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Ghost Hunting Techniques: Where's the Science?

Updated on June 2, 2014
Some people believe that the orbs in this picture may be signs of a ghost.
Some people believe that the orbs in this picture may be signs of a ghost.

Ghost hunting has become an increasingly popular hobby. To make this hobby more attainable for everyone a slew of new products and gadgets have hit the market to help you find local haunted hot spots. However, despite all of the high-tech scientific gear used, ghost hunting is still regarded as a pseudoscience.

If you are interested in picking up this hobby, I highly suggest that you learn more about the gear and gadgets you are considering buying. While some of these items seem very useful, they may not be appropriate for the type of areas you are considering investigating. Furthermore, it is important to understand that none of these objects will offer wildly accepted concrete proof.

Electromagnetic Field Meters

It is believed that when an electromagnetic field meter, or EMF meter, spikes suddenly that a ghost is nearby or attempting to manifest. This may be because ghosts are comprised of electromagnetic energy or because ghosts used this energy when attempting to make contact.

However, EMF meters are intended to measure human exposure to certain types of radiation and not ghost hunting. Since so many things can cause an EMF meter to spike, prolonged sun exposure to an area, certain types of electrical wiring or a microwave working, it is hard to say that an spike is certainly a ghost.

Electronic Voice Phenomenon Recordings

Electronic voice phenomenons, or EVPs, are sounds that are caught on recording equipment. Sometimes these sounds are what are considered residual sounds. These can be sounds like footsteps or gun fire, something that would relate directly to what a person would have done normally in their lifetime. These sort of EVPs may point to the fact that the present ghost is unaware of your presence. The more intriguing EVPs are the interactive type. This is when a ghost can hear you and tries to communicate.

Sometimes people can actually hear a voice or unexplained sound while searching for ghosts. Other times the sounds are only picked up on recording devices.

Apparition Caught on Thermographic Camera

Thermographic Cameras

When it is believed that a ghost is nearby it is often thought that the temperature of the area drops drastically. People experience chills, goosebumps and occasionally people report being able to see their own breath suddenly. For this reason experienced ghost hunters have begun utilizing infared and thermographic cameras to measure and see these bizarre and sudden changes. Interestingly, when people catch a "ghost" on these cameras they are shown as heat and not cold.

Many of the apparitions caught on thermal cameras have been easily written off as frauds. Others have been debunked as residual heat from the sun, central heating or air drafts carrying warm air. Unfortunately, the remaining clips, those that have not been exposed or debunked, only show proof of heat. However, because they are unexplained, this leaves these phenomenon's open to hypothesis.

Personal Experiences

Often, personal experiences with ghosts are those most easily discarded by science but offer the most proof for those who experience these occurrences. People claim not only to have seen spirits but also of hearing them, feeling them scratch or push and seeing them move items around. While these stories are very compelling, they offer little real proof.

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Motion Detectors

There are several types of motion detectors currently available that are thought to catch the movement of ghosts. Often someone will set up a static video camera along with motion sensors. When the sensors are triggered, hunters will closely examine the tape looking for any movement: shadows, mists, orbs etc.

However, with so many available sensors it is hard to say how easy or difficult it may be for a sensor to be tripped. Upon examining the video a person is more likely to accept any slight difference as proof of an apparition. Even though, when examined more critically, you may discover that the movement is a shadow you cast or dust being kicked up when the air conditioner kicks on.

This picture claims to have an orb, a figure forming and two faces.
This picture claims to have an orb, a figure forming and two faces.


Even the most amateur ghost hunter will bring a camera along on the hunt in hopes of catching orbs, mist, shadows or figures on film. Each of these items are thought to be signs of ghosts. However, lighting and camera issues can explain most of these images.

Orbs can be caused by dust and bugs catching a glimmer of light. Mists are often the result of smoke or fog that is unseen until caught by the light. Shadows are often the result of someone or something casting a shadow that was unnoticed by the naked eye. Figures are often more of a psychological trick. Our brains are programmed to create faces and figures where there are none. Try staring at your ceiling for a few minutes and you will quickly see several faces and figures.


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    • twosheds1 profile image

      twosheds1 5 years ago

      Great hub! When I see "evidence" of a paranormal entity, I always ask the question "What makes it paranormal?" "Orbs" are the best example. OK, you have blob of light in your picture. You don't know what caused it, it's weird, but what makes it supernatural in origin?

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      In the course of doing healing work, I have come across spirits who needed prayers. But I think I wouldn't go into ghost hunting as a hobby. :)

      Ripplemaker's News: Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. Do visit this link to see your nominated hub in the Religion and Philosophy category. Be sure to read and vote! Have a great time with the Hubnuggets!