Read this Before Buying a Ghost Box

I mentioned in a previous post that I love ghost hunting. I’ve been many times, and plan to go many more. But I want to take a minute to call bullshit on something that seems to be unreasonably popular in the paranormal community.

Ghost boxes.

Some people call them spirit boxes. Others use fancy, technical sounding names like ‘SB11’ or ‘Ovilus 5’. Whatever you want to call them, I think they’re a bad idea. Don’t worry though. If you read through to the end, there’s a better option waiting for you.

For those of you unfamiliar with the technology, there are a couple different kinds of spirit boxes. One type scans through radio stations, picking up random signals. The other, like the Ovilus, is essentially just an electronic collection of pre-programmed words. Depending on who you talk to, there are different ways spirits can communicate through these devices.

One theory is that ghosts simply have the ability to make their voices heard through electronics. This is a pretty common theory, both in the paranormal community, as well as in fictional horror. If you have a scanning style box, the ghosts would communicate using the radio frequencies alongside or over any other sounds that come from the device. In the case of the electronic dictionary, they either have the ability to find and pick the words, or the box acts as a translator. Kind of like google translate, but instead of translating one language to another, it translates spirit energy into human words.

Another theory (which I’m not going to spend much time on it, because it’s a bit out there, even for me) is that spirits essentially have the same ability as Bumblebee from the Transformers, and can pick currently-playing radio clips to answer your questions. Now, I’m typically not one to say things are impossible…but…really?

So, let’s go back to the first theory. In my personal opinion, the idea that ghosts can communicate through electronics really isn’t that hard to accept if you’re already considering the possibility that ghosts might be real. My problem with ghost boxes is that if the theory IS correct, they’re designed in the worst possible way for anyone trying get credible or verifiable results.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons.

    • They’re loud. Stupidly loud. At least, most of the spirit boxes I’ve seen in action are. So, basically what you’re doing is sitting in a quiet room, playing the loudest, most obnoxious sound you can find, and then hoping your ears or subconscious aren’t playing tricks on you when something that sounds like it might be an answer to your question comes through. I mean, even in normal conditions, we mishear things all the time. Were you around back in the days before we could google song lyrics? “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.” “There’s a bathroom on the right.”

Seriously. How much of the lyrics to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” did you actually know before you had google? But you want to trust a two second clip of a grainy  electronic voice that you heard under migraine-inducing circumstances?

Also, if I was a ghost and someone brought one of those loud-ass machines into my house, I’d throw it across the room and smash it. If I wasn’t strong enough to do that, I’d leave.

    • Picture this. You’re in a dark room and you turn on your ghost box. It starts scanning through radio stations. You ask questions. Nothing happens. You ask more questions. Still nothing. Then, suddenly (as you start to ask another question)—you hear a word! It’s so exciting!

But, is it really? It’s a machine that scans through radio stations. OBVIOUSLY you’re going to hear words eventually when you’re frequency hopping. There will be words whether there are ghosts or not. At some point, you’re going to hit a station that has something on it. So, even if there IS a ghost, and even if it DID talk to you through the box, you still have no way to verify that’s what actually happened. The same is true for the dictionary style boxes. Maybe the word was chosen or spoken by a ghost who was answering your question. But maybe it wasn’t. Unless you get a full sentence with a ghost saying, “My name is Jane Doe, and I died in 1872 when my ex stabbed me,” and then you’re able to verify that statement with historical documentation…you don’t have solid evidence.

And I’ve never seen an instance, even on the fakest of the fake shows, where that’s happened.

    • I’m sure this last one will piss some people off, but I promise I’m not accusing anyone of anything. I’m sure the people who make and sell the ghost boxes are probably good people who are not trying to scam anyone. But we do have to consider the possibility that words could be coming up randomly. The scanner may be picking up live stations, and those are the words you’re hearing. Or, even though they all say they don’t have any programming that makes words come up…maybe (unintentionally) there is something in the programming that causes words to pop up in the dictionary-style devices. Even if it’s not intentional, this would make the boxes seem to work more often than they actually do which, quite frankly, is necessary for people to continue buying the product. People wouldn’t keep buying them if they didn’t get results.

Of course, it’s surely possible to test that last one if you know enough about programming. But most people who purchase these devices don’t. And really, who’s going to test all the different devices and then have the platform to share the results? Who’s going to then test those results to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, or a mistake, or something less innocent? It’s not like there’s an abundance of funding available for paranormal research. So, even if these devices DO work exactly as advertised…it still won’t be enough for someone who’s even the teeny tiniest bit skeptical to consider it evidence.

So, what should you use instead of a ghost box? You’re in luck! I’ve discovered an amazing device that works with the same theory (ghosts speaking through electronics), but eliminates the problems you find with the current ghost boxes and apps.

It’s called a radio.

Some of you may be too young to know about these crazy devices, so I’ll explain. Radios are what people used to listen to music on before downloads and streaming services were a thing. They’re the base technology for many ghost boxes. The great thing is, if you use a regular, old-school style radio (the ones that came before “digital” was an everyday term), you can cut out most of the ghost box problems.

Radio
You have to use one like this, with the dials. No digital!

If you use a radio, you can pick one station that you know won’t have anything playing on it and just keep it tuned there, instead of jumping between stations like a sentient robot on a bad acid trip. If ghosts actually can speak to us through electronics, this should be significantly easier for them than navigating a spirit box. Instead of trying to jump in on whatever frequency the box scans through at any given second, fighting to be heard over other sounds, or having to pick words from a list, the ghost can simply speak. Just set the radio to a station that’s out of range of any signals, and the spirit has free reign to say whatever it wants. Or, maybe they’ll just change the station to find their jam.

