Thursday, November 1, 2012

From Seances to Meters: Ghost Hunting's Precarious Evolution

The turn of the 20th Century, the spiritualist movement was at a fevered pitch. People were convinced the way to talk to the other side involved spiritual methods. Tools like table tipping, seances, Ouija, and spirit photography were the rage. Cassadaga, Florida became a town filled with spiritualists where people sought psychic readings, palm readings, healings and more. There was much fraud in the seance arena, cheesecloth ectoplasm and faked photos.

There was money and theatrics to be made and not much has changed nowadays, except we have turned to a steampunk version of ghost hunting--using "scientific" tools to prove ghosts and still incorporating spiritual methods.  

It's a sign of the times that we demand "scientific" method and yet it is still based on the same concepts only "sexed" up with tools to make it look "legit."  We still talk to the spirits and ask them to give us a sign of their presence (same premise as a seance) and still try to capture them in photographs (some trying to pass off orbs as ghosts). Most of the tools used are electrician's tools (EMF meters, K-II, digital thermometer, FLIR thermal imager) and some are outright ridiculous steampunk spiritualist's tools in that they run through radio frequencies to pick up random radio talk or they assign words to different meter readings -- not sure how this is scientifically assigned???

I'm sounding rather fatalistic about ghost hunting, hmm?  Here's the up-side of where we've been: The spiritualist movement taught us something - beware of the explainable and hoaxes. We look back at the parlor techniques and know now how to prevent false belief. We have added debunking to our tool box which is the only way to tell what is paranormal and what is normal. Still, we have a long way to go to evolve in this arena.

The true future of the paranormal is to have intuitive scientists and researchers like David Rountree, Dean Radin, and physicists working to find theories, testing, ways to prove the unexplained does exist and then to find the origins of that paranormal occurrence, track it to the source, be able to confirm how it works and lengthen and strengthen the interactions, whether that means we find heaven or another dimension or simply the recording of time playing in a loop. Whatever it is we find, we can only do so by building better tools, theories, and keeping our minds open.  

We must never assume we know what ghosts are or how they work. With that in mind, we will make new approaches and learn more.

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