Ghost Lab - TAPS lackeys at best.

Originally posted on Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Since I've heard word that Ghost Lab may be coming back, let's re-read my review of their first two episodes.

Ghost Lab - TAPS lackeys at best.
And here we go with Ghost Lab...

I'll try to keep from going into a narrative about the team as this is not as much a review as it is an analytical critique. Another paranormal show with people who wish to be 'ghost hunters' and want to be on TV. Enough said. The show is narrated by Mike Rowe who also narrated Ghost Hunters in the early seasons which makes it all too familiar.

The show began with one of the 'leaders' of the team telling his typical 'paranormal interest' story. During this account, shown on screen was "actual footage" he had allegedly taken in 1990 in Gettysburg of what appeared to be a civil war re-enactment. Of course, it was claimed to be actual ghosts of civil war soldiers. Sure looked like a fuzzy re-enactment to me down to the add-in artificial scan lines. I mean, it was VHS after all.

The show went on explaining what they do, with the word "science" thrown around more times than I could count. The first investigation took place at the municipal auditorium in Shreveport, LA. which seems to be trying to capitalize on the fact that Elvis performed there. If I am not mistaken, a paranormal conference was held there several months ago.

On to their "evidence"; The team laid out what they referred to as a "linear sweep" of independent data logging devices which were explained as logging temperature, humidity and "EMF". This consisted of a line of these devices down a hallway about 3 or 4 feet apart. First off, wouldn't that be more of a wash or row than a "sweep"? Upon checking the devices, they found that some had "spiked" from .03 mG to 1.3 mG. What I found questionable about this was that the particular data loggers that had spiked were near a water fountain. Water fountains have a refrigeration cycle just like the fridge in your kitchen. In fact, most of them have compressors of approximately the same size. So there is your EMF spike. They also claimed to have recorded an example of EVP at this point.

The EVP they captured seemed to be your usual whisper-like Hollywood spooky nonsense. They went on to recreate the EVP using one of their team members for comparison. They also claimed that it was "Class A" and that it was out of the human range. OK, if it is out of the human vocal range, then why am I hearing it on my TV? Why did he hear it on his speakers? How did the microphone pick it up? All these items are aimed at human hearing which is similar to the human vocal range. They went on to claim that it was a legitimate instance of EVP because the waveforms did not match up between the alleged anomaly and the human recreation. Just to make it clear, what you see on a waveform is measured in decibels(loudness). Whether the waveform matched up or not does not matter as we all speak with a different cadence. Not to mention differences in microphone placement. For the recreation, the recording device was held in hand and there is no indication as to where the device was when the alleged anomaly was recorded. I am sure that it is impossible to know where their ghost was. To go further, you could easily record the same phrase yourself and have different decibel levels in different spots. Try it. This was complete bullshit and a bunk analysis.

The 'leader' then went on to explain that he was not a scientist (yeah, we didn't know that already) despite throwing the word science around like a rag doll. He went on to say "quantum science", at which point I screamed obscenities at the TV as Mike Rowe briefly explained quantum science. It then cut to a supposedly real time video of what was claimed to be an actual scientist (Andreas Albrecht) discussing parallel worlds and the scientific method. The scientist told them they needed to come up with rigorous testing, right before being cut off.

There was one particular instance earlier where they thought a door had opened by itself. He asked his team member about it, who claimed all the doors had been closed. The next shot was a retroactive account of the door in question being closed by the team member. Of course, the camera was focused on the door knob being closed and not what the team member was doing. I find this suspicious and obviously planned.

They had a local band come and play 50's era music in an attempt to summon the spirits of the dead(if that doesn't say it all). A door mysteriously opened at this point as well.

He later went on to say they had a "butt-load" of personal experiences, "That place is freakin' haunted" before leaving for the night.

The next "investigation" was at Myrtles Plantation which they claimed to be "the super bowl of the paranormal".

To be honest, I had all I could take at this point and didn't have much interest in what was going on. They went on with the same run of the mill false Myrtles history, including the ear less slave-girl, Chloe. They then showed video a shadow on a wall from a previous investigation they had performed there.

