Interview with Professor Mark Alford – Quantum Physics and the Paranormal

On Sunday 6/5/11 I was privileged to speak with Professor Mark Alford about quantum physics and the paranormal. If you’re like us, you’ve heard weird, spooky sounding connections between ghosts, psychic powers, and even consciousness itself all tied to the behavior of subatomic particles. Not only is the evidence for any of the perceived paranormal phenomenon lacking, but the supposed relation to quantum realities is irresponsible.  Mark Alford, professor of physics at Washington University at St. Louis whose main research topic is in high density quark matter. You can find out more information by checking out: http://www.physics.wustl.edu/~alford/

To download this interview, right click the link and save as: www.para-help.com/sfrbobby/sfr_show150_hour2.mp3

A Paranormal Debate with CPPI’s KD Foreman

Last Sunday on SFR Jason Korbus and I had a friendly debate on paranormal topics with CPPI’s KD Foreman.  KD and I have gone head to head before on PSI FI Radio, I guess you could call this part two.

To listen to this debate go to www.para-help.com/sfrbobby/sfr_show147_hour2.mp3

Right click on the link and save as.

Interview on Haunted Voices Radio

On April 8th, 2011 I was invited to be a guest on a radio program called Haunted Voices to discuss what made me a believer in paranormal phenomena and what turned me into a skeptic.  Before I was interviewed, James “The Amazing” Randi was also on the program, so I left it all in for your listening pleasure.   

You can listen directly by going to: www.para-help.com/sfrbobby/randi.mp3 or you can right click the link and save as.

Get the Meaning?

Every day I talk with people I call true believers, people who believe in paranormal phenomena 100%.  People who can’t believe they are not being taken seriously, people who can’t believe that I don’t believe. 

You see I used to be a true believer, but when I found out the method of questioning everything, the paranormal belief slowly but surely faded and I became a skeptic.  I call myself the paranormal skeptic, because I still have a passion in investigating paranormal claims, I just look for rational and logical explanations and never evoke the supernatural as an explanation.

Yet, I do see people in the paranormal community who really want to be taken seriously, but haven’t given up the belief totally.  IMO here is the first thing people need to do, people need to start using terms properly.  Like the word energy.

The word energy is littered all over the paranormal community.  It isn’t just ghost hunters that use this word improperly, reiki enthusiasts, psychics and spiritual healers fall victim to this as well.  I will give a quick example on a way the word energy is used in the paranormal community.

This happened to my best friend Jason Korbus in a chat room to a radio show while I was being interviewed on what it means to be open minded.  The conversation they were talking about, involved the concept of Jesus.  Jason said that the belief in Jesus wasn’t bothersome; it was the fact that he was supernatural, which is what didn’t sit right with Jason.  The person in the chat opposed this and said Jesus healed people like doctors do, so Jason must also think doctors are magic or not believe in doctors.  Jason simply explained, doctors heal people with medicine and asked how Jesus healed people.  The response was that Jesus healed with energy, which science has proven.  Jason asked what kind of energy they were talking about.  This person replied with spiritual, healing and earth energy.  Jason had to explain; that science has never proven the energy this person was talking about.

I see this all the time, people misusing the word energy.  The way it is used in the ghost hunting world, sort of makes ghosts sound like a luminescent form of some kind or as Brian Dunning of Skeptoid says “Energy is considered to be literally like a glowing, hovering, shimmering cloud, from which adepts can draw power, and feel rejuvenated.”  And that is exactly how the word is used.  If people reading this don’t believe me, just ask any person who is a true believer in paranormal phenomena what a ghost is or how it manifest, I guarantee you will hear the word energy misused. 

So what is energy?   Energy is a thermodynamic quantity equivalent to the capacity of a physical system to do work.  To make this sound a bit easier, I am going to quote Brian Dunning again.  In his first episode of Skeptoid titled “New Age Energy” he defines energy as “measurable work capability.”  This is a brilliant definition and a lot easier to remember.  But what does all this mean?  Well let’s think about it this way.  When we eat our body takes the energy from the food and converts it into energy to do work.  This energy allows us to do work; such as walk, run and lift things.  As I write this article I am doing work, just as you are while reading this. 

