Is there room in the Para/Crypto/Fortean world for a gun-toting, paranoid, bipolar, opinionated bastard? A lonely romantic in search of his lost soul? A knight, Samurai, gunslinger, born in the wrong century? A self-destructive, doom-driven survivor seeking redemption? A heavy drinking gonzo outlaw cryptozoologist whose ego is exceeded only by his libido?
No, there isn't. That's why I'm here...

23 January 2010

The "Ghost Box": Tool or Toy?

One of the latest pieces of "scientific" ghost hunting equipment is the so-called "Ghost Box" (aka "Frank's Box, among other names). This device supposedly allows investigators to communicate with spirits in real time, or records ghostly communications for later playback and review.
Being a hopeless gadget freak I had to see what I could find out about this particular device. From what I've read, I'm decidedly unimpressed.
In typical "Ghost Hunters" fashion, here's the theory:
The GB allows ghosts or spirits to manipulate radio signals and frequencies in order to form words and communicate with investigators. Instead of flashing lights on the ol' K2 meter, you can actually get words, even complete sentences! Sounds awesome, no?
Well, no...
In reality, the GB is nothing more than a continuosly scanning radio reviever. There are variations on the basic design, such as adding speakers or headphones, or feeding the signal into an amplifier or digital recorder (great for editing nd manipulating "responses"!) Imagine the radio in your car. You hit the Search/Seek button, and it starts scanning the band for signals. But, unlike your car radio, the GB doesn't stop and lock on to a station. It scans constantly, picking up random words or music as it moves through the radio spectrum. Thus, (supposedly) the spirits can control the device, allowing words to come through to convey their intended message. Frankly, this is giving the ghosts way too much credit, IMHO. How do we know that they even understand radio waves, let alone manipulate them at will? Do they possess the precognitive ability to know what word is going to be said when, and on what frequency?
If you search youtube, you'll find a few demonstrations (none of which impress me) and there are plans and instructions online on how to build your own or modify a radio to function as a GB.
But, based on all I've read, seen, and heard, it's just a useless, unscientific toy that randomly picks out broadcast signals, and it's up to the operator to interpret them. (audio "matrixing", anyone?)
But unless the spirit of say, Nicola Tesla, Marconi, Einstein, or maybe Thomas Edison decides to make contact, I wouldn't expect much.


Autumnforest said...

Fantastic post!! Yahoo! Yeah, my hubby is a sound engineer and he doesn't even like the use of voice recorder devices on ghost hunts because they are technically receivers too. I've gotten a woman's satellite telephone over my answering machine when my phone didn't even ring--just because it's a receiver. You can make any "answer" fit your question during an EVP session, so I'm not usually impressed with the "intelligent response" factor. Unless one can get into a treated room where radiowaves aren't likely to travel, sound for proof of hauntings is always fishy.

On a happy note, when Julie from Above the Norm and I were ghost hunting this past weekend in a very bad part of town with indigents circling our cemetery and giving us the stinkeye, we were saying how much we'd like to have Gummer on our team to pack some heat. So, you were talked about even when you weren't there. In fact, we both agreed--you must write a monsterhunters guide and use your folksy Gummer-voice for it to make it real.

Gummerfan said...

In my youth, before cable/satellite TV, one of our neighbors was a CB radio operator. Sometimes we could hear his conversations over the TV, and through our stereo speakers even when it was turned off.

I read your and Julie's posts about your ghost hunting trip, sounds like y'all had a great time! Wish I could've been there. I'm glad y'all made it fine even without "backup"!
As far as a Monster Hunting book, well maybe someday, how does the title "SomeBeasts" sound? :D

Autumnforest said...

I seriously want the first signed copy of that! I think you have a way of presenting the monster hunting in a way that every guy out there would totally relate. Especially when a guy has to be a work dude by day and hunter by weekened and night. It's kind of real-world and of course the chapter on weaponry would be quite extensive, I'm sure. No chasing after dragons with spears or slingshots for Gummer! I could see you having some fun with it and maybe doing a chapter on urban/suburban monsters and such.