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Running Your Own Ghost Investigation? 810

Posted by timothy
from the whooooo-whooooo-or-woo-woo dept.
Quirkz writes "I am a skeptic, but have friends and family who swear by their ghost stories. I have access to a supposedly haunted house and been tempted to run a proper scientific investigation. My first question is what sorts of tools or measurements would make for sensible metrics to test during a hunt? Temperature change seems to be a common one, but the other devices you'll see ghost hunters use seem pretty random. The second question is what kinds of results would it take to be 'interesting'? Baseline readings at several presumably non-haunted locations seem to be obvious requirements for comparison. Once you have those, what kinds of results would it take to convince a skeptic there's something unusual going on, or demonstrate that there's not? I don't have much hope of changing the minds of those who believe, but it would be satisfying to at least be scientific about it."
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Running Your Own Ghost Investigation?

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  • Proton Pack (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:54PM (#34784896)

    You definitely need a proton pack: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_pack [wikipedia.org]

    • And a name change. If you really want to find evidence of paranormal emanations?

      I suggest "Venckman"...

    • Re:Proton Pack (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sqldr (838964) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:28PM (#34785334)
      well, there's actually a really easy way to tell if your house is haunted:

      it isn't.
      • Re:Proton Pack (Score:4, Insightful)

        by metacosm (45796) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:52PM (#34785662)

        Parent++.

        I don't see how playing into your families delusions helps them or you? Why not hunt for the Easter Bunny with them, or Santa... or setup a trap for the tooth fairy.

        • Re:Proton Pack (Score:4, Insightful)

          by sumdumass (711423) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @11:10PM (#34786922) Journal

          What makes you think they are delusions?

          Seriously, I mean the scientific approach wouldn't be that they are delusional, it would be that no evidence has been presented to you. Unless you can scientifically explain away whatever they presented as evidence for their beliefs, the best you have is that you aren't convinced. Not that they are delusional.

          The concept of a haunting has been around for quite some time. Some of it probably is misinterpreting facts and a mind running creatively wild, or purposeful lies designed to influence behavior of some sort. But you can't say all or every single claimed instance is because you simply do no know the facts or have the ability to test them. And as we all know, the lack of evidence does not mean it's impossible, it only means it hasn't been proven yet.

        • Re:Proton Pack (Score:5, Insightful)

          by williamhb (758070) on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:28AM (#34787786) Journal

          Parent++.

          I don't see how playing into your families delusions helps them or you? Why not hunt for the Easter Bunny with them, or Santa... or setup a trap for the tooth fairy.

          Slightly funny anecdote, but childrens' belief in Santa and the Tooth Fairy is entirely scientific [blogspot.com]. Every time, they conduct a falsifiable experiment (put out a cookie / tooth that might not be consumed / taken) and every time they come back with a positive result. They even do peer review, asking their fellow peers (children) what their results were (what they got from Santa), and even validate the experiment with respected and more experienced experimenters of the past (their parents, who swear blind that the results are genuine). They are only thwarted because there really is a grand world-wide ongoing conspiracy to interfere with their experiments and falsify their results.

          • by Locke2005 (849178)
            Except the part about getting coal in your stocking if you have been bad may be a myth. My daughter conducted a survey of the kids at her school and could not find a single reported incident of any child receiving coal, no matter how poorly behaved they were. Of course, it's hard to prove a negative.
        • Re:Proton Pack (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday January 07, 2011 @10:37AM (#34790584) Homepage Journal

          If you see something you can't understand or explain, science to the rescue -- that is, if you can come up with a testable hypothesis, which is damned hard in these cases.

          I've seen a "ghost" twice, both in very old houses. As Scrooge told Marley, "you could be a bit of undigested beef", but in the first case that was impossible. I was still married and the kids were babies, we were poor, living in a tiny house right next to a railroad track. Something woke my ex and I up at the same time, and a dim light seemed to come down the hall. Both of us saw a thin woman with dark hair wearing an antique dressing gown.

          We thought it was a burglar. She ran in to check on the kids, and I went down the hall after the woman -- who was gone, simply not there, and there was nowhere she could have hidden. There's no way two people are going to hallucinate the same thing at the same time; that's even more far fetched than the spirits of the dead walking the earth.

          The second time I was home alone sitting on the toilet, and a woman walked up to the bathroom door, startling the hell out of me. The odd thing was, I seemed to startle her as well -- then she vanished.

