than during the day. Also many high frequency bands, quiet during the day, may become workable in the evening. Conditions also depend heavily on the state of the Sunspot Cycle. See http://www.g4nsj.co.uk/which.shtml for more information.

    As for Dan’s statement “All the devices you mentioned, have a use, and can give good information, when used in the correct fashion and the data is tested.” Yes an EMF meter is designed for measuring electromagnetic fields, the infrared thermometer is designed for measuring surface temperatures (and should have an emissivity adjustment to give accurate readings) and the Ovilus is just a waste of money!

    • With regards to the spirit box and medium waves you are 100% right. I’m usually more worried about stray C.B. operator or someone working the non permitted bands running more than 5 watts, base station CB antennas can be found driving through many parts of San Diego. Before I hamed out I used to shoot skip all over the world…Back in the days on nice long summer nights when the conditions were right you could pick up AM stations from other cities. Seems like another life time since the advent of the internet.

      I wrote about the Ovilus a long time ago my article can be found many places including,

      http://www.meetup.com/San-Diego-Ghosts/messages/boards/thread/20083332

  9. I agree that these devices cannot prove the existence of ghosts, but it should be acknowledged that SOME of these devices are not worthless. If we can establish things like temperature fluctuations or EMF correlate with an observed phenomenon, that provides insight into possible explanations. Of course the way these instruments are used in practice is inappropriate to prove such a correlation. But there is potential here. Also as there is no proven method to measure the phenomenon called ghosts you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is correlation. Otherwise how can we possibly prove ghosts exist even if they were 100% genuine? Talk about confirmation bias!

    • Hi Matt, an infrared heat detector measures the temperature of a surface and not the air. The unknown phenomenon would have to be ‘touching’ or very near a solid object that (a) we knew the original temperature of just before contact (b) the temperature at the time of contact and (c) the temperature just after contact. All other radiated or convective sources of temperature change for the surface measured must be ruled out. The infrared temperature detector needs to have been calibrated to national standards and adjusted for the working environment and type of surface to be measured plus the temperature differences must be within the limits and accuracy of the instrument for any meaningful conclusions be to produced. The vast majority of the cheaper, handheld, devices are not fit for this purpose and I would endeavour that 99% have never been calibrated.
      The EMF meters can be viewed similarly. How many carry a valid certificate of calibration that is 1yr or less old. How many recalibrate the device every time it’s dropped or mishandled causing it to potentially go out of calibration? Does the user know how the accuracy of the instrument affects the readings that are taken by an instrument? On cheaper instruments battery condition can cause variations in readings.

    • Infrared non-contact thermometers are an absolutely horrible idea. Determining even what surface the thermometer is measuring is problematic. Thermal imaging produces a better picture but of course it is still subject to the same reflectance, conductance and differential heating issues that some ghost hunters mistake for the paranormal.

      As far as EMF there is a large potential for these devices to to be used to catalog correlations between the event and EM signals. I agree with the necessity to re calibrate but my point is SOME of these devices can have a place in investigations when used properly.

      But the other problem aside from accuracy is range. What range of the EM spectrum do their devices measure. More advanced devices that log frequency, duration, amplitude could prove extremely valuable.

    • I agree completely. Infrared thernometers are useless… determining the difference between emissivity and reflectivity is not possible. Thermal cameras are good for finding insulation leaks but thats it. EMF meters only read a single value. ..they are useless. To analyze EMF requires spectrum analysis. A meter is not useful in the least. Audio should also be subject to spectrum analysis. Sadly hardly any groups use it or even know how.

  10. It’s great to see Matt Brady state: “Also as there is no proven method to measure the phenomenon called ghosts you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is correlation.” It certainly is! And to get correlation the experimental data has to be repeatable. So when a “Ghost Hunter” such as Don Philip says he has contact with a “Spirit Guide” called “Becky” then, surely, he should concentrate on doing repeatable experiments solely on her.

    Like all “Ghost Hunting personalities” he flits from location to location to create media opportunities for himself. Why doesn’t Don prove the existence of this “spirit friend” by putting her through a series of tests? If this “Becky” could successfully tell Don what colour cards were hidden in sealed boxes …. Well, then we would be on to something.

