Who Ya Gonna Call? Ghost Hunters & Hunting

Vardoger

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Yes, until ghosthunters produce clear evidence of the paranormal we have to remain cynical, but as far as I know it hasn't happened yet.
At least ghosthunters have got the nerve to go into spooky locations in the first place, so full credit to them for that..:)

PS- This vid is interesting as they seem to have captured a human-like shape crawling across the floor on all fours from right to left (1:45) before dropping onto its belly and slithering off like a lizard, but it could be a trick of the light or whatever-


It's very faint but I've outlined it in this screenshot-

View attachment 14591
Here's a video evaluating the creeper footage.
 

Dropship

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Thanks, I'm a bit puzzled as to why the cameraman didn't say "What's that?" the instant he saw it and move over quickly to get a close up, I know I certainly would have!
Instead, he delayed and gave it time to crawl off..
 

GNC

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It's nice to be noticed! But it would be nicer if this guy didn't make such outrageous assumptions about me (and other things). (He might be a ghost hunter.) He seems to be a Zak Bagans fan boy. So, I don't really value his opinion very highly. But to say that "entrepreneurial efforts of such TV investigators manage to fund far more investigations than academic parapsychology" is pretty bizarre. Does that mean we all should just skip with the scientific experiments and peer review and just do reality TV?

Me, elitist? Naw. But I am damn cynical about the future when so many people accept dramatic drivel as legit.
To add to that (not that you asked me to), it's a bit unseemly to turn the FT Letters pages into a slanging match, too. Though to be fair, that missive stood out like a sore thumb amongst the usually more literate content.

I wonder what equipment a legit scientific investigation would use that would make for better results? Assuming there are any results there to be found.
 

Sharon Hill

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Yes, until ghosthunters produce clear evidence of the paranormal we have to remain cynical, but as far as I know it hasn't happened yet.
At least ghosthunters have got the nerve to go into spooky locations in the first place, so full credit to them for that..:)
Hmm, some of the ghost hunters I've known are far more scared of stuff than me. I recall spiders being particularly abhorrent. They wouldn't go into a small space to check out a weird noise because... bugs.

Ghosthunters' evidence will never be clear. The real world where these experiences happen is too full of possible explanations to ever discount them all and conclude "it's paranormal". The best you can ever say is "I don't know what that was" which happens all the time. But it's hard to figure out a cause that may be transient. This is a problem with all Fortean phenomena. If it was easy to document, we'd have cleared all this up by now. Evidence for ghosts must be repeatable (somewhat predictable - like lightning or earthquakes) for whatever reason (maybe one we haven't thought of yet) and available for other people to capture. That evidence must lend itself to a hypothesis that must be tested. No one can even say what a ghost is because it has changed over time and is a product of culture. We define it in terms of our experiences.
 

Sharon Hill

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To add to that (not that you asked me to), it's a bit unseemly to turn the FT Letters pages into a slanging match, too. Though to be fair, that missive stood out like a sore thumb amongst the usually more literate content.

I wonder what equipment a legit scientific investigation would use that would make for better results? Assuming there are any results there to be found.
Did you see the letter a few issues back about Persinger's work? :omg:. That was something.

Several paranormal investigation groups have given up on the TV-style and asked for help from academics in their local universities to set up experiments. They repeatedly visit locations that have reported events and collect environmental data to see if any patterns show up. I like this because it's actual science and even if there is nothing spooky, they may discover something interesting. I've advocated for this approach but people still just mostly like to hang out and wait for an experience (which is fine, just don't expect others to buy that as an "investigation").
 

Dropship

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Evidence for ghosts must be repeatable (somewhat predictable - like lightning or earthquakes) for whatever reason (maybe one we haven't thought of yet) and available for other people to capture..
Hey that reminds me of the classic TV film "The Stone Tape" where a group of hi-tech electronic experts discover that the old country house they're working in contains a ghost, so they switch all their efforts into trying to trigger/capture it.
(The term 'The Stone Tape' refers to the possibility that the stone walls of buildings 'record' people and events, then play them back as ghosts)-

SPOILER ALERT- the ghost puts in its first appearance at 13:34, a Victorian chambermaid screaming at the top of a flight of steps; and old news reports confirm that a maid did fall to her death there many years ago.
Another spooky scene (at 1:00:45) is when their computer starts printing out warnings(?) on its own initiative- "Pray...soul...prayer..."
PS- everybody forgets to wonder what exactly made the maid scream and fall in the first place...