They recorded some history professor reading some civil war era letters, to be played back later in what the leader termed as "era cues". I find this type of re-enactment thing somewhat interesting but he did not come up with the idea as portrayed. In any event, their 'family group' from Louisiana allegedly recorded the sound of a ghostly cannon being fired. Okay. If you say so. Keep using those low fidelity digital voice recorders, you'll get whatever you want.

The 'leader' felt a "cold spot" while sitting on the stairs of the plantation. They quickly summoned an infrared thermometer from an outside team member who then pointed the gun at the wall behind him. Nothing was found out of the ordinary.

At the end of the show the leader went on to claim that he felt that paranormal activity could be explained by using the scientific method and that he is going to blow the paranormal field out of the water. Good luck with that, Brad.

End credits roll.

This guy's banter is that of a frat boy that didn't make the A-team in high school football. The fact that he wants to "blow the paranormal field out of the water" speaks volumes and goes to show that he wants recognition and a nice pat on the back. Something must be missing in his life. Frankly, they all annoyed me and weren't all that likable compared to their plumbing peers. The rest of the team hardly had any camera time and barely got a word in anywhere through the gruff of the 'leader'. The fact that these guys claim to have been around for 2 years and are already on TV says quite a bit as well.

Don't bother watching this one, folks. These guys are TAPS lackeys at best. I hope they enjoy their fifteen minutes.


Originally posted on Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ghost Lab - Even more crap this week
And here we go again with more Ghost (f)Lab....

I noticed something different this time. During the introduction, as they describe the "lab"; The main guy is seen using a dropper as if he is doing something scientific. I will assume he was actually adding cream to his coffee and wanted a specific amount. I can't imagine why else a ghost hunter would need a dropper and Petri dish. I also noticed something else that is probably trivial; The flashlights they use include a large fluorescent bulb. This is a nice way to insure that you and everyone else around you has absolutely no adjustment to night vision (camera flashes and LCD screens do the same). How rude. I honestly wouldn't expect much else from these baboons.

I never thought I would ever see someone stupid enough to think that feedback from a speaker was activity from a ghost and go on to refer to it as a "personal experience". They, of course, spoke back to said feedback. Call the white van, folks, we got some live ones.

They used a Tesla coil in an effort to "supercharge" the environment. This was after describing how the lightning storm would have done the same thing. Um...OK. They went on to explain, in a matter-of-fact tone, that "Energy is what fuels the paranormal". OK, can you back that up with anything? What kind of energy? They also had another segment where they spoke via web-cam to an expert that confirmed how the area would be "charged like a battery" after the lightning storm. This went no where and as I remember was not discussed again at any length.

Now for my favorite part...*drum roll*...the EVP: In this episode, they once again attempted to claim that an example of EVP was legitimate using a fallacy. They claimed that the EVP was at a frequency below the human vocal range. In this case, 16.4 Hz. As expected, this was recorded on a Digital Voice Recorder with the internal mic. I've said it thousands of times. You will not record something that low if your microphone rolls off above it. "DVRs" are aimed at the human voice and NOT infra-sound. Furthermore, you will not hear it on your speakers and even more so, your TV.

I am sure that most people who read this own audio editing software of some kind. Here is what I want you to do:

1. Open Audacity, Sound Forge, or what ever you use.

2. Create a new file> scroll over to "tools" and find "Synthesis"

3. Open that and create a sine wave(or any of the basic waveforms) at 16.4 Hz.

4. Play it and tell me if you hear it on your speakers

You won't. Just as his mic, speakers, and your TV will not either.

They went on to capture a photo of what they referred to as a "shadow person" in a cemetery, in Tombstone. The photo was digital and very grainy, chock full of digital noise. You get the picture(pun intended). They claimed this photo was taken near another infamous "ghost" photo which was debunked years ago.

They ended the show with the second guy saying, "Man, we brought a lot of theories in here!"

They don't even have any hypotheses. No tests, no controls, nothing. These guy's stupidity is worn on their sleeves. Just two more idiots that someone put on TV. I think it is safe to say that Gary Auerbach is a bad judge of likable people. He did make Paranormal State after all...