Either way, if you get a response, you’ll KNOW it was real. No one would have had any reason to program random words into a $10 radio you got from Target, Amazon, or whatever discount store is closest to your home. It’s also much quieter, and doesn’t sound like you’re trying to cause someone three miles away to have a seizure. And of course, since the sound of a radio that isn’t picking up a station is fairly consistent (usually static), it will be much harder for your subconscious mind to hear words that aren’t there. If you do, they likely won’t be the same words the people around you heard, which will make debunking the situation much easier than if you were using a ghost box.

Of course, this option is only better if you’re actually looking for the truth. If you’re filming a show or a video and you want something exciting to show your fans, definitely get a ghost box. Buy the most expensive one so everyone knows how serious you are. Filming a video with a group of people sitting in the dark listening to static would be boring. No one would watch that.

Or, maybe you want to make sure every investigation is exciting so your friends stay interested. In that case, by all means, buy the box. Or maybe an app, which are usually cheaper. You should probably sneak into places too. That helps with the adrenaline.

(DISCLAIMER: Please don’t actually sneak in. If you do, leave me out of it when you get caught. Obviously you shouldn’t break the law. Always get permission when ghost hunting.)

 

But if you’re looking for actual evidence, something even a skeptic might consider…save your money and by a cheap radio.

Ghost in a Box
I call this masterpiece “Ghost in a Box on a Post-it”

What are your thoughts? Do you use ghost boxes? Have you already tried a standard radio instead? Tell me your experiences in the comments.

Ghost Hunting and Being Weird: Unsolicited Advice #1

I’m kind of a weirdo. If you’re reading this because you’ve read other things I’ve written, you probably knew that already. But today, I want to talk about one particular weirdness I have going on.

Confession: I love ghost hunting. Like, a lot. I’ve been to the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield four times. I’ve been on official hunts in local haunted places a handful of times, and kept my eyes open for anything that might be paranormal while hanging around said places for non-ghost hunting reasons. I’ve even been to a paranormal convention, and plan to attend another this spring. Oh yeah, and my sister and I took a vacation to New Orleans, specifically to do all the supernatural based historic tours (and to see alligators…but my love of scaly, squirmy, slithery creatures will have to be the subject of another blog).

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Would you go down these stairs? I would. (If there’s no sign telling me not to. Safety first!)

 

Now, I assume if you’re here, it’s for one of two reasons. Either you’re family and feel like you have to read this, or you’re into spooky things too. So why, surrounded by fellow spooks, do I think ghost hunting makes me weird? It’s because even among the strange and unusual; the horror writers, the scream queens, the readers and watchers of all things creepy—most people don’t actively seek out the paranormal.

There are plenty of completely logical reasons for this. Some simply see scary things as a form of entertainment, an adrenaline rush. They don’t, even for a moment, believe any of it is real. If they’re right, then wandering around in the dark talking to nothing would be pretty ridiculous. Then we have the opposite extreme; people who are 100% sure there are supernatural creatures lurking in the dark, just waiting for the right moment to strike. Some of these folks will avoid everything even a little scary at all costs. But others consume all things creepy, not to get that nice safe buzz of adrenaline, but as a sort of research…from a safe distance. They want to be aware of every possibility so they have a fighting chance when the things come for them—and probably so they can say ‘told you so’ when zombies pull out your intestines.

Of course, there’s quite the range in between these extremes. There always is. Some people simply lean a bit one way or the other. But me? I’m as close to exactly in the middle as one can possibly get. I can’t say I fully believe that ghost (or other supernatural) sightings are real. But I’m not counting it out either. And unlike so many others in this position, I WANT to know the truth.

So, I hunt. Not like Sam and Dean. I don’t have a shotgun filled with rock salt, and I don’t carry weapons made of silver and iron. But I do have dowsing rods, an EMF detector, and a laser pointer that kind of makes a grid. And yeah, I’ve tried a couple spirit box apps on my phone, and I burn sage when I get home.

A lot of people think this is weird.

And that’s ok.

There’s nothing wrong with other people thinking you’re odd. There are so many people out there who believe they’ll only be happy if they fit in with a certain group. They do everything they can to look the way they ‘should’ and say the ‘right’ things. And more often than not, they succeed. They blend in to their chosen crowd.

But they never get to be happy.

They give up all the weird things they enjoy. They spend all their time pretending to like things the ‘cool kids’ like. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that if you live your life like that, it’s nearly impossible to make real friends, to find people whom you can confide in.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trash talking the cool kids. But the fact is, when you turn yourself into something you’re not in order to fit in with the right people they’re not the right people for you. They might be good people. They might even be great people. But they don’t even know who you are. Not really. Because you never let them. You hid everything real about yourself to fit in. So even if they are great people, even if they want to be there for you, how can they? The person you’ve shown them isn’t really you. They don’t know what you need. They can’t.

So don’t do that.

We have the internet now. It’s fairly easy to find people who like the same things you do, or who, at the very least, will love you even if they think some of your hobbies are super weird. So do the strange things you like to do. Watch the strange things you want to watch. Read, write, paint, listen, and dance in all the strange ways and to all the strange things that make you happy.

You’ll find your people, and they’ll find you. Best of all, you’ll make the other weirdos happy, and you’ll give them a place where they fit in, where they feel safe. You’ll find each other. You’ll be the real you. You’ll find happiness.

 

Let’s start now, shall we? Leave a comment and tell me what weird things make you happy. Tell me what makes you who you are. 🙂

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The best doorways are the ones that creek and make creepy shadows. Always go through those doors. And don’t forget to tell me what you find!