 
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Sharon Hill

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Hey that reminds me of the classic TV film "The Stone Tape" where a group of hi-tech electronic experts discover that the old country house they're working in contains a ghost, so they switch all their efforts into trying to trigger/capture it.
(The term 'The Stone Tape' refers to the possibility that the stone walls of buildings 'record' people and events, then play them back as ghosts)-
I am very familiar with the Stone Tape idea. Regardless, I really liked this movie. Very effective and enjoyable fiction.
 

escargot

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Hey that reminds me of the classic TV film "The Stone Tape" where a group of hi-tech electronic experts discover that the old country house they're working in contains a ghost, so they switch all their efforts into trying to trigger/capture it.
(The term 'The Stone Tape' refers to the possibility that the stone walls of buildings 'record' people and events, then play them back as ghosts)-

SPOILER ALERT- the ghost puts in its first appearance at 13:34, a Victorian chambermaid screaming at the top of a flight of steps; and old news reports confirm that a maid did fall to her death there many years ago.
Another spooky scene (at 1:00:45) is when their computer starts printing out warnings(?) on its own initiative- "Pray...soul...prayer..."
PS- everybody forgets to wonder what exactly made the maid scream and fall in the first place...

Reminds me in turn of the story I read, possibly on'ere somewhere, where people working in a recording studio possibly somewhere in the Caribbean picked up a strange voice. It's masculine and gruff, and repeats 'HE is WEAK but I am STRONG!' like a chant.

Maybe I've heard the recording, or it just reading it made a strong impression on me, but I seem to know exactly how it sounded and sometimes say it to myself...
 

Dropship

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Reminds me in turn of the story I read, possibly on'ere somewhere, where people working in a recording studio possibly somewhere in the Caribbean picked up a strange voice. It's masculine and gruff, and repeats 'HE is WEAK but I am STRONG!' like a chant.
Maybe I've heard the recording, or it just reading it made a strong impression on me, but I seem to know exactly how it sounded and sometimes say it to myself...
I wonder who's voice it was, and who it was referring to.
JC said "Satan has no hold on me" so my money's on the kid from Nazareth....:)
 

Analogue Boy

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I am very familiar with the Stone Tape idea. Regardless, I really liked this movie. Very effective and enjoyable fiction.
This drama made a big impression on a lot of Forteans of a certain age. I watched it when it first aired and I loved it.
Remember in those days, we’d just come from bleak Play For Today kitchen sink dramas and a gazillion sitcoms. Aside from Dr.Who, Quatermass, and imports like Twilight Zone, Outer Limits etc, homegrown sci-fi and supernatural themes were not as prevalent on the 3 channels we had as the smorgasbord of fantasy stuff we can graze on with our remote control these days.

i wonder if there’s value in researching viewing habits in regard to expectations of a supernatural encounter? While Victorians were impressed with a bit of cheesecloth ectoplasm, maybe the CSI effect has led to a more technological approach to investigations.
 

Frideswide

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There's a radio version as well as the more commonly references TV one :)
 

EnolaGaia

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... i wonder if there’s value in researching viewing habits in regard to expectations of a supernatural encounter? While Victorians were impressed with a bit of cheesecloth ectoplasm, maybe the CSI effect has led to a more technological approach to investigations.
I'd say 'yes', because over the last couple of centuries there have been parallel and interrelated evolutionary developments along 2 thematic tracks or paths:

(1) What evidence does it take to impress or even convince an audience something extraordinary exists / happened; and
(2) Given such presented evidence, what does it take to convince the audience it's authentic - i.e., not 'faked'.

At first it was primarily a matter of item (1) above. There was word of mouth, followed by a long period of reliance on text and hand-drawn illustrations. Both these presentation modalities were essentially 'take it or leave it', because you can say and / or draw anything.

