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Ghost hunting

Ghost hunting

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Ghost Hunting is the process of investigating locations that are reported to be haunted by ghosts.
Typically, a ghost hunting team will attempt to collect evidence claimed to be supportive of paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 activity. Ghost hunters often utilize a variety of electronic equipment, such as the following types: the EMF meter
EMF Meter
An EMF meter is a scientific instrument for measuring electromagnetic fields . Most meters measure the electromagnetic radiation flux density or the change in an electromagnetic field over time , essentially the same as a radio antenna, but with quite different detection...

; digital thermometer
Thermometer
Developed during the 16th and 17th centuries, a thermometer is a device that measures temperature or temperature gradient using a variety of different principles. A thermometer has two important elements: the temperature sensor Developed during the 16th and 17th centuries, a thermometer (from the...

; handheld and static digital
Digital camera
A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

 video camera
Video camera
A video camera is a camera used for electronic motion picture acquisition, initially developed by the television industry but now common in other applications as well. The earliest video cameras were those of John Logie Baird, based on the electromechanical Nipkow disk and used by the BBC in...

s, such as thermographic
Thermographic camera
A thermographic camera or infrared camera is a device that forms an image using infrared radiation, similar to a common camera that forms an image using visible light...

 (or infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

) and night vision
Night vision
Night vision is the ability to see in low light conditions. Whether by biological or technological means, night vision is made possible by a combination of two approaches: sufficient spectral range, and sufficient intensity range...

; digital audio recorder
Dictation machine
A dictation machine is a sound recording device most commonly used to record speech for later playback or to be typed into print. It includes digital voice recorders and tape recorders....

; and computer.

Traditional techniques such as conducting interview
Interview
An interview is a conversation between two people where questions are asked by the interviewer to obtain information from the interviewee.- Interview as a Method for Qualitative Research:"Definition" -...

s and research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

ing the history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 of a site are also employed. Some ghost hunters refer to themselves as a paranormal investigator.

While many groups claim to utilize scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

s in their search for the paranormal, science cannot confirm the existence of ghosts. Ghost hunting can be classified as a pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

.

Popularity


The Internet, films (like Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters is a 1984 American science fiction comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The film stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis and follows three eccentric parapsychologists in New York City, who start a...

), and television programs (like Most Haunted
Most Haunted
Most Haunted is a British paranormal documentary reality television series. The series was first shown on 25 May 2002 and ended on 21 July 2010. It was broadcast on Living and presented by Yvette Fielding. The programme was based on investigating purported paranormal activity...

, Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters is an American paranormal reality television series that premiered on October 6, 2004, on Syfy . The program features paranormal investigators Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson who investigate places that are reported to be haunted. The two originally worked as plumbers for Roto-Rooter as...

, The Othersiders
The Othersiders
The Othersiders is an American paranormal reality television series that premiered on June 17, 2009 on the Cartoon Network. The program follows a group of five teenagers who are interested in the paranormal and explore reportedly haunted sites to discover any paranormal activity. Aimed for a teen...

, and Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures is a weekly American paranormal television series that premiered on October 17, 2008 on the Travel Channel. Currently produced by MY-Tupelo Entertainment , the program follows and stars ghost hunters Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin, as they investigate locations that are...

), along with the increasing availability of high-tech equipment are thought to be partly responsible for the boom in ghost hunting. Despite its lack of acceptance in academic circles, the popularity of ghost-hunting reality TV shows have influenced a number of individuals to take up the pursuit.

Scores of small businesses selling ghost-hunting equipment, paranormal investigation services, and even ghost counseling are booming outside of their prime season: Halloween
Halloween
Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

. Several companies have introduced devices billed as "ghost detectors," along with the traditional electromagnetic field
Electromagnetic field
An electromagnetic field is a physical field produced by moving electrically charged objects. It affects the behavior of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The electromagnetic field extends indefinitely throughout space and describes the electromagnetic interaction...

