Monday, May 24, 2010

Watch Your Wallet: Flim Flam Ghost Communications

It won’t make me popular, but I’m gonna say it, there’s a helluva lot of "equipment" out there that’s nothing more than bogus crap and people are paying ridiculous amounts to purchase it or having readings done with it. The top of my list of you-have-to-be-shittin-me devices is the “Frank’s Box.” (Later on, I will discuss how to pick a psychic)

There are some “big” names in the ghost communication world who make 90-100 dollars a pop to let folks talk to their dead relatives through a supposed “telephone to the dead” apparently (according to them) designed after the Edison’s original idea for a potential telephone to the dead. This Frank’s Box seems quite mystical to those who don’t understand it, just like a television might seem quite miraculous to one who doesn’t understand the components.

There’s a lot of ways to describe this device, but this site has the best. “Frank’s Box,” according to its inventor, “consists of a random voltage generator, which is used to tune an AM receiver module rapidly. The audio from the tuner (“raw audio”) is amplified and fed to an echo chamber, where the spirits manipulate it to form their voices.” Apparently doing so is difficult for the spirits, (the operator) employs the help of a spirit “technician,” whom he calls on to corral wayward spirits to within earshot of the receiver. What it sounded like was the rapid twirling of a radio dial so that only noises and word fragments were audible.

The sad thing is that people so want to contact the dead and that makes them very very vulnerable. Just like when purchasing anything, there’s an expectation that the higher the price, the more valuable and authentic the product. People enter this experience primed and ready to listen closely for any sign, not wanting to miss one cherished encounter. Random words from the radio tuner send out words and with the right manipulation, like listening to a crappy EVP, one can believe it says just what they are told it says…

How do you keep from being suckered into such charlatan techniques? Here's a few clues:

Do they show up in a location and give “one time only” readings for that weekend or weeknight, charging you a “special” amount of just under $100? You might get emails or see ads in the paper for the “brief event.” Yes, these are key techniques to suck you in. It’s like those commercials that say “order in the next 10 minutes and get this extra shit you don’t need.” You make a decision under distress knowing it will be going away soon.

Is this a device that they will not answer specific questions about? Are they vague? Do they talk about the spiritual realm instead of the functioning of the machine? “It makes it possible for your dead relative to have a voice,” is not going to cut it. Do your research first. A schematic of the Frank’s Box will tell you this is a receiver and ya’all know how I feel skeptical of receivers, even audio recorders which can pick up all kinds of signals. You want to experience this? Twist your am radio tuner back and forth rapidly, slowing down occasionally and speeding back up. Guess what? You just conversed with the dead…(rolling my eyes)

With the explosion of ghost hunting shows and equipment in the field swamping the market, lots of folks feel they need a Flir, a KII or an EMF meter, but honestly there is nothing yet that can be proven to speak to the dead or measure them. Should we actually make such devices they will under no circumstances be field equipment that proves absolutely their existence, it will happen in a controlled environment where all signals can be blocked and the catching of evidence absolutely pure and clean. That’s the field of science. There is no room for proof without a controlled situation, controlling all parameters.

So, for now you can consider a psychic as perhaps your best conduit for the spirit world, but picking a psychic is a tough thing. I went to a metaphysical store recently where psychics have chairs all around the room. One slow walk around the room looking at candles and smelling fragrances and I already knew which ones were strong, which ones were weak and which ones were total shams. How does someone who hasn’t worked their psychic abilities (we all have them) know who’s good? I suggest you take that same walk around the room. Be sure and make eye contact with each psychic. Ones who are busy should look away quickly because they are concentrating. If they are watching you, they are reading something altogether different because they just engaged their logical mind with curiosity. If the psychics aren’t doing a reading, see if they hold eye contact without speaking to you. If they speak to you in any way, they are soliciting work. If they are truly psychic, they will hold your gaze for a fair time and not speak. They will let you come to them.

That was my little insider tip.

(Later, I will be writing a more in-depth post about psychics and how to choose them)


  1. Excellent post. I have always believed that our machines can't measure the dead. I feel that the spiritual world has their own tune.

    I have consulted tarot card readers, psychics and consultants and not one has really been able to pin point me. I wouldn't say they are all a sham. I still believe in it. I just feel that I am only given what I am meant to know. I feel that maybe I am not meant to know much.

    How I wish you were in my area.

  2. The Baketan Ghost Detector certainly ranks in the list of bogus equipment. I don't think it's very expensive but the novelty isn't worth a penny.

  3. I think it's also important for people to remember that these things are not ghost detectors as they are sometimes billed (ie, light goes on = ghost), but they are measuring something specific (temp, EMF strength, etc) and to take that into account.

    While a serious researcher may want an infrared non-contact temperature gauge to record detailed and minute changes in temp, the average ghost hunter may not need that for $65.

    Not to mention that the same tools can often be found from science supply houses for cheaper. They just lack neat ghostly logos and assurances such as

    "Only 300 made, so get yours before it is to late!"