Not sure if I will be bothering to blog on this show again. It literally hurt to withstand all the stupidity tonight. I seriously feel drained after watching this week's episode.


The whacky world of ghost cults!!!

I was recently, well have been, doing some research on a cult that popped up in my hometown over a decade ago. I wasn't living there at the time but remembered the stories on the evening news. I wanted to find out what part of town they occupied just to see if I may have an interesting conversation piece on my new neighborhood. No such luck. I did, however, have something dawn on me. First, here is a bit on the Chen Tao cult that occupied Garland in the late 1990's:


Excerpt(I do suggest reading the entire article):
"In anticipation of God's arrival on Earth, the cultists have built what they say is a spacecraft using five radial tires, some plywood and a few lamp posts."

Now, most of you will laugh and with due cause. This is pretty damned ridiculous. In all honesty though; What is any different between this alleged "spacecraft" and what most ghost hunters are doing today with all the techno gadgetry?

Sitting in the dark with a beeping gadget, with nothing warranted to support its use to find "ghosts". Hell, there is not one shred of evidence that ghosts exist.

To be honest, the paranormal field is no different than Chen Tao, except Chen Tao knew when to say when and walk away..admitting they were wrong.

"However, Chen says that if God does not show up in Garland, he will make himself available for stoning or crucifixion -- and his followers will be free to pack up and go home.

And, he adds, everyone will be able to regard the cult's beliefs as nonsense."

I would be flabbergasted to see any "Ghost Hunter" find the balls to do that. Can't, can they?


How to spot a fraud.

I used to work with a newer, local paranormal "research" group, aptly named, P.r.i.n.t. What I would like to do with this writing is, by example, give newer people to the field a 'what to look out for' when getting involved in a paranormal group. Not all of them are innocent and very few are honest.

Like many paranormal groups today, Print learned about the field by watching TV. Paranormal TV has, slowly, since 2004, created a void in terms of what is respectful and who is respected in the field of paranormal research. With sports, you have your professionals. With music, you have popular bands/musicians. With paranormal research, well, you have nothing. So, the popularity of paranormal TV has created this vacuum where the paranormal celebrities are the ones who are looked up to, though, none of these people are truly worthy of any praise. This has created the vacuum of which I speak, where many new people to the field feel as if fame is how you go about getting recognition in the paranormal field. This is obviously not the case, however, it still continues. While these people often claim to be scientists, they aren't. Take off the lab coat and you will rarely, if ever, find scientists wearing matching t-shirts with a spooky typeset.

Now back to my experience with Print: It took about a month or so for my first 'alert' to come. The groups' leader, Chad Miller, changed his typical 'what got me interested' story from one of simply seeing spook lights in a cemetery to some outlandish tale of a spooky hall ghost with a vacuum cleaner. This change came after I explained that spook lights aren't necessarily paranormal, they are simply an unexplained, naturally occurring phenomena. My experience in life has been that when someone starts changing their tales, they are lying.

So I watched for a few months. Nothing out of the ordinary; the novices, in typical fashion, tried to pass everything off as an instance of EVP. Most were simple mistakes, which are normal for newer teams/investigators(speaking accidentally under the breath, mistaking distant echoes as ghosts, etc.). The voices always said something mundane such as, 'I'm going over here, now', that sort of thing. No problem, I can work with that because they are innocent mistakes most of the time.

Things seemed pretty normal, for awhile. One night on a cemetery jaunt I saw something out of the corner of my eye so I turned on my camera and snapped a photo. Before the flash could even charge, Mr. Miller dashes out into the grass subsequently hitting the ground. Okay. He knew better by that point than to blame it on a ghost. Shortly after, my suspicions were heightened as Miller and his partner, Shahnez Ragosino, went off by themselves. I found this odd because they had never done this before. As I am sure you can imagine, moments later the two came back all excited about an alleged "shadow man" they had seen. Ultimately, they lured the entire party over to one end of the cemetery. Once everyone spread out looking for this elusive entity, from behind I noticed Ms. Ragosino looking around sheepishly. She then proceeded to put one foot behind the other, extend her right arm out behind her, bend her knee's until she reached her center of gravity, and then drop. A trick pulled off right from the 'Trickster's Handbook'. I probably would have said something but I was busy picking my jaw up off the ground. I had witnessed fraud right before my own eyes. I waited quietly, to see if she would ever come clean, she hasn't to this day.

