This past weekend at the Sci-Fi Digital Press event at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO I had the chance to hang out with the Ghost Hunters. And by hang out I mean sit out front of the hotel and smoke a cig, chat about random things and just enjoy the day. While what we’re interested in here is the technology used I do want to take a moment to say what normal and sincere guys the entire team is. Jason and Grant in particular are highly approachable and willing to discuss any topics of interest to the group.
Enough of that, let’s get on to the technology. During a Q&A session with Jason and Grant they briefly talked about the tech that goes into paranormal investigation. A lot of the stuff they use is essentially repurposed (such as the thermal imaging camera). Getting to touch and play with a few of the tools of the trade I found that even with today’s technology it’d be nearly impossible to attain hard proof that a haunting is happening.
Our own investigation started in a room on the fourth floor, long rumored to be the most “active” part of the famed Stanley Hotel. Kris, again as charming and beautiful as she is on television, took us through the basics of using a voice recorder and K2 to detect ghostly happenings. By her own admission she’s not as versed in the use of a K2 as Jason and Grant. At no point in the room were any oddities noticed by the group. Although Gabriel (Satan’s Baby from Scare Tactics) did give quite a fright to a few in our group. The closest we got to paranormal was an attempted séance by one press member which resulted in my wife holding hands with Amanda Tapping and Travis from Scare Tactics.
The K2 is a fairly simple device: it measures changes in the electromagnetic field. The theory is that if a ghost wanted to communicate they could wave a hand or touch the device to make it light up. You want to know what else makes it light up? Just about any piece of electronic equipment: a cell phone going off, an alarm clock, a television, etc. If there’s any object nearby that can alter the electromagnetic field the K2 will go off. To me that makes it a highly susceptible piece of equipment. Steve mentioned that he doesn’t use the device for that very reason.
The thermal imaging camera is probably more familiar to the general populace. The image it provides is like looking through the eyes of a predator. It reads the temperature of the room and provides an image based on the different temps of objects. In room 401, where Jason stayed and had numerous experiences, I trained the thermal camera on the K2 as Jason asked the ghost in the room questions. At no point when the K 2 went off did I notice any aberrant images or spikes in temperature.
Clearly I didn’t get to spend a whole night with the equipment to assess its effectiveness for catching ghosts. What I did learn is that paranormal investigations are a long term endeavor that requires far more patience than technology. Everything is being recorded and is poured over in real time after the investigation is complete. There’s just no way to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a haunting is real. Four people in the same room can have completely disparate experiences of the same event. What may be interpreted as a kid playing with a ball in the hallway could more than likely be a loose shutter banging against a wall in a room nearby. What the Ghost Hunters do is try and provide for those answers using their technology. Strange as it may seem they use all of their technology to try and disprove reported haunting. This is fine by me as I’ve witnessed firsthand how the devices being employed do just that.