THE GHOST BOX – CAN IT COMMUNICATE WITH THE DEAD ? (NO)
There aren’t many pieces of equipment more widely used by paranormal investigators and more ineffective then a Ghost Box. But with a Ghost Box you are guaranteed results every time, unfortunately the results have nothing to do with contacting spirits but are everything to do with wishful thinking and lack of basic logic. I am using the term Ghost Box as a generic term, there are all sorts of variations, but the name doesn’t matter it’s the unfounded claims that are made about them. And although devices such as the Ovilus, Echovox, and other random word generators work on different principles many of the burden of proof requirements are the same as the Ghost Box. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that they aren’t. There are only 24 consonant phonemes and 20 vowel phonemes that can collectively form any word in the English (or most other) languages programming them into a device and claiming that if they produce a word isn’t proof of anything paranormal. The odds of a recognizable word being created from this process are in reality extremely high. And regardless it doesn’t mean a ghost is creating them. There are few things more redundant then people arguing about whose Ghost Box or Ghost phone app is better. It’s like saying one person’s flying pig flew further then the other. Ghost Boxes may provide instant gratification but that is not the purpose of paranormal research. You would be doing far more for the paranormal field by doing nothing then presenting the results of a Ghost Box as evidence.
If you claim to use scientific investigation techniques then you need to abide by its rules and one of them is that the burden of proof is on the claimant. Does someone have to prove that a Ghost Box doesn’t work, and if they can’t then that means that it does? No, they don’t, anymore that they have to prove the moon isn’t made of cheese. The scientific process doesn’t include trying to prove a negative. This is just a basic principle which should have been understood long before purchasing any piece of equipment being sold to you by a reality TV show. Like many similar devices use of the Ghost Box was popularized by them and then blindly adopted by the paranormal community. Whatever the name or the format whether it’s an actual box or a phone app the principle is the same. They are little more then broken radios with some lights on them designed to attract those that will buy them because they were used by some paranormal celebrity not by a scientist. In all electronic equipment there are specific components that are designed and tested to do specific things, whether it’s a timer in a washing machine which will cause the cycle to run an exact length or a thermostat in a kettle which will cause it to cut off when it reaches a certain temperature. What part in a Ghost Box has been specifically designed to talk to dead people? There isn’t one. Calling it a Ghost Box doesn’t make it one. And neither does giving the use of Ghost Box a scientific sounding acronym such as ITC make it any more credible.
Much like digital recorders that supposedly pick up EVPs, Ghost Boxes are insufficiently insulated against stray radio waves and static which I believe are the primary source of these so called spirit voices. Ghost Boxes are receivers and the entire planet is polluted with radio noise on all sorts of frequencies. In addition to commercial radio this also includes mobile phones, TV broadcasts and emergency service and military transmissions. Don’t assume that if you are in the “middle of nowhere” then there will be no radio interference. Radio broadcasts can be received in the North Pole and underneath the Atlantic Ocean. If you want to attempt to insulate against stray waves you need to enclose the device using a Faraday Cage which would block the majority of them but will still allow the “white noise” that it is claimed that spirits use to communicate. However even if every radio wave was blocked you still couldn’t logically classify the sounds a Ghost Box picks up as spirit voice unless you can trace their source to a spirit. Do I have to prove that all the voices received on a spirit box are radio waves, and if I don’t then by default that automatically means they are spirit voices? No, not if you want to follow scientific methodology. I am just providing one possible explanation. There could be other explanations. The voices on a Ghost Box are at best just unexplained and unexplained doesn’t mean dead people, it just means unexplained. The existence of radio waves has been scientifically proven. Spirit voices have not.
