Do Ghost Hunting Apps Really Work?

ghost hunting app

With the “Information Age” came radical and progressive technological advancements.  For instance, computers no longer required an entire room.  Home computers no longer weigh 50 pounds and can be carried around either in the palm of your hand or backpack.  Video games and movie graphics are now more realistic and, you never have to stay at home waiting for an important telephone call.

However, these technological advancements do not stop here.  I have noticed them showing up on some of the ghost tours and ghost hunts I hand the honor to conduct as well.  They appear in the form of Apps, “Ghost Hunting Apps” to be more specific.  At first, I thought it was a novel idea to be able to just punch one button on your smart phone and “ta da” your smart phone is magically transformed into an operative investigative tool.  I did not put too much more thought into it farther than the end of the tour.  Then, I noticed more and more of our guests attending our ghost hunts and haunted walking tours with using these Apps on their handheld devices.  Now, this once novel idea moved into a totally new category.  I noticed that our guests were actually relying on these “Ghost Hunting Apps” more than their cameras, K2 meters, and digital recorders.  The most alarming thing I found was that they were absolutely convinced that these Apps were accurate for no other reason than the marketing hype.

While it’s no secret that I am not a big fan of Apps whether it be for a computer, smart-phone, or otherwise I am not some dinosaur with an aversion to technology. I do embrace some technology while abandoning others.  For me, the determining factor is twofold.  First, whether it is an App or piece of equipment, it needs to be reliable with a proven track record.  And, second, it must be user friendly.

So, I decided to perform a little experiment.  I actually downloaded a couple of these Apps on my smart phone and tested them at different locations along our tour route which are known to be “hot spots.”  The initial results were quite disappointing.  I received positive results at locations not known for paranormal activity and no results at known paranormal “hot spots.”  In an effort to be fair, I performed a second test.  This time results appeared to be more inline with data gathered prior to my little experiment using the “Ghost Hunting” Apps.  After performing two tests, and receiving contradictory results, I still did not feel comfortable rendering a conclusion as to whether or not these Apps actually worked in the field or not.  I felt that a third and final test was in order.  During this third test of these “Ghost Hunting” Apps, I received a better response but, this time I noticed something more sinister correlation.  The seemingly random and erratic responses were more inline with responses you would get using a “Magic 8 Ball.”  I found this to be most disappointing.  My final conclusion as to whether or not “Ghost Hunting” Apps actually work in the field and are a reliable scientific source for detecting actual paranormal activity is ABSOLUTELY NO.  However, I do have to give these Apps points for being a fantastic source of entertainment.     In performing my experiment, I was both entertained and amused by these gadgets.

As a paranormal investigator, I think I will stick with my old reliable equipment for now when performing investigations or field work. But, who knows, you may find me using an app of some kind sometime in the future once this technology has been perfected and becomes a reliable tool.

For now, I will let you be the judge.

© J.F. Dietz 2013

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Ghost Hunting On A Budget

Over the years, people have asked me this question the most.  Can ghost hunting be done on a small budget?  My answer is, “absolutely.”  For those of you who are financially challenged like myself, you can easily get started for under $100 or less.  In this article, I will cover very inexpensive pieces of equipment that will give you fantastic results and serve you well long term.  So, I have come up with a short-list of equipment to have in your arsenal whether you are new to ghost hunting or a well seasoned paranormal investigator.

 Digital Camera

 The first piece of equipment I suggest you purchase, if you don’t already have one, is an inexpensive digital camera which can be found for $20 or less on amazon.com.  Digital cameras with built in flash is that it allows you to take photos at night as well as during the day.  After your ghost hunt, you can go home and download your pictures right onto your computer where you can enlarge them for better viewing.  This allows you to examine your pictures more closely to determine whether or not you captured anything of interest during your hunt.