(This is why 'illuminated' manuscripts aren't necessarily 'illuminating' ... :reyes: )

IMHO the revolutionary innovation was photography, which for the first time afforded the ability to show an audience a 'real image' of the allegedly extraordinary subject matter.

The limits of faith in photographic images started to become apparent with the proliferation of trick photos in the last half of the 19th century. With respect to paranormal matters, this came to a head at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries when spiritualist photos were widely debunked.

From that point onward, item (2) became more important. The public was increasingly aware that all sorts of fantastic realistic images could be produced - even in the optimally realistic realm of motion pictures. By the time of the post-WW2 UFO mania, photographic evidence had a relatively short half-life before being scrutinized for authenticity. Fifty to sixty years earlier few readers questioned whether the 'ectoplasm' might be cheesecloth; later many readers would immediately wonder whether the flying disk was actually a thrown hubcap.

Over the last 6 or 7 decades the range of evidence provided in relation to item (1) has expanded to include non-visible / indirect things like signals, radar blips, sensor readings, etc. This in turn has expanded the range of factors that must be taken into account in establishing authenticity (i.e., item (2)).

It's like an escalating arms race ... The more subtle the evidence presented, the more tricky it becomes to validate that evidence. The more sophisticated the means for data collection, the more different ways one has for massaging or faking that data (and / or the explanations put forward for what that data may represent).

This has brought us to the current situation, where (e.g.) nobody claims to see any human-like specter and an electronic readout is all there is to indicate such an entity may have been encountered.
 

Sharon Hill

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i wonder if there’s value in researching viewing habits in regard to expectations of a supernatural encounter? While Victorians were impressed with a bit of cheesecloth ectoplasm, maybe the CSI effect has led to a more technological approach to investigations.
There is surprisingly little research regarding correlation between TV/movies with paranormal themes and belief. Sparks did two studies (1997 and 2001) related to paranormal viewing habits. The results between them were inconsistent. He also did not differentiate between fictional depictions and non-fiction/reality TV, which blossomed later and was quite its own thing (for various reasons). Mainstream skeptic orgs love to bemoan TV as a source of increasing belief but that is absolutely not straightforward. Those with interest seem to be drawn to the shows and it may serve to reinforce belief. There may be a resonance effect where the depiction reinforces one's personal experiences. Many people watch non-fiction depictions yet retain a large degree of uncertainty as they try to come to terms with what to believe or not. More research is definitely needed.
 

Sharon Hill

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I might as well drop this here in case anyone is interested. Please message me if you want a copy. A part 2, which is way more interesting, is coming in June.

"Meme-spirited": I. The VAPUS model for understanding the prevalence and potency of ghost narratives
Australian Journal of Parapsychology
Volume 18 Issue 2 (Dec 2018)
Hill, Sharon A1; O'Keeffe, Ciaran2; Laythe, Brian3; Dagnall, Neil4; Drinkwater, Kenneth5; Ventola, Annalisa6; Houran, James7

A review of nearly 20 years of sociocultural research and trends on "ghostly episodes" (ghosts, haunted houses, and poltergeists) suggests that personal accounts, group investigations, and popular depictions of anomalous experiences function as active, meaningful, and potent cultural memes. These, in part, reflect interpersonal or group dynamics grounded in Durkheimian models, as well as Social Identity and Conflict theories. Expanding on and integrating these themes, this paper provides a general framework that explains the enduring popularity of ghost narratives in terms of their versatility, adaptability, participatory nature, universality, and scalability (VAPUS model). This perspective implies that ghostly episodes, as experiences and narratives, embody and exemplify the marketing concepts of "brand personality" and consumer engagement. Accordingly, social and cultural influences are discussed as important and inherent contextual variables that help to produce, promote, shape, and sustain these narratives.
 

Analogue Boy

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I'd say 'yes', because over the last couple of centuries there have been parallel and interrelated evolutionary developments along 2 thematic tracks or paths:

(1) What evidence does it take to impress or even convince an audience something extraordinary exists / happened; and
(2) Given such presented evidence, what does it take to convince the audience it's authentic - i.e., not 'faked'.

At first it was primarily a matter of item (1) above. There was word of mouth, followed by a long period of reliance on text and hand-drawn illustrations. Both these presentation modalities were essentially 'take it or leave it', because you can say and / or draw anything.