While there has never been any proof that Ghost Boxes contact spirits on demand there are a few very specific conditions where the voices received on them have the potential to be credible. But it is virtually unheard of for these conditions to be demonstrated either on TV, Youtube or by paranormal investigation groups. The first one of these scenarios is if the voice heard on the Ghost Box was independently matched with that of a dead person via blind peer review by comparing what was heard with a verified recording of the deceased person picked out from other recordings of people, either live or dead. Much like the process used in a police line up. And if this is your aim, why not just use a tape recorder ? The second such condition under which data produced could be deemed legitimate is if a full apparition was standing next to the box and the words they were mouthing corresponded with that of the device and this was captured on video? How often have you ever heard of that occurring? The third scenario is if you ask the “spirit” a question and their reply is something VERY specific that only they would know or a third party not currently present would know. This would eliminate the possibility of psychic influence from a living person. However in this case the reply from the spirit would have to be far more complex then something that could be answered by just giving a response of yes or no as either of these responses have a 50/50 chance of being correct, so they could be easily guessed.
“I know what I heard, and I don’t have to prove it to anyone” is not actually scientific proof of a claim. If I said that I saw a Unicorn, and my evidence to support this was “I know what I saw, and I don’t have to prove it to anyone” would that mean Unicorns exist? There have been many reports from people that say they have had extensive interactive conversations with their dead-relatives via Ghost Boxes. Despite there being no verifiable evidence of this, should they get a free pass because it brings comfort to them? No, they shouldn’t. How can you say that they should and still expect to be taken seriously as an investigator. The equipment used in paranormal research shouldn’t be utilized as some sort of “electronic dummy” that people can suck on. There are thousands of different religions out there, if you wish to find comfort after someone dies, please turn to them or a grief councilor and stop diluting the credibility of the paranormal field.
As the results produced by Ghost Boxes are like those from digital tape recorders which are claimed to produces EVPs they should be analyzed in the same way. Firstly they are normally attributed to spirits not because the source has been traced to one but because of a geographical association. Because the device is used in an allegedly haunted location then the voices must be dead people. This is as scientific as saying if you are in a hospital this makes you a Doctor. Secondly as for claims that people get more results when using a Ghost Box in a haunted location as opposed to one that isn’t. For this claim to be valid this would mean that any control tests would have to be carried out in a physically identical environment over a prolonged period of time, equal to the time spent in carrying out the test in a haunted location. When do paranormal investigators ever do that ? They are to busy ghost hunting in places that provide the “cheap thrills” they are after which is why they aren’t going to waste time in a place that isn’t even haunted to begin with. And if you investigate a place such as a haunted castle, where are you going to find a physically identical one, and one that DOESN’T have a ghost.
It’s this lack of basic logic in the paranormal field that not only allows people to make unfounded claims but means that their peers don’t have the ability to challenge them. For your claims to be valid they must meet a very specific criterion and unless they do you cannot justify using a Ghost Box for an investigation. You are simply lying to both yourself and your client and you are just inflicting further damage on the paranormal community.
Is it necessary to buy every single one of these Ghost Boxes or Ghost Box apps and test them to prove they don’t work, no it isn’t, anymore then it would be necessary to buy every single car on the market to prove if they drive or not, the principle behind all of them are the same. Most people have never flown a plane. Does that mean that until you pilot one you cant judge if they can fly ?There are thousands of examples on both Youtube, social media and paranormal reality shows of the evidence (or rather lack of it ) that a Ghost Box produces. And so I have never owned a Ghost Box for the same reason I have never owned two tin cans with a piece of string tied between them and used them as a “telephone to the dead”. Does this make me “closed minded”, no it means I would rather put my resources behind equipment that has at least a hypothetical chance of being fit for purpose. Do you think that when scientists first attempted to send someone into space that they experimented with attaching them to giant catapults in order to send them in to orbit, and if they didn’t then that made them “closed minded” ? That would be ridiculous wouldn’t it ?
Often one of the claims made by people defending them is that others don’t get the results they do because they don’t know how to use them. So how much skill is required in pushing a button to switch one of them on and off exactly? But most of the people on T.V shows and on Youtube videos presumably are experts at using Ghost Boxes because they get results, and yet under analysis their results are equally as invalid as someone that has just used one for the first time. Rather then take their evidence at face value you should look at how the evidence is being presented to you, and in most cases it immediately nullifies it. For the record, I have witnessed first hand the use of a Ghost Box by a person that many would consider an expert in this particularly field of technology. The results just demonstrated that my theoretical accusations were true, and that once under any basic scientific scrutiny these devices fail abysmally to live up to their purpose.