 Digital Voice Recorder

Next, I would recommend that you purchase a digital voice recorder that allows you to record in “Wave” and also has a built in USB drive.  These are also readily available on amazon.com for around $30.  Not only with this device allow you to ask questions of ghosts while on your ghost hunt but, will allow you to record their answer.  Of course with this device, you won’t be able to audibly hear the ghosts answering you but, don’t fret, you may have captured them on your recorder.  I do need to mention that the first or second time you use this device, it will appear that you are just wandering around talking to yourself giving everyone else who may see you the impression you are schizophrenic but, don’t mind the living.  You’re only concerned with the dead.  After your hunt is over and you get home, you can download your recordings directly to your computer.  You also have the option of using headphones so you can hear better.  The purpose of the Wave Sound Software is so you can bleed out excess noise making your recording a little sharper without altering the recording in any shape or form.  Also, having the USB drive built right into the device itself eliminates having to have another cord connected to your computer.  To me, this is a plus because my computer work station already has enough cords and wires that I’m constantly having to corral at different points in time.

 Spirit Box

Another great piece of equipment to have is a “Frank’s Box”, “Ghost Box”, or “Spirit Box”.  No, these are not all different pieces of equipment but all of these names plus more refer to this single piece of equipment.  You may have seen them used on some of the more popular Ghost Hunting TV Shows.  With this device, you are able to communicate with ghosts in real time meaning you can ask them questions and you will be able to audibly hear them respond to you.  It’s different from the Digital Voice Recorder I mentioned earlier for the simple fact that the “Ghost Box” does not allow you to record the ghost’s responses.  However, you can use the digital voice recorder along with the “Ghost Box” and you will be able to record ghostly responses.  The cost of a “Ghost Box” will usually set you back about $80 which is still not too bad for a micro-limit budget but, at the higher end of your budget cost-wise.  Whether new or used, the cost stays the same on average including shipping.  So, I would prefer to buy new rather than save $2-$5.  This way, you at least have a warranty on the device in case it’s defective or malfunctions.  If you want to add external speakers to this device rather than rely on the built-in speaker, you will have to fork out another $20 if, you can find them.  For me personally, external speakers are nice to have but, not necessary for the device to work.  This item will be offered for sale through Haunted Houston Tours’ website http://www.hauntedhoustontours.com June 2013.  You can also  book a Ghost Hunting Tour offered by Haunted Houston Tours to test out your device once you receive it.

 Dowsing Rods

Next on my list is somewhat unusual but, works very well is “Dowsing Rods” or “Witching Rods”.  Originally, these  devices were used by Water Witcher’s locate water in order to dig a Well.  They were predominately made out of a “Y” shaped Willow Tree branch which would bend in the direction of water sources signaling the spot in which a Water Well should be dug.  With the advent of technology, this device and it’s users became obsolete except in the world of ghost hunting.  Since our bodies are made up of 80% water, “Dowsing Rods” are quite effective in indicating the presence of a ghost.  Another benefit of this device is that they can be made very cheaply if not for free.  The materials needed to make your own set of “Dowsing Rods” are a “Y” shaped Willow Tree branch (free) or you can go to your local Walmart or  other Household Supply store and pick up a bundle of brass coat hangers ($2 or less).  If you go this route, untwist the coat hanger then straighten slightly until one end has a 90 degree angle, snip off the excess leaving you with a long side and a short side.  The short side is the handle you will hold loosely.  Now do another one just like it since you will need one for each hand for them to be effective.  If you happen to have children who are interested in ghost hunting, you can use this opportunity to make creating them a fun family project.  I personally use them all the time.  The only kicker is that the coat hangers have to be either brass or copper since both of these metals are very conductive.