At this point, I was on fraud alert full time with this group. I also noticed other things, or realized them; This group really knows nothing above the basic Ghost Hunting 101 type of material. They didn't seem too keen on further learning, either. I also realized that this team's leaders were media mongers. Obviously, caught in the vacuum that paranormal TV has created. Outside of excessive cries for media attention and deepening lies, things remained somewhat normal. I would write off an EVP that was sent to me for analysis and it would be splattered all over the internet a day or two later as "compelling evidence'. Right.

The group had been contacted by a woman in Denison, Tx who claimed to have a ghost and an EVP of her own. After reading over her questionnaire, it was obvious to me that this woman simply wanted to be haunted. She had already paid a psychic (Marveena Meek) to come in. I warned that the investigation would be a waste of time, yet, Mr. Miller insisted on doing the investigation because he had known the woman in school. So, we did the investigation anyway and as I assumed, it was a waste of time. Nothing wrong with that but the following could have been avoided. A couple of weeks later, at a group meeting, co-founder of the group, Ms. Ragosino, bragged about stealing a trinket from the woman's home. Her justification for the deed was that the woman was lying about being haunted. I believe I had said that from the beginning. Anyway, as far as I know, the woman doesn't know the item was taken, or hasn't said anything. This instance of stealing from a client is the most low-down and trashy thing I have ever heard of in this field. You do not go into someone's home, under the guise of helping them, then steal from them. That is low and, it's also a crime. Are these the types of people you want in your home or on your property?

I was on the downhill slope with these people after this. Everything became a desperate cry for media attention with them. I couldn't even count the lies that have appeared in the media, not even on both hands. Slowly, Mr. Miller went from having three years experience(It's well documented in his book that he started in 2007) to having close to seven. Time is immaterial in the field of paranormal research. I have known people in the field for 25 years that don't have a lick of sense. So, time in the field is not important, though it helps, it's not about time as much as it's about what is learned and what advancements are made.

I knew I had to get away from these people before I inadvertently wound up ruining my own reputation. The final blow came when the simple mistakes turned to trickery. We had a location to investigate and for the first time, I didn't choose the individual teams. Mr. Miller wanted to work with his partner, Ms. Ragosino. Since the graveyard incident months earlier, this had me on guard. The investigation went normal, and as sure as the sky is blue, Miller sent 4 " EVP possibilities". It took one listen to recognize the voice as Mr. Miller's, though, what he was saying was no longer mundane things an investigator would say on an investigation - they were now creepy stuff that apparently only a ghost would say. I suppose that Mr. Miller had failed to realize that a) I've been in audio twice as long as the paranormal field b) I work in a music genre where everyone tries to sound creepy and c) After a year and a half, I knew his voice(and nasal qualities) and had a good idea of what range he speaks in. I dismissed the EVP and as had became the norm, the fraudulent recordings were not only released on the internet but also presented to the clients in an online video. This was truly sickening to watch. A fraud at work with his victims. Pure trash.

The truly sad part is that none of the other members of this group ever recognized any of these fraud-laced antics. They are so ate up with ghosts that they apparently have blinders on. Some of them have even been informed of these things, yet, remain with this group. Birds of a feather? Possibly. Either way, this kind of charlatanism has got to be snuffed out in the paranormal field. This group had a member, which they would take to people's homes, that was at the time on probation for drug possession. They have other members which are recovering methamphetamine addicts. Knowing this, I wouldn't want any of them in my home, even if it was haunted.

This, sadly, isn't the only group out there that operates in this manner. Since the paranormal field is not regulated, it is our duty to do what we can and call out fraud or general bad practice when we see it.