    What’s the point, Matt Brady, in trying to find correlation between EM fields and temperature when, as you correctly say, “…..the way these instruments are used in practice is inappropriate to prove such a correlation.” ?!

    If a supposed “haunted room” were to be properly staked out with a massive grid of fast response thermocouples, Hall effect sensors and the like then perhaps something could be proved or disproved. Until then the likes of Don Philips and Yvette Fielding are just shooting (videos) in the dark!

    • David the point is to identify the root cause of the phenomenon. If we are truly interested in solving what is behind the characteristics described by witnesses the first step involves observation. We need to determine the nature of the phenomenon. An understanding of a correlation between EM field and the phenomenon could drive a test to determine whether that EM field was the cause. If the test succeeds, and is repeated with success, we just solved the mystery. Or at least a component of it.

      David what would a room full of hall effects sensors and thermocouples prove? None of these are “ghost detectors.” They would only help establish a correlation between the observed phenomenon and measurable signals. That would drive the scientific experimentation process.

      The fact that many teams use these devices incorrectly does not negate the value that some of these instruments CAN bring to investigations when used properly. Sloppy work done by others is not proper justification to give up on investigations. It should be a signal that the community needs leaders to provide proper training and education to improve investigation methods.

    • …Also let’s keep in mind as everyone is searching for correlation that there is a fundamental rule in science and statistics that correlation does not imply causation. Keep in mind that two events occurring together do not necessarily have a cause-and-effect relationship. There are ways to test the likely hood of a true causal relationship. You can use the Granger causality test or convergent cross mapping. Its a big problem in this research that people assume that anomalous readings and events occurring together constitute a causal correlation and that’s dangerous practice in terms of scientific study. The goal is to have repeatable, demonstrable cause and effect. Mainstream scientific support of paranormal activity is only going to occur by way of first answering the many smaller questions that exist first. This will open a chain of possibility to the bigger questions. I have written a blog about the scientific method in paranormal research if anyone is interested: http://paranormalnewengland.com/paranormal-research-scientific-method/

  11. Excellent post!! These devices are ALL products of television and none of them are useful on any investigation applying scientific methodology. It amazes me that people even still use EMF meters.Any electromagnetic measurement (or audio recording) without spectrum analysis is just useless. Non contact thermometers are far too easily fooled by reflective, Ghost Boxes, Ovilus and the like are just plain BS made to rip people off.

  12. My point is missed entirely. Certain devices have limitations of course, and of course many of these devices are used incorrectly, but it is a leap to say NONE of these devices do not belong in the investigation of paranormal claims.

    The first step in investigating any new phenomenon is identifying core characteristics. Without a correlated list of characteristics we cannot even move into hypothesis generation and testing. Accurately identifying these characteristics is essential. The five senses are not a reliable measure of characteristics of a phenomenon. This means other methods of data collection must be used. An EMF spike is not proof that there is a ghost, but an EMF spike in correlation with observed phenomena is more interesting. If we see this occur repeatedly and it is independently verified now we can provisional conclude one of three things: 1. The EMF spike is causing the phenomena 2. It is a result from the phenomena, 3. It is not correlated. We repeat this process from other measurement devices and use this information to generate multiple competing hypotheses. These hypotheses are then evaluated through testing to determine veracity.

    Let’s be clear about the message. Some of the devices being used like the Ovilus are unscientific. The means by which many of these devices are employed in investigations currently is largely unscientific. Certain devices provide a very limited scope (K2 meters, non-contact thermometers) that will limit the accuracy and breadth of data collection and potentially bias hypothesis generation. But when the correct instruments are used correctly they are an asset to investigations.

    If you are of the mindset that NONE of these devices belong in paranormal investigations I am curious to see how you tackle the issue of defining the characteristics of the phenomenon. The 5 senses are not scientific!

    • Matt that was perfectly said. Correlations require large sample sizes and a high percentage of hits to be significant. Correlation does not necessarily imply causation. There’s an analogy I like to use to demonstrate this. If I choose a number between 1 and 12 and then roll a pair of dice there’s a good chance that the number I guessed will match whats rolled. That’s not unusual at all. In-fact casinos see it all the time. I might even be able to guess whats rolled 3, 4 or even 5 times in a row. That certainly doesn’t mean I’m psychic. But If I roll the dice 40 times and guess correctly 37 times. Now we have something to be interested in, because that is well into the realm of “unlikely”. The same goes for correlations of equipment. If you hear a voice and see an anomalous reading in succession, even 5 times in a row, that is not significant enough to claim one is causing the other or that they are related. If it happens 37 times out of 40 and other people can independently get the same or similar results, an hypothesis can be formed that suggests that there is a causal link. but large sample sizes and multiple independent verification tests are needed to make that hypothesis. 40 repetitions with greater than 95% success (hits) is the low threshold for statistical significance.

