×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Running Your Own Ghost Investigation?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the whooooo-whooooo-or-woo-woo dept.

Technology 810

Quirkz writes "I am a skeptic, but have friends and family who swear by their ghost stories. I have access to a supposedly haunted house and been tempted to run a proper scientific investigation. My first question is what sorts of tools or measurements would make for sensible metrics to test during a hunt? Temperature change seems to be a common one, but the other devices you'll see ghost hunters use seem pretty random. The second question is what kinds of results would it take to be 'interesting'? Baseline readings at several presumably non-haunted locations seem to be obvious requirements for comparison. Once you have those, what kinds of results would it take to convince a skeptic there's something unusual going on, or demonstrate that there's not? I don't have much hope of changing the minds of those who believe, but it would be satisfying to at least be scientific about it."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

810 comments

Proton Pack (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784896)

You definitely need a proton pack: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_pack [wikipedia.org]

Re:Proton Pack (5, Insightful)

sqldr (838964) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785334)

well, there's actually a really easy way to tell if your house is haunted:

it isn't.

Ghost hunting tools: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784906)

Dowsing rod.

A good dose of: (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784916)

Gullibility,

Not sure who sells that online....

Re:A good dose of: (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785210)

Gullibility,

Not sure who sells that online....

Look up the Amityville Horror some time. Load of con artists out to make a buck.

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784918)

not much of a skeptic are you.

Re:wow (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785246)

not much of a skeptic are you.

I forgot that these days, skeptic means "don't ever investigate anything and for bonus points, display contempt for those who do".

The summary is a good example of what real, healthy skepticism is. It boils down to "I don't think I will find anything, but I don't actually know that until I look, so here is the experiment I want to conduct." Is it the lack of presumption and arrogance that offends you? Does the presence of open-minded people willing to look for evidence, even of things they don't actually believe in, make you feel uncomfortable with your narrow-minded worldview? I'm guessing that's where the contempt comes from.

Re:wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785298)

Do you investigate the flat Earth theory? Do you investigate the geocentric theory? Do you investigate spontaneous generation? Do you investigate alchemy? ARROGANCE!

Burden of proof. (5, Insightful)

Seor Jojoba (519752) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784930)

It seems like a mistake to go to some place and look for the absence of an anomaly. The burden of proof is on the one who makes the claim. You will never prove that ghosts don't exists in a house. Maybe they will be there tomorrow when you aren't around. Maybe you don't have the proper equipment to detect one.

Re:Burden of proof. (5, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785118)

The burden of proof is on the one who makes the claim.

This.

As a scientist you should never discount an idea without first reviewing the facts. Facts are much more powerful than any first hand accounts of people who say they saw, felt, heard, or smelled something.

The typical ghost hunting equipment is a Video Camera, Flashlight, Thermal filter for the Camera, and Magnetic field detector.

However, I have never once seen any footage that couldn't have been explained by high school physics, or shown to be anything more than a hoax. And you likely won't either. If you are a skeptic, you should not be afraid to wander the dark hallways and should be able to determine that any odd readings are actually coming from a logical source that most people are too afraid to check into.

I remember watching one show, and they were absolutely surprised that this "one pipe" was giving off a lot of heat and this "other pipe" was giving off some weird Magnetic field. I dropped my jaw as it was obviously a central heating pipe (no doubt with hot water flowing through it) and an Electrical conduit, no doubt powering the lights upstairs. I then hit my head against the wall when they said it was clear evidence of something weird going on.

Re:Burden of proof. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785234)

My wife saw a ghost hunters where they were in the woods when something flashed across the screen (black and white night vision). They replayed it a couple of times. My wife showed it to me, it was obvious to me on first viewing that the silhouette was a deer that finally decided the idiots where too close and sprinted out of there. The freeze frame left no doubt it was a deer, but the ghost hunters could only say 'something' was out there.