So, the paranormal frauds are out there in abundance and not all of them are on TV. The new brand of paranormal investigators are generally not nearly as interested in research as they are being in the media spotlight. Remember, just because someone is on TV or in the paper, it does not mean they are worthy, smart, or good at what they do. Or, respectful for that matter. In fact, if you see someone doing anything media related, they are likely out to sell something. I personally have taken to asking people in the paranormal field what they have to sell me, up front. It seems they all have something: Books, conference tickets, How-To videos, listen to our boring internet talk radio show - you get the idea. The new paradigm in the paranormal world is that of promotion, sales, and advertising. Most of them never even realize that the places that allow them to come in and investigate are only allowing them to do so because they need the business and free advertisement, not because they think they have a ghost. Times are hard and many hotels, B&B's, and museums are utilizing these teams as advertisement agencies. While it may be cool to investigate these places, you must choose the best practice. Most people merely need to hear that a place has been investigated for ghostly phenomena to assume that it is "haunted" and that definitely isn't normally the case. This can stigmatize a place very easily, so be careful. The vast majority of the paranormal field is not there to "help" you as much as they are there to help themselves(sometimes to your personal property).


One last time for those in the back that didn't get the memo.

K-II meters: Why are people still using them? Ignorance, mostly.

Time after time I hear so-called paranormal researchers and investigators mention they use a K-II meter. I always reiterate the same information over and over again. It usually starts with - 'You know that anything can set those off. . .'

I almost always get the same response as if the would-be researchers are 'in the know'. "Well we turn our cell phones off. . ."

You turn your cell phones off. Great, but what about the plethora of things you cant turn off? Here is a short list:

Local Police
County Sherriff
Fire Dept.
Highway Patrol
City Utility workers
Cab drivers
truck drivers
Local hobbyist
Anyone with a CB scanner
Cell phone towers
The neighbors wireless telephones, Wi-Fi, etc.
That HVAC mechanic on his way to repair the local supermarket's refrigeration system
Wal-Mart near-by?
And just about anything else.

Under the right conditions, any of these can effect your meter up to a mile away.*

Even before Chris Fleming made these worthless gadgets popular on TV, many paranormal researchers interested in EMFs were complaining about how the K-II was "too sensitive". Very few people used them because of this. The reason that K-II meters are so "sensitive" is because they operate in a different, much higher frequency range than the standard EMF meter used by most ghost-hunting types. This range is more widely used in our day-to-day world.

Frankly, a group of people sitting around in the dark, talking to a gadget that lights up at just about anything...well, it makes you look stupid. To believe that a "ghost" is communicating to you through a K-II meter exhibits complete ignorance.

*I am currently trying to find the study where this was conclusion was made. I can not remember the name of the group that conducted the experiments but I believe they were in AZ or NV.


Why I could care less about "paranormal unity".

Here is a quick one on the myth of "paranormal unity":

I find the idea of paranormal "unity" absurd. I have also never seen anything good come out of it, besides drama. The drama, however, is not why I object to unity in the paranormal field. Why you may ask? It's simple.

I do my own research in my own time. I am not hung up on getting on TV, in the newspaper, selling books or DVDs, or wearing one of those Spooky McSpookster matching ghost hunter t-shirts. I am in this field for research and the only audience I would ever need is that of the scientific community(unlikely).

When, if ever(unlikely again), I have a paper to publish on my research; I can promise you that it will not be the paranormal community, or anyone in it, that I submit it to. In other words, the paranormal community is moot and not necessary for research. In all honesty, it is merely a sideshow and not a very good one at that.


How to avoid getting 'EVP'

Originally posted on Monday, June 01, 2009

How to avoid getting 'EVP'

Yes, I said it- How to avoid getting "EVP", or in this case, Electronic Voice Pareidolia. I can’t begin to tell you how many false positives I have heard over the years. Everything from footsteps, a car driving by in the distance, a dog barking, an air conditioner cutting on, and even investigators whispering or talking in another room are all examples of things I have come across. There are ways to avoid all of these and they are simple. I’m not going to go off on a long tangent regarding protocol. You should know that well before you start in this field. If not, that is on you. I will however discuss equipment.