          The second could have been a trick of the light, digestion, etc, but the first was inexplicable. Maybe sometimes one can see into a paralell universe, or into a different time or something? maybe a wormhole opened up? There's really no way to tell.

      • by petsounds (593538)

        Really. And you know that how exactly? From your own scientific investigations? It's amazing to me that geeks and scientists equate "ghosts" with deception, fraud, and religious hocus-pocus.

        Which is fair I guess. We've all had issues we've been immovable rocks on, our feet firmly planted in ideological surety. And there's certainly been more than a bit of dubious evidence presented. But that's as fair to the subject at hand as saying cold fusion is a fraudulent idea because two guys claimed they could do it

      • Re:Proton Pack (Score:5, Insightful)

        by shawb (16347) on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:51AM (#34787912)
        While I personally agree with you, that line of reasoning will not convince believing friends and family that the house isn't haunted.

        That's okay, though. Because a thorough scientific investigation will not convince believers either. The slightest wobble in any of your readings will be read as a haunting. Lack of wobble in the readings will be read as a haunting. A complete failure to find any evidence of ghosts will be taken as evidence that the ghosts do not want to be found.

        And then there's a good chance that your work and or words will be taken out of context in a way that seems to support ghosts, but will be worded in such a way that a FORMER SKEPTIC now BELIEVES!

        Basically, don't do it.
  • Gullibility,

    Not sure who sells that online....

  • Burden of proof. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seor Jojoba (519752) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:56PM (#34784930) Homepage
    It seems like a mistake to go to some place and look for the absence of an anomaly. The burden of proof is on the one who makes the claim. You will never prove that ghosts don't exists in a house. Maybe they will be there tomorrow when you aren't around. Maybe you don't have the proper equipment to detect one.
    • Re:Burden of proof. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:10PM (#34785118) Journal

      The burden of proof is on the one who makes the claim.

      This.

      As a scientist you should never discount an idea without first reviewing the facts. Facts are much more powerful than any first hand accounts of people who say they saw, felt, heard, or smelled something.

      The typical ghost hunting equipment is a Video Camera, Flashlight, Thermal filter for the Camera, and Magnetic field detector.

      However, I have never once seen any footage that couldn't have been explained by high school physics, or shown to be anything more than a hoax. And you likely won't either. If you are a skeptic, you should not be afraid to wander the dark hallways and should be able to determine that any odd readings are actually coming from a logical source that most people are too afraid to check into.

      I remember watching one show, and they were absolutely surprised that this "one pipe" was giving off a lot of heat and this "other pipe" was giving off some weird Magnetic field. I dropped my jaw as it was obviously a central heating pipe (no doubt with hot water flowing through it) and an Electrical conduit, no doubt powering the lights upstairs. I then hit my head against the wall when they said it was clear evidence of something weird going on.

      • by Pharmboy (216950) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:26PM (#34785310) Journal

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell's_teapot [wikipedia.org]

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster [wikipedia.org]

        At this point, there has been enough claims without evidence to simply say "I don't think they exist, and you are free to show me evidence contrary", and then explore from that point. Going out to that town's resident "ghost house" on a whim to try to prove one thing or another isn't science. He might as well go to the ocean and prove there is or isn't sea monsters. In both instances, the net result won't be Science®, and isn't even good, interesting or unique pseudoscience.

      • by jonbryce (703250) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:44PM (#34785548) Homepage

        The problem is that the statement "there are ghosts" is not falsifiable. There isn't an experiment you can perform that will prove they don't exist. Maybe the experiment scared them away, or they just didn't turn up etc.

        The statement "there are no ghosts" is falsifiable. It can be proved wrong by demonstrating the existence of the ghost.

        • by williamhb (758070)

          The problem is that the statement "there are ghosts" is not falsifiable. There isn't an experiment you can perform that will prove they don't exist. Maybe the experiment scared them away, or they just didn't turn up etc.

          The statement "there are no ghosts" is falsifiable. It can be proved wrong by demonstrating the existence of the ghost.

          Technically not quite true. Follow it through - how do you demonstrate the existence of the ghost? You have to demonstrate that the supposed "ghost" could not have had a mundane (physical) explanation, and bugger we're back to proving a negative again. "There are no ghosts" is not practically falsifiable because any falsification itself cannot be falsified (and thus can never be accepted).