Another concept paranormal enthusiasts get mixed up with or misuse is the first law of thermodynamics which says energy cannot be created or destroyed.  For some reason to paranormalist this means when you die, your soul exists, because energy cannot be created or destroyed.  However that isn’t at all what the first law of thermodynamics means.  It’s actually very simple; the first law of thermodynamics means when adding heat to a system only two things can be done.  Either it causes the system to do work or it changes the internal energy of the system.

Now when thinking of thermodynamics and human body it is even easier to understand.  Thermodynamics deals with heat.  Heat is a form of energy called thermal energy.  Now the human body can’t use heat to perform work, it only works from chemical energy.  So when a person does exercise, the heat produced is transferred to the skin and it is lost to the air and other surroundings. 

As you can see, it explains nothing that slightly resembles a soul or an explanation for ghosts.  I mean ghost hunters use energy when walking around a house in the dark but that’s about the extent of the energy used in ghost hunting.

The next word that is thrown around improperly is the word theory.  The paranormal field has taken this word and mutilated it to mean an idea I had while in the bathroom.  Anything that can’t be tested or produces no results is considered theory in the realm of the paranormal.  Actually anything anyone comes up with to hunt or explain ghosts is considered theory.  There are things called stone tape theory, water tape theory, the theory of E.V.P., E.M.F. theory and so on.  However the word theory is a little more than just an idea.

In science the word theory means a scientific hypothesis that survives experimental testing becomes a scientific theory.  In the world of science a theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it.  So a theory can be disproven, if only one alternate legitimate explanation can be given.

So now let’s look at what a hypothesis is.  A hypothesis is simply an educated guess or testable prediction about what you expect to happen in your study.  So let us look at an example of how a scientific hypothesis may work for the paranormal field.

Example: Take a working radio and modify it so it continuously scans up and down the different channels.  This will create a way for us to have intelligent conversations with unknown entities.

So, right away I can provide an alternate explanation of what is going on.  People trying this method are using audio pareidolia with the fragmented words by DJ’s, songs, sports games, news broadcasts and commercials.  This is a legitimate explanation of what is going on, so this cannot be considered a theory.

Another thing people in the paranormal community can’t seem to grasp is the word scientific.  Over the years I have come across many ghost hunting teams who consider themselves scientific.  When I ask them, what makes you scientific, the answer is usually revolves around them not using psychics or because they are using top of line equipment.  Let me show you an example of what I mean.

On paranormalnews.com an article about a group called Para-Boston says this Para-Boston takes a 100% scientific approach to paranormal investigation, using state of the art technology including infrared DVR cameras, tri-field meters, electro magnetic field meters, IR thermometers, digital audio recorders, Mini DV cameras, etc.”

This doesn’t make you a scientific based group, not at all.  The cool thing about the word scientific is you don’t have to be a scientist to follow the scientific method.  I have a little saying about people in the paranormal field.  “If you are in this for thrills, good, go to a cemetery.  If you are in this for self validation, fine, just admit it.  If you are in this for science, only accept science as your answer.”  And as of right now, anytime you evoke the supernatural as an explanation, it is outside the realm of science.

The scientific method is actually really cool and very easy to understand.

  1. Ask a question.
  2. Do your background research.
  3. Construct a hypothesis.
  4. Test your hypothesis with experiments.
  5. Analyze your data and design a conclusion.
  6. Communicate your results.

If your hypothesis is true, perhaps it can move on to becoming a theory, however if it’s wrong, go back to step 3 and start from there.  However this has to be done correctly and peer reviewed.  It doesn’t mean take your results to a paranormal message board where you are only looking for people to confirm your belief systems.

The word skeptic is another disfigured word in the paranormal community.  I can remember once I was doing a debate on the paranormal and I said “I don’t believe ghosts exist, however if positive evidence is shown I will reevaluate my belief depending on the evidence.”  I was instantly told by many people in the chat room that I wasn’t a skeptic.  You see, to the paranormal community a skeptic is a cynic. A cynic is a person who doesn’t believe despite positive evidence.

