Spirit Box – Are they worth the time and money?
The Spirit Box or Ghost Box is an ITC device (Instrumental Transcommunication). In its short form, this is usually a video or audio electronic device used to attempt communications with a spirit. The voice recorder is one of the most heavily used of these devices in the paranormal field. But over the past several years, there has been an explosion of ITC devices with some being plausible and others offering just ridiculous claims and results. We are going to talk briefly on the Spirit Box or (Modified AM/FM Radio receiver). Generally speaking, the Spirit Box is a standard AM/FM portable radio that is modified to scan through the AM or FM band from 87 MHz to 108 MHz for FM and 535 KHz to 1605 KHz for AM. These modifications are usually done by clipping a diode or resistor, adding a jumper or two which override the radios ability to mute the audio during the forced scan. The end effect is a brief audible tuning lock on each available station within that frequency band for about 20ms or more. When scanned in a successive order, brief but audible words and short syllables can be heard by the operator.
From a scientific point of view, the Spirit Box is no more than a broken/modified radio that allows random words to be heard in a successive order that can make short sentences occasionally which are interpreted by the listener as answers to their questions. If we listen to it long enough and ask enough questions while in operation, patterns of words can be associated to what we are asking at the time. But does this mean we are communicating with the dead? No, it does not. It simply means we are hearing words and syllables strung together in a random pattern. I have done simple experiments with the Spirit Box in a lab environment with no questions or subjects interacting. Just recording the random word and comparing them to typical radio broadcasts at the time. Considering that in radio, “Dead Air” is a big No No and is avoided as much as possible, this means that filling that space or air time as efficiently as possible is the goal of most radio stations. With that said. It then becomes easy to see how dozens or even hundreds of words per minute or hour can accumulate and be misinterpreted by the observer as answers to questions they are asking at the time. These words are combinations of words that act much like Pareidolia or Audio-Matrixing. The observer can easily find words or partial words and sounds that make up an answer to a question. I have examined hundreds of videos and recorded Spirit/Ghost Box sessions and have found very little evidence that these devices can be used as a valid investigation tool to study paranormal activity.
In my lab experiments, the recorded Spirit Box Sessions easily make up a plethora of words and even short sentences that could have meaning and be applied to many situations. In fact, it is so easy to associate these words or mini sentences with likely events in a person’s life that just giving the non-sensible list of words and mini sentences to a random person and asking them to identify if they have meaning, it’s surprising to see that they do! Once the mental seed has been planted, the brain will then try an associate meaning to random patterns in words and sentences. This is how are brains are wired. Pareidolia is a perfect example of this type of phenomena in action. If we look at a random pattern in a painting, structure, photo, nature and etc., we start to see faces, animals, objects and other known items because the brain does not like chaos or random patterns. It tries to make sense of the pattern and starts to associate the closest recognizable person, place or thing it can. This process works equally as well with audible input too. The action of listening to snippets of audio recorded from a Spirit Box can be compared somewhat to political races in the media. Random words and quotes by candidates are often used to create a misinformation campaign to either hurt or support the individuals cause. You only hear a small part of the bigger picture which if heard in it’s entirety would be vastly different and better understood. Likewise, listening to snippets of radio broadcast are vague and your mind fills in the gaps with meaning.
Many of these ITC devices work on the same principal such as the ITC based Apps which claim to use the phone’s sensors as a ghost detector, then processing through elaborate technical sounding algorithms to produce not only words from a dictionary but radar locations of the ghosts themselves! This is absolute rubbish! The sensors in a phone are designed for very specific tasks such as a compass (Used as a crude EMF detector sometimes), Accelerometer, Light Sensor, and etc. We tested these apps in the field for 2 years and never found any real evidence that they work beyond being an entertainment device. These should never be considered as a valid means of real paranormal research.
Does this mean that all ITC devices are useless? No, there have been plausible devices that have been used over the years which to seem to support a certain degree of chance to capture a potential spirit or some sort of energy fluctuation. One of these is your typical cassette recorders and digital voice recorders. They are electronic devices which operate as intended and in the right circumstances will appear to record voices from an entity or spirit with surprising results. These devices are not modified and operate as designed. Most of the EVP’s captured with these devices are electronically induced into the noise floor of the recorder and at times can rise above the noise floor to be heard clearly. It can be argued that interference from radio and television broadcast are the cause of some of these recordings, it is a decreasing likelihood that this could be the culprit considering the advent of digital broadcasting today.
Even though the voice recorders are “Digital” recorders, this only means that they take their analog input and convert it to a digital audio file format for storage on internal memory or an SD Card. The chance of this type of interference is very slim. It would require some very sophisticated demodulation techniques for a digital broadcast to be recorded to a voice recorder. This does not mean that there are no other analog broadcasts, they still exist in the hundreds or even thousands of channels. Some Police, Fire, EMS, AM radio, HAM, GMRS, Weather and etc. still broadcast in analog format and technically have the ability to affect a voice recorder in the right circumstances. Although, this interference is quite rare it should never be ruled out.
In closing, Spirit Boxes and many ITC devices should be used with a great deal of skepticism and common sense. They should never be relied upon as your main source of evidence. You should conduct your study with a high degree of science and knowledge about the surroundings, environment, and people present. It is advisable that most ITC devices be used in an experimental manner in both field and laboratory settings. Baseline recordings or readings should be conducted to use as a reference in suspected locations. This can help with validation if you choose to use these devices.
For more information about the Munroe Falls Paranormal Society, please visit MFPS on the web at http://www.munroe-falls-paranormal-society.com