 (EMF) meters
EMF Meter
An EMF meter is a scientific instrument for measuring electromagnetic fields . Most meters measure the electromagnetic radiation flux density or the change in an electromagnetic field over time , essentially the same as a radio antenna, but with quite different detection...

, white noise
White noise
White noise is a random signal with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal contains equal power within a fixed bandwidth at any center frequency...

 generators, and infrared motion sensors. The paranormal boom is such that some small ghost-hunting related businesses are enjoying increased profits through podcast and web site advertising, books, DVDs, videos, and other commercial enterprises.

One ghost-hunting group reports that the number of people taking their tours has tripled, jumping from about 600 in 2006 to 1,800 in 2008. Another says its membership has doubled. Others point to increased traffic on their websites and message boards as an indication that ghost hunting is becoming more accepted. Participants say that ghost hunting allows them to enjoy the friendship of like-minded people and actively pursue their interest in the paranormal. James Willis, founder of The Ghosts of Ohio group says that his membership has grown to 30 members since it was founded in 1999 and includes both true believers and total skeptics. Willis says his group is "looking for answers, one way or another" and that skepticism is a prerequisite for those who desire to be "taken seriously in this field."

Author John Potts says that the present day pursuit of "amateur ghost hunting" can be traced back to the Spiritualist
Spiritualism
Spiritualism is a belief system or religion, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living...

 era and early organizations founded to investigate paranormal phenomena, like London's The Ghost Club and the Society for Psychical Research
Society for Psychical Research
The Society for Psychical Research is a non-profit organisation in the United Kingdom. Its stated purpose is to understand "events and abilities commonly described as psychic or paranormal by promoting and supporting important research in this area" and to "examine allegedly paranormal phenomena...

, but that it is unrelated to academic parapsychology
Parapsychology
The term parapsychology was coined in or around 1889 by philosopher Max Dessoir, and originates from para meaning "alongside", and psychology. The term was adopted by J.B. Rhine in the 1930s as a replacement for the term psychical research...

. Potts writes that modern ghost hunting groups ignore scientific method and instead follow a form of "techno-mysticism".

The popularity of ghost hunting has led to some injuries. Unaware that a "spooky home" in Worthington, Ohio
Worthington, Ohio
-Dissolution of the Company:By August 11, 1804 the plat maps were completed, payments or notes promising payments collected and deeds prepared for all sixteen thousand acres of the Scioto Company's purchase...

 was occupied, a group of teenagers stepped on the edge of the property to explore. The homeowner fired on the teenagers automobile as they were leaving, seriously injuring one. Police say a woman who fell three stories to her death was apparently hunting for ghosts at an old University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 building.

An offshoot of ghost hunting is the commercial ghost tour conducted by a local guide or tour operator who is often a member of a local ghost-hunting or paranormal investigation group. Since both the tour operators and owners of the reportedly haunted properties share profits of such enterprises (admissions typically range between $50 and $100 per person), some believe the claims of hauntings are exaggerated or fabricated in order to increase attendance. The city of Savannah, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

 is said to be the American city with the most ghost tours, having more than 31 as of 2003.

Belief statistics


According to a survey conducted in October 2008 by the Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 and Ipsos
Ipsos
Ipsos S.A. is a global market research company headquartered in Paris, France. The Company was founded in 1975 and has been publicly traded on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1 July 1999...

, 34 percent of Americans say they believe in the existence of ghosts. Moreover, a Gallup poll conducted on June 6–8, 2005 showed that one-third (32%) of Americans believe that ghosts exist, with belief declining with age. Having surveyed three countries (the United States, Canada, and Great Britain), the poll also mentioned that more people believe in haunted house
Haunted house
A haunted house is a house or other building often perceived as being inhabited by disembodied spirits of the deceased who may have been former residents or were familiar with the property...

s than any of the other paranormal items tested, with 37% of Americans, 28% of Canadians, and 40% of Britains believing.