Most investigators use “Digital Voice Recorders”; while these are nice and handy, many just do not cut it for so-called “scientific” data collection. I have said it before and I’ll say it again --- Most “DVRs” are just simply too lo-fi. Many record to sub-par standards in order to allow for more storage. This degrades the quality to the point that a burp will sound like a demonic entity from outer space rather than a belch from an investigator. Unless your “DVR” records to at least CD quality (16 bit/44.1kps) then it is not cut out for data collection. Many of these voice recorders also record straight to MP3 rather than an uncompressed wav or raw format. MP3 is a compressed file format. In order to make a file smaller it cuts out commonly unused frequencies --- Or, frequencies commonly unused in music. This presents a problem because it limits your, what audio engineer’s commonly refer to as, “head room”. This, along with the AGC, will take away space in the audio and cause a crunching leaf to sound like a spooky voice saying “yes”. Some researchers also believe that these frequencies which are cut out during compression are where anomalies tend to occur. So you don’t want to limit yourself by limiting your frequency range. Same thing goes for the microphones you use. Always find the widest frequency range microphone you can find. If you are doing RTC with headphone's, find the broadest frequency responsive headphones you can find.

Another problem with “DVRs” is the previously mentioned AGC or Automatic Gain Control. This is a built in circuit that is in place to increase the loudness of the quieter sounds. It works much like an audio compressor but only increases the level when it detects a sound below a certain decibel level. This will cause distant voices to seem ghostly when they are simply someone speaking aloud in another room. Really all of these issues contribute to the problem to certain degrees.

So to put it simply, you want a digital recorder that records to wav or raw data formats at 16 bit/44.1kps or above. Not many, if any, “DVRs” have these specifications. There are alternatives, however. Rather than using a Digital Voice Recorder, look for a Digital Field Recorder. These are either aimed at creating music or broadcasting and the like. They are higher fidelity and overall better quality. I know that many paranormal investigators are using the Zoom H2 now and that is a great unit. It records up to 24 bit/96kps and records to wav or MP3. It also has the ability to turn off the AGC, along with many other nice features. I use this unit and have been thoroughly enjoying it. For example; I recently received a couple possible anomalies to review that came from a “DVR” that records to MP3 at 16 bit/32kps and uses an AGC. I was able to listen to the same spot on the audio data from the H2 and realized what seemed like a ghostly “hello” was simply someone readjusting their position and rustling some covers on a bed. So high fidelity is the way to go. I cannot tell you how many false positives are simply pareidolia. There are plenty of other Digital Field Recorders on the market ranging from $100 to $1500.

This isn’t to say that your old trusty “DVR” is not useful. You can still use it for recording personal notes or even client interviews. I personally am working on something to use my old “DVR” as a data collection device for different light spectrum's --- more on that when I get it built and working.

If you can’t, or don’t want to, dish out the money for a field recorder then there is another, albeit cheaper, option- Old school cassette tape. Even though tape does have its slight frequency limitations, and can create hiss, it is uncompressed. Sometimes cassette recorders do have an AGC circuit so you have to be careful about that. On top of all this, some researchers in the past have claimed that anomalies may show up better on magnetic tape. In fact in the earlier years of EVP research this is what was believed to cause the anomalies. As far as I know this research was never completed. People simply picked up the next handy techno gadget and ran with it.

With cassette tape you must use an external microphone to avoid recording the gears of the tape machine. This, however, is a plus because often times the external microphone you buy will have a broader frequency range than the built in microphone. You can normally buy a nice cassette recorder for $20-$50 and a nice external microphone for $15-$35. So for $40 you can have a nice tape set up. Additionally, cassette tape is dirt cheap nowadays. I once came across a red tagged deal of 50 tapes for $15.

So overall, you want to know your equipment and how it performs. You want to know its specifications and limitations. If we want the hardened skeptics to ever think twice, we are going to have to bone up on the way things are done. Offering up a pile of Electronic Voice Pareidolia is simply not cutting it and frankly, it makes the paranormal field look like a bunch of mush brained jackasses.


Please Validate Me!

Originally posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Please Validate Me!

Over and over it seems that groups of "ghost hunters" are going way far out of their way to validate themselves or their group. I see it with just about every newer group out there and it is sad. If you wear matching t-shirts, I am talking about you. The matching tee's with the group logo does nothing but scream "I am validated." In fact, your shirts may as well state that on the front in a spooky typeset. The only time that these shirts would be warranted is if you are in a location where security needs to know who you are. The ghosts in a cemetery do not require that your group be valid. If you design shirts and wear them in public for advertisement, perhaps it is not so bad. By all means though, remember you are representing your group when you wear it in public. At least use the common sense to not wear them to a private residence or an investigation that is intended to be kept private.