Re:Burden of proof. (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785420)

Interesting. So what you're saying is: as equipment, you need a skeptical audience of scientists and engineers who can suggest testable explanations for what you record, and then you need to go back and put them to the test. You've only found something "weird" if you can eliminate the testable explanations.

Re:Burden of proof. (3, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785310)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell's_teapot [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster [wikipedia.org]

At this point, there has been enough claims without evidence to simply say "I don't think they exist, and you are free to show me evidence contrary", and then explore from that point. Going out to that town's resident "ghost house" on a whim to try to prove one thing or another isn't science. He might as well go to the ocean and prove there is or isn't sea monsters. In both instances, the net result won't be Science®, and isn't even good, interesting or unique pseudoscience.

Re:Burden of proof. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785452)

Yep, you can't prove a negative. Since you can't prove ghosts don't exist. Just wait for someone to give actual positive proof they do. Don't waste your time trying to disprove them. You can't.

Re:Burden of proof. (0)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785338)

Facts are much more powerful than any first hand accounts of people who say they saw, felt, heard, or smelled something.

Yeah, that was the ghost of last night's bean burrito....

Re:Burden of proof. (1)

0olong (876791) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785178)

This. Spend time and energy chasing the fantasies of the gullible, and you'll be seen as lending credence to their beliefs, while you're chances of success are as good as trying to disprove the existence of a god. Zero.

Re:Burden of proof. (3, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785404)

It seems like a mistake to go to some place and look for the absence of an anomaly. The burden of proof is on the one who makes the claim. You will never prove that ghosts don't exists in a house. Maybe they will be there tomorrow when you aren't around. Maybe you don't have the proper equipment to detect one.

Perhaps not, but if you really do detect anomalous activity that you are unable to explain, it would help falsify the notion that we are able to explain every possible activity that can take place in an empty house. Of course that wouldn't prove that there are ghosts, that people survive death in some kind of non-corporeal form, or anything like that. However, it would lend credibility to the notion that there may exist forces that science has not yet understood, that there are phenomena we may be no more aware of than people who lived a thousand years ago were aware of radio waves. As you say, finding nothing unusual wouldn't make it any easier to prove a negative, but if something were found that cannot easily be explained by known phenomena, that would be interesting.

I can see how some people would consider it worthwhile to conduct these experiments. Honestly, I would be a bit disappointed if it turned out that we already know about every possible physical force and/or physical process that could exist in the universe. As long as such experiments are scientifically sound, I see nothing wrong with them.

Blah blah blah (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784932)

Why not just make it up? That's what Andrew Wakefield did to "prove" MMR vaccines gave children autism.

I can't imagine why anyone would want to bother doing a serious investigation. Do what they do with all those horrid son-of-blair-witch-project TV shows do and just bullshit.

How about (5, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784942)

Bring some common fucking sense, and a stick to hit those who didn't bring any?

Re:How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785280)

you stupid mod, this should not be moderated as funny, it is informative !

Re:How about (1)

Altrag (195300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785366)

"Common sense" tells me that there's plenty of stuff in the world that we don't understand yet on a scientific level. The whole ghost/paranormal phenomenon has been researched from here to hell and back right now, and for the most part the conclusion is "probably nothing but we can't rule it out" (averaged across all investigations;))

The same argument applies to religion, magic and any other non-corporeal system you can imagine. There's a lack of hard evidence for any of these things to be sure, but there's also a lot of soft evidence for them, and no way of 100% "proving" a non-existence. It could always be "somewhere else" and you're just looking in the wrong spot.

Who knows.. maybe ghosts can see into our brains and run away from anyone with a reasonable analytic powers so only those predisposed to superstition will ever find them!

Main point is though, "common sense" has little or nothing to do with scientific inquiry (and in these days of quantum mechanics and high-dimensional manifolds and whatnot, common sense can actually be highly detrimental to scientific understanding!)

