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2011

Talking To The Dead

 

Talking to the Dead
(Tools, Techniques and Toys)

    People have for centuries wondered if it was possible and many have claimed to have done so. In the late 1800's and early 1900's, there were numerous people who promised to contact the dead person of your choice for a fee. Today we know these folks as charlatans and serious paranormal investigators look on that time in the history of paranormal research as a dark time. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    By the 1920's, all but the most die-hard of the "spiritualists" had faded away into obscurity but, the damage was done. To this day, telling some folks that you are involved in paranormal research will still get you a "giggle rating" of ten or higher. Although those who were in the business of "producing apparitions" referred to themselves as "spiritualists" and "mediums", for many, that image is still the one that they affix to the "science of paranormal research". If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    The biggest shame of the "Spiritualist" movement is that it really could have done some serious good. It came about at a time when there were amazing new advances in nearly every field of science. Charles Darwin’s "Origin of Species" was finally starting to be accepted, Thomas Alva Edison proved that you could light up the night with electricity safely, Wilbur and Orville Write had just recently proved in 1903 that heavier-than-air craft could indeed fly. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    In many ways, the world was ripe for advances in the paranormal as well. Unfortunately, instead of pushing the envelope of science, most simply pushed the cash into their wallets. Had they put that same effort into productive directions, we may well be a lot farther along than we are now. Imagine how much more advanced the science would be had we not spent the last century being called a "pseudo-science". If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    Nonetheless, there has been progress in the research tools department! No longer are we restricted to simple home made "WeeJee Boards" and séances but, now, we are on to real weapons of science to seriously move on this untouched, fertile field. What's more is that many of the tools of the trade were developed for other industries and as such, have become inexpensive and readily available. If that doesn't sweeten the pot enough, most all of the basic tools that are used for gathering paranormal evidence is stuff that you can use for regular, everyday applications too! If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    There is a wide variety of tools and techniques that are currently being used to gather evidence and yes, even talk to the dead today. I'll start with some of the older ones and move along towards the more modern whiz-bang stuff and even give mention to "something else" as I go. It's important to not over look some of this stuff as it can still be helpful even though some items are less useful to some and totally useless to all.  
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    Don't give in to the temptation to throw out the idea of using some of the simpler, older tools in favor of more modern ones though. Did you know that the United States Navy, even with a constellation of GPS satellites at it's disposal, still has a crewman on every ship to shoot the stars with a sextant? True! If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Divining Rods 
    One of the oldest and perhaps the most widely applied tool is the simple "Divining Rods". Basically, they consist of two wires, usually a conductive metal like copper, bent at right angles like the letter "L" with an elongated vertical part. Divining rods are believed by their users to be moved by what is referred to as the "Telluric Force" or "rhabdic force".  
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    These devices have been used for centuries to locate underground water, lost items even lost people! Oddly enough, even as simple as they are, the seem to have a pretty good track record and a number of people swear by them. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    In short, you hold them one in each hand, long part pointed away from you, and ask the "ghost" to make them cross if the answer to a question is "yes" and leave them be if the answer is "no". It also follows that you can with a little work, get information as to the spirits name as well. Firstly, you'd ask them if they are male or female, then, ask them if the first letter of their name is an "A", then the second letter of the first name and so on. Always seek to keep this line of interviewing short. Spirits seem to get bored fast although it might be that simply not have much stamina. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    If you've done the back-ground research on the place you are investigating or already know the name of the spirit that you are looking for, you can probably get by with very little questioning by doing a little logical thinking. There are more advanced ways to go about this but, this is an old stand-by that you can always whip out in a pinch. Sometimes things that are older work better because of a possible familiarity with the item you are using. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    The downside to using Divining Rods is that it's pretty easy for a skeptic to shoot down what ever evidence you get from them. "I mean, they're nothing but a couple of bent wires and for all I know you could be unconsciously causing them to cross." The truth is that they have a point. You may very well be accidentally tainting your own evidence without realizing it. So, if you are going to use these, try to have a separate system being used at the same time to support your divining rod findings. 
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Ouija, Spirit and Talking Boards 
    As much as I hate it, I have to give this one at least a passing mention. Ouija Boards of some fashion or another are thought to have been in use for well over a thousand years. There is evidence that a Ouija like device was used by people from what is now China all the way across to the Iberian peninsula. Impressed yet? They've even found something similar to the common Ouija in pre-Columbian America. Go figure! 
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    Now, for the bad news. Everyone that I have ever known that has used the Ouija Board eventually ends up claiming to have had a really, really bad experience with it. Some have even attributed it to being the impetus for them moving out of their home. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    On the bad but, not so scary side of it, no one takes Ouija Board evidence seriously. It's way too easy for a skeptic to say that the evidence was skewed by human effort, either intentionally or subconsciously. I personally don't use them for gathering evidence for this reason alone. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    Ouijas and other Talking Boards got a bad rap during turn of the century 1900's when they were a favorite tool/prop of the "spiritualist" movement in the United States and Europe. Their lowly status fell even further in the coming decades when they were produced in large numbers by a company that also produced children’s board games. to make matter worse, even today whenever someone tells you a Ouija story, it almost invariably includes one of the two following phrases: "I think my friend was moving the planchette" or "G-d as my witness, I'll never mess with one of those @$%&-ing things again!". Either way you look at it, their creditability is shot for at least a few hundred more years. 