That isn’t what a skeptic is at all.  A skeptic is a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.  We usually test the reliability of these claims by using the scientific method.  It is seriously that simple.  However this explanation usually leads to another thing I wanted to briefly touch on, and that is being open minded.

Skeptics are constantly accused of being close minded, and my thought is, true skeptics are actually the most open minded people in the world.  For example I don’t believe in ghosts, but if I am ever shown positive extraordinary evidence, I will reevaluate my belief.  That is what truly being open minded means.  Not just accepting the possibility everything in this world exists without any kind of positive evidence.

I came up with my own informal logical fallacy when talking to people of this kind and it’s very simple to understand, I call it the appeal to open mindedness. The appeal to open mindedness states that just because one subscribes to that belief, doesn’t mean that belief actually exists. 

I usually use this when talking to people who try to tell me that know for a fact ghosts exist and I have to correct them by saying, no, you 100% believe ghosts exist.  There is a very big difference.  I like to quote Carl Sagan by saying “don’t be so open minded that your brain falls out.”  I usually follow it up by tell them the Pet Dragon in my garage story.

What if I told you I had a pet dragon that really breathed fire.  I keep him chained up in my garage for anyone who wanted to see him.  One day someone comes over because they want to see my pet dragon and when I open the door the only thing lying on the ground is a chain.  Do you think this person would believe me when I told them that the dragon was real but just invisible?  Or they would magically believe when I say you’re just not being open minded?  Not at all, they would most likely storm off and say “I can’t believe he thought I was the gullible.”   And that is the word I want everyone to look at, gullible.  Be open minded, not so open minded your brain falls out and not so open minded you are actually being gullible. 

Thanks for reading.

Kids…What an Imagination.

Why is it so hard to look at the rational side of things?  This is something that boggles my mind, to the point where I literally give myself a headache.  I am part of a paranormal based message board where there was a thread about a 2 year old child.  The mother came to the message board frantic because her 2 year old would come into her room crying at night saying that “the guy” was there.  Actually I will paste the exact post.

Hello – I’m new, but in need of some help here.

My 2 year old daughter has been coming into my room in the early morning – for 2 weeks now, hysterically crying pointing at my window saying “the guy’s here”. Right around the same time, I started having horrible dreams at night – waking up feeling as if I never even slept.

Back story – we live in a duplex. There was a suicide in the connecting duplex in 2005 – we’ll call him “J”. It happened in the bedroom – which is opposite our bedroom wall. “J” was a friend of the family, and we have MANY, MANY mutual friends.

I’ve been telling friends that I need a picture of “J” to show my daughter to see if it’s him or not. Sunday morning I finally got my hands on a picture – brought it home and showed my daughter. All questions were open ended so she wouldn’t base her answer on me feeding it to her. I asked her who the boy in the picture was & she replied “the guy”. I asked her to show me where he lived – she took me to my room, pointing to the same spot she has since this all started. I asked her where he slept, she answered “your bed”. Fast forward to Sunday afternoon – we were in my room doing laundry – my daughter looks out the window and says “the guys home!!!”. I’ve been sick to my stomach ever since, and I believe her.

Is there anything I can do? Could “J” be trapped here due to the suicide (which was extremely traumatic). Should I have the house cleansed? I’m really just at a loss here… and I’m worried about my little girl. My 3 year old son hasn’t seen or said a thing, so I’m assuming it’s just her that sees all of this (she also sees him outside – comes in the house frantically crying that he’s out there).

The thing that doesn’t make sense to me is why does the child wake up and walk into her mother’s room to tell her that “the guy” is in there?  To me this is nothing but an over active imagination.  Notice the other child and the mother are not seeing “the guy” and that backs up my feeling that this is nothing but imagination even more.

The mother is using subjective validation, her 2 year old is crying saying “the guy” so she starts making sense of it by attributing her weird feelings, horrible dreams  and awkward sleeping pattern to it.  She even takes it a step further by assuming that a suicide in the house is the root cause of all of this, and why?  I believe the reason to be because the mother unintentionally primed her daughter, by showing her a photo of the suicide victim.