          This sort of issue is always going to devolve to a philosophical argument. The reason being that strict materialsim

        • by Bodrius (191265) on Friday January 07, 2011 @03:16AM (#34788298) Homepage

          The problem is that we keep taking colloquial statements from non-scientific people we disagree with and pretending they are properly stated hypothesis to build a strawman so we can feel better about our intellectual superiority.

          Finding 'what the heck is going on here?' is the most basic of scientific endeavors, yet the comments here overflow with predetermined conclusion on the theological question of ghost-existence, with a notorious absence of interest in any actual facts or potential evidence for the 'haunting' phenomena. This reflex is precisely why so many non-technical people think science is just like a 'secular faith with its own beliefs'.

          To pick an arbitrary example, no doctor would work like that and claim its scientific:
          - hey doc, I spent all day in the rain and got a flu...
          - you're an idiot, you can't get the flu without being in contact with the virus. Now get out of my office unless you can really prove you got it from standing in the rain!

          Instead, the doctor would extract the core of what the patient (not assumed to be a doctor or a scientist) actually means ('I feel bad, like when I've had the flu before'), interrogate the patient for the facts and details (symptoms, timelines, contact with other sick people), and translate that into a useful hypothesis for the disease and its cause... and at least go through the process before yelling hypochondriac.

          Of course "there are ghosts" is not a useful scientific hypothesis.It's actually not a question of falsifiability, but specificity: 'ghosts' is not defined well enough to even get to the falsifiable part. Like 'god' most people in a conversation don't mean the same thing with that word, and a *lot* of people won't mean the same thing at different times in the same conversation.

          But the people saying 'there is a ghost in this house!' are rarely trying to build a scientific hypothesis, or are even trained to do that either. They apply 'ghosts' as a shorthand for 'something weird is going on' and a blind jump of faith to a lot of cultural baggage of 'stuff people have said in the past was related to similar weird stuff', as a way to communicate that 'unknown' experience through a common meme. Much like people have always done when other stuff happens and they guess at some pattern: health and sickness, weather, economic hardships, magnets, etc - and people are often wrong when they do that, but that doesn't mean there was no phenomenae to feed those memes in the first place.

          Maybe an investigation finds nothing more than construction defects, bad insulation, gas leaks or defective electronics - if it was fun enough to spend the time, so what? Maybe it finds something more surprising than the usual (without requiring theological explanations).
           


          • The problem is that we keep taking colloquial statements from non-scientific people we disagree with and pretending they are properly stated hypothesis to build a strawman so we can feel better about our intellectual superiority.

            *This*

            I see so many of these sophomoric types on the internet. I avoid "skeptics" and atheist groups because of it. These people discover no new knowledge. They just cut down some person's ridiculous view and then puff their chest out like they are Socrates.

            What a tiresome bo

      • Re:Burden of proof. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by RsG (809189) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:56PM (#34785716)

        An interesting thing I read a while ago suggested that some of the supposed symptoms of "hauntings" are actually mundane, infrasonic phenomena. To wit, if a location has a source of sound waves not far below the boundary of audible frequency (machinery, pipes, ducts or even just free flowing air through the right structure) people and animals will react to the noise with alarm, even though we can't hear it. This has been suggested as one possible mechanism whereby certain animal species react in advance to seismic phenomena. It's possible a person could enter a room with a sustained infrasonic hum and attribute their instinctive sense of alarm to a malevolent presence.

        So I'd suggest that guy who asked slashdot get microphones and recording equipment that can pick up on sound below 20 Hz. I've no idea where or how you'd get this equipment, or whether this would be a viable option for an amateur sceptic on a budget, but it's worth looking into.

        If you find a recurring sound in a location where supposed "hauntings" have occurred, try to locate the source. It might be the problem can be solved by calling a plumber instead of an exorcist.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          If this is indeed the cause of many such "hauntings", there should be more investigation into this, and some equipment made to quickly and easily identify these infrasound problems as the culprit. Just because there aren't any real ghosts involved doesn't mean there's not a problem: if a not-quite-perceptible sound is causing people to feel strange feelings in certain locations, that's a problem that should be corrected, or else people won't want to use those buildings. With proper equipment to identify t

        • Re:Burden of proof. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by smbell (974184) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:53PM (#34786306)
          From what I've read (Google finds some stuff) infrasonic vibrations cause feelings of fear and 'of being watched'. They can also affect vision to cause blurs or 'ghostly images'. I don't have any direct experience, but it's been the explanation that seems to make the most sense to me.
      • by timothyf (615594)

        Exactly.

