An electromagnetic field meter is one of the most popular pieces of ghost hunting kit, but why are EMF meters so commonly used by ghost hunters? And what is the connection between ghosts and electromagnetic energy?
EMF meters are simple to use, often consisting of nothing more than an on/off switch. They detect and alert you to fluctuations and spikes in electromagnetic flux from 50 to 1,000Hz. The device gives instant feedback via a digital display or LED indicators, usually five.
The belief within the paranormal community is that ghosts either emit an EM field or they disrupt the ambient field. This is based on the fact that the human brain uses minute electronic impulses, and when someone dies they continue to live on outside of their body as a form of psychic energy. It's thought that this energy is the same as the synaptic energy of the brain.
This is why ghost hunters often use electromagnetic field meters to detect the presence of ghosts. Robert Bess, a ghost hunter and physical engineer believes that ghosts are nothing but electromagnetic fields of energy, they appear in our plane of existence but are often undetectable due to cycling at a very low rate.
An EMF meter can be used to communicate with spirits during a séance. Participants encourage the spirits to come forward and try to trigger the lights on the EMF meter to show that they are present or to indicate an answer to a question.
The K-II EMF meter is the most popular meter, but like all devices of its type, it is susceptible to interference from many external factors. They can be triggered by things like mobile phones and walkie talkies, so this should be accounted for when investigating. Phones should be turned off and results discredited if a radio is being used. EMF meters are also prone to interference from things which might be beyond your control like radio transmissions, and interference from sources in neighbouring properties like baby monitors, and even fluorescent lights.
The biggest problem with the theory behind EMF meters is that they don't and can't detect "brainwaves". If you hold one near your's or anyone else's head, there is no change in the EM field strength. In fact, even if our brains did kick out a strong enough current it still wouldn't be detected as EMF meters aren't designed to detect it. Brainwaves cycle at 12.5 to 30Hz, lower than the minimum 50Hz threshold of an EMF meter.
Let's assume for a minute than an EMF meter could detect electric frequencies of dead spirits, then shouldn't they be able to detect living beings' fields too? Like when I hold the device to my head? Or shouldn't it alert me when a friend walks into the room?
I've never seen any device which uses EM fields to detect the presence of a living being whether it be a human or animal, which makes it even harder to accept there's a link between paranormal activity and EM fields from a scientific stand point.
Of course, there's always the argument that ghosts are beyond science. We can speculate that the frequencies or field strength increases outside of the body or in the case of ghosts and spirits.
While this important scientific link seems to allude researchers, it seems there is some evidence that shows how electromagnetic fields can induce strange experiences in people exposed to them. When field strength is high or aggressively fluctuating it can affect the temporal lobes of the brain.
The symptoms can range from seeing light anomalies, feeling a perception of a presence, or sensations of being touched. The effect can be replicated in a lab when a subject's head is placed between the poles of an alternating current magnet in a darkened room. As the field strength is increased, the person will begin to see a faint glow and strange lights.
Michael Persinger, a Canadian neuroscientist has been recreating the phenomenon in his laboratory for years. He uses a specially designed helmet which uses a weak pulsed magnetic field to induce the feeling in volunteers. According to his finding, someone exposed to these kind of fields for just 15 minutes can start to feel like there's an invisible presence in the room.
This could explain some reports of hauntings in locations where there is an erratic or strong electromagnetic field. The best way to validate a haunting is to ensure that there are no constant or erratic fields in or around the property using an EMF meter. If you find the location has a high or changeable field strength then you should bare in mind that people in the building maybe susceptible to these fields and should use other methods other than human senses to validate the claims.
For example you may want to discredit light anomalies seen with the naked eye and instead rely on evidence captured on camera which shouldn't be effected by low level EM fields.