Ghost hunters' equipment quality

Gary C

Active Member
Technology also plays a role that can increase or reduce the level of information collected.
Thermal imaging for example allows us to see through dust, haze, or fog at the cost of color information and resolution. Some information is gained at the cost of other data.
The same applies to night vision (starlight scopes) and infrared cameras. IMO "ghost hunters" primarily employ inappropriate tech to make it look like science while deliberately reducing the level of detail the audience sees.
 
IMO "ghost hunters" primarily employ inappropriate tech to make it look like science while deliberately reducing the level of detail the audience sees.
I'd differentiate between pro ghost hunters (or bigfooters, or UFO chasers, etc) who are actively selling their results on TV shows or elsewhere, and "just folks" with an interest in some factor of the paranormal. The latter, as far as I understand them, seem sincere, and while they may well or may not understand the tech they are using, depending on the tech, they are at least using it sincerely.
 
I'd differentiate between pro ghost hunters (or bigfooters, or UFO chasers, etc) who are actively selling their results on TV shows or elsewhere, and "just folks" with an interest in some factor of the paranormal. The latter, as far as I understand them, seem sincere, and while they may well or may not understand the tech they are using, depending on the tech, they are at least using it sincerely.
They are probably just copying the TV show people
 
A lot of it clearly does. But what inspired people to think in terms of "ghost hunting equipment" may be a distinct question from whether they are sincerely trying to "do science" as best they can -- and science, to a lot of folks, means using technology.

Then-current "cutting edge" tech has often shown up in paranormal investigations -- cameras being the obvious example -- and this predates both "Ghostbusters" or the ghost hunting TV shows, and is not limited to ghost hunting but extends across the paranormal investigations spectrum. Nessie hunters, bigfoot hunters, UFO hunters, etc. use tech to look serious, sure, but in many cases to try their best to BE serious.

Examples of tech used in paranormal investigations prior to "Ghostbusters" would include:

External Quote:
Students from Oxford and Cambridge formed an expedition in 1960. The Loch Ness Investigation Bureau, Ltd.. created in 1961, organized regular photographic searches. A group from the University of Birmingham conducted a sonar search for large bodies in the loch.
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/1976/06/05/archives/legends-of-the-lochs-quests-by-saints-and-science.html

as well as early ghost photography efforts (as distinct from the hokey fraudulent spirit photography shot in studios with intent to deceive.)

One of the side effects of using such tech is that most people using it don't really understand it -- heck, I don't know how to use half the features of my camera! -- and interpret quirks in the machinery as ghosts out in the world. And charlatans certainly do that on purpose. But honest amateurs using tech as best they can will often make mistakes in interpretation in all innocence and with only good intentions.

Interesting source for info on this sort of stuff: amazon.com/Scientifical-Americans-Culture-Paranormal-Researchers
 
I'd differentiate between pro ghost hunters (or bigfooters, or UFO chasers, etc) who are actively selling their results on TV shows or elsewhere, and "just folks" with an interest in some factor of the paranormal. The latter, as far as I understand them, seem sincere, and while they may well or may not understand the tech they are using, depending on the tech, they are at least using it sincerely.
There's probably a spectrum they lie on. Some of the pros almost certainly started as earnest amateurs, and got to like the attention it garnered. And whilst theres some sincerity alongside the innocence of the amateurs, I'm sure there's also some LARPing. In particular if they're in the "in" club and have a P900 like wossizface off the telly!

I might, of course, be suffering confirmation bias and projecting - one of my hobbies has a similar breakdown of personalities/roles, which alas is one of the least pleasurable parts of it.
 
Serious people with serious equipment and (theoretically) the training to use it properly can also make errors.
I'm being a bit naughty and using two possible examples familiar from UFO lore:

Part of the mythos of the 1980 "Rendlesham Forest incident" at/ near RAF Bentwaters (de facto then a USAF base in England) is that deputy base commander Lt Col Charles I. Halt led a small party to investigate the area where USAF Security Police had reported seeing a UFO in the forest the previous night. Amongst other findings, Halt reported raised radiation levels:

External Quote:
In his book Open Skies, Closed Minds published in 1996, Nick Pope described the radiation readings taken by Col Halt’s team at the supposed UFO landing site in Rendlesham Forest as ‘the most tangible proof that something extraordinary happened there’.
-From "Were the radiation readings significant?", part of Ian Ridpath's excellent online debunking of the Rendlesham Forest incident,
http://www.ianridpath.com/ufo/rendlesham4.html, last revised July 2023.