OK, here's my ghost story [scary] (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784946)

Not for the faint of heart, ghost story from back in high school. You have been warned:

This one time, at band camp, I stuck a flute in my pussy

You've got to be kidding me (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784954)

It's one thing to call yourself a skeptic but to keep your mind open. It's another to believe the pseudoscience of the ghost hunters and to walk around looking for EM fields or aberrations in infrared cameras which don't exist in the first place.

Those guys are nut jobs or con artists and you sound like one of the former.

-Not a ghost

Re:You've got to be kidding me (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784970)

I love how they used compressed audio formats on digital recorders to listen for "voices."

Re:You've got to be kidding me (2)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784994)

I also love how they carry around highly sensitive EM field readers and assume the spikes in the readings are ghosts - meanwhile carrying around tons of electronic recording and communication devices (like cellphones and digital cameras).

Re:You've got to be kidding me (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785026)

Frankly I think a better way to spend an evening is with the women's underwear section of a 1975 Sears catalog and a bottle of hand lotion. If you really want to spook your friends and neighbors, demonstrate that phenomenon to them.

Re:You've got to be kidding me (1)

bagboy (630125) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785114)

Wow - I was planning on this tonight (using vagisil though - hand lotion is too greasy)!

Re:You've got to be kidding me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785002)

How do we know you're not a ghost? Claiming not to be one sounds exactly like something a ghost that didn't want to be discovered would say!

-A ghost

Re:You've got to be kidding me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785292)

I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a ghost.

- A Spook

Re:You've got to be kidding me (5, Interesting)

Quirkz (1206400) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785416)

Honestly, I thought it sounded like a fun way to spend a night with some friends, and figured I should do something more than sit in the dark asking "What's that noise?" every few seconds. I'm a geek at heart, so why not take some readings, record some data, and find out what kinds of things (weird temperature pockets, magnetic fields) are all around us that we just don't notice most of the time?

- Less of a nut job than you think

Wrong location (5, Funny)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784964)

Take the people who believe they're in a haunted house and send them through an MRI to see what part of their brain is damaged. Don't waste your time in the supposed haunted house, the feeling of a 'presence' and 'ghosts' and any other paranormal crap is all in the person's head. So start there.

Re:Wrong location (3, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785332)

Yeah, but you have to trick them into getting into the MRI machine. Your best bet is probably to tell them that it's a super secret spectral chamber where they will be able to hear the screams of the undead, but only if they agree to remain absolutely still.

Check These Guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784968)

Have a look at these guys:

http://www.rockymountainparanormal.com/paranormal.htm

I have a causal interest in the scientific processes of these organisations and they are the best I have seen (unfortunately, not many good mobs out there for those not interested in sensationalist media representation). They may be able to give you some guidance.

Whats next? Creationism research questions? (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784972)

Ghost investigations? Nothing else in the queue for the front page today?

Dear Slashdot, I have family and friends that believe the Earth is 6,600 years old, what tools do I need to prove them right?

Re:Whats next? Creationism research questions? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785010)

Dear Slashdot, I have family and friends that believe the Earth is 6,600 years old, what tools do I need to prove them right?

A bible and a frontal lobotomy. Of course, it only proves it to the one with the lobotomy.

Re:Whats next? Creationism research questions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785194)

To be honest, I would love it if somebody had an answer to that question. If creationism made any actual testable predictions, you could disprove it.

Re:Whats next? Creationism research questions? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785394)

I always throw radioactive decay at them. "Do you believe in Radon gas?" If yes, then "Radon gas, Rn-222 is a byproduct of Uranium decay and it takes a hair under 4.5 billion years for it to occur."

One Videodrome Helmet (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784978)

Long live the New Flesh!

Get the believers to make... (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785016)

...an objectively testable prediction. If you can't get them to make such a prediction quit wasting your time.

Proper preparation (2, Insightful)

simonbp (412489) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785018)

If TV is any guide, make sure sure to practice your reflexes: you must be able to scream in terror at the slightest sound, movement or smell. Also, cultivate your sense of paranoia, because how else will you see the ghosts behind every action? Plus, go down to the hardware store and buy every piece of random electronic testing equipment, because any sensor will detect ghosts if you look hard enough...