We only have an anecdotal account here, the mother says she only asked open ended questions, but we don’t really know that to be a fact.  She could have been overheard talking to other people about this photograph and what not.  And the name “the guy” isn’t that uncommon, a little cool fact, my own 2 year old daughter calls everyone she doesn’t know “the guy.”  For a year Jason Korbus, my co-host of Strange Frequencies Radio was always called “the guy,” by my daughter Myla.  My point is, it isn’t that strange.

 Another thing about this thread is that a person decided to chime in by saying:

Poor child.. I doubt it is her imagination.. she is only 2 and at 2- they don’t seem to have much of an imagination… Their imagination kicks in at the age of 4 onwards.. I know this..I have a 5yr old now that never said much at the age of 2… yet come 4 years old she started to make things up.. play pretend… still does… but at the age of just 2 – they are not that imaginative.. meaning they don’t go around making just about anything up… I think their little minds are only in the early stages of growth… You will notice once your kid reaches 4 onwards the imagination will get into action..

This is just simply not true whatsoever.  My daughter is a 2 year old and she tells me the most amazing stories I have ever heard, I have no idea where she gets them from…yes I do, her imagination.  My only assumption is, is that this poster also had a 2 year old who’s imagination didn’t run wild or so she thought, till the age of 4.  So instead of assuming my daughter is brilliantly smart (which she is) I decided to contact and child psychologist and see what they had to say.

I sent an email basically saying the same story that the original poster said about my daughter talking to “the guy” and mixed in what the second person said about imagination not getting a jumpstart till the age of 4.  I really wish I could have copy and pasted it here for you all to read, however it was one of those submit a comment deals instead of a real email.  Yet within a matter of a couple hours I received a response. 

Unfortunately, we cannot give advice without seeing your child. I would
consult with your pediatrician with any concerns.
That being said, from my experience, an active imagination is perfectly
normal.

From the desk of:
Sharilyn Keller, Office Manager
Ann Arbor Center for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics

So although a diagnosis couldn’t be given online and through email (which I knew ahead of time) the one thing that stuck out to me the most was the last line – That being said, from my experience, an active imagination is perfectly normal.

IMO I think this whole thing can be chalked up to an overactive imagination and my advice would be to simply ignore “the guy” and he will probably vanish (no pun intended) within a couple days.

Conversation with a Friend

So I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine today.  It started off with us bsing around and somehow evolved into a talk on the paranormal, which most of my conversations develop into some way or another. 

Anyway as we dove into the realm of the paranormal certain topics came up in our discussion.  First we were talking about psychics.  My friend made a statement saying “you and I have our differences on our beliefs.  But I do think this guy is a sham.” (I am sorry I have no idea who the psychic was he was talking about)  As I read this, I found it a bit puzzling; did he think that I thought all psychics were shams?  Certainly I have never made that claim, so I explained my exact stance on this subject.

It isn’t that I think all psychics are shams, there may indeed be a legit psychic out there somewhere in the world…I don’t know.  However, there is no positive evidence to support the legitimacy of someone who claims to have psychic powers.  That is what I rely on, positive evidence.  If a person with legitimate psychic abilities could perform their skill under scientific observation in a controlled setting and show positive results; that would be enough for me to say “there is something to this.”  But I would just like say again; I have never said psychic abilities do not exist, as James Randi often says “I can’t afford to make that type of claim.”

Next we jumped into one of my favorite paranormal subjects, the ghost box.  I wrote an article on a few tests I have done on the legitimacy of this specific device which can be read here https://porkrhine.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/ghost-box-tales-from-a-broken-radio/ but again I hold the same stance on this as I did with psychics.  There is no positive evidence that this device can really provide any contact with spirits or entities; however that doesn’t mean that this box (broken radio) can’t transmit the voices and words of the deceased.  I believe that there are many reasons why this ghost box device fails any type of positive testing and I personally think there is nothing to it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work…I could be the one who is wrong.  Again I rely on scientific evidence, but that isn’t to say that one day I won’t hear something that may convince me personally, that could happen.  For example if I were to record a conversation with my dead grandfather and he was telling me information that no one on earth could know, I may say “alright, I believe,” or I would at least think it is possible that this device is in some way a telephone to the dead.  However that has never happened and I doubt it ever will.  But that brings us to another point, which for some reason is hard for a lot of people to grasp.  What is proof?

