A recent poll held by CBS News Opinion concluded 48% of people believe in ghosts, with 45% being non-believers and the remaining 7% undecided. The picture painted by this poll is clear – more people believe in ghosts than those who don’t.
In fact the poll also revealed almost 1 in 4 people believe they have either seen or sensed the presence of a ghost. But how can one be sure if their house is haunted?
Since the existence of ghosts has yet to be accepted by the scientific community, the art if ghost hunting is still considered a pseudo-science. Nevertheless, there are certain methodologies the potentially phantom-infested may find useful.
The most important tool in the ghost hunter’s arsenal is a digital camera. Stills cameras and video cameras are equally useful. Digital stills technology allows for more accurate spirit photography, with less chance of flawed film stock or double exposure creating a fake ghost.
Furthermore, a digital video camera can be set for night vision filming and left mounted on a tripod to capture paranormal activity when one is not in the room. It is worth remembering some of the best shots of ghosts have been captured when the spirit was not necessarily visible to the naked eye.
Of course, one needs to be familiar with the various manifestations of a spirit in order to interpret what they have caught in the camera’s frame…
The most common is the orb. Paranormal experts believe orbs are spirits compressed into spherical configurations in order to travel from the other side to the realm of the living.
A first time ghost hunter needs to be able to discern between an actual orb and dust particles or the fluttering wings of insects caught mid-flight. A real orb will glow.
One of the most rarely photographed supernatural manifestations is the vortex. A vortex is a spiraling column of white light, which some theorize represents the portal through which the spirit of the dead enters our world.
The apparition is the holy grail of ghost photography. According to paranormal experts there are two types of apparition. The first is the actual manifestation of the spirit – representing itself as it was in life.
Supposedly this apparition has an awareness it can be seen by the living. The second is a residual haunting – essentially a visual playback of a past event involving a dead person, fated to be relived throughout eternity by their spirit. If confronted by either manifestation, start snapping away like there’s not tomorrow.
Most savvy ghost hunters carry a thermometer in their kit. The reason is that temperatures purportedly drop suddenly when a ghost is around. The theory is that spirits supposedly suck up energy, with heat being a form of energy.
Recommended is a non-contact infrared thermometer. One points and pulls the trigger, and a small red beam will appear on the target. The gauge will read the temperature at the target. If it is substantially colder than where one is standing, it could be indicative of spiritual activity.
Many experienced ghost hunters swear by the accuracy of EMF (electromagnetic flux) readings. They believe ghosts radiate an electromagnetic field, and claim a level of 7mG (milligauss) as being a sire-fire indicator a ghost is in the room.
The theories behind this are very complex – but it is deeply entrenched in ghost hunting lore. A tri-field meter, which measures EMF, can be picked up in many hardware stores. But be careful – proximity to electronic appliances and power leads can create false readings.
Electronic Voice Phenomena
Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) essentially describes voices from beyond the grave attempting to communicate with humans – at very low decibel levels.
These are voices that can’t be heard with the naked ear, but if one records ambient sound at a haunted location — either digitally or an old analogue tape deck — upon playback they may hear ghostly voices breaking through the white noise when the volume is turned up.
Next is ectoplasm, immortalized in Ghostbusters as a green slime, but its actually said to be a white cloudy vapor. It is said to be the second stage of a spiritual manifestation, and looks like a misty swirling fog – supposedly a transitional phase between orb and full apparition.
The most effective ghost hunting is usually conducted at night. So rug up to keep warm, carry a flashlight, and have some fun – but don’t forget to be respectful at all time.