    • You are confusing the issues. I am perfectly aware of the issues surrounding statistical analysis of large data sets and that correlation does not equal causality. A correlated sample can ONLY support a hypothesis. No correlatable large sampling will result in accepted scientific fact!

      This requires testing, a hypothesis that can be proven false, strict controls, and statistical analysis if multiple data sets are used. And then of course the test must be repeated and independently validated. Finding a correlation between a perceived paranormal events and an EMF reading for example is not testing, this is observation. Of course correlation does not imply causality, that is why we use the scientific method and falsifiability to measure the veracity of claims. A hypothesis can be created on a robust data set or virtually nothing, in the end, neither is very valuable until it is tested.

      I don’t understand your point. Correlated events should and can ONLY be used to generate robust hypotheses which then must be tested to the standards I listed above. Having a statistically significant data set is meaningless when it comes to identifying cause. It does not prove or disprove any explanation. It simply helps hypothesis generation. It CAN point to a more likely explanation in some cases, but there will always be a large degree of doubt when using statistical analysis to reach causal conclusions. Now statistical analysis inside of testing is a different story but we need to clearly differentiate the use of statistical analysis in observations and the use in a specific experiment. These are two very different things!

    • I made no mention of statistically significant data identifying cause. I have simply said it implies correlation and thus can “support” hypotheses of a causal link (which like all hypotheses requires testing itself during the Iterative process – obviously). I also made no mention of gadgets being controlled by dead people. The question at hand is one of correlating events, which IS statistically reliant. Root cause is not even on the table.

      Perhaps my usage of the word “hypothesis” is where the confusion lies. Feel free to interchange “claim” or “Supposition” where you like. They are all fairly interchangeable to me. So we are all clear, my position is that ANY valid research should start ONLY with a question, not a supposition of a final outcome (claim or hypothesis) beyond what is needed to construct a proper testing methodology. After the question is formed, test(s) are developed to answer them. Hypotheses can THEN be formed as to the what the results of the tests developed will produce. After the test is performed the analysis compares the hypothesis to the actual results and so begins the iterative process and another round of questions, hypotheses and tests. The preponderance of evidence produced from the results can either “support” (not prove) an affirmative or negative result to the research as a whole. I do not believe (and I realize I may be among a minority here) that any supposition or claim should be made without prior research regardless of whether the scientific community will accept it. To me that is presumptive junk science. From what I have witnessed this method only serves to promote confirmation biases. Just because something can be done doesn’t make it correct.

      Yes you can conduct research within the scientific method with whatever sample size you like. But without realistic sample sizes your work will be torn apart in peer review. Again, Just because something can be done doesn’t make it correct. If you think you can support correlation of multiple events on a sample size of less than 40 and alpha greater than .05 good luck. That threshold was devised using multiple regression analysis and based on my own research over the past 11 years I to consider it to be valid. I would not trust any correlation coefficient that does not involve samples and results equal to or greater than this threshold.

    • Michael, then it sounds like we see eye to eye on this issue… mostly.

      The gadgets controlled by dead people was my use of a common claim by believers which would have to be validated. A crude example of your point that correlation does not imply causality.

      I was trying to point to the difference in the doctrinal requirements of the scientific method and what is a preferred method by some. I think it is critically important to draw the distinction because there is room for argument on preferred methods, but not in doctrine.

      The only point I would disagree with you on is “…any supposition or claim should be made without prior research regardless of whether the scientific community will accept it. To me that is presumptive junk science.” Popper, who developed the falsification standard, encouraged leaps in hypothesis development as this was necessary to lead to bigger discoveries. To your confirmation bias issue Popper also said scientists should work to disprove their hypotheses, a practice that is rarely used. This highlights one of the flaws in falsification methodology.