Proof is defined as evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth.  By this definition, nothing in the realm of the paranormal has been established as truth.  I have had many conversations with people who say something to the effect of “I have had personal proof that the paranormal is real.”  Ok, fine, however personal proof that can’t provide sufficient evidence to establish it as something true, it isn’t proof.  I guess what I am trying to say is, though a personal experience may “prove” that the paranormal exists to you, doesn’t mean it exists or that it is proof positive.  For example, someone may have an amazing experience where they see a full torso apparition walking throughout the house and it disappears into the wall; that might be enough to convince someone that ghosts exist, but that doesn’t mean that they do.  So there is a huge difference between personal “proof” and proof.   

This was actually the meat and potatoes of the conversation with my good friend.  He made a comment that he doesn’t believe I would accept that the ghost box is ever legitimate and I said I might if I had the experience I mentioned above about speaking with my grandfather.  He then proceeded to ask me about a specific situation where I didn’t accept and or admit that the ghost box was saying something that in his opinion was obviously saying.  Well if people don’t know, I am co-host on Strange Frequencies Radio (www.strangefrequenciesradio.net) and was talking about show episode 134, hour 2.  We interviewed Steve Hill, a man who claims to be an electronic medium and ghost box enthusiast.  He sent in a few of his samples which he found to be amazing and crystal clear.  My friend thought I was being closed to the possibility that the box was actually giving a direct and correct response to Steve’s question.  He also argued many people in the chat room and even my co-hosts heard what the answer was.  Ok, fine, the reason why I didn’t want to make a comment on the particular audio sample was because I was already primed to hear the response because the response was the name of the file that was sent.  So I didn’t think it was fair to me or my sense to say I heard something after I knew what to look for.  I would also like to speak on behalf of my co-hosts and say that they may have said ok that’s what it sounds like, doesn’t mean they give the ghost box credit or even conclusively agree that the ghost box was really saying anything.

However even if I wasn’t primed, and I heard the one syllable word that the box was claimed to have said, that still wouldn’t be enough for me to say that there is something to the ghost box, I mean not even close.  There are also other factors we have to consider, how long was Steve trying to get a response?  How many times did Steve ask the question before he got what he thought was a response?  What if I took the audio, played it for 50 people (like I have done with Steve’s audio before, I have to mention it has always been different answers than what Steve thought the box to be saying) and 40 people heard the same thing but it was different then what Steve thought it was saying, but 10 people heard what Steve said the box was saying…are the 40 other people lying?  My point is, a one syllable word isn’t extraordinary evidence to this extraordinary claim.

Thank you for reading.

The Great Paranormal Debate

Last night I was a guest on PSI-FI Talk Radio.  The name of the show was titled “The Great Paranormal Debate” with me taking the side of the skeptic.  I was up against clairsentient KD Foreman of California Paranormal Private Investigations (CPPI) and we went through a load of topics all paranormal related.  If anyone is interested in listening you will find the download below.

Direct Download Link (Right Click and Save Target As): http://www.blogtalkradio.com/psi-fi-para-radio/2011/02/17/the-great-paranormal-debate-with-bobby-nelson-and-kd-foreman.mp3?localembed=download

PARANORMAL STATE IS OVER!!!!

So my best friend over at Fortean Squirrel and co-host on Strange Frequencies Radio, Jason Korbus, told me some exciting news this morning.  “Paranormal State”, a television show that airs on A&E, will not be coming back for another season.  That’s right folks; “Paranormal State” is finally over.  I know I can’t speak for everyone, but hopefully many will join me in saying good riddance, arividerchi, adios, au revoir , sayonara, GOODBYE.

Ryan Buell announced this nugget of joy on his personal blog which can be read here http://www.ryanbuell.net/blog/2011/1/6/time-to-say-goodbye.html.  The best line in this blog reads “And yes, my ‘final director’s log’ will truly, indeed be, my final director’s log.” 

Hopefully this year we will also see the end of Ghost Hunters or possibly Ghost Hunters International, but I won’t hold my breath.