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Thermometers 
    I know that this tool instantly draws a picture of a doctor and a memory of being sick. But, that isn't the type that I am referring to here. For centuries, people have associated "Cold Spots" of varying size and temperature differences to hauntings and ghosts. These can be detected and measured with a decent level of accuracy using various types of thermometers. Recently, a new variety often referred to as "no-touch" or Infrared Thermometers have come on the market at fair enough prices to make them a virtual must-have. 
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    This is one of those tools with a dual use. At first they were used almost exclusively by factory maintenance workers to quickly and easily diagnose a problem with large factory equipment. Air Conditioning specialists and auto mechanics have used them over the last few years to make exacting determinations of temperature for everything from huge heating and air systems in public buildings to finding out where the oil isn't getting to in you car engine. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    In practice, paranormal investigators use these "no-touch" thermometers and other similar equipment, to locate, as well as identify the source and movement of these "cold spots". Knowing what the temperature difference is between the ambient air and a suspected cold spot can assist an investigator in determining type of entity is being witnessed. It's a commonly held belief that the colder the temperature of a "Cold Spot", the higher the likelihood that it is caused by a demon or some other non-human entity. 
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Cameras (Digital or Film?) 
    I'll just cover these in passing as they are the single most used and most important tool to have at your disposal for paranormal investigating outside of a skilled investigator.
Cameras of one kind or another have been in use by paranormal investigators since they came into being. It was one of the first tools of the Twentieth Century to be adopted by the paranormal investigating community and is still prominent in the science. 
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    The major debates used to be over which type of film was best to use as well as what type of lighting and the such. Of course, in those days, film was expensive and so was getting it developed so, care was taken with every shot. In most cases, if a ghost appeared in a photo it was a rare bird indeed. People didn't tend to waste film or do as much in the way of experimentation with it. The thought of going out to a graveyard in the middle of the night and firing off a hundred shots would have been seen as a sign of pure insanity. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    With the advance of digital photography and improvements in memory storage, as well as up-gradable memory, taking pictures is finally what it was promised to be years ago. Cheap, easy and impossible to mess up! Add to that the fact that any pictures that you take can be up-loaded to your home computer and emailed to everyone in the world in a matter of minutes and you have the makings of a planet of shutterbugs. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    So, what is the biggest question in photography today? The question of film or digital. Both have definite advantages but, digital is quickly superseding film in every market. Although many still prefer the sound and feel of film photography, for paranormal research, it's probably best that one choose to go with digital. Evidence can be examined in extreme detail with out damaging or modifying the originals, images can be shared with other investigators for corroborating evidence, tens of thousands of photos can be stored on a computer and cataloged for quick access. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    The old argument of quality versus quantity is losing ground with more advanced and powerful cameras hitting the market, which in turn drives down the cost of last years top of the line cameras. In my opinion, digital is the only way to go. Of course, if you still have a few rolls of film or an old disposable camera, use it! If you get something extraordinary on it, you can always scan it to a computer. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    The same goes for video recording and audio recording. If you can do it digital, you should consider it. There are far more advantages to it than disadvantages. Of course, if you have a VHS type video camera, don't throw it in the trash, use it! If you get some great evidence on it, there are ways to transfer it to digital. 
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EMF Detectors 
    EMF detectors or "Electro-Magnetic Field Detectors are not the newest thing on the scene but, they are becoming more prevalent. Professional electricians have been using similar devices for years now to check for an electric current in wires before working with them. 
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    Over time, the need became apparent for a version that would allow a worker to check for current without having to make contact with potentially live wires. Because of this need for added safety, there has been a drive in the industry for "no-touch" or "stand-off" potable instruments that were affordable enough to put in the hands of every electrician. Today, they are sensitive enough to be used to detect the possible presence of spirits.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    The Earth itself generates an electro-magnetic field due to its metallic core that can be easily detected any and every where on the surface. It's this same field that deflects hazardous solar flares, causes the aurora borealis when conditions are right and makes a compass work.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    Most paranormal investigators have come to believe that ghosts draw off energy from their surroundings. One type of energy that they are believed to use is electro-magnetic energy. Hence, it is thought that you can detect the presence of a ghost by measuring the back-ground field and comparing that to variations that occur. 
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K-2 
    A "K-2" is a variation on the EMF detector theme. It works for much the same reason but , is used by paranormal investigators for a slightly different purpose. It basically has a series of lights that can be used to determine the variation in a static field. They can be used in much the same way as the EMF and can be used to gather the same basic evidence gathered with divining rods with the exception that they may attract ghosts just for the 'whiz-bang" effect of a new gadget. 