(This is why 'illuminated' manuscripts aren't necessarily 'illuminating' ... :reyes: )

IMHO the revolutionary innovation was photography, which for the first time afforded the ability to show an audience a 'real image' of the allegedly extraordinary subject matter.

The limits of faith in photographic images started to become apparent with the proliferation of trick photos in the last half of the 19th century. With respect to paranormal matters, this came to a head at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries when spiritualist photos were widely debunked.

From that point onward, item (2) became more important. The public was increasingly aware that all sorts of fantastic realistic images could be produced - even in the optimally realistic realm of motion pictures. By the time of the post-WW2 UFO mania, photographic evidence had a relatively short half-life before being scrutinized for authenticity. Fifty to sixty years earlier few readers questioned whether the 'ectoplasm' might be cheesecloth; later many readers would immediately wonder whether the flying disk was actually a thrown hubcap.

Over the last 6 or 7 decades the range of evidence provided in relation to item (1) has expanded to include non-visible / indirect things like signals, radar blips, sensor readings, etc. This in turn has expanded the range of factors that must be taken into account in establishing authenticity (i.e., item (2)).

It's like an escalating arms race ... The more subtle the evidence presented, the more tricky it becomes to validate that evidence. The more sophisticated the means for data collection, the more different ways one has for massaging or faking that data (and / or the explanations put forward for what that data may represent).

This has brought us to the current situation, where (e.g.) nobody claims to see any human-like specter and an electronic readout is all there is to indicate such an entity may have been encountered.
You’ve certainly summed up the argument better than I did.

I brought in CSI as an example of how much a forensic scientific job could be sexed up for a TV series. Blue light is a cool thing to wave around at a crime scene and looks great on camera. How better it is to show some techy professionalism than to turn up at some supposed haunted site with various boxes that register something but there’s no account of what they do, why they sometimes fail, what they’re really registering or whether the supposed phenomenon occurs on a regular basis or even if ordinary factors can be eliminated inthe first place.
I doubt ghost hunters rigorously test their equipment in a series of normal, unhaunted locations to test the limitations.

When the pseudo scientific approach of electronic bells and whistles fails to go off, it’s handy to have a ‘sensitive’ to create a narrative to keep the drama going but what proof is there in that?

I’ve seen a few photos from posters here and links to other pics from ghost hunts and think ‘Why not get a good camera and then you wouldn’t have to ask us about your low-res artefacty images of whatever it is we’re supposed to be seeing?’

I’ve never experienced the group dynamic of a ghost hunt or the correspondence that occurs afterwards but I’m sorry, if photographing some kitchen units is regarded as an excellent night, I just don’t see the point.
 
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Analogue Boy

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I like to watch ‘the back of TV’, which means I’m interested in camerawork, lighting, production values, narrative, props and timing of commercial breaks. Oddly, the ghost hunt shows I see always show an escalation towards the end with major incidents happening just before the ad break. Children’s toys seem to feature regularly too. Of course these shows usually have the caveat along the lines of ‘for entertainment purposes only’.
 

Swifty

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I've been invited to join Spit Sprectral (correct spelling) tonight on a ghost hunt at a tiny abandoned church that's said to be quite active, especially by a 17th century rector who liked his drink and his women. We might take a whisky miniature along as a trigger object as well as a few other things. We're planning on chalk outlining the stuff we'll have lying around.

https://www.facebook.com/Spectral.spit

The only suitable equipment I can think of to take along is my camcorder, big and small tripods and my phone. There'll be 5 of us in all each with similar equipment as well as a medium who'll be singing some sort of old monk chants I'm told. I'll be one of the camera team.

Can anyone recommend any other gear I can take along? ... low tech or high tech.
 

titch

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I've been invited to join Spit Sprectral (correct spelling) tonight on a ghost hunt at a tiny abandoned church that's said to be quite active, especially by a 17th century rector who liked his drink and his women. We might take a whisky miniature along as a trigger object as well as a few other things. We're planning on chalk outlining the stuff we'll have lying around.

https://www.facebook.com/Spectral.spit

The only suitable equipment I can think of to take along is my camcorder, big and small tripods and my phone. There'll be 5 of us in all each with similar equipment as well as a medium who'll be singing some sort of old monk chants I'm told. I'll be one of the camera team.