I do I do I do believe in spooks! (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785036)

While I'm a firm skeptic, I will concede they make for good stories.

With the billions of people who have by now inhabited Earth and died here, we'd by up to our armpits in protoplasm if they really did exist.

Re:I do I do I do believe in spooks! (0)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785222)

And you would think ONE of those charlatan, douchbags would have the sense to snap a nice picture of the "elusive spirits". In this case the "spirits" are named Jim Beam and Jack Daniels. The burden of proof is on the douchbags. The same idiots who believe in them are also members of the Tea Party and believe a witch with big tits and nice legs and hair could be president... FAIL! More red state shitheadery.

Carbon Monoxide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785050)

Bring a CO detector. There is some thought that having a low level of carbon monoxide in a house can create hallucinations in some people that lead them to believe the house is haunted. If so then it's certainly a medical concern and should be taken care of.

Re:Carbon Monoxide (2)

eugene ts wong (231154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785172)

Also, check the temperature outside, and the wind. Try to monitor the the traffic of the nearest roads, to bear in mind how much sound there is. You want to record any information that affects our senses of sight, hearing, and touch.

If you find a correlation, then you still won't be able to prove anything, but you will be able to strengthen a hunch.

A skeptic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785082)

A skeptic is not even who denies or acknowledges the existence of a haunted house. And you are on the right track.

A skeptic is one who says, "It is probably not true as there is no evidence for it, but let me find out if there is any fire behind the smoke."

All you need to do is spend the night in the house, and that should do it. The brain and the body are the best sensors for the paranormal after all you only have yourself to convince. Good Luck!! :)

A real baseline is not another house... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785084)

The only really valid comparison would be, going by the measurements most commonly used, an identical house in an identical location with an identical set of environmental/atmospheric conditions. And/or the same house in the same spot which has been validly seen as being in the "non-haunted" state.

Because, of the most common metrics used by the "ghost hunter"-set, all of them are possibly confounded by non-ghostly factors. An EM spike? Power fluctuation, or atmospheric charge, or static caused because your jeans don't fit right. Thermal imaging cameras are not normally believable, but normally a thermistor-equipped probe style temperature sensor can be used to trace "cold spots".

The only truly scientific way to isolate that this activity is the action of an unseen, or ghostly, actor, is to eliminate all possible other sources of explanation. Of course, anecdotal evidence can be gathered first hand, and if you were to have a full body apparition appear in front of several normally rational individuals in a well lit place, with documentation via toxicology that no possible mind altering substances are present, AND live confirmation via long-distance viewing (through, perhaps, a telescope from a mile away and a convenient hole in the building) of the event having taken place, you might start someone to actually ponder the existence of a ghost.

However, unless one of those observers is the Amazing Randi, and you can reproduce the event, I don't think anyone is going to believe you. At this point, we do not have the technology to measure accurately enough to isolate possible "ghostly" effects, and ghosts are notoriously uncooperative in a laboratory setting. (Not to mention the ethical issues... a ghost created by violent death? You can't just build a laboratory, bring someone in, and kill them in a horrible and gruesome way, then repeating that until something happens that can be measured as a potential ghost effect.)

Take a cue from ghostbusters (5, Funny)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785096)

The Ghostbusters [wikipedia.org] also use equipment to hunt and find ghosts, such as a PKE meter, Ecto-Goggles, and a Ghost Sniffer. A PKE meter is a handheld device, used in locating and measuring Psycho-Kinetic Energy, which is a unique environmental byproduct emitted by ghosts. The device's most prominent feature are winged arms that raise and lower in relation to the amount of PKE detected while a digital display gives an exact reading for the operator. The Giga meter is a device similar to the PKE meter, featured in Ghostbusters II. As explained by Egon in the original script, the Giga meter measures PKE in GeV, or giga-electronvolts. Ecto-Goggles, sometimes known as "Spectro-Visors", are a special pair of goggles that visually trace PKE readings. They are particularly useful in helping its wearer see normally invisible ghosts and it can also be used to assist in tracking ghosts within a visible field of search.

but I have friends and family ... (4, Funny)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785102)

wouldn't be easier just to change both friends and family?

