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Gadgets For the Ghosthunter 345

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the fool-and-his-money dept.
Zothecula sent us a sad story about the gadgetry scammers use to take money from people who believe in the pretend: "In a survey conducted by CBS News in 2005, it was found that 48 percent of Americans believed in ghosts. Other surveys have put the number at anywhere from around 20 to over 50 percent. While such figures certainly don't imply that ghosts are real, they do suggest that belief in them is relatively common. When someone does suspect that a ghost is present in their home or business, they will sometimes call in "experts" to ascertain if that is, in fact, the case... and what sort of gear do these ghost hunters use to detect said spirits?"
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Gadgets For the Ghosthunter

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  • PKE meter (Score:5, Funny)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @11:49AM (#35599174)
    I mean, duh. How else will you detect ghosts? Also make sure you have your proton pack and trap, to catch them once you find them!
  • Only Thing needed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Thursday March 24, 2011 @11:52AM (#35599210) Journal

    Ghosthunters don't need gadgets. The only thing they need is the desire and ability to separate idiots from their money.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Ghosthunters don't need gadgets. The only thing they need is the desire and ability to separate idiots from their money.

      I'll not cast aspersions on Ghost Hunters, alleging they are confidence tricksters. If you really, really do believe in spooks then you'll need a thick skin to take the skeptics and a load of patience. Other than that, energy bars, water, change of clothing are always handy, because you never know where you'll be going or how long you'll be there, waiting for a manifestation to occur.

    • Ghosthunters don't need gadgets. The only thing they need is the desire and ability to separate idiots from their money.

      I believe in this case it is the "ghosthunters" who are the idiots being separated from their money (as opposed to the "ghosthunters" on TV separating the viewers from theirs).

      • When someone does suspect that a ghost is present in their home or business, they will sometimes call in "experts" to ascertain if that is, in fact, the case... and what sort of gear do these ghost hunters use to detect said spirits?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheCarp (96830)

      I have, as a semi-captive audience, been subjected to many hours of ghost hunters. I usually do my best to bury my attention in something else but, its not always possible. A few things of note:

      1. They do seem to try reasonably hard to find normal explanations for things. Reflections from car headlights, nesting animals, that sort of thing. I have even seen them fiddle with doors to determine how easily they swing or how much force is needed to dislodge them. They often concluded that what they have found d

      • Re:Only Thing needed (Score:4, Interesting)

        by wierd_w (1375923) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @02:13PM (#35601542)

        I used to live in a haunted house, you insensitive clod!
        [lol]

        That said, No, really, I really did. I don't know how such phenomena could be explained without some very tortured rationalisms, given what I have personally seen.
        Anecdotes are not evidence, and I don't expect you to believe me, or to change your opinion. If you are truly curious about the things I have personally experienced on this matter, I can entertain you for a while, but not in this post.

        As for most professional ghost hunters, I find fault with some of their equipment, for purely geeky reasons. Such the use of digital personal voice recorders for collecting EVPs. This is bogus to me, for the simple reason that digital voice recorders use internal lossy (Lossy as hell, in fact!) codecs to store the audio data they collect. EVPs are supposed to be stored in "Inaudible" audio spectrum, which is EXACTLY what these codecs chop out to make the stream smaller. If you want to collect EVPs, get yourself an old fashioned reel to reel tape recorder, then digitize later with FLAC or PCM with a high bitrate. If anything, the artifacts left by lossy compression on those portions of the auditory spectrum are likely to cause FALSE POSITIVES than to detect genuine EVPs, should they happen.

        I do have some interesting ideas for some elaborate ghost detection equipment of my own though, but given the shoe-string budgets that most of these "paranormal investigator" teams operate on, they would never be able to afford the PARTS, let alone the training needed to use what I have in mind, or to interpret the resulting data. (basic grasp of wave mechanics would be needed to evaluate some of the datasets in order to screen out the interesting data from the boring kind-- one of the devices I have in mind would make use of electromagnetic interference with various reference signals over a broad spread of the EM spectrum, not just visible and IR light. The device would basically emit a precise calibrated waveform that is a phase conjugate with the other frequencies being probed (they are all multiples of each other, so they do not interfere on their own, but instead have wave reinforcement.) The device measures any deviations from this ideal reference waveform from particle interactions. Since ghosts are presumed to emit/absorb electromagnetic energy, they should cause such perturbations in the reference signals by interacting with them.. Multiple frequency bands would help to constrain what kinds of interaction are (possibly) taking place, or if they are happening at all. Ideally, it would have receivers in both Near and Far field areas to record both kinds of interaction. The test rig would fill a whole room. This is just one of the theoretical devices I have in mind. )

        When it comes to the validity of any "findings" that such teams come up with, I groan. Any data collected is only as good as the equipment and rigor of the team collecting it. It is VERY easy to find false positives and false trends in very noisy (eg, poorly calibrated/downright bad) data. Given the issue with the EVPs above, and the rather linear and simplistic tools that they use to collect such data, (Such devices are NOT meant for scientific research, but instead for simple domestic repairs, and to hunt down EMI radiation from wiring.) I can't help but groan when I watch them on TV.

