I'm normally quite respectful and accommodating of people's beliefs and theories when it comes to the paranormal, but sometimes on a ghost hunt, I hear the most ridiculous things, and it's hard to bite my tongue. Luckily, this usually happens in a dark environment, so at least I can roll my eyes unseen.
When it comes to the paranormal
and the behaviour of ghosts, very little, if anything, is proven fact. Some things are agreed upon as the accepted explanation, such as the idea that poltergeists are responsible for physical phenomena. Whether poltergeists exist or not, by definition, they are said to throw things around.
People also have theories about certain aspects of the paranormal, which is fine. Some theories may be right; some may be wrong. For instance, someone might say, "the belief is that spirits can affect this device by coming close to it." In this case, they're not stating as fact that a ghost can trigger the device; they're just saying that's a commonly held belief.
While many aspects of the paranormal and investigating ghosts are unknown and debated, there are things that can be easily understood. For example, we know that a mobile phone in close proximity to a K-II meter will cause it to trigger, or that dust can create the effect of orbs when using a night vision camera.
What really irritates me is when people push an agenda or opinion that clearly isn't true or accurate, not because it's a belief or theory, but because they haven't bothered to test the claims they're making. What annoys me is when people share claims that they could have easily debunked if they'd taken just a little time to try to understand them.
I attend quite a few public ghost hunting events, and from time to time, I hear these ridiculous claims being made by team members. This isn't an attack on any particular paranormal events company. For the vast majority of the events I attend, the team doesn't make these errors, but every now and again, you come across one team member who shares one eye-roll-inducing belief as if it is proven fact.
Below are seven of these ridiculous claims that are commonly misunderstood, inaccurate or unproven that are told to guests of ghost hunting events as a definitive fact.
Temperature Guns Detect Cold Spots
Cold spots are often associated with ghostly goings-on. As a result, investigators frequently use point-and-click infrared digital thermometers to measure significant changes in temperature. These handheld devices have a laser sight, which allows you to aim it at a specific point. You then press the trigger, and a screen on the device instantly tells you the amount of heat being radiated from that object.
Point-and-click infrared digital thermometers are very accurate and reliable when it comes to measuring the temperature of a surface or an object, but they can't measure air temperature. So, if someone feels cold and you point the thermometer at them, you'll only be reading their body temperature, not the temperature of the air around them. In other words, you can't detect a cold spot with a temperature gun.
Cat Balls Are Triggered By EMF
Light-up cat balls are often used on public ghost hunts because they provide a pleasing visual display when triggered that guests can watch out for. Although these inexpensive, plastic balls are designed as playthings for kittens, they are useful on ghost hunts because they can be placed on the floor, and if anything touches them, they light up and flash wildly.
However, I've recently heard it said that cat balls are triggered by electromagnetic fields (EMF). This is a perfect example of a claim that is very easy to disprove, but it was being presented to guests on this particular event as fact. It only takes a few minutes of experimenting and testing these toys to realise that they don't respond in any way to EMF.
We all know that if you place a phone or certain other electronic devices near an EMF meter, such as a K-II, it will cause the meter to trigger. The same is not true of a cat ball. Exposing the plastic toy to the electromagnetic emissions of phones and similar transmitting devices has no effect. Cat balls are not triggered by EMF.
Raise The Energy To Stir Up Spirits
You may have heard the claim that spirits feed on energy, so raising the energy in a room or space will enable ghosts to show themselves or communicate with you. It's not uncommon to see investigators using a device called an EM pump during a vigil. The idea behind these gadgets is to literally pump energy out into the environment around them in the hopes that spirits can tap into this source.
At one recent ghost hunt I attended, the team member representing the events company told guests, "do anything you can to increase the energy available in the room." The obvious fact that is being overlooked here is that the easiest and most efficient way of pumping EM into a room is to turn on the lights. Light is energy in its purest form, and a mains-powered overhead light will kick out much more energy than any ghost hunting gadget. Or perhaps you could try turning on the central heating - again, this pumps energy in the form of heat into the building.
While the effect of filling a room with an energy source on spirits might be harder to detect, measure or observe, it's simple logic to realise that the little methods and techniques that are employed to "raise the energy" on a ghost hunt are hugely inefficient and ineffective.
EDI+ & Other Tools Alert You To Temperature Drops
There are several ghost hunting devices that will flash and beep when there is a sudden increase or decrease in temperature... or so we're often told. In reality, these tools, which include the popular EDI+ multimeter, are entirely ineffective at registering temperature changes. This is yet another claim that falls apart with just some simple testing. It amazes me that people don't test the equipment they put so much faith into.
Higgypop has rigorously tested these devices and found that while they do trigger if there's a temperature change, they are markedly inaccurate compared to home heating thermostats, glass thermometers, or inexpensive digital thermometers. We compared one such multi-tool to these three different types of thermometer and found it to be five degrees incorrect, even after being left in the room for an hour. Higgypop also tested the devices with sudden and extreme drops in temperature by moving them from a heated area to a fridge and found them to be highly unresponsive. One device only dropped two degrees in ten minutes when moved from 20°C to 5°C. If the device can't detect a 15°C drop in ten minutes, then what hope does it have of registering a sudden drop of 5°C instantly?"
The Sprits Are Messing With Us
The phrase "the spirits are messing with us now" gets used a lot on ghost hunts in situations where the ghost hunters get unexpected results. For example, a Ouija board spells out gobbledygook, or a male spirit says its name is Mary via a piece of ghost hunting equipment. The reason this phrase irritates me so much is that the investigator is presented with something that debunks their method, but instead of acknowledging this, they lend credibility to it.
Here's an example. Say you're part of a group of people using a Ouija board. You ask "were you a soldier?" and the planchette slides to 'yes', so you ask "can you tell us your name?" and the pointer darts across the board, letter to letter, to spell out the name "William." Great, a promising start.
You then ask "can you tell us which regiment you were in?" and the planchette tentatively slides to Z, then J, then a Q... B, G and R.
Eventually, someone often says, "the spirit is messing with us now," implying that the inability to spell the name of the regiment is a sign of tomfoolery on the part of the spirit.
Of course, it's not. What this should really tell a ghost hunter is that their methodology is flawed, or at the least, they've failed to make contact. The board failed to spell out a regiment because the participants didn't collectively know the name of any regiments to spell out. The gobbledygook doesn't confirm the presence of a mischievous spirit; it confirms that a Ouija board can, at times, if not all the time, spell out words through the subconscious movements of those using it.
We Can't See You, But You Can See Us
It's not uncommon to hear an investigator say things like, "you have an advantage, you can see us, but we can't see you." We don't know this. No one knows what it's like to be a ghost. In fact, no one can say for sure that ghosts exist or that paranormal activity is caused by spirits of the dead. This shouldn't be stated as a definitive fact. This common statement is based on an unverifiable assumption about what it's like to be a ghost.
It's Impossible To Move A Table With The Back Of Your Hands
Table tipping is a type of séance in paranormal investigations where participants place their hands lightly on a table and ask spirits to communicate by moving or tipping the table. When table tipping, guests on public ghost hunts are often encouraged not to use their fingertips and instead to turn their hands over and lightly touch the table with their fingernails. As I've heard countless people tell guests, this is because "it's impossible to move the table with the back of your hand." Only, it's not.
Again, this is another case of someone stating something as fact without bothering to check it. Admittedly, you might think at first that it's not possible to move the type of light, wobbly table used for table tipping with the back of your hands, but try it - it is possible. I have tried it and found it very easy to slowly build up a rocking motion with my upturned hands.