Re:but I have friends and family ... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785300)

wouldn't be easier just to change both friends and family?

Take them for some money first - It's immoral to let suckers keep theirs.

Brain Recorder (FMRI, PET scanners) (3, Insightful)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785106)

I'd recommend something like an FMRI or PET scanner which can determine when you're perceiving something (i.e. don't measure the house, measure yourself).

Since ghosts don't seem to show up on recordings in any reliable, repeatable way, it suggests that if they do exist they directly project their energy into the brain, rather than manifest physically. So you'd need to detect the perception, rather than the physical anomaly itself (which probably doesn't exist).

Magnetics+sound (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785110)

Can't find links, but I've read articles about how magnetic fields and subsonic sounds can be interpreted as ghosts or similar phenomena.

That's not how Science works (2)

mailman-zero (730254) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785126)

Science only allows you to test your assumptions. If you get multiple results that match your hypothesis, then you have a decent theory. Unfortunately for you, you can't scientifically prove that something doesn't exist, but you could show that your hypothesis, that conditions inside the so-called haunted location match the conditions of similar locations that are not presumed to be haunted. That kind of evidence isn't flashy or interesting. It's like saying water is wet and some other people saying that some water is not wet. All you can do is show that the water is wet everywhere. Since the haunted claims don't make sense, there's not a lot of interesting science to be done.

Skeptic? I doubt that! (1)

ketilf (114215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785140)

You say you're a skeptic, but you're going about this the wrong way by trying to confirm the existence of ghosts. It seems to presuppose the conclusion. You're going in to test, but already you're confirmation biased: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

You want to go in there and find out what's REALLY going on. Not look for ghosts. Or leave it to someone who knows what they're doing. If you start measuring electrical activity and whatnot, who knows what you'll pick up. But a ghost is still extremely unlikely. Ever heard of Occam's Razor?

Anyway, before you start measuring (experimenting), you need a likely hypothesis that you're going to be testing. Good luck on that one with the ghosts.

Q: How does recording a temperature change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785146)

... prove anything other than that the temperature changed?

A: It doesn't. Unless you have already pre-supposed the conclusion that there are such things as ghosts, and that they cause temperature changes. The same goes for any other so-called "evidence" that you could prove of ghosts.

Incidentally, isn't it surprising that nobody's heard anything from Doris Stokes since she "crossed over to the other side"?

(A: No.)

You can't con a con (1)

wdhowellsr (530924) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785154)

My father is a minister who actually dealt with these things. The best explanation I can give is to reference the movie "Mystery Men" where the invisible man was only invisible when no one was looking. I know personally of at least three people who are dead because they wanted to know and were willing to risk everything to find out. Broken necks, scared to death, completely consumed by fire. While most of them were in Africa, I have first hand accounts.

Personally as a info geek I look at it this way, "You don't check the amount of gas in a container by lighting a match". It has nothing to do with religion, truth or anything else you may subscribe to but rather the simple question, "Is it worth it?"

"Not knowing something that has no impact on your life is not worth risking anything"

Re:You can't con a con (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785214)

The primary impact that such energy entities have is psychological. They can impact the physical world, but only weakly. I would suggest that what you are talking about are not ghosts, but something way, way more dangerous.

As a friend of mine said... most of those kinds of entities are bottom feeders who are very week and just feed on fear. A few are truly dangerous. And they don't come with resumes.

Re:You can't con a con (1)

wdhowellsr (530924) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785304)

You are quite right, I was intentionally vague. This is definitely not the forum for presenting personal experiences that defy rational explanation but provide clarity without question. My intial reaction was to give him a sure thing method but was smart enough to edit my post.