        If you really want to tackle this problem, ask the people with the stories what "proof" they have that ghosts are haunting the place, and then formulate an experiment that can test for that proof. Or, if it's transient phenomena, do the detective work to come up with any alternate hypotheses. Them saying that "it must be a ghost" really just means that they lack knowledge that would allow them to explain it any other way. You will definitely not be able to "disprove" it in any other meaningful way.

        M

      • by blincoln (592401)

        The typical ghost hunting equipment is a Video Camera, Flashlight, Thermal filter for the Camera, and Magnetic field detector.

        There's actually no such thing as a thermal filter for a regular camera. There are certainly infrared filters, but they are near infrared bandpass (like conventional night vision), not thermal (far) infrared. Capturing thermal images requires a specialized sensor and optics - regular glass can't be used.

        That having been said, if the author of TFQ has the budget, they can certainly bu

    • by causality (777677) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:33PM (#34785404)

      It seems like a mistake to go to some place and look for the absence of an anomaly. The burden of proof is on the one who makes the claim. You will never prove that ghosts don't exists in a house. Maybe they will be there tomorrow when you aren't around. Maybe you don't have the proper equipment to detect one.

      Perhaps not, but if you really do detect anomalous activity that you are unable to explain, it would help falsify the notion that we are able to explain every possible activity that can take place in an empty house. Of course that wouldn't prove that there are ghosts, that people survive death in some kind of non-corporeal form, or anything like that. However, it would lend credibility to the notion that there may exist forces that science has not yet understood, that there are phenomena we may be no more aware of than people who lived a thousand years ago were aware of radio waves. As you say, finding nothing unusual wouldn't make it any easier to prove a negative, but if something were found that cannot easily be explained by known phenomena, that would be interesting.

      I can see how some people would consider it worthwhile to conduct these experiments. Honestly, I would be a bit disappointed if it turned out that we already know about every possible physical force and/or physical process that could exist in the universe. As long as such experiments are scientifically sound, I see nothing wrong with them.

      • by rahvin112 (446269)

        Before anyone runs around talking about ghosts they need to step into the real world. That house you live in is constructed of several thousand components, and several dozen different materials. Concrete, steel, Brick, Stucco, Wood (even different species and the fineness of the grain affect the rates), Wire, and even the carpet pad and carpet expand and contract at different rates under thermal pressure. Every single building in the world has thermal zones with differing temperatures and combined with seas

  • Why not just make it up? That's what Andrew Wakefield did to "prove" MMR vaccines gave children autism.

    I can't imagine why anyone would want to bother doing a serious investigation. Do what they do with all those horrid son-of-blair-witch-project TV shows do and just bullshit.

  • by plover (150551) * on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:58PM (#34784942) Homepage Journal

    Bring some common fucking sense, and a stick to hit those who didn't bring any?

  • Buy an Edison Phone from Chris Moon [hauntedtimes.com] and his mom.
  • by Quasar1999 (520073) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:59PM (#34784964) Journal
    Take the people who believe they're in a haunted house and send them through an MRI to see what part of their brain is damaged. Don't waste your time in the supposed haunted house, the feeling of a 'presence' and 'ghosts' and any other paranormal crap is all in the person's head. So start there.
  • Ghost investigations? Nothing else in the queue for the front page today?

    Dear Slashdot, I have family and friends that believe the Earth is 6,600 years old, what tools do I need to prove them right?

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:02PM (#34785016) Homepage

    ...an objectively testable prediction. If you can't get them to make such a prediction quit wasting your time.

  • Proper preparation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by simonbp (412489) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:02PM (#34785018) Homepage

    If TV is any guide, make sure sure to practice your reflexes: you must be able to scream in terror at the slightest sound, movement or smell. Also, cultivate your sense of paranoia, because how else will you see the ghosts behind every action? Plus, go down to the hardware store and buy every piece of random electronic testing equipment, because any sensor will detect ghosts if you look hard enough...