A Dead Ringer

One of my favorite things to do when bringing in the new year is watch the Twilight Zone marathon that plays on SyFy every year.  This year two episodes caught my attention more than the others.  The first one which aired in 1961 was titled “Long Distance Call” and the second one was called “Night Call” and it aired in 1964. 

Long Distance Call synopsis

In this episode we see a 5 year old child named Billy Bayles who is having a very nice birthday party with his parents and grandmother.  When Billy opens his presents he receives a toy telephone from his grandmother.  The grandmother explains to Billy that she doesn’t have much time left and when she is gone all Billy has to do is pick up the phone and they will be able to talk anytime he wants.  Well just as grandma predicts, she passes away soon after Billy’s birthday bash.  A few weeks have passed and Billy’s mother overhears Billy having an interesting conversation on his “toy” telephone.  When Billy is asked who he is talking to, he simply replies “grandma”.  Well come to find out, somehow grandma has been contacting Billy through this “toy” telephone and she is trying to convince her beloved grandson to commit suicide so he may join her in the afterlife.  Billy almost successful in one of his attempts is quickly resuscitated after a heartfelt plea given by the boy’s father to his deceased mother, Billy’s grandmother.    

Night Call synopsis

An old woman by the name of Elva Keene starts receiving anonymous phone calls in the middle of the night.  Freaked out by this she has the operator trace the phone calls.  Again she receives an anonymous phone call and Elva demands the person to speak in which a creepy male voice is heard saying “Hello? Where are you? I want to talk to you.”  Terrified Elva screams at the person to leave her along and hangs up the phone.   Again Elva contacts the operator who says that cause of the mysterious phone calls is from a fallen power line in the cemetery.  Elva has her housekeeper take her to visit the cemetery only to find that the fallen power line is lying over the grave of her dead fiancé.  Elva explains to her housekeeper that when she was younger she was very adamant in getting what she wanted; her fiancé Brian Douglas always did what she wanted.  A short time before they were to be married Elva wanted to drive somewhere when she lost control of the car, resulting in Brian’s death and Elva being crippled.  Once Elva realized that it was her lost love Brian contacting her, this gave her peace and Elva is excited because she no longer has to be lonely.  When Elva returns home she picks up the phone and explains to Brian what happened and begs for him to talk.  After a few moments Brian finally answers telling Elva that she told him to leave her alone and he always does what she says.  Elva begs for Brian to come back but the line goes dead.

So what these two episodes have in common are these phantom phone calls from beyond the grave.  Lately I have been seeing more of these stories surface in the paranormal community.  My question is where did these stories originate?  It is obvious the story has been around since the early 60’s being that the Twilight Zone has made wonderful works of fiction out of them.

 I know that there is an urban legend that is very similar to these stories in which a woman is found dead with a frightened look on her face and in her hand she is holding her telephone.  When the family goes to entomb her body with her husband they find the phone in the crypt off the hook.     

According to snopes (urban legend website) this tale originates from the fear of being buried alive.  In the 18th and 19th century a bunch of different devices would be placed on the gravesite such as bells, buzzers and flags.  They would be used to get the attention of people in case the one in the grave should happen to wake up. 

Again the story above is just an urban legend but like all great urban legends it is very fascinating to watch the tale grow over time.   The story starts off with the dead sending messages using the telephone.  Then there were stories of the dead leaving messages on answering machines.  Now the dead send messages with cell phones, text messages, instant messages and email.  As communication technology grows, so does the story.

I would like to mention that I have read the story of Charles Peck and I don’t find it the least bit convincing that the dead make phone calls to the living.  In fact I would like to state I haven’t found any evidence that the dead can make contact with the living at all, nor that anything exists after death. 

But anyway the story goes like this: On September 12th 2008 at approximately 4:22 P.M. a train carrying 225 passengers crashed at a collective speed of 83 mph with a freight train.  This happened in San Fernado Valley in California and has been dubbed the Chatsworth crash.  135 people were injured, 85 were hospitalized and 25 died. 