Re:You can't con a con (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785244)

I know personally of at least three people who are dead because they wanted to know and were willing to risk everything to find out. Broken necks, scared to death, completely consumed by fire. While most of them were in Africa, I have first hand accounts.

And those first hand accounts are? C'mon, might as well turn this into a ghost story thread.

Re:You can't con a con (1)

wdhowellsr (530924) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785444)

My brother was a missionary in Sierra Leone. Like I said Shadow, "This has nothing to do with religion." But you are welcome to call my brother delusional. In forty-five years my arrogance has been tempered by dozens of personal experiences I cannot explain.

One of the things I find most amusing is how people who arrogantly deny that there are things that they don't understand are usually the most surprised when they experience them.

Re:You can't con a con (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785472)

I had a game of domination in CoD MW go from us being 185 to 0 to losing because people started telling ghost stories over voice chat and we got distracted.

We lost 190 to 200.

Fracking ghost stories.

My suggestion... (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785166)

Take something that can measure many environmental factors, such as a heat camera, electromagnetic/electric field detector, and perhaps even a geiger counter.

But, if my experiences and those of others are of any indication, not much will happen until all your stuff is turned off.

My advice, though - if you want to catch a ghost, ask it to show itself. Sometimes all they really want is to be noticed. And be careful. Concentrations of energy such as that can be dangerous if handled inexpertly.

Why bother? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785208)

They'll never believe anything that doesn't support their position anyway, and you can't prove something that can vanish at any moment isn't there...

Re:Why bother? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785354)

They'll never believe anything that doesn't support their position anyway, and you can't prove something that can vanish at any moment isn't there...

Sounds like you are a post grad from the Thelma & Scooby Doo school of "There's probably a rational reason behind these things."

I'm mystified how many people can get caught up in these sorts of things, but can't for the life of them get past simple facts like the US having a huge deficit and Democrats having very little to do with it.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785440)

They'll never believe anything that doesn't support their position anyway, and you can't prove something that can vanish at any moment isn't there...

Sounds like you are a post grad from the Thelma & Scooby Doo school of "There's probably a rational reason behind these things."

I'm mystified how many people can get caught up in these sorts of things, but can't for the life of them get past simple facts like the US having a huge deficit and Democrats having very little to do with it.

I agree. People are stupid.

Why don't you start with a definition? (1)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785216)

Any ghost hypothesis has got to have some sort of description of what a ghost is (varies across cultures) and what effects it would have on the measurable world. This could mean anything to anyone, so while you're having someone explain it to you, you might also get them to pick up the burden of proof.

chemical explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34785224)

"Supposedly-haunted" houses are often sites of gas leaks, high carbon-dioxide levels, etc. These sorts of things cause audio and optical hallucinations when the exposure is low, and can be dangerous if higher. I'd definitely start your equipment list with some basic home safety detectors for gas, CO2, CO, radon, etc, since those are often the most likely explanation in cases where there are documented "hauntings" seen/heard by multiple people.

Who you Gonna Call. .. Ghostbusters (1)

Master Moose (1243274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785248)

You need a PKE meter of course.

From: http://ghostbusters.wikia.com/wiki/P.K.E._Meter [wikia.com]

The PKE Meter was one of the Ghostbusters' tools invented by Dr. Egon Spengler that enabled them to track ghosts. The full name of the device is a Psychokinetic Energy meter, so named because its function is to detect the amounts of said energy and to direct the user to its location.

I'm normally a skeptic but... (5, Funny)

makubesu (1910402) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785254)

there have been times where I've wandered these parts late at night in lonely topics, and I swear I've heard the cries of the negative karma posters, screaming for revenge. They say their souls will not rest until they've compensated for their sins in life. On nights like these, they say you can see their cold remarks beckoning from the mist, trying to pull you into hell with them...

A megaphone and a pair of ears (3, Funny)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785270)

Just shout, really loudly, "HEY GHOST!".