Another common thing that screams "validate me" is the paranormal "radio" show. You just have to love the mess that blogtalk is. Granted there are a few good ones out there, the vast majority of these shows suck. If you have a radio show and the majority of the time you talk up your team, it is not interesting. Only your friends and group care to listen to you polish your own turds. You are doing nothing more than begging for validation. If you want a good show, have good guests or talk about things of interest.

The easiest one to ridicule is the "TAPS family member" llama shit. I personally would not want to be tied to those dimwits. Your integrity drops by volumes when you associate yourself with TV fraud. Do you really want your research associated with trickery and made for TV horror? I would hope not. TAPS may have been a reputable group at one time. Now they are not even half respectable and by screaming "validate me" through them, you lose.

Equipment is another thing. There is nothing wrong with being a gear whore, I am one myself. When you just HAVE to have that latest shiny blinking gadget out there, you are being screwed by the business of ghost gadgetry. I still see ghost hunters breaking their bank accounts trying to purchase a thermal imaging camera. If you research how they work, you would not want one in the first place.

There are also the ones that just have to visit the big famous haunts. You know the ones, Myrtles, Waverly, Fort This and Fort That. What they fail to realize or even admit to sometimes is that most of these locations boil down to two things. You either went on a tour or "investigated" a room full of people. Going to these big locations doesn't mean jack. They don't make your team valid. Do go check them out and enjoy the tour. Most are awesome locations and need the tourism.

The truth is, if you are secure enough in your abilities as a paranormal researcher, you do not need validation. Your work will speak for itself. You do not need every bell and whistle to validate yourself. Instead of spending that money for the latest back-lit must-have EM field meter, how about spending some time reading and learning. Instead of incorporating your team, why not read up on the equipment that you use and how it works in detail. Gain validation through knowledge, not these shallow attempts at it. Hone in on your skills and not para-validity.


Hypothesis: EVP and room reverberation

Originally posted on Sunday, February 08, 2009

Hypothesis: EVP and room reverberation

Here is the basic hypothesis for the research project I'm starting on. I'm posting this in an effort to not only share with others what I am working on, but I hope that if there are any inconsistencies in my method that someone will point them out. Also if anyone knows any audio experts that may be willing to take a look, please point me to them. Some basic protocol has been left out because it really doesn't need to be stated over and over again to those in the know.

Hypothesis: The basis for my research project suggests that legitimate Electronic Voice Phenomena(EVP) can not produce room reverberation like the voice of a living person in the same room. Since the idea of EVP is that the anomaly is not heard at the time of the recording, I assume that no air is ran across vocal cords to produce sound waves. Basic physics dictate that it would be impossible for these anomalies to produce any natural room reverberation without moving air to produce the sound waves. The anomalies should at the very least not possess the same reflection time as the control. Overall reflection time is expected remain static regardless of the dB range.

Testing: Controls will be recorded at the beginning of each session for each room where data is recorded. Non-compressing studio quality recording equipment will be used as opposed to low fidelity dictation devices or tape machines(which produce "hiss"). Measurements of the room will also be taken for use with the Sabine Formula. The sessions will take place in a controlled environment as to avoid any false positives. All data will also be collected only at indoor locations where rooms can be measured.

Analysis: Only "Class A" data will be analyzed. "Class A" indicates a clear, intelligible, and audible anomaly with the volume of a normal speaking voice or above (e.g. No whispers or faint
anomalies will be analyzed or reviewed). The Sabine Formula will be used to gather expected reverberation time to compare with the control data. Any anomalies will be reviewed as well and both will be used to look for any inconsistencies. I do however see some problems with the Sabine Formula because it does not take in any consideration for sound absorbing materials such as ceiling tile, carpet or large windows and doors which may allow sound waves to escape rather than to reverberate. Taking control recordings should help to adjust this. In some cases, placement of the living speaker or control may help to avoid any problems with this. Since the anomalies are obviously uncontrolled, placement won't help with them.