Pendulum

 Finally, the last piece of equipment on my short-list is a Pendulum.  I know, I know.  I can hear everyone balking at this suggestion because of the occult connotations surrounding this item.  Believe me, I completely understand your apprehension about using such an item however, all of this nonsense aside, it’s very reliable and something that can be either purchased or made very cheaply.  If you choose to purchase one, it will cost you around $3-$7.  If you choose to make your own, you can cut this cost in half.  There is no hard and fast rule regarding the materials used to make a pendulum either.  I’ve seen them as simple as a ring on a string to rare crystals.  Let your imagination run wild on this one.  It is also a great opportunity for a fun family project too.

My parting words to you are, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that expensive equipment equals better results.  This is simply not true.  I have seen people use very expensive equipment and get zero results and people who use very inexpensive equipment who get huge results.  Trust me, equipment doesn’t make you a good ghost hunter.  Ghosts do.

Also, all photographs used in this article to represent a piece of equipment is just that, a representation.  I’m not under any circumstances promoting one brand of product over another by any means.  I will leave that job up to the marketers, advertisers, and product developers.  I’m merely a Paranormal Investigator.

© J.F. Dietz 2013

What Are People Thinking?

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Recently it has come to my attention of a Ghost Tour being offered in the U.S. that is counter intuitive and a potential danger to guests    taking that tour.  I’m not going to mention the name of the tour nor the city/state in which it is being offered for potential liability reasons.  The tour that I’m writing about is conducted by a Priest and is held at a location in which malevolent spirits are present.  Those attending his tour are then invited to allow themselves to be possessed by these malevolent/demonic spirits while on his tour.  He touts his tour as “extreme ghost hunting” and for those thrill seekers on his tour seeking that adrenaline rush of demonic spirit possession skating on the brink of no return, he says that this is what will put his tours over the top in the paranormal circles.

Now, I don’t know if it is just me or if anyone else thinks that this concept is insane.  In my 28 years experience as a Paranormal Researcher and Investigator I would not even consider placing anyone in this type of situation unless it is my own personal team consisting of well seasoned Paranormal Investigators.  Even then,  each team member would have the option of accepting or declining such an assignment.  I have learned as a professional that there are things that can mentally and physically injure you not to mention kill you.  Every investigation is different and brings a certain amount of risk with it.  This so-called Priest is not talking about seasoned Paranormal Investigators but, “Joe Average Citizen” who may or may not have had any personal experience with the paranormal other than just watching a couple of television shows.  Either way, in my professional opinion, he is placing innocent people in an unnecessary dangerous situation just for a thrill while assuring them it’s all in fun and is completely safe. As a Professional Paranormal Investigator and Researcher, I find this appalling.

I realize that everyone may or may not share in my opposition to this type of Ghost Tour which is fine by me.  All I have to say is be aware who you are dealing with, ask questions, and find out just what risks you may be taking before you choose to attend a Ghost Tour.

© J.F. Dietz 2013

 

 

When The Ghosts Keep Calling

ghost callingIt has come to my attention that many of you aren’t quite sure how to deal with ghosts who won’t leave you alone.  If, you are sensitive, this can become quite bothersome.  So, I have come up with a few suggestions on how you can deal with these ghosts so, you can get much needed rest.

You need to realize that people who are sensitive or can sense ghosts, whether by sight or by unending conversations in your head, you are like a neon sign to those in the spirit realm.  So, “like a moth to a flame”, these spirits will seek you out and target you.  Now that you are aware of what’s going on, how do you avoid this dilemma?

First, spirits like children, need boundaries or they will run amok and cause chaos.  This is up to you.  Be firm!  Designate an area, whether it is your personal space or a room in your home that is off-limits to spirit activity.  This takes some practice but, once you master this technique, you will have a sanctuary where you can get some peace and quiet.  Although, this is great, it works only if you co-exist with spirits in your home.

If, you enjoy Ghost Hunting or Paranormal Investigation, you will have to take a slightly different approach.  The first thing you need to know before engaging in this type of activity, you need to be “on top of your game” both mentally and physically.  If your not, not only do you place yourself in danger but, you place you’re hunting partner in danger as well.  If you still feel that you are being targeted by an overly aggressive spirit you will need to set boundaries.  Again, be firm!  Let the spirit know that that type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  Never back down and never show fear because this will only fuel the situation.  The same thing goes if an unwelcome spiritual entity tries to follow you home from a location.