Skepticism


Many ghost-hunting groups say they find evidence of something they can't explain through scientific or natural means, yet critics question ghost-hunting's methodology, particularly its use of instrumentation, as there is no scientifically-proven link between the existence of ghosts and cold spots or electromagnetic field
Electromagnetic field
An electromagnetic field is a physical field produced by moving electrically charged objects. It affects the behavior of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The electromagnetic field extends indefinitely throughout space and describes the electromagnetic interaction...

s. According to skeptical investigator Joe Nickell
Joe Nickell
Joe Nickell is a prominent skeptical investigator of the paranormal. He also works as an historical document consultant and has helped expose such famous forgeries as the purported diary of Jack the Ripper. In 2002 he was one of a number of experts asked by scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr...

, the typical ghost hunter is practicing pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

. Nickell says that ghost hunters often arm themselves with EMF meter
EMF Meter
An EMF meter is a scientific instrument for measuring electromagnetic fields . Most meters measure the electromagnetic radiation flux density or the change in an electromagnetic field over time , essentially the same as a radio antenna, but with quite different detection...

s, thermometers that can identify cold spots, and wireless microphones that eliminate background noise, pointing out the equipment being used to try to detect ghosts is not designed for the job. "The least likely explanation for any given reading is it is a ghost," maintains Nickell. Orbs of light that show up on photos, he says, are often particles of dust or moisture. "Voices
Electronic voice phenomenon
Electronic voice phenomena are electronically generated noises that resemble speech, but are not the result of intentional voice recordings or renderings. Common sources of EVP include static, stray radio transmissions, and background noise...

" picked up by tape recorders can be radio signals or noise from the recorder and EMF detectors can be set off by faulty wiring or microwave towers.

According to investigator Benjamin Radford
Benjamin Radford
Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of the science magazine Skeptical Inquirer, former editor-in-chief of the Spanish-language magazine Pensar, which was published in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine Skeptical Briefs newsletter, Discovery News, LiveScience.com...

 most ghost hunting groups including The Atlantic Paranormal Society
The Atlantic Paranormal Society
The Atlantic Paranormal Society is an organization that investigates reported paranormal activity. Based in Warwick, Rhode Island, United States, TAPS was founded in 1990 by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. In 2004, the organization itself became the subject of Ghost Hunters, a popular weekly...

 TAPS make many methodological mistakes. "After watching episodes of Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters is an American paranormal reality television series that premiered on October 6, 2004, on Syfy . The program features paranormal investigators Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson who investigate places that are reported to be haunted. The two originally worked as plumbers for Roto-Rooter as...

 and other similar programs, it quickly becomes clear to anyone with a background in science that the methods used are both illogical and unscientific". Anyone can be a ghost investigator, "failing to consider alternative explanations for anomalous ... phenomena", considering emotions and feelings as "evidence of ghostly encounters". "Improper and unscientific investigation methods" for example "using unproven tools and equipment", "sampling errors", "ineffectively using recording devices" and "focusing on the history of the location...and not the phenomena". In his article for Skeptical Inquirer Magazine Radford concludes that ghost hunters should care about doing a truly scientific investigation "I believe that if ghosts exist, they are important and deserve to be taken seriously. Most of the efforts to investigate ghosts so far have been badly flawed and unscientific --- and, not surprisingly, fruitless."

Paranormal researcher Brian Dunning
Brian Dunning (skeptic)
Brian Dunning is the host and producer of Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena, a weekly audio podcast dedicated "to furthering knowledge by blasting away the widespread pseudosciences that infect popular culture, and replacing them with evidence-based scientific reality." He is also the...

 believes that orbs are usually particles of dust that are reflected by light when a picture is taken, sometimes it may be bugs or water droplets. He contends that "there are no plausible hypotheses that describe the mechanism by which a person who dies will become a hovering ball of light that appears on film but is invisible to the eye." He does not believe there is any science behind these beliefs, if there were then there would be some kind of discussion of who, what and why this can happen. In his investigations he can not find any "plausible hypothesis" that orbs are anything paranormal.