Can anyone recommend any other gear I can take along? ... low tech or high tech.
A torch, notebook and pen and a flask of tea. A digital voice recorder if you can get one at short notice.
Please give me a full report afterwards!
 

Swifty

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Digital voice recorder, EMF meter. One of the ones used for detecting electrical cables in walls does the job very well!
Thanks both of you .. I forgot about the notebook and pen so that's going into the bag, I think it's a bit short notice for me to borrow an EMF meter from an electrician but thanks for the tip for the future. I've dug out my Ghostbusters logo T Shirt just for a bit of fun. I'll be taking a couple of hag stones with me to cover the superstitious angle, I wish I'd though to make a couple of dowsing rod but we'll be setting off in 4 hours time. (I've got my flask and a ham roll ready!).
 

Ringo

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Flask of tea/coffee and/or soft drinks.
Food - it takes a lot of energy to stay awake all night and you'll need fuel. Sandwiches, chocolate bars etc.
Wooly hat and gloves - keeping warm is important or the vigil becomes en endurance test.

When it comes to supernatural things - a small bag of flour, some marbles or other smaller items. A light dusting of flour on a flat surface and then place the marbles on it. Ask the spirits to play with the marbles - the flour helps to see if anything has rolled/moved.

Other than that, take a Smartphone. It does loads of stuff that you can use:

1. Camera - photograph everything. Doors, walls, position of furniture etc before you start. That way everything can be compared later. It's no good saying that a chair has moved if you haven't got a photgraph of its original positon.

2. Voice/memo recorder: EVP experiments.

3. Compass: Good for measuring fluctuaions in magnetic fields. If someone senses something, open the compass and stick your near them to see if there are any weird things going on magnetically.

4. Torch: Obvioulsy.

But switch your phone to flight mode first to avoid creating signals which others could register with their equipment.
 

Swifty

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Flask of tea/coffee and/or soft drinks.
Food - it takes a lot of energy to stay awake all night and you'll need fuel. Sandwiches, chocolate bars etc.
Wooly hat and gloves - keeping warm is important or the vigil becomes en endurance test.

When it comes to supernatural things - a small bag of flour, some marbles or other smaller items. A light dusting of flour on a flat surface and then place the marbles on it. Ask the spirits to play with the marbles - the flour helps to see if anything has rolled/moved.

Other than that, take a Smartphone. It does loads of stuff that you can use:

1. Camera - photograph everything. Doors, walls, position of furniture etc before you start. That way everything can be compared later. It's no good saying that a chair has moved if you haven't got a photgraph of its original positon.

2. Voice/memo recorder: EVP experiments.

3. Compass: Good for measuring fluctuaions in magnetic fields. If someone senses something, open the compass and stick your near them to see if there are any weird things going on magnetically.

4. Torch: Obvioulsy.

But switch your phone to flight mode first to avoid creating signals which others could register with their equipment.
Ta .. will switch all phones to flight mode and try to find a compass .. we've got a separate voice/memo recorder so that's sorted ..

Here's where we're going:

 

Frideswide

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Take a big enough notebook to scribble stuff down without worrying about running out of paper. Try a time line, for example, where every 15 minutes you note where people are, what they are doing.

Don't make a big thing of it, just create a solid timeline against which everything else can be matched later :)

Also, both a sense of wonder and a sense of common - as my Gran used to say :) In other words be a fortean.

Experience and record first. Interpret later. And don't be put off by people not "getting it". Take photos of whatever you want, sometimes "randomly.
 

Swifty

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If you've got an iphone then there's one on it. Not sure about Android phones.
I haven't got an iPhone unfortunately, one of the others might though.

My mate's just loaned me a laser projector than can cover a wall with a static grid so we can hopefully play with that, I've just fixed my hand held electric fly zapper so that should sort the bugs from the orbs .. it won't settle the dust problem though. I'll be taking a small copy of the new testament and a couple of hag stones as well. In for a penny, in for a pound.
 

Coal

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Largest memory card your phone will take and a back-up battery and lead for the phone.
 
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