Another technique that works well is called “shielding”.  Essentially, you imagine yourself inside a protective bubble, impregnable fortress, armor, or anything else you can imagine to protect yourself from anything a spirit may throw at you.

Finally, you may want to bring with you an object, which can be easily concealed, as a security blanket, protection, or something that gives you courage.  I know that this may sound silly to some but, it works if you have faith that it will work; if that makes sense.  As a professional Paranormal Investigator, I, personally, 1) prepare myself mentally, 2) shield, and 3) take my Rosary with me as a security blanket.  It works for me and hasn’t failed me yet.

© J.F. Dietz 2012

Paranormal Investigations and Ghost Tours “Oh My”…

Kasey on Tour 

Q.  What is the significance of conducting paranormal investigations and ghost tours at night?

The short answer to this question is “nothing at all except for dramatic effect”.  We are constantly surrounded by “spirits” or “ghosts” whether it is during the day or at night.  It’s just a “myth” that it has to be dark in order to take a ghost tour or conduct a paranormal investigation at a haunted location.  This so-called “myth” stems from Hollywood.  What the Producers and Directors of the popular ghost hunting television shows don’t tell viewers is their reasoning behind their choice of “setting”.  This is for the sole purpose of “dramatic effect”.  It’s common knowledge that people as a general rule fear the dark because it has an “unknown element”.  Unlike other animals, humans don’t have night vision.  We either can’t see or can’t see as well once nightfall sets in.  So, naturally, we fear the things lurking in the darkness.  Hollywood Producers and Directors know this as well and exploit this element of the unknown to their advantage to increase ratings.  Is this right, to play of people’s fears?  I would have to say “No” but, we, as viewers of these types of television shows get caught up in their net.

In a later article, I will go into more detail about why these television shows are so successful as well as, how they differ from the real world of ghosts and ghost hunting.  So, stay tuned in to see what’s coming.    

 © J.F. Dietz 2012

What is an ectoplasm?

Victorian LadyOver the years, many of our guests have asked this question.  It’s a very valid question indeed.  It’s one that I will do my best to answer in layman’s terms without any technical jargon.  “Ectoplasms” are, basically, a disembodied entity or spirit, if, you will for a lack of a better term.  Essentially, it is an entity or spirit that is attempting to take on a corporeal form.  It can present itself in many different forms such as a mist.  This is not to be confused with an “Apparition” or “Ectoplasmic Fluid”, which I will cover later.  In order for an entity or spirit to form, it requires energy which it gathers from many different sources.  A good example would be the electrical energy produced at the onset or height of a storm.  During an event such as this, the air is literally filled with electrical energy.  This, however, is not the only source one of these entities can use as an energy source.  Extreme emotions, such as anger or fear, are another good source an entity can draw from.  It is for this very reason that we caution our guests about prior to beginning a tour or paranormal investigation.  Many times, if one of these entities can’t draw the energy it needs from emotions or weather, it will try to create the desired emotional effect such as fear by scaring you.  The more fearful you become the greater the amount of energy your body produces which fuels the “Ectoplasm” can use to begin forming.  And, last but not least, is electronics.  I can’t even become close to counting the number of times we have been conducting a paranormal investigation or ghost tour, our guests’  cameras and cell phones shut down and recorders go dead (pardon the pun).  The legitimate cause attributed to this phenomenon are “Ectoplasms” drawing energy from these device’s power source (ie. the batteries).  Yes, batteries in electronic equipment can be used by the “Ectoplasm”.  So, be sure to bring plenty of extra batteries when taking one of our tours.  Enjoy and have fun!

© J.F. Dietz 2012