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I remember an episode of ghost hunters where their EMF detector showed a high reading in one spot...was it a ghost? I don't think so, turns out it was near a big bundle of wires, so I think the description below of an EMF detector as a "red herring detector" in ghost hunting is apt.
An EMF meter is among the most common devices used by ghost hunters today. I spoke to Tom Cook, of TomsGadgets.com, a British purveyor of "scientific" paranormal kits for the enterprising (and gullible) investigator. Starter kits begin at £105 (US$180) and reach up to £500 (US$850) for a custom ghost-hunting kit. (Negative Ionizer Ghost Containment packs were not listed.)
I asked Cook what, exactly, the scientific rationale was behind the equipment he sold.
"At a haunted location," Cook said, "strong, erratic fluctuating EMFs are commonly found. It seems these energy fields have some definite connection to the presence of ghosts. The exact nature of that connection is still a mystery. However, the anomalous fields are easy to find. Whenever you locate one, a ghost might be present.... any erratic EMF fluctuations you may detect may indicate ghostly activity."
In the final analysis, Cook admitted, "there exists no device that can conclusively detect ghosts."
So even though no ghost detector has ever been shown to detect ghosts, and I don't have higher hopes for the millet seed device, that doesn't mean there isn't a substantial market of gullible consumers of pseudoscientific devices to which you could sell ineffective ghost detecting devices, or give them to Tom Cook on consignment and let him sell them for you.
The supposed links between ghosts and electromagnetic fields, low temperatures, radiation, odd photographic images, and so on are based on nothing more than guesses, unproven theories, and wild conjecture. If a device could reliably determine the presence or absence of ghosts, then by definition, ghosts would be proven to exist. I own an EMF meter, but since it's useless for ghost investigations—it finds not spirits but red herrings—I use it in my lectures and seminars as an example of pseudoscience. The most important tools in this or any investigation are a questioning mind and a solid understanding of scientific principles.
The ghost hunters' anti-scientific illogic is clear: if one area of a home is colder than another, that may indicate a ghost; if an EMF meter detects a field, that too may be a ghost; if dowsing rods cross, that might be a ghost. Just about any "anomaly," anything that anyone considers odd for any reason, from an undetermined sound to a "bad feeling" to a blurry photo, can be (and has been) considered evidence of ghosts.
originally posted by: Arbitrageur
a reply to: Bedlam
Cool, but will it detect ghosts?
That seems to be the objective of this project.
I would love to build a detector which detected movement that far away and I could spend hours playing with it to get it less erratic perhaps.
We accidentally built a motion sensor out of a FET input opamp by leaving off the bleed resistors on the input, you could (erratically) detect people walking 30-40 feet away down the hall, especially if they had just waxed the floor.
I'd imagine there is a reasonable circuit that does this by intent, that would be more sensitive than seeds moving around.
Even this would be useful to detect movement - whether or not it was from 'ghosts' or any other body.
I also accidentally built an electrical field disturbance indicator in EE lab but it wasn't the easiest thing to reproduce. We were all given the same components to build the lab experiment, but mine was the only one that ended up having remote-sensing abilities (The waveforms on the oscilloscope would flatline when someone 1-2m away sat down in a chair in that location). All the components were essentially the same, the routing of the wires was apparently the key.