Methods and equipment


Ghost hunters use a variety of techniques and tools to investigate alleged paranormal activity. While there is no universal acceptance among ghost hunters of the following methodologies, a number of these are commonly utilized by ghost hunting groups.
  • Still photography
    Spirit photography
    Spirit photography is a type of photography whose primary attempt is to capture images of ghosts and other spiritual entities, especially in ghost hunting. It was first used by William H. Mumler in the 1860s. Mumler discovered the technique by accident, after he discovered a second person in a...

     and video
    Video camera
    A video camera is a camera used for electronic motion picture acquisition, initially developed by the television industry but now common in other applications as well. The earliest video cameras were those of John Logie Baird, based on the electromechanical Nipkow disk and used by the BBC in...

    : using digital
    Digital camera
    A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

    , night vision
    Night vision
    Night vision is the ability to see in low light conditions. Whether by biological or technological means, night vision is made possible by a combination of two approaches: sufficient spectral range, and sufficient intensity range...

    , infrared
    Infrared photography
    In infrared photography, the film or image sensor used is sensitive to infrared light. The part of the spectrum used is referred to as near-infrared to distinguish it from far-infrared, which is the domain of thermal imaging. Wavelengths used for photography range from about 700 nm to about...

    , and even disposable camera
    Disposable camera
    The disposable or single-use camera is a simple box camera sold with a roll of film installed, meant to be used once. Most use fixed-focus lenses. Some are equipped with an integrated flash unit, and there are even waterproof versions for underwater photography...

    s.
  • EMF meter: to detect possibly unexplained fluctuations in electromagnetic fields.
  • Tablet PC
    Tablet computer
    A tablet computer, or simply tablet, is a complete mobile computer, larger than a mobile phone or personal digital assistant, integrated into a flat touch screen and primarily operated by touching the screen...

    : to record data, audio, video and even environmental fluctuations such as electromagnetic fields.
  • Ambient temperature measurement: using thermographic camera
    Thermographic camera
    A thermographic camera or infrared camera is a device that forms an image using infrared radiation, similar to a common camera that forms an image using visible light...

    s, thermal imaging camera
    Thermal imaging camera
    A Thermal Imaging Camera is a type of thermographic camera used in firefighting. By rendering infrared radiation as visible light, such cameras allow firefighters to see areas of heat through smoke, darkness, or heat-permeable barriers. Thermal imaging cameras are typically handheld, but may be...

    s, infrared thermometer
    Infrared thermometer
    Infrared thermometers infer temperature using a portion of the thermal radiation sometimes called blackbody radiation emitted by the object of measurement. They are sometimes called laser thermometers if a laser is used to help aim the thermometer, or non-contact thermometers to describe the...

    s, and other infrared
    Infrared
    Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

     temperature sensors. It should be noted that all of these methods only measure surface temperature and not ambient temperature.
  • Digital and analog
    Analog recording
    Analog recording is a technique used for the recording of analog signals which among many possibilities include audio frequency, analog audio and analog video information for later playback.Analog recording methods store signals as a continual wave in or on the media...

     audio recording: to capture any unexplained noises and electronic voice phenomena (EVPs), that may be interpreted as disembodied voices.
  • Compass
    Compass
    A compass is a navigational instrument that shows directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth. The frame of reference defines the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west. Intermediate directions are also defined...

    : some ghost hunters used compass to determine the location of paranormal spot similar like EMF
    EMF
    - Music :* EMF , a British band** "EMF", a bonus track on EMF's album Schubert Dip* E.M.F. , a 1983 album by GG Allin* English Music Festival, a British music festival- Organizations :...

    s.
  • Geiger counter
    Geiger counter
    A Geiger counter, also called a Geiger–Müller counter, is a type of particle detector that measures ionizing radiation. They detect the emission of nuclear radiation: alpha particles, beta particles or gamma rays. A Geiger counter detects radiation by ionization produced in a low-pressure gas in a...