It's generally accepted now (perhaps not by UFO enthusiasts) that Halt misinterpreted perfectly normal readings from his team's AN/PDR-27 radiation meter, a view supported by Halt's own notes and real-time audio tape-recording of events, and by statements from the device's manufacturer and the UK's National Radiological Protection Board.
Details can be found on Ian Ridpath's website, link above.

In Mick West's thread thread ATFLIR Technician Jeremy Snow discusses Gimbal, FLIR1, and GoFast,
(Thread here), Jeremy Snow questions if the F/A-18 pilot who captured the "Gimbal" ATFLIR imagery calibrated the ATFLIR's optics against its internal black body before deploying it. Snow suspects not, saying that this would effect (degrade) the image acquired:


Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsCw3shLWBU&t=55m44s

Approx. 55:44 to 56:32 on the video. YouTube, posted by Mick West "8 months ago" (c. March/ April '23), title as per thread.

Back to ghost-hunting equipment, perhaps of a less technical (and I suspect less serious) nature:

In Fortean Times 436, October 2023, the zoological director of the (UK) Centre for Fortean Zoology, Richard Freeman, recounts travelling to the Isle of Man with some like-minded people in search of the heritage- and possible existing presence- of Gef, a talking mongoose and oft-presumed poltergeist that (mainly) haunted the isolated house of a slightly eccentric English family in the 1930's (article "The Gef pilgrimage", Richard Freeman).

The team took the perfectly sensible step of conducting a séance to contact the well-spoken but irascible 92+ year-old tropical carnivore and prankster.

External Quote:
Six of us crowded around a Ouija board... ...nothing happened and the planchette would not budge as we asked to speak with the famous mongoose. We changed the planchette for a shot glass, but still there was no movement. We thought that too many fingers on the glass might have been holding it down, so we tried with only three: Ben, Jackie and myself. Then things started to happen.
When asked if Gef was there, the glass moved to ‘yes’ on the board. It began to point to various letters, but these only spelled out gibberish: ERNDFOGKVCAOLYTFAHY.
This is potentially useful advice for would be ghost-hunters: Make sure your planchette or pointer moves easily!
Failing that, juggle the people involved until it works...

Perhaps inexplicably, the investigators failed to get clearer communications from the formerly loquacious nonagenarian snake-botherer:
External Quote:
Jackie did, however, say that during the séance she’d had an overwhelming urge to spit at people and scream “nincompoop!” Make of that what you will.
-The Gef pilgrimage, as above.

While revisiting the Gef story, I found this online from Usborne's World of the Unknown: Ghosts, 1977, Christopher Maynard (and great art by David Jefferis), Usborne Publishing. A soft-cover A4 children's book, companion to "UFOs" (mentioned on threads here) and "Monsters":

gef.JPG


So ghost hunters should consider the need for ointment in case of mongoose bites.

From the same book -remember, 1977, and aimed at children- we get some ghost hunting tips; click to enlarge if interested:
IMG_0023.jpg IMG_0024.jpg

So don't forget you flour, camera with flashbulbs, cotton, tape recorder- and your rat, cat, dog and... er, rattlesnake?! o_O
 