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:08PM (#34785096)

    The Ghostbusters [wikipedia.org] also use equipment to hunt and find ghosts, such as a PKE meter, Ecto-Goggles, and a Ghost Sniffer. A PKE meter is a handheld device, used in locating and measuring Psycho-Kinetic Energy, which is a unique environmental byproduct emitted by ghosts. The device's most prominent feature are winged arms that raise and lower in relation to the amount of PKE detected while a digital display gives an exact reading for the operator. The Giga meter is a device similar to the PKE meter, featured in Ghostbusters II. As explained by Egon in the original script, the Giga meter measures PKE in GeV, or giga-electronvolts. Ecto-Goggles, sometimes known as "Spectro-Visors", are a special pair of goggles that visually trace PKE readings. They are particularly useful in helping its wearer see normally invisible ghosts and it can also be used to assist in tracking ghosts within a visible field of search.

  • by porky_pig_jr (129948) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:08PM (#34785102)

    wouldn't be easier just to change both friends and family?

  • by digsbo (1292334) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:08PM (#34785106)

    I'd recommend something like an FMRI or PET scanner which can determine when you're perceiving something (i.e. don't measure the house, measure yourself).

    Since ghosts don't seem to show up on recordings in any reliable, repeatable way, it suggests that if they do exist they directly project their energy into the brain, rather than manifest physically. So you'd need to detect the perception, rather than the physical anomaly itself (which probably doesn't exist).

  • by Platinum Dragon (34829) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:11PM (#34785142) Journal

    Get your relatives copies of Carl Sagan's "The Demon-Haunted World".

  • by makubesu (1910402) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:21PM (#34785254)
    there have been times where I've wandered these parts late at night in lonely topics, and I swear I've heard the cries of the negative karma posters, screaming for revenge. They say their souls will not rest until they've compensated for their sins in life. On nights like these, they say you can see their cold remarks beckoning from the mist, trying to pull you into hell with them...
  • by holophrastic (221104) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:22PM (#34785270)

    Just shout, really loudly, "HEY GHOST!".

    If you hear "HEY HUMAN" then shout "MARCO?". If you hear "POLLO!" go find the source of the sound.

    If it's your friend, laugh. If it's nothing, lather-rinse-repeat. If it's a ghost, you'll see it. Then ask it to follow you home.

    What the hell else are you going to do? Temperature change? Wind. What the hell, it can change by ten degrees in an hour quite easily.

    Like everything else in english, you have to answer one question: what's a ghost. Define the term, circle the nouns, and look for them. Then underline the verbs and see if the nouns are doing the verbs. Since when does anyone define a ghost as something that can change temperature. That's just a lot of hot air -- maybe from the ghost.

  • by tetrahedrassface (675645) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:34PM (#34785410) Journal

    Hunting for ghosts can be fun, exciting, educational (if you like history) and perhaps a healthy outlet. As a skeptic myself, my wife and I really enjoy staying in supposed haunted hotels. We have stayed in several, and most of the hotels are old, beautiful, and historic. We haven't found a ghost yet, although we have had some weird things occur that seem odd. It doesn't matter at the end of the day (or night) that some poltergeist or level 5 free form book stacking apparition hadn't come into our room. What did matter is that we did something fun and cool together.

    Now, some people will try to make you feel stupid for wanting to explore a house that has supposed strange goings on, but in reality these same people would have subscribed to Pluto being a *real* planet, or the Earth being flat, or of the aether theory. They also can't explain why the two Voyager spacecraft haven't reached the Heliopause, or what exactly *is* dark matter. They don't have those answers do they? Did anyone see it coming that the periodic table was changed? In short not very many things are nailed down as far as being immutable. Perhaps supposed hauntings are vibrational in nature and related to another plane of existence. Perhaps 'hauntings' are a great demonstration of the phenomenal power of the human mind, or maybe hauntings are really just an example of the power of the human mind and its propensity to create stories in an attempt to rationalize an event whose mechanism is unknown to the witness.

    What I *do* know is that irregardless of all those things, we don't even take cameras, or really even poke about the haunted hotels we stay in. We just have fun and learn a bit of local history wherever we happen to be. In ending, life is full mystery and fun, and maybe indulging in a bit of fantasy and romance in a world that seems hell bent on destroying every legend, myth, and bit of intrigue that's left out there isn't so bad after all..

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:35PM (#34785426) Journal
    Ghosts can be quite amiable to being photographed, but you don't want to end up in a situation where the spirit was willing but the flash was weak.
  • by Artifakt (700173) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @08:56PM (#34785720)

    Temperature change - it's not a very reliable metric for a reading in free air. A cool breeze from a natural cause can rapidly change your readings. Less than ethical 'spiritual investigators' could even deliberately open a window or run water and not record that part on video, and abandoned old houses are very likely to have large openings that allow large drafts - the typical 30 years abandoned house has holes big enough for stray cats or raccoons to get in and out.