    : to measure fluctuations in radiation.
  • Ion meters: to detect an excess of negative ion
    Ion
    An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

    s.
  • Infrared
    Infrared
    Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

     and/or ultrasonic
    Ultrasonic sensor
    Ultrasonic sensors work on a principle similar to radar or sonar which evaluate attributes of a target by interpreting the echoes from radio or sound waves respectively. Ultrasonic sensors generate high frequency sound waves and evaluate the echo which is received back by the sensor...

     motion sensors: to detect possible anomalous movement within a given area, or to assist in creating a controlled environment where any human movement is detected.
  • Air quality monitoring equipment: to assess the levels of gases such as carbon monoxide
    Carbon monoxide
    Carbon monoxide , also called carbonous oxide, is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is slightly lighter than air. It is highly toxic to humans and animals in higher quantities, although it is also produced in normal animal metabolism in low quantities, and is thought to have some normal...

    , which are thought to contribute to reports of paranormal
    Paranormal
    Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

     activity.
  • Infrasound
    Infrasound
    Infrasound is sound that is lower in frequency than 20 Hz or cycles per second, the "normal" limit of human hearing. Hearing becomes gradually less sensitive as frequency decreases, so for humans to perceive infrasound, the sound pressure must be sufficiently high...

     monitoring equipment: to assess the level of sound vibrations.
  • Dowsing rods: usually constructed of brass and bent into an L-shape.
  • Psychic
    Psychic
    A psychic is a person who professes an ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception , or is said by others to have such abilities. It is also used to describe theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation, cold reading, and hot...

    s, mediums
    Mediumship
    Mediumship is described as a form of communication with spirits. It is a practice in religious beliefs such as Spiritualism, Spiritism, Espiritismo, Candomblé, Voodoo and Umbanda.- Concept :...

    , or clairvoyants: trance mediums or "sensitive" individuals thought to have the ability to identify and make contact with spiritual entities.
  • Demonologists, exorcist
    Exorcist
    In some religions an exorcist is a person who is believed to be able to cast out the devil or other demons. A priest, a nun, a monk, a healer, a shaman or other specially prepared or instructed person can be an exorcist...

    s, and clergy
    Clergy
    Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

    : individuals who may say prayer
    Prayer
    Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

    s, give blessing
    Blessing
    A blessing, is the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, divine will, or one's hope or approval.- Etymology and Germanic paganism :...

    s, or perform rituals for the purpose of cleansing a location of alleged ghost
    Ghost
    In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to...

    s, demon
    Demon
    call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

    s, poltergeist
    Poltergeist
    A poltergeist is a paranormal phenomenon which consists of events alluding to the manifestation of an imperceptible entity. Such manifestation typically includes inanimate objects moving or being thrown about, sentient noises and, on some occasions, physical attacks on those witnessing the...

    s, or "negative energy
    Negative energy
    Negative energy is a concept used in energy , energy , and speculative fiction for a contrast with regular or positive energy.Negative energy may be used in:- Physics :* Particle physics** Exotic matter** Antiparticle...

    ."
  • Lights out: according to ghost hunting enthusiast websites, many ghost hunters prefer to conduct their investigations during "peak" evening hours (midnight to 4 a.m.).
  • Ovilus
    Ovilus
    The Ovilus, or Puck, is an electronic speech-synthesis device which utters words depending on electromagnetic waves in the air, by using an EMF Meter. The device was created by Bill Chappell, a retired electronics engineer interested in the paranormal who creates devices for the field.-Overview:The...

    /Ghost Box: These devices are used by some investigators to provide a possible one-on-one conversation with the dead, although they are experimental in nature.
  • Interview
    Interview
    An interview is a conversation between two people where questions are asked by the interviewer to obtain information from the interviewee.- Interview as a Method for Qualitative Research:"Definition" -...

    s: collecting testimony and accounts about alleged hauntings.
  • Historical research
    Research
    Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

    : researching the history
    History
    History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

     behind the site being investigated.

See also