The vast majority of the video evidence produced of Ghost Boxes being used in the field primes you for what to listen for, firstly by providing a back story of a location, and also by telling you the question that has been asked. You will be searching for a particular response based on both. For example if you are aware the history of the location involves a girl that died there by the name of Janet, you will be listening out for a girl’s voice, saying the name Janet. Likewise if you ask the Ghost Box a question such as how did you die; you are going to be listening out for words such as murder, suicide, gunshot, knife or another similar scenario or weapon. It doesn’t even matter if any of these words are actually said you will just twist whatever noise you hear to fit it to a word or sentence. This is just audio pareidolia. In addition to the question and the back story you will usually be told both verbally and quite often with captions what the person that is using the Ghost Box thought it said. This means that you will in an act of what is referred to as social compliance listen for the words or sentences that they tell you to listen for. This is completely different from making an independent analysis of what they are. Just the fact that captions are provided is a good indicator that what is being presented as evidence clearly isn’t strong enough to stand on its own. So why present it in the first place? As a paranormal investigator it just makes you appear desperate and amateurish and that quantity of evidence is far more important then quality. It’s just the same tactics used on ghost hunting reality shows who roll out anything just to fill space between commercial breaks. If you’re a paranormal investigator and you want to look like a clown, either wear a red-nose or use a Ghost Box and claim that the results you get are spirit voices. People may consider this an insult, however it’s nowhere near as insulting as the damage that is being done to the paranormal field by the repeated use of this device.
Something else that is frequently brought up by people defending Ghost Boxes is that if they are picking up radio waves why is the majority of it just voices and not music ? But much of this is due to people just listening for what they want to hear. People ask the box a question and they are not listening for music they are listening for words. So among the static they are going to cherry-pick what they hear in order for it to provide them with the response they have decided they should get. And don’t forget its not just radio stations they can be picked up, its also police scanners and commercial communications such as those from taxi-drivers. These Ghost Boxes are modified radios and the people that do these modifications aren’t concerned with insulating against outside non-paranormal interference. If they were then they would construct these devices more like a Faraday Cage. But if you simply take into account all possible sources of radio transmissions voices far outweigh music and even on the music only programs there are D.J’s and presenters and commercials between the songs. So in reality there are far fewer stations that truly transmit only music.
When watching some of these video presentations of a Ghost Box there is a simple test you can try in the form of a psychological distraction, even after you have been primed for what to listen for. Close your eyes, look away from the screen and picture a pitch black tunnel. Concentrate on travelling towards the light at the end of it and slowly repeat the day of the week to yourself. When the audio from the Ghost Box is replayed and you listen subconsciously the chances are you are going to hear something entirely different to what you have been told you heard.
The only way to produce credible evidence of what these Ghost Boxes are saying is by independent peer review in conditions where the people listening to them are not influenced by outside factors. But note, even if there is a general consensus of what is being said this still doesn’t mean that the results are spirit voices. It just means that people have agreed on what these voices said, not what they are or where they originate from.
If Ghost Boxes do contact spirits as is claimed first you need to ask yourself if your evidence and the conditions under which it was obtained meet’s the following criteria.
1) Can you PROVE that the origin of these voices is from a dead person? (No? Then it isn’t)
2) Can you prove that there is no influence from a living person even if it is a psychic one?
3) Have the results been peer-reviewed so that there is a majority consensus of what the voices picked up by the Ghost Box said?
4) Is there only one answer that could fit the question that was asked or are you retro fitting the response?
5) Over what period of time did you ask the Spirit box a question? Based on this can it be considered a direct response?
6) If you are claiming to recognize the spirit voice, do you have a recording of the person you claim it was when they were alive to compare it to? If so did you take measures to ensure that it was independently compared through peer review by placing it among other recordings?
7) Have you been primed to listen for a specific voice, such as famous celebrity that died or a dead relative you want to contact?