        I guess that makes me a walking contradiction-- I have personally experienced paranormal activity, but demand data. Maybe that is why I come up with ideas for instruments?

    • by ArcherB (796902)

      I remember reading a quote here once, but don't know who said so I can't give credit.

      There is an easy way to tell if there are ghosts in your house. There isn't.

  • "gadgetry"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday March 24, 2011 @11:56AM (#35599264) Homepage Journal

    about the gadgetry scammers use to take money from people who believe in the pretend:

    It's called a "collection plate."
  • It's a 20 lb grain of salt.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @12:03PM (#35599380) Homepage

    Wow, love the image of a possible ghost [gizmag.com].

    Nothing about that says "possible ghost" to me, but "tombstone in background with light on it" -- these people seem to be really reaching.

    The few times I've tried to watch any of those ghost hunter shows it always seems like it's dramatized, or a bunch of people sitting around convinced that everything around them is proof of a ghost. "Zomg, the floor creaked".

    Hard to say if it's a hoax, or people looking too hard for something, and interpreting everything they see as 'proof'. It's hard not to cynically think that someone off camera who is part of it is scuffing their feet or something.

    I remain unconvinced.

    • The few times I've tried to watch any of those ghost hunter shows it always seems like it's dramatized, or a bunch of people sitting around convinced that everything around them is proof of a ghost. "Zomg, the floor creaked".

      I have the same problem with religious people.

      Hard to say if it's a hoax, or people looking too hard for something, and interpreting everything they see as 'proof'. It's hard not to cynically think that someone off camera who is part of it is scuffing their feet or something.

      Reminds me of Randy Travis in "Touched by an Angel's" A Christmas Miracle [rottentomatoes.com] episode. After being a conman his character takes care of his mentally retarded brother and has trouble believing in angels, god, or miracles.

      I don't believe myself, I am "a", without and "gnosys", knowledge, eg agnostic but that show helped me after my accident leaving me with a disability.

      Falcon

    • by ThinkWeak (958195)
      It's one of those things you have to see yourself to become somewhat convinced. I have the same cynical eye whenever I watch any of these ghost hunter shows and more often than naught, I think they conveniently have things happen right when you would expect them. Their EVP readings are usually inaudible and you'll hear what may be a gentle breeze and they'll replay it 5x over saying "Did you hear them say "Look out!"" If you try REALLY hard you can convince yourself you hear it too.

      I've experienced a
  • "When somebody dies, do they go into another dimension, with a very thin wall?" asks her partner, Ben Myckan. "I think that's sort of what it is. You can't destroy energy, it's just in a different dimension."

    Says the ghost hunter in the article. Really? So does that mean when my Atari finally died in 2000-something, that it's energy still lived on? Is that why I still hear Pacman and ET sounds?

    Uh. No. When the machine dies so too does it's energy. There is no atari ghost left behind, and the same i

    • So does that mean when my Atari finally died in 2000-something, that it's energy still lived on? Is that why I still hear Pacman and ET sounds?

      Uh. No. When the machine dies so too does it's energy.

      Actually the energy does live on, it's called Conservation of Energy and it's an empirical law of physics. Whatever energy was there is still there, dissipated into the environment, or converted to another form of energy. Energy doesn't just "die".

    • by ekimminau (775300)

      "When the machine dies so too does it's energy. There is no atari ghost left behind, and the same is true for the carbon-based machines we call animals/human beings. The brain loses oxygen, the nerves shrivel & disconnect from one another, and the personality erases."

      But what about the THETANS!!!??? [wikipedia.org]

    • Uh. No. When the machine dies so too does it's energy. There is no atari ghost left behind...

      Do you mean there is no such thing as Silicon Heaven? Then, where do all the calculators go?

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @12:07PM (#35599432)
    I think the reason many people either "believe in ghosts" or, at a minimum, lean in that direction (I'm in the latter category) is most people seem to know someone they trust who has seen or experienced something weird. In my case, my sister and several friends have seen apparitions at a rustic old resort we go stay. They have no reason to make up stories. In my case I've never seen anything, but odd stuff happens from time to time in my old house. I'll turn out all the lights before going to bed, then I'll take the dog out for his business and come back to find all the lights turned on again. In the middle of the night, with everyone asleep, I'll hear footsteps in the house and get up to find the house empty. I'll put books away in then in the morning find them lying on the floor. Ghosts? I dunno. I trust the scientific method and they say there are no ghosts. But weird? For sure.
    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      Exactly. My grandfather has had someone call him up from the house he was renting from him and said he could see someone out the window sitting on a chair on the porch. The guy was accurately describing my great grandfather, who had been dead for years. My girlfriend and her sister have both claimed to have seen their great grandmother at their grandmother's house(my girlfriend actually claims to have seen her twice, several years apart). Her and her other sister have also claimed to see a shadow man at
    • by cojsl (694820) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @02:02PM (#35601348) Homepage
      Agreed. When someone "experiences something weird", there is an explanation. But that explanation may be beyond our current limited understanding of the workings of our universe and reality. It seems to be arrogant to claim that "ghosts" don't exist, when some limited cases may be phenomena beyond our current ability to measure and explain. Before the discovery of bacteria, we could sense and measure their effects, but were unable to explain the mechanism. This didn't mean that bacteria didn't exist though.
  • "and what sort of gear do these ghost hunters use to detect said spirits?"