  4. Senorita;
    It's strange what a psychic can get. Some are better at focusing their vision to the area you most want addressed, but still the problem with psychics in general is that we get information but it comes to us as if getting blips of your memories in our heads. Now, we have to say "who is this man?" "why is he important?" "what is his attitude towards my client?" So, interpretation is a hugely important part of psychic work. You have to make the right assumptions about what you find. That takes a lot of experience to know the feeling you get in your body when you're right. That's why I often tell people to do online psychic testing regularly to get used to that "right" feeling you get when you choose the right card. You'll have to check out my post I'll have out tomorrow or the next day about finding a psychic.

    Yeah, isn't it amazing the stuff out there we just "have" to have?

    I remember the rush on KII's when they did that one Ghost Hunters episode in LA at the "Manson" haunting place and they had a conversation using it. No one was making them back then and it took some time for them to amp up production. It's pretty bad that we need electrician's tools. We need to start thinking outside the box.

  5. Good post. Just want to play "devil's advocate" a bit, though.

    While I do not disagree with you on the credibility of the Frank's Box, I must say that we do not really have any facts or figures that support the accuracy or applicability of other devices such as EMF meters, etc.

    How many times has somebody presented an EVP with their recorder stating unequivocally that they picked up a certain phrase, and yet I've felt it's a stretch to definitively say that's that what was recorded.

    Nobody has hit on the "holy grail" device that we know absolutely is picking up paranormal activity.

    We're really all still just "babes in the woods" in this area, and for the time being I prefer to take into account all anomalies gathered and how they applied to the circumstances we were present in.

    I completely agree that there are opportunists out there trying to make a quick buck, but can we really discount things like the Franks Box any more than we can the meters, recorders, lights/lasers, etc?

  6. OK, that's what I get for reading your post "pre-coffee". :)

    I do see that you state many of the same points later in the post.

  7. Hey D;
    If you regularly read my posts, you probably know that I'm cautious about the efficacy of any electrician's devices, as we still cannot use a shielded environment to tell if anything is anomalous or genuine. The same goes for EVP because they are receivers and receivers can pick up anything out there. I have a home answering machine. I was working one day from my home office and very clearly heard a loud woman's voice coming from that area. She said several sentences and then went away. I got up, checked it out. Nothing. The phone hadn't rang, the answering machine light wasn't flickering. I came back and sat down and a half hour later--same lady, same voice, same talking. Got up, checked it out. It was absolutely the sound of my answering machine when you play back a message, but the phone never rang, the machine never recorded her. Her voice came over my machine through a satellite phone as she drove down the road making a real estate deal. So, you see, we can't even trust our recording devices. It still comes down to human experiences and no real way to verify any of it. So far as devices like the Frank's Box, if some dude wants to run around a haunted place with one, more power to him. I wouldn't personally believe anything he finds any more than the random word generator that Zakky boy uses, but when folks like Christopher Moon are making big $ off the Frank's Box and calling it a telephone to the dead and charging big bucks, my stomach gets queasy.

  8. Oh,yes! Please understand that I do not disagree with you on this. And guys like Moon give me heartburn. I guess that I was a bit surprised to see you definitively call out the FB as trash (I'm trying to step lightly here as there is no way that I'm trying to advocate the FB as a viable piece of equipment). The fact of the matter is we simply don't know for sure.

  9. By all means do I get that the human experience is really all that we have to go by.

    How I wish that my IR camera was able to pick up even one bit of the beautiful 10-15 minute display of lavender flashes and full silhouette shadows that I was able to witness.

    I saw it with my eyes, but alas, am unable to show it to anybody else that was not present with me. I'll never forget it, though....

  10. D;
    I would so love to hunt with you. If things pan out, I might be hitting the road. Would love to hook up. You have good horse sense. I'm willing to try anything, but under testing, I find a lot of equipment is just too susceptible to man-made signals and the FB is super vulnerable that way--hell, that's kind of the basis of the thing, so if I hear a blip of a word when I have my TV on a channel that doesn't come in or between stations on the radio dial, it's a lot like EVPs. We hear what we want to hear, we interpret how we want to. We are both the greatest receiver of paranormal occurrences and the worst witnesses. My hope is we can learn to either work in a contained environment that's shielded and bring the activity to us in a lab situation or learn to take our human abilities to pick up activity and find better instruments to record it. We still don't know what spectrum we're dealing with. It's an exciting field. I think full-spectrum is one of the best things I've seen. I also would like to add an infrasound meter too just in case. I think a lot of what we feel in our bodies might be coming from infrasound range. I could talk to you all night about this. If you ever want to chatter back and forth,

  11. I guess the scams stemming the 19th century spiritualist movement never really went away...they just got updated.

  12. Jeff;
    Welcome to the frustration of my world. We did leap forward in that we debunk now and we try to use anything we can find to predict and record the phenomenon, but still it's very archaic. Using electrician's tools and rigged inventions by snakeoil salesmen...scary. The problem as I see it is that we need to take the paranormal world out of the spiritual realm. That's another post...

  13. I always thought the Frank's Box was ridiculous on its face, even the idea is unsound.
    BTW, one of my favorite drinking games is to take a dring everytime somebody on GH says the word "equipment". Try it sometime.

  14. BG;
    Oh,that's a good one! I'd want to add that every time they explain EVP and EMF--take a swig. If you're a real happy drunk, you could add every time Steve gives a lecture and explains things to Tango...