One of the men who had died in the crash was a man named Charles Peck.  Now this is where I start getting mixed information, one story says Peck was on his way to meet his fiancé, others say he was going to a job interview, others say his fiancé was picking him up from the train station along with his family and siblings.

Peck was found 12 hours after the crash and coroners said he died on impact; however in other stories I have read, they also said his age was 58 which they later corrected to 49.  So if this is true perhaps it’s possible he didn’t die on impact, I don’t know I am not in a position to make that call.  Anyway for the first 11 hours Charles Peck made some phone calls to his loved ones which included his son, his fiancé, his step mother and his sister.  Yet every time they answered the phone all the heard was static, when they called him back it went right to voicemail. 

Supposedly the way Police found his body was by tracing his cell phone signal, but to make the story more eerie; Peck’s cell phone was never found.    

So in the case of Charles Peck, I have no real evidence that the story is true (the cell phone part at least), I don’t even have a creditable story to go off of, but just going on what I have read, the phone calls his loved ones received never reported talking from Charles, just static.  To me this says Charles wasn’t calling and that there was something wrong with the cell phone.  I know if anyone of my friends or family members call me and there is static, I am not going to assume that there is ghostly interference; I am going to assume that there phone is messed up.   Also when Mr. Peck’s family members called back the phone went straight to voicemail…Ok, I failed to see how this means paranormal, but apparently it is important info to this story. 

However before someone says “well explain how his cell phone made phone calls after he was dead?”  Well could you please explain to me how a dead person makes phone calls?  Or how his spirit or ghost knew how to use the phone but didn’t know how to speak on the other end?  Please refrain from using the argument from ignorance, which would be something like “well since you can’t explain how his cell phone made those phone calls after he was dead, it must have been his ghost.”   Thanks for reading.

Ghost Box: Tales From a Broken Radio

Recently I have received a couple emails in regards to an article I wrote a while back about something called the ghost box.   The article expressed my skepticism on this device however I reserved my personal thoughts in hopes that one day I might be wrong and be shown that this device can really contact the dead.  So quickly, those who may not know what the ghost box is, it is a radio that is purposely broken by causing it to continuously sweep up and down the channels without ever stopping.  When it does this you are listening to a bunch of fragments of voices from DJ’s, commercials and songs.  You ask questions to the box while it is doing this and supposedly you will get responses from the beyond.  Some people in the paranormal field that advocate the use and testing of this box (because they have found it to produce “promising” results) are people like John Zaiffis and Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

I on the other hand have spent years researching and testing this device and have yet to have any test produce positive results or have any personal validation that it works.  There are tons of these modified (broken) radios out there with many different names.  The most coveted of these boxes is called the Frank’s box designed by Frank Sumption, there is a Joe’s box created by Joe Cioppi, Radioshack Hacks and The Mini Box (which can be purchased at www.paranormalsystems.com between the prices of $499.00 – $1,595.00, that’s right folks you can buy a broken radio for only $1,595.00 because it is crystal enhanced).

Like I said before I have always been pretty skeptical about this device, but I will explain now, why I’m convinced this “tool” doesn’t work.     

The Steve Hill challenge

I have worked with lots of people in the paranormal whose sole purpose in this “field of research” is nothing but instrumental transcommunication better known as ITC.  The first individual I would like to talk about is a good fellow whose name is Steve Hill. 

Steve Hill calls himself an electronic medium, meaning spirits talk to him through devices such as the ghost box.  He claims to have more success than the average Joe who was to just pick up this device and start asking questions.  When Steve heard I was skeptical he sent me a few “mind blowing” files in which he claimed his name could be heard crystal clear.  When I heard these files I must say at first I thought they were amazing, because I could clearly hear the name Steve Hill.  Well there are a couple things I didn’t take into consideration at first, for instance the file name was “ghost box says name steve hill” and also after the radio says what sounds to be like Steve Hill, Steve says “Yes I am Steve Hill”.  This is what is called “priming” or “front loading” which is essentially telling someone what to hear.

So after this I was asked to be a guest on Steve’s radio show so I, a skeptic, could talk about how I felt about this file and device (because remember Steve thought I thought it was legit, because I at first thought it was an amazing file).  What Steve didn’t know was I had performed a test to prove this file wasn’t saying Steve Hill. 

