When ASSAP started, there were no such things as ghost hunting kits. There wasn't even much in the way of cheap hand-held electronic equipment. Ghost hunting is now one the biggest uses for EMF meters around. Today, you can buy a ready-made brief case full of exciting bits of electronic kit designed to help you record and even detect a ghost.
But do ghost detectors really work? The first problem is - what is a ghost? If you don't know what one is then how do know how to detect it! From the evidence ASSAP has accumulated down the years, all we can say with certainty is that a ghost is something that looks like a person that a witness experiences.
Some 'ghosts' are undoubtedly hallucinations (eg. hynopompic, hypnagogic, sleep paralysis, etc). Other 'ghosts' are real people or objects mistaken for apparitions. Of the remaining unexplained sightings, no one seems to have been using any instrument when they were seen (or if they were it wasn't widely reported!). So, even supposing it is possible to detect ghosts, we at ASSAP certainly don't know how to do it. If anyone else does, please do get in touch.
Why use instruments?
Many paranormal research websites supply a list of equipment used on paranormal investigation. However, they are often surprisingly vague about exactly what the instruments are for. The use of instruments on 'ghost vigils' is so routine these days that nobody even questions it. However, consider this. It is people who report strange experiences, not instruments. All an instrument can do is give you a reading. It cannot tell you it is paranormal! So why DO we use instruments on vigils?
One important use is to control movement. You might, for instance, put a motion sensor in an unoccupied room to ensure no one goes in there undetected. If you discover, later, that something has moved in the room and the alarm hasn't gone off, it must be paranormal! In fact, it doesn't! Motion sensors can't cover an entire room and they can go faulty. All you know is that something caused an object to move without setting off a motion sensor. It narrows down the possibilities but it does not automatically mean you have paranormal event!
It would be much better to install several video cameras in your unoccupied room. If set to cover the room from different angles then you might be able to see what moved the object! Then you might be able to decide if it is paranormal. Monitoring is the other biggest application for equipment on vigils.
There is general monitoring equipment, like cameras and tape recorders, just designed to capture experiences when they happen. In addition, there are specific specialised instruments designed to 'see' things we can't, like magnetic fields, infra-red, air pressure and so on (see right).
Seeing in the dark
Some instruments, like infra-red or low light video cameras, allow us to 'see' in the dark. Many vigils are held in the dark for no very obvious reason, though obviously night-sight equipment is useful in those circumstances. It is also useful if you are doing a vigil outside at night when there may be no useful general illumination around.
A new instrument that allows you to 'see in the dark' is a thermal imager. Though expensive, there are still drawbacks to this high tech tool.
Can EMF meters detect ghosts?
See article left plus here.
We humans can see, hear, feel, smell and taste. But we can't see infra-red or feel magnetic fields (well, not much anyway). We can, however, detect these unseen worlds with instruments. The reason we use such instruments on vigils is two-fold.
Firstly, there is always the possibility that a ghost might show up better in infra-red, for instance, than it does in ordinary light. So few ghosts are seen on vigils that it is not known if this is true (see 'Ghost detectors').
A second, more important and interesting, reason to use such equipment is to see if there is anything that distinguishes haunted places for other locations. And, indeed, there is some evidence that haunted locations may be magnetically remarkable. There may well be other 'distinguishing marks' about such places (like radiation, for instance), only visible to instruments that can probe things we can't see.
Know your unseen world
Do you know what a normal magnetic field looks like, say, in the room where you're reading this? If you don't then could you recognise an anomalous field?
You need to know what is 'normal' in the unseen worlds before you can stand a chance of discovering anything anomalous. Unfortunately, most people don't know much about the way the world looks in infra-red or what natural phenomena might cause fluctuations in an EMF meter.
So the first thing you must do when you buy an instrument like this is to get to know what 'normal' looks like. See what readings are like around your home and other non-haunted places. You should also do some research into infra-red, mag fields, etc, in books and on the web.
© Maurice Townsend 2008