-From "Were the radiation readings significant?", part of Ian Ridpath's excellent online debunking of the Rendlesham Forest incident,
http://www.ianridpath.com/ufo/rendlesham4.html, last revised July 2023.
Excerpts:
External Quote:
My original conclusion, based on telephone discussions with the UK’s National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), was that the figures reported in paragraph 2 of Col Halt’s memo, i.e. from 0.05 to 0.1 milliroentgens, were simply background levels of radiation. (As a technical aside, the correct units should have been milliroentgens per hour – the use of incorrect units seems to betray an unfamiliarity with radiation monitoring).
The subsequent release of Col Halt’s real-time tape recording of events confirmed that the peak figure obtained was simply a random burst, not a steady level. For much of the time scarcely anything was being picked up by the geiger counter. On the tape we hear them describing the readings at the site as ‘minor’ and ‘three to four units’, i.e. 0.03 to 0.04 mR/h. They got these readings as they approached the site and then as they checked each of the supposed landing marks. Confirmation that this was only background radiation comes from the fact that the same levels were also recorded over half a mile away from the supposed landing site, after they had crossed two fields beyond the forest (read the transcript here).
....
The highest reading mentioned on the tape is ‘seven tenths’, i.e. 0.07 mR/h; this was a ‘spike’ obtained briefly at the centre of the site, not a steady level. In his memo, Halt reports a peak figure of 0.1 but we do not know where that was obtained, or whether it was just a rough value recalled from memory. The figure of 0.07 mentioned on the tape is only twice the general reading. Such a random jump could easily have been caused by natural sources, or even an accidental movement of the meter, and hence is not significant.
....
My earlier inquiries had shown that the radiation monitor used by Halt and his team would have been of the type known as an AN/PDR-27. On behalf of Frank Close, NRPB contacted the American manufacturers of the AN/PDR-27, who stated that Halt’s peak measurement of 0.1 mR/h was the ‘bottom reading on the lowest range’ of the monitor and was ‘of little or no significance’. They noted further that these instruments are designed to be used to monitor workplace fields or radiation levels after sizable nuclear incidents and are therefore not suitable for environmental monitoring at background levels. On the basis of this information from the manufacturers, NRPB concluded that using such an instrument to establish a level of 10 times background is not credible.
....
In September 1982, less than two years after the event, the site was checked for radiation by researchers from the Swindon Centre for UFO Research and Investigation (SCUFORI). They found nothing unusual. Nor did USAF Major James McGaha when he checked the site unofficially in 1987 while stationed at the base. McGaha emailed me in 1994: ‘There [was] nothing above background. They simply did not know what they were doing. If there were higher levels then you would still see them today, even with a very careful clean-up.’
....
The MoD files make it clear that they never undertook any investigation into the radiation levels at Rendlesham so they never established the truth about the readings reported by Halt. The opinion in the MoD memo was based on the same assumptions as Pope’s own cursory ‘investigation’, namely that the figure quoted by Halt was a steady level and taken with an appropriate instrument. As we have seen, both these assumptions are incorrect – it was a random peak recorded by a meter designed to measure much higher levels of radiation. Hence the opinion quoted by Pope is no ‘proof’ at all and would doubtless have been withdrawn had the MoD established the full facts laid out above.
 
My earlier inquiries had shown that the radiation monitor used by Halt and his team would have been of the type known as an AN/PDR-27.
Since this thread is about the equipment, here's an idea of what that looked like. The top picture is from https://orau.org/health-physics-museum/collection/radiac/survey-meters/anpdr-27.html :
External Quote:
The photographs above show an army IM-74B/PDR-27C (1950s) that has been modified for training purposes. The modifications involve the use of transparent plastic sides and bottom so that the internal components are visible.
anpdr27-1.jpg
anpdr27ser743.jpg
 
The team took the perfectly sensible step of conducting a séance to contact the well-spoken but irascible 92+ year-old tropical carnivore and prank
External Quote:
We changed the planchette for a shot glass, but still there was no movement. We thought that too many fingers on the glass might have been holding it down, so we tried with only three: Ben, Jackie and myself. Then things started to happen.
One wonders if the field notes from this excursion are somewhat lacking. We have evidence that the standard Ouija Board signaling device, the planchette, was swapped out in favor of a shot glass. What's missing is if the new signaling device was also employed in its more traditional role in an effort to "tune up" the participants and create a more receptive cognitive state. And if so, how many "tune ups" were involved?

Alternatively, as communication only took place after the planchette was replaced with the shot glass, perhaps the little bugger wont avail himself for anything less than a 10-year-old Highland. If that's the case, maybe a Copita nosing glass may have been a better option. With a proper drink in a proper glass, Gef may have been downright loquacious. Again, it'd be nice if there were clearer notes on this event.
 
Alternatively, as communication only took place after the planchette was replaced with the shot glass, perhaps the little bugger wont avail himself for anything less than a 10-year-old Highland. If that's the case, maybe a Copita nosing glass may have been a better option. With a proper drink in a proper glass, Gef may have been downright loquacious. Again, it'd be nice if there were clearer notes on this event.
waiting for @FatPhil to offer seances at his establishment based on this hypothesis ;)
 
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