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The Ghost Hunters Flashlight Test is Crap

Last night’s Ghost Hunters episode (Click for full episode) featured an experiment with a flashlight at the NJ Bar and Grill with Britt and Amy.  The theory was this: by loosening the lid of a Maglite flashlight, the entity could signal by slightly “turning” the lid and completing the circuit to turn on the light.  Britt and Amy put the light down and said the light turned on ONLY when the entity was asked to do so.  However, I see several problems with this experiment.

First, we were not shown most of the experiment. It is possible that the light flickered on and off the whole time, and we were selectively shown instances where the light turned on after being prompted.  Jason later said that here were over 40 minutes of footage, but we only saw a few seconds.

Next, in order for this to be a truly controlled experiment, the same procedure should have been repeated at a different, non-“haunted” location, to rule out random chance.  For instance, if you took the same flashlight, loosened the lid, and went to the local McDonalds, would you see the same random on-off flickering in response to questions?  Ideally, this would be repeated several times and statistics would be used to compare the NJ Bar and Grill location to McDonalds to see if there is a significant difference.

Although it offers a dramatic effect, the Ghost Hunters flashlight test is yet another example of a non-scientific, biased experiment employed by a paranormal group to impress clients and television viewers.  As such, these procedures serve to reduce the scientific field of paranormal research to nothing more than a circus sideshow or a series of parlor games.  Come on, Ghost Hunters.

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15 Responses

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  1. autumnforest says

    Nate;
    I’m in total agreement. In fact, at one point, you see it going on when they were talking to each other and hadn’t asked it to turn on. It’s a ridiculous notion. Oh, be sure and enjoy my blog post for tomorrow–another episode of “LAUGH” making fun of TV ghost hunters–tomorrow they go before a panel of experts to prove ghosts exist with Bill Nye the Science Guy as the moderator. Enjoy! I’m sure it’ll make you chuckle.
    .-= autumnforest´s last blog ..Mass Blog Experiment Results! =-.

  2. Nate says

    Yeah, it seems like lately they’re running out of ideas. It’s almost like they’re saying ‘what else can we get them to believe…afterall, we’re the vaunted Ghost Hunters. They’ll eat up anything we say.’ Thanks for the comment- and I’ll be sure to check out tomorrow’s post. I love the “laugh” series! :)

  3. jessica0223 says

    I’m glad you are measuring the results in scientific terms. If they are going to use these things there should be a true experiment with a control group and some kind of statistical analysis at the end to shows that this is actually measuring what it intends to measure.
    .-= jessica0223´s last blog ..The Greenbriar Ghost =-.

  4. Nate says

    I agree, Jessica – you can’t just “choose” results that support your hypothesis. That’s why the flashlight test (as undertaken by GH) is such a bummer. It’s a cool idea, though – just needs some scientific refinement.

    I hope people don’t get me wrong, though – I’m not just hating on the Ghost Hunters. In fact, I think they’ve done more for popularizing the paranormal field in the last few years than anyone else has done in the last one hundred. Sometimes, I think they just get carried away.

  5. Craig says

    I also am highly skeptical of the flashlight test. How about zooming a camera on the flashlight so we can actually see it turn. And whats with the I am going to count to five and then you do a, b, or c. Does a spirit need a countdown? Maybe if the questions were not put forth in such a ridiculous manner then a response would be more forthcoming. Try using language germane to the time period of the spirit instead of Tango’s questions that make him appear like he barely made it through grade school. No wonder the most common response is “Leave.”

  6. Craig says

    I just thought of a great piece of equipment that costs a couple bucks but is sure to revolutionize ghost hunting. I am going to buy one of those laser pointers and on my next investigation shine it erratically across the floor thus inducing the spirit to chase it then my partner will just