8) Have you been influenced to listen for a specific phrase or word by being provided with a relevant location history or question?
9) How many times did you ask a question and didn’t get an answer or did you just keep asking questions until you did get one, which isn’t an intelligent response. And did you keep getting responses after you had stopped asking questions which means these responses weren’t intelligent at all, just random sounds or voices.
10) Is there only one answer to the question you asked, or could there be multiple answers which you could interpret as a direct response?
How many more times are people going to use the terms “interesting” “great” or “spot-on” when referring to the results a ghost box produced. Or call them an “intelligent response”. A Ghost Box has one purpose to contact ghosts. So can you prove that the voices are that of dead people by tracing their source? There are only two answers yes or no. Maybe isn’t a yes.
One of the most important factors to consider is the question you are asking, and how many answers could really fit it. For example if you ask the “spirit” did you die here? There are many possible answers yes, no, maybe, why, an infinite number of dates, times or days which you can interpret as being when the person died (whether they are correct or not). Knife, gun, axe, hanging, (which you could interpret as how they died). The responses are almost infinite because paranormal investigators will simple fit the answers to the questions. This is very similar to the techniques that phony psychics use. They certainly couldn’t be classified as an intelligent response or proof of contact with a spirit. Asking a specific question with only one answer such as what is the capital of France will to an extent eliminate the issue with there being multiple responses. But the problem with this although there is only one answer, you will now be priming yourself to listen for it. Only blind audio peer review where people don’t know the question will be able to eliminate this.
Ghost Boxes are now big business and there are several people making a considerable amount of money from their sale or Ghost Box phone apps. One of the ways in which they get cheap publicity for their product is that when a celebrity dies they immediately claim to have contacted them. Ultimately all this proves is the radio wave theory. Bearing in mind that Ghost Boxes are receivers, in the event a famous person died then their voice will be on the radio and TV and therefore highly likely to be picked up by one of these devices, there is nothing paranormal about this.
Another extremely relevant and almost always overlooked piece of the thought process is how do you know the answer doesn’t psychically originate from you or someone else in your paranormal investigation group? Or even from another living person at an entirely different geographical location. This may be highly unlikely, and it could be paranormal but it still isn’t from a dead person. Are you asking a question and then manipulating the device to answer it? If you can’t eliminate this, this is yet another reason that you can’t claim it’s a spirit voice.
One possible way of trying to eliminate human involvement could be asking the spirit to say a word or sentence you couldn’t know. For example you could get a book, then close your eyes and open the book at a random page before placing it out of sight. Then you could ask the spirit to read out the first sentence of the page. Once you get a response you could have it peer reviewed first before attempting to match it with what the sentence was.
These are not my random opinions these are opinions based on critical thinking. I didn’t invent that. If you are claiming scientific methodology you need to familiarize yourself with the process for analyzing your evidence. Wishful thinking, providing emotional comfort or because you saw it on TV is not a scientific process for accessing the legitimacy of a Ghost Box. Labeling something a Ghost Box doesn’t mean it actually communicates with ghosts anymore then labeling something a Tooth fairy box means that it will communicate with the Tooth fairy. Beliefs are not facts. Anecdotal evidence based on your own ignorance of scientific process is not a criterion for proof. And if the only defense of your claims is that paranormal investigators should be “open minded”, the harsh reality is science doesn’t care if your mind is open or not, it deals with facts. So how about instead of posting meaningless evidence just to fill space on your website, why don’t you try posting an explanation as to why this evidence and the equipment used to collect it is legitimate. There is also nothing ground breaking about trying new methods of communicating with the spirits just for the sake of it. When something has been trialed and still never proven to produce the evidence that is claimed, its time to try something else. That’s how the paranormal field will move forward not by desperately clinging on to failed ideologies, beliefs and techniques. When it comes to evidence it’s far more ground breaking not to have any then to consistently make claims which are weak, false or fraudulent.
High Time We Kill The Idea Of Talking To The Dead Via Radio – Doubtful News
Pseudo-Scientific Ghost Hunting – Skepticblog
What Is The Ghost Box ? – Angels & Ghosts