    My guess is that other spirits are heavily involved, those of the distilled variety....
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday March 24, 2011 @12:08PM (#35599454)

    It was discovered that 48% of Americans are also fucking morons.

  • Atlantic City, Mohegan Sun, Atlantis, yadda yadda.

    Any place there is a casino there's an entire city devoted to separating gullible people from their cash. How is Ghost Hunting any different?

    I can also name hundreds of products that do not work as advertised (The Sony PS3 being a prime example, Other OS anyone?), and those people that bought these products are just as blinded.

    Hasn't anyone heard of P.T. Barnum?

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      How is Ghost Hunting any different?

      Because gambling can be fun. I'm not a big gambler, but I admit that I've dropped money in AC. I've also won money there. It gets the juices flowing and can be exciting, even though you know the odds are against you.

      I know a guy who plays the lottery and is otherwise quite smart. I asked him why and he said that $1/week is a very cheap price to get his mind daydreaming about what he'd do with the money. He's not stupid or gullible, he just likes to get his juices going. :)

  • Okay, so belief in ghosts pretty much requires a belief in the supernatural, including various God concepts, right? Do so many people believe the Universe is so poorly constructed?

    Me, I'm not a believer; but I'm always amazed by how much power religious types insist on ascribing to their assorted devils, spooks and spirits.

    • I have seen studies (although I no longer have links to them) that said that self-professed atheists were more likely to believe in ghosts than self-professed Christians. This made sense to me since the concept of ghosts is contrary to Christian theology.
      • by Creedo (548980)

        I have seen studies (although I no longer have links to them) that said that self-professed atheists were more likely to believe in ghosts than self-professed Christians. This made sense to me since the concept of ghosts is contrary to Christian theology.

        Apparently you are not overly familiar with Christian theology. Most Christian sects believe in the ability of various human spirits to materialize before the living, especially in the area of so-called "saints." In addition, ghosts are referenced in their holy books. Are you not aware of the story of Saul and Sammuel? Or that the Jesus character affirms the basic characteristics of ghosts in the gospel of Luke?

        Atheism is a lack of a belief in a deity. While it is likely strongly correlated with a reject

    • Okay, so belief in ghosts pretty much requires a belief in the supernatural, including various God concepts, right?

      One would think so. At least that would be the logical consequence.

      Oddly enough, many people belief in some sort of spirits but not in God. Ghosts, spirits, or some vaguely defined non-material-being-world have become a replacement for old fashioned religion. You will find people defining themselves as atheists, who still try to communicate with transcendent beings.

    • Okay, so belief in ghosts pretty much requires a belief in the supernatural, including various God concepts, right?

      Not really, there are a whole lot of belief structures out there. You don't need to believe in gods to believe in spirits, or at least the kind of gods that created everything. Various tribal traditions work along those lines, where powerful spirits were more of a result of natural forces than the cause of them. An all powerful deity is just handier if you want to control people and take all their money. I'd say this is different to "ghost hunters" though, lots of them genuinely believe what they are peddli

  • Everybody knows, er should know, ghosts are programs doing things they shouldn't do. They're bad or misbehaving.

    Falcon

  • by JohnnyBGod (1088549) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @12:18PM (#35599604)

    Here's Penn & Teller's take on it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09eBzjxlu1s [youtube.com]

  • Because, as we all know, there's only one substrate that could possibly hold consciousness.

    I mean, you'd have to store neural processing algorithms, lots of data, current system state...

    Hold on. I'll finish that thought right after I finish copying this app to my thumb drive.

  • Bullwinkle: "Illee-beenie-chili-beanie. The spirits are about to speak!"
    Rocky: "Are they friendly spirits?"
    Bullwinkle: "Friendly? Just listen!"
  • Regardless of the nuts and all of those that prey upon the weak minded there really is something of great substance and power around us that we can not normally perceive. I wonder how many minds would crack the first time they got a really good glimpse of the other side of the mirror.

  • Funny thing ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {etreufamla}> on Thursday March 24, 2011 @12:31PM (#35599776)

    If the word "Ghost" in the article were replaced by "god", the article would still be correct, but it would have never been posted.

    If I say "Ghosts aren't real", I get moderated informative. If I post "That particular Ghost you call god isn't real", I get moderated troll.

    Irrational, isn't it?

  • I don't really care if people believe in ghosts, but please stop making horrible TV shows about trying to "find" them.
  • I'd love to see some ghost hunters on TV wander around with an infrasonic detector. I suspect that almost all 'confirmed hauntings' could be debunked fairly quickly.
    (ref: Wikipedia entry on infrasound [wikipedia.org])

A motion to adjourn is always in order.

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