      With a lack of scientific participation in paranormal studies to independently validate data, and when dealing with potentially groundbreaking discoveries, such leaps may be required. If resources are limited I would focus my efforts on building an accepted test for the hypothesis rather than invest in independent validation of my data. If I could do both, I would. If a hypothesis passes a scientific test it will have to be invalidated by pointing to a flaw in the test or independently repeating the test with a negative result. But this is my preference for a resource limited environment.

      Skeptics can help bridge the gap between believers and their messages by offering alternatives. One alternative is recommendations on what measuring instruments to use and common practices for correct use.

      Michael, I am happy that you are one of a few trying to educate people on proper methodology. I see now we simply disagree on preference and not doctrine. We need more education and less uninformed criticism.

    • Matt, you ridiculed my scientifically rigorous idea of fitting a supposed “haunted room” with an array of hall effect and temperature detectors by saying ….. “David what would a room full of hall effects sensors and thermocouples prove? None of these are “ghost detectors.” They would only help establish a correlation between the observed phenomenon and measurable signals. That would drive the scientific experimentation process.”

      Then, in another post, you say …”If you are of the mindset that NONE of these devices belong in paranormal investigations I am curious to see how you tackle the issue of defining the characteristics of the phenomenon. The 5 senses are not scientific!”

      Matt, you can’t have it both ways! And what, may ask, is a proven “ghost detector”?

      Then in a more recent post you say….

      “And when ghost hunters claim they are conducting scientific tests by waving an EMF meter around and collecting readings, these are more akin to observations and are not adequate scientific tests. And in observations these things are OK.

      And

      “But of course I would like to see stricter controls on observations, and instruments with logging capability and higher resolution.”

      Do you really know what you want? I suspect that by latching on to the idea that variations of reading on an “EMF Meter” indicates a “ghostly presence” you have already decided what you believe – that “ghosts can manifest changes in the Electromagnetic field”. Is this your belief?

      I hope you are aware that EMF meters work by measuring the changes in the magnetic field …. they do not detect “electricity” per se. Changes in the electric field will however produce a related change in the magnetic field. So perhaps your “ghosts” are magnetic or magnetism influencing entities!

      If you wish to detect static electricity then that is something completely different – but possible to measure.

      Now you make a plea for ” ….. instruments with logging capability and higher resolution.” What is the point of higher resolution, except in a very controlled environment, as this will just produce greater ‘perceived’ variations that “ghost believers” will immediately latch on to as being “proof”.

      Michael J. Baker is absolutely correct in his plea for reproducible data and this is what “believers” should be supplying …. But they are not …. Not due to poor quality equipment but due to a wish to rush from one “haunted location” to another in search of fame, fortune and the adoration of their excited fans.

      Matt, as you made a plea for “….. stricter controls on observations, and instruments with logging capability and higher resolution.” – I come back to my original proposal (which you dismissed) of equipping a supposed haunted room with arrays of fast response temperature and hall effect detectors, and any other form of detector you can suggest, connected to data logging equipment coupled with the interaction of someone who claims to have interaction with “spirits of the departed” (e.g. Don Philips). Within this sort environment test could be conducted to the satisfaction of Michael J. Baker.

    • Let me offer a more concise version (Hayley feel free to delete my last if you would like): There is no inherit requirement of statistical significance to create a scientifically testable hypothesis. There is also no requirement to use a specific instrument in a specific way in the OBSERVATION stage. Testing is different! I can create any hypothesis I can conceive of and science will accept it so long as it is falsifiable, can be tested with adequate controls to prevent false positives, it can be repeated and I use statistical analysis to analyze the results. But statistical analysis is in no way shape or form a requirement to create a hypothesis like that EMF signal is created by dead people. of course meeting the other testing standards for this hypothesis are problematic, but statistical significance is not a consideration until the test is actually performed and we analyze the results.

      Now of course stats can be incredibly useful in weighing competing hypotheses to determine which one to focus on but it is not required. And when ghost hunters claim they are conducting scientific tests by waving an EMF meter around and collecting readings, these are more akin to observations and are not adequate scientific tests. And in observations these things are OK. There is no scientific doctrine that restricts the use of these devices while making observations, after all observations must be validated indirectly through hypothesis testing. But of course I would like to see stricter controls on observations, and instruments with logging capability and higher resolution.

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