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    In practice, one generally informs any ghosts present that if they approach the K-2, they will trigger the lights to come on. After a few rounds of playing with the lights, the investigator can usually get a spirit to answer simple "yes/no" questions be asking them to make the lights come on for "yes" and letting the lights stay dark for "no". If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    For the best effect, after having demonstrated to the spirit how to work the device, lay it on a nearby surface and have the spirit set it off without any members of your team touching it. This can dispel the accusation that it was being manually operated. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    When doing this, it's a good idea to get a good video of it being activated by the spirit. A K-2 that emits a sound when it is activated is even better as it give the video camera an additional stamp of legitimacy. Ideally, someone viewing the video evidence should be able to see the lights, hear the sound and see that no one is tampering with it. With all three of the above conditions met, any honest skeptic will have to scratch his head in wonder. (Take THAT, ouija board!) 
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The "PUCK"
    There is a reason that I mentioned this one last. For the most part, it's a good idea that the existing technology can't make work, much like the whiz bang stuff you see in the cartoons. The idea behind it is that it takes the static energy in the enviroment and converts it into a readable or a spoken sound. For instance, an energy reading of 1.0 may equate one specific word, a reading of 1.1 would equate a different specific word, 1.2 would equate another and so on.  
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    Granted, it sounds great but, in reality, it's highly subjective as the charge that equates a specific word is determined by a manufacturer and not the investigator in the field. In short, how do you, or anyone else for that matter, know that a specific energy reading really means the word "Me" and doesn't mean the word "airplane" or "underwear"? To be honest, you just can't and no one does. That is why the "Puck", for all it's fanfare, is rejected by most serious investigators out of hand. They may be fun to play with but, that's about it.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    The "Puck" is not a "universal translator" as some would have us believe. It can only tell you what it's programmed to tell you, not what a spirit may actually eb saying. It's programmed to associate differing levels of electro-magnetic energy with words which would be meaningless if we were to give it the benefit of the doubt and allow that all spirits already know how to "speak" a language that it could translate. In practice, it can only "translate" random static fields into random static words.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    To make matters even worse, the device was NOT designed by any one that would actually know what each energy level would translate into and recently, the device has been all but removed from the shelves of reputable dealers. The companies that used to sell it even printed a disclaimer that came with the device stating that it's all but useless.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    If you do find one for sale, it's most likely because the previous owner has already figured out that it's nothing more than a Halloween gimmick. To put it bluntly, if you get one and the results seem to be borne out by other facts, it's by coincidence, not science. This authors opinion is don't waste your money and don't take the users of this toy any more seriously than you would the users of any other play item. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    Although some self proclaimed "paranormal investigators" swear by them, they are few in number, short on experience and play fast and loose with the science. Most probably couldn't even tell you how the device is "supposed" to work or the principle behind it. Before you take the pucks supporters seriously, just remember, there ARE still people in the world that think pro-wrestling is real too.  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
    Unfortunately, the Puck is a victim of it's own marketing. It became too popular too soon and far too many have already discovered it's uselessness. Had only a handful of users gotten it in it's current stage of development, the product may have lived on to become a more effective tool in its future generations. As it is, it was marketed as a "be-all, end-all" device and the truth of the matter is that we just aren't there yet. We still can't make a machine that effectively and always accurately translates Spanish into English without a regular human to make the gramatic corrections. To assume that any device can translate an unknown type of communication into whatever language the user just happens to speak is a little fool hardy at best. A "Puck 10.0" might have evolved into something useful but, this line of technology died an early death with the failures of the "Mark 1.0" models. If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website. 
    Any information that you wish to share with me regarding the methods or tools discussed here, (yes, even the puck), or a modification of these methods, is welcomed and appreciated! As always, I implore you to follow the Paranormal Investigators Gold Rule, "Always get permission to conduct research and always leave when asked to".  If you can see this message, it means that this document belongs on the Paranormal Investigation and Research Groups website.
Good luck and happy hunting!


 

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    This article is the sole opinion of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Paranormal  Investigation and Research Group or any of it’s members. This article, like any and all other articles on this site, is the sole property of the author and or the Paranormal Investigation and Research Group and is provided to you for academic purposes only! Neither the author nor the members of the Paranormal Investigation and Research Group take any responsibility for YOUR actions. Investigations into the paranormal are inherently dangerous and by utilizing the information herein, in part or in total, for any purpose other than academic information or entertainment, the reader constitutes his or her intentions to be personally liable for and to hold the author and the Paranormal Investigation and Research Group blameless of, any and all injuries they may incur or legal actions that may befall them.

Used by the PIRG with permission of the author: Rabbi Paul E. Umbarger II
Redistribution of this article in part or in total, without expressed permission is prohibited
 


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