Haunting Science

Are ‘haunted’ areas able to be investigated scientifically with technology, and if so, are the current crop of ‘ghost-hunters’ doing it right or are they just glorified tour guides? At SkepticBlog (the home blog for the cast of the fledgling show ‘Skeptologists’), Ryan Johnson gives a rather mocking, ascerbic account of his experience with ‘paranormal investigators’ aboard the Queen Mary:

But first, we had to endure an hour of the lead investigator essentially yelling at us for being there. Really. He did his best: “I’m a skeptic folks! And there’s a lot of bad people in my industry trying to fool you! We’re doing this for real!” It was hilarious, he was trying to be this tough, abrasive, been-there, done-that, seen-it-all type. I got the feeling that he was making it all up as he went along. When pressed by us and others for details of hauntings that he had supposedly witnessed in his “investigations” he suddenly stumbled and then gave a weak answer and then turned to his partner for some sort of assurance. His partner, by the way, took most of the first hour to get suited up into some sort of military black nylon accessory vest. He worked hard at becoming a one-man Radio Shack. He proceeded to stuff every little battery operated handheld device that you’d ever seen onto his person. “Boy we’re in for a real adventure if the ghost hunter needs all that!” I whispered under my breath.

‘Cowboy’ ghosthunters not withstanding however, there are some people out there looking into the question of environmental correspondences in supposedly haunted areas in a serious manner. I’ve previously mentioned Richard Wiseman’s debunking of the Hampton Court haunting, and ‘The Haunt Project‘ which investigated possible correspondences of EMF and infrasound in paranormal encounters. Public Parapsychology have also discussed the issue of magnetic fields at haunt sites, and now have also written a primer on “Temperature in Haunting Experiences“, a short PDF booklet which discusses the matter for the benefit of ‘paranormal enthusiasts’. A good download – Public Parapsychology is a blog worth keeping your eye on, there’s often interesting investigations and also notices about psi conferences and the like over there.