If you hear "HEY HUMAN" then shout "MARCO?". If you hear "POLLO!" go find the source of the sound.

If it's your friend, laugh. If it's nothing, lather-rinse-repeat. If it's a ghost, you'll see it. Then ask it to follow you home.

What the hell else are you going to do? Temperature change? Wind. What the hell, it can change by ten degrees in an hour quite easily.

Like everything else in english, you have to answer one question: what's a ghost. Define the term, circle the nouns, and look for them. Then underline the verbs and see if the nouns are doing the verbs. Since when does anyone define a ghost as something that can change temperature. That's just a lot of hot air -- maybe from the ghost.

Re:A megaphone and a pair of ears (1)

djconrad (1413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785456)

If you hear "HEY HUMAN" then shout "MARCO?". If you hear "POLLO!" go find the source of the sound..

What on Earth do ghosts want with chicken? Don't they need rice too?

Ask them for a definition (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785294)

If you want to know what to measure, ask them why they believe the house is haunted, and then confirm that whatever they experienced is the definition of a ghost.

easy (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785348)

I don't know if you're shooting for "look, a ghost!" or "look, a fireplace," but it's really easy to see some "unexplainable" readings with a lot of different tools. Pick something that can detect small amounts of voltage, sound, light, temperature... any one of them will work.

A common one is a hand-held voltage meter. Stick it on the lowest voltage setting and connect a couple of wires to it. You can even wind/shape the wires onto a "ghost sensing" stick or rod if you'd like. While walking around just about anywhere, you'll find many locations or pockets of air that cause small voltages to appear. Depending on your point of view it can be due to an old fireplace, the quirks of the local ventilation or a ghost.

The grad students in my lab do this to new undergrads to try and convince them the lab (in the basement of a 100 year old building) is haunted.

Ghost schmost! (1)

SaidinUnleashed (797936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785408)

I've never really been a fan of Ghost. I just use bzip2 to make images. It works great, is fast, and I never have to worry about a later version not supporting the compression.

Create image:
# bzip2 -1c < /dev/hda > myimage.img.bz2

Restore image:
# bzip2 -dc < myimage.img.bz2 > /dev/hda

Easy, and no proprietary software to be deprecated out from under me.

Bring a sense of humor! (3, Insightful)

tetrahedrassface (675645) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785410)

Hunting for ghosts can be fun, exciting, educational (if you like history) and perhaps a healthy outlet. As a skeptic myself, my wife and I really enjoy staying in supposed haunted hotels. We have stayed in several, and most of the hotels are old, beautiful, and historic. We haven't found a ghost yet, although we have had some weird things occur that seem odd. It doesn't matter at the end of the day (or night) that some poltergeist or level 5 free form book stacking apparition hadn't come into our room. What did matter is that we did something fun and cool together.

Now, some people will try to make you feel stupid for wanting to explore a house that has supposed strange goings on, but in reality these same people would have subscribed to Pluto being a *real* planet, or the Earth being flat, or of the aether theory. They also can't explain why the two Voyager spacecraft haven't reached the Heliopause, or what exactly *is* dark matter. They don't have those answers do they? Did anyone see it coming that the periodic table was changed? In short not very many things are nailed down as far as being immutable. Perhaps supposed hauntings are vibrational in nature and related to another plane of existence. Perhaps 'hauntings' are a great demonstration of the phenomenal power of the human mind, or maybe hauntings are really just an example of the power of the human mind and its propensity to create stories in an attempt to rationalize an event whose mechanism is unknown to the witness.

What I *do* know is that irregardless of all those things, we don't even take cameras, or really even poke about the haunted hotels we stay in. We just have fun and learn a bit of local history wherever we happen to be. In ending, life is full mystery and fun, and maybe indulging in a bit of fantasy and romance in a world that seems hell bent on destroying every legend, myth, and bit of intrigue that's left out there isn't so bad after all..

