When it comes to believing in ghosts, you either do or you don’t. Most people that believe, have found themselves face-to-face with a spirit or feel sensitive to spiritual energy like Zak Bagans (seen above), host and creator of the Travel Channel hit Ghost Adventures. Bagans and his crew of paranormal investigators, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin, hit up the world’s most haunted spots to experience the haunts first hand and capture evidence for skeptics and non-believers. Armed with a battalion of experimental ghost hunting technology, the Ghost Adventurers bring science and technology to a typically spiritual field. But do these ghost hunting gadgets work? Or is it just about as effective as the flux capacitor or perhaps the Ghostbusters proton packs? I sat down with Ghost Adventure’s own host, investigator, and executive producer Nick Groff to find out.
Most of the time, experiences with ghosts are characterized by a feeling. I for one get a different feeling when I walk into an old building compared to when I’m in a brand new apartment. I can’t explain it, it’s just some sort of energy, or feeling. Ok, ok, before you call me crazy, would you be more convinced if there was some sort of evidence to convince the skeptics? That’s where the technology comes in.
Groff explained, “People are made up of energy. When a body dies, where does the energy go? Does it die with the body? I think not.” Based on this assumption, Groff and his team brought in innovator and retired electrical engineer Bill Chappell to create ghost hunting tools to measure this energy and to capture real evidence to convince the skeptics that perhaps there is something beyond death. One of the most popular tools used by the crew to measure this energy is a EMF (electromagnetic frequency) detector. This detector measures the amount of electromagnetic energy in the air and often spikes at times when the crew hears a noise or feels some kind of presence. Although skeptics argue that this spike in electromagnetic waves could be explained by a car driving by the sight or a light flickering, if the EMF detector can backup a feeling the crew is sensing, then that’s proof enough for me.
Based on the idea of energy emitting from spirits to create encounters, one of the tools the Ghost Adventurers have recently integrated is what they call the EM Pump. This device emits electromagnetic frequency designed to give ghosts enough energy to draw upon to show themselves, create noise, or even movement. Often times when the crew experiences some kind of action, the pump ends up completely drained of energy. If the ghosts don’t use the pump’s energy, they sometimes target the team’s equipment or the team itself.
One of the coolest tools the Ghost Adventurers use is called the Ovilus. This tool, which at first glance seems to be pure Hollywood magic, it may even convince skeptics when seen in use. Also designed by Chappell, the device matches phonetic sounds to various electromagnetic energies. The device is supposed to read changes in energy using a synthesizer chip and translate it into an audible sound or word. My first question was, well who decides what frequency is designated to what word? Chappell attests that the process, called “Environmental Communications Mode,” does not use random generation, sweep functioning, or any programmed algorithms. Although I am not completely sold on this idea, the device is rather impressive when seen in use on the Ghost Adventures show. Knowing the history behind some of these places, the Ovilus often spews out words relevant to the location or events that happened in those haunted locales.
To vouch for the effectiveness of this tool, Groff explained an experience he had while locked down in Pennsylvania’s Hill View Manor. The Manor, which was once home to the county’s helpless, aged, chronically and mentally ill citizens, was also the scene of a death where a man died in the Manor’s basement. When the crew used the device, Groff explained that the device spewed out words like “East Highway,” “Jail,” “Lock,” which was extra creepy when the crew found out the man that died in the basement was locked in the boiler room where he tragically died. Real or fake? One can only wonder.
One of the lowest tech, but most impressive tools that the Ghost Adventurers use is the tried and true digital voice recorder. By asking questions and using various props to prompt ghosts to interact, the crew often captures unexplained noises or faint voices that could be attributed to intelligent energy. For example, when one of the crew asks “do you want us to leave,” a ghost might say “get out.” Often (but not all the time) inaudible to the crew, the digital recorders offers some of the most creepy and compelling evidence of all of the tools.
Besides using energy meters and sound records, the crew relies on good old nightvision cameras to capture action on-the-move as well as in unattended rooms.
When asked about his scariest ghost hunting moment, Groff immediately answered, “The Linda Vista Hospital. I saw a lady standing there next to me. A solid figure. I could see the patterns on her hospital gown, her eyes, her face… it was definitely out there. Second scariest would be the Old Washoe Club. I have a connection with that place.” As seen in the Old Washoe Club Ghost Adventures episode, both the crew and other paranormal investigators captured an inordinate amount of EVPS (electronic voice phenomena captured by the digital recorder), stating that they wanted to kill lead investigator Zak Bagans and Nick Groff. Yes, the ghosts marked them by name.
In law enforcement, media, and life, we trust sound and video recorders to capture our memories and provide unbiased proof of exactly what happened. A videotape cannot lie. Ghost hunting provides a unique challenge for believers. Since ghosts and energy cannot be captured on camera in the same way a person could be capture on tape, there will always be some level of skepticism. That said, there is evidence captured, that can be seen on tape to support the fact that there is something out there that’s not completely human. Electromagnetic frequency detectors, static nightvision cameras, digital recorders, and even motion detectors, provide evidence that can be used to sway skeptics, but is possibly not enough to convince them. Until the day when the technology, can support the feeling that these paranormal investigators feel, the Ghost Adventurers will still be out there trying to sway the non-believers.
When we ended our conversation, Groff advised wannabe paranormal investigators to get out there and start investigating. “Join a paranormal group, research and know your history before you get out there. Give the spirits enough time to connect with you.”
What do you believe? Tune into Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel Fridays 9 P.M. Eastern.
*All images courtesy of the Travel Channel