Added: In some cases, random anomalous noises(non-vocal) may also be analyzed, since sound waves work the same whether they are vocalized or not. However, it may be wise to use video to back up whether the noises are anomalous or not. It would also be best to use distinct sounds which are identifiable as something not present when data was recorded. For instance, a vacuum cleaner would be analyzed rather than random knocks and the like. It may be wise to remember that spontaneous noises do not indicate the existence of life after death.

I would also like to point out that this theory is pointed towards "intelligent" anomalies. Anomalies of a "residual" nature may very well contain a room's natural reverberation. Since we are unsure how residual anomalies are recorded, it is impossible to assume either way. This will be another side of this research.

Sabine Formula: I have tested the Sabine formula and found that it predicts overall reflection time with a good amount of accuracy. Since it measures overall reflection time, early reflections do not need to be reviewed. In addition, since early reflection times normally vary and are practically impossible to measure, I do not find them necessary. Overall reflection time in an average sized room is difficult enough to measure. For the most part, I find listening with the ears and brain to be the best option. The Sabine formula may still be found to be relevant at a later date and will always be there to back up the research along with the controls.

This project will be long term and I don't expect to finish next month or even next year. The main reason, though, is the tiny amount of "Class A" data I've received in the past. These things don't grow on tree's as some would believe. Please comment, ask any questions you may have or point out any flaws in my logic.

Update (12-7-09): I have managed to record one EVP matching the required criteria. Unfortunately, it was unintentionally 'stepped on' by an investigator so I could not fully analyze the reverberation. Early reflections, however, show no reverberation present.


Paranormal Experts?

Originally posted on Dec. 30, 2008

It's often said that there are no "experts" in the field of paranormal research. I see this statement as an enabler for the bullshit artist. I also see it as somewhat of an untrue statement. Sure, no one has all the answers. If it was proven that life after death existed, many people would lose interest in the paranormal. At least according to many popular "reasons" that people state for belonging to this field in the first place. We're all "looking for answers", right? I believe that there are indeed experts in the paranormal field. No, these people don't have the answers, and no, they have not proven that ghosts exist. They do however know what they are doing as opposed to many who have entered the field in the past few years.

There are people who are well versed in the field of paranormal research and there are people who haven't a clue. There are people who know the difference between Gauss and EM frequency and others who don't. There are people who know who Raudive was, or Zener and Rhine, or Houdini's influence in the field, and there are people who don't. There are people unfamiliar with Harry Price and others who think Jason and Grant were the first ghost hunters. There are people who understand why a door can open by itself and people who only understand that a ghost did it. There are still people bothering with thermal imaging and IR thermometers, even though they don't work as expected by the researchers who first picked them up. And the K-II meters are still flying off the shelves... Are you still sure there are no experts in the field? The beginner is going to follow whatever is popular(or what they see on TV). That is all that they know. The experts, which I feel do exist, are going to use a bit more knowledge based logic. Why research something if common sense or other researchers have already done so and disproved the theory and/or recognized the red herring within? If you understand how an IR thermometer works and how it is not going to pick up a cold spot in the air, then why use one?

I have also met people who claimed to be "experts" when they were not. Or even worse, they are "audio experts" who don't have a clue what A/D conversion is or what it consists of.

When we say "there are no experts in the field", we enable bullshitters such as Chris Moon and the rest of the con men. To the con man, no experts equals plenty of saps. And while there are plenty of suckers in this field, we should not enable these charlatans. It makes us look bad on a whole, suddenly we all become con artist.

There is always something to learn in this field. It never stops. If it does, you have failed and should find a new hobby. There are experts in this field and they know the difference between you and them. There is no indication in the definition of expert that requires the answers:

a person who has extensive skill or knowledge in a particular field
1. skillful or knowledgeable
2. of, involving, or done by an expert [Latin expertus known by experience]

I do not consider myself an expert but I am no beginner either. There are people out there who blow me away with their knowledge. I am constantly learning and never plan to quit. This is the attitude you must possess in this field. If you stop at GH101, go hold hands and tip a table, Spiritualist.