    So, would you get better data if you shielded a temperature probe from drafts, and placed it against a sizable thermal mass like a concrete wall or granite mantle-piece. What if you measured a 20 degree change in seconds on a heavy thermal mass object with a sensor that was protected from other sides by a sealed Styrofoam shell, while you had strips of light paper hung nearby in many directions to indicate possible drafts? You're not just looking for a change, but a change whose type and magnitude makes it less likely there's a sufficient natural explanation.

    Noises - Turn on the faucets and see if you can produce a natural water hammering noise. Make sure to include ones down in the basement or outside the house. Open chimney flues. Open or close furnace or air conditioning vents, even if they appear not to be hooked up to the main system any more. Try different settings in many combinations. Check water even if the water is supposedly completely turned off, as sometimes a little trickle is leaking, and it will build up to normal pressure and cause transient effects that you can't reproduce unless you let that pressure build up for days again. Do a survey of all the rooms, including closets, and look for evidence of nesting birds, rodents and other possible organic sources of odd sounds. You know all those movies with the wind blowing scratchy old tree branches across the shingles? Look for real possible cases of those. Watch for ways somebody could try to sneak up close to the house and deliberately hoax you, because anyone trying that will probably use noises. That doesn't mean, of course, that any noise you still can't explain is supernatural.

    Lights - A good camera could record a mysterious light accurately, much more accurately than a cheap one. Old fashioned film cameras might reveal things that don't show to digital ones, and vice versa. You might even be able to mount multiple types of cameras and/or film stocks so you could trigger them all at once and get interesting comparison photos. A simple prism can spread out the spectrum of a strange light on a flat wall, you can get a test light source that has known peak frequencies to 'calibrate' the prism so you aren't just reporting that the peak looked vaguely greenish, and a really strange spectrum that can't be from something like car headlights or a flashlight reflecting around might be pretty good evidence, or at least guide you in going further next time. A camera can record color much too faint for you to see, so photograph those faint specta with long exposures. Imagine if the spectrum you photograph is almost monochromatic, with only a few sharply defined peaks, and those are not on wavelengths that match any commercial laser pointer or specialty florescent bulb or other such source. Or what if a polarimeter reveals the odd light is elliptically polarised? A pair of polarised sunglasses and a bit of cross polarising filter you can rotate before them is a pretty cheap piece of test gear.

    Electronics. Old fashioned CB radios or kid's walkie-talkies might be less hypersenitive to interference than your modern devices. Experiment to find ways to communicate with helpers that don't seem subject to odd noises. What does your digital display look like when its signal is glitching from normal causes? What does your radio handset sound like as you and your helper walk farther and farther apart outdoors, until one of you walks under a highway overpass? If there is something really strange going on, you won't know it because systems are experiencing normal failures, but you might just spot something really interesting if the failure mode ISN'T one of the normal ones.

    • Good post, parent. Thanks. Adding my 2c:

      Set and setting always seem to be important when investigating these vague psychological artefacts. If you go in there armed to the teeth with your ghostbusting equipment and attitude, you're not going to see anything.
      I suggest attempting to induce the experience. Watch ghost vids on youtube, a horror flick in the cinema just prior to entering the haunted house or tell ghost stories while you're there. Do it at night and don't turn the lights on, bring a lot of candle

  • Creeping Mysticism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:07PM (#34785872) Homepage Journal

    I had noticed that reason and critical thinking were fading in the world of late, but I never thought that the rot would get so bad that the foremost geek site on the internet would be giving credence to this sort of rubbish. What the hell were the editors thinking? What should I even have to say that ghosts don't exist and that this "investigation" may as well be looking for invisible green unicorns?

    As a society, we're reverting back to superstition and ignorance. We've even given up on even imagining a better future [vgcats.com].

    The only question I ask is: where did it all go wrong? When did the world abandon progress?

    • by Quirkz (1206400)
      I think you're having a misplaced cynicism attack here. I'm out to debunk far more than I'm out to encourage superstition. Debunking is a great scientific endeavor. But part of that process having a conversation about the superstition first, in order to better be able to explain things away.

      And since when is any question that involves acquiring a handful of curious gadgets inappropriate for slashdot?

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