Scientific method (1)

Black Sabbath (118110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785418)

The problem here is you need a "theory of ghosts" that defines the alleged phenomenon in terms of physically measurable effects or attributes. What is a ghost? Is it supposed to be something which "appears" (emits light), can influence/affect other objects (either through electrical/magnetic fields, radiological effects or other apparent application of force).

Once you have a theory of ghost you can develop tests to detect the effects of ghost. Of course, all of this just means that "ghost" is something that has physically measurable effects. There is no way of linking this back to some sort of metaphysical concept like "soul" or "spirit" (unless you develop theories for the whole lot in terms of physical effects and causal links). It could well be that "ghost" turns out to be just a name for some other physical phenomenon as yet not understood e.g. phlogiston, aether.

Brilliant topic! :) (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785422)

Good question, especially when you're me, a skeptic with a physics background, who lives with two ghost tour guides, one an atheist and the other a believer, who both swear blind that weird things happen.

Yup, cold spots are a common occurrence. If I have to guess at a potential mechanism for the phenomena, then I'd suggest that it's heat flowing out of the area and concentrating on one spot to produce some kind of artefact that we call a ghost. Presuming that ghosts have an information content, then it's not a stupid idea, it's just a matter of entropy. Life is very good at temporarily reversing entropy, it's kind of a defining feature.

Personally I'd take several bars of metal of varying SHC, embedded with thermocouples. If there is a swing in temperature, it'll be interesting to see how much power is behind the swing, which the varying SHC will let you work out.

Just be sure to use a fast film (5, Funny)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785426)

Ghosts can be quite amiable to being photographed, but you don't want to end up in a situation where the spirit was willing but the flash was weak.

Burdon of proof (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785428)

I see a lot of people on here claiming the burden of proof lies with the people making the extraordinary claims. This is not true. The burden of proof always lies with the person with the interest and the ability to get such proof. So if you are going to call people stupid or say they are wrong, and you aren't willing to seek the proof, you are just talking out your ass.

I've never watched any of those shows, but I think they do a lot with temperature, infrared imaging, audio recording, and magnetic fields.

For non-haunted locations, the difficulty will be finding a quiet, dark place that doesn't seem spooky. Ideally, a house that is supposedly haunted but relatively new so that you can find another house of the same model that wouldn't be haunted for any reason. Probably a mobile home, since a lot of those are used for disreputable purposes, they're relatively cheap, and they make a lot of them.

Actually, this would be a good thing for the myth-busters, since they have the resources to buy a new (and therefore un-haunted) mobile home and modify it to match the "haunted" one exactly.

You can't (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785434)

Fact is, you can never prove a negative. It's impossible.

I think the most hilarious thing in the world is that most of the people that believe in Ghosts also believe in reincarnation. If that's not an Oxymoron, I don't know what is.

First thing first (1)

Big Smirk (692056) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785442)

Before you start an experiment looking for ghost, take a moment to at least come up with a theory on what a ghost would be and how it would exist.

All of the so called ghost hunters seem to skip that part and assume that ghosts might exist (actually, they assume they DO exist - yet another leap) and are simply investigating to find out if ghosts exist at a particular location.

To date, there has been no scientific evidence that ghost exists.

If you can prove the existance of a ghost, I'm sure it would qualify for James Randii's Million dollar prize.

if there was something to test for... (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34785480)

if there was something to test for, then ghosts would have been "found" by now. Things like "change in temperature" are only useful if a study has conclusively proven that ghosts can cause such a thing. Had that happened, you could measure for otherwise unexplained temperature changes and then have that as potential evidence.
It's a problem of there not having been a studied, known-good. IE, a situation where we almost all scientists could agree a ghost existed in a particular place, and that said ghost caused a particular list of manifestations/effects. Until such a thing happens, there's absolutely no reason to think a change in temperature isn't due to a gap in the floorboard that is letting air in from outside, which you're just not seeing; being cold, doesn't mean there is a ghost.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...