With an audio editing program I was able to delete Steve confirming he was Steve Hill at the end of the file, I also saved it as a different name, something like “ghost box file.”  I asked 50 random people what they thought the file was saying and not one of them said Steve Hill.  So after everyone had come up with their own idea on what the file was saying, I told them what the file was thought to be saying.  Again no one could hear Steve Hill, why?  The reason is because they had already decided on what they wanted to hear.  They had already primed themselves. 

When I told these results to Steve live on his show, it didn’t even sway him to think it wasn’t saying his name.  So I asked “are all these people lying?  If you say no then we must accept that the box was also saying their answers as well.”  Steve’s answer baffled me “well Bobby perhaps I just hear things on a different frequency then others do.”  I decided that was when I would forfeit the fight with Steve; he had already made up his mind that his broken radio actually possesses spirits that communicate with him and no matter how much evidence I had against it, his mind couldn’t and can’t be swayed. 

The Jeff Rezman challenge

I was a guest speaker at an event called Fortfest last year.  One of the speakers was a man named Jeff Rezman.  Jeff and I have been friends for a couple years and he and I are sort of like Spiderman and The Green Goblin.  What I mean by that is we are good friends outside of the paranormal (Peter and Harry) but when it comes to the paranormal we are archenemies (Spiderman and The Green Goblin, I of course being Spiderman). 

Now Jeff gave a lecture on the authenticity of the ghost box and it was hard to keep quiet and for the most part I did, until he started doing a live session with the crowd.  His technique was clever, he never said what he thought it was saying however he would prime the crowd by saying “did you hear that?” and someone from the crowd would respond with what they thought the box was saying. 

Now another thing I discovered about the box and people who believe this device is intelligently speaking to them is that it can never tell you information that you don’t already know.  For example at Fortfest Jeff was asking the box questions like “what color is this gentleman’s jacket right here?”  Everyone present knew the color of the jacket that the person was wearing so the name of that color is the answer everyone is expected to hear.  Another example is where Jeff asked “what color are the walls here in this room?”   Again everyone present knew the color of the room so the name of that color is the answer everyone is expected to hear.  After I realized what was going on I explained it to the crowd.  I explained I could prove it by giving the box a Zener card test (which I just happened to have handy).

The test was really simple I would sit behind Jeff so we were both facing the crowd.  I would allow one independent party to sit with me to write down the shape on the card (circle, star, square, cross or wavy lines) so people knew I wasn’t lying.  We were placed in a position where no one in the room could see the card except me and this independent party.  For the sake of the spirits present I announced out loud all the 5 shapes the spirit could name and began the test.  Again the box didn’t name one card correctly, why?  Because no one present except for myself and the independent party knew the shape that was on the card. 

Me testing the Ghost Box used by Jeff Rezman

Me testing the Ghost Box used by Jeff Rezman

The box called out wrong shapes but also called out things like angel, Jeff tried to say that since there were fairy looking creatures on the backs of the cards this must be what the spirit was trying to identify.  Well if that were the case then the spirit world is very dumb because I strictly announced that there were only 5 shapes it could pick from.  Again this test swayed some from the crowd that the box is nothing but a broken radio and wishful thinking but it couldn’t and can’t change the opinion of someone like Jeff Rezman. 

I have tried hundreds of tests with different ghost box type devices some include me using a box while someone else in a different state used a box and we asked questions about each other, hiding something in a certain area while someone else had the spirit tell them through the box where I hid the item and countless sessions in alleged haunted locations asking the box to name the name associated with the house.  All these tests failed, never getting one thing right. 

I mean if continuously sweeping up and down through radio channels works as a device on talking to the dead then we should be able to keep our finger on seek on a car radio and produce the same results.  Truth is, our brains are designed to seek patterns out of nothing; it’s how it makes sense of things.  It is why we can see Abraham Lincoln in the clouds or hear voices telling us things on broken radios.  It is called pareidolia.

However I would like to say that this is a lousy invention and it proves some people will cling to anything and I mean anything for some sort of self validation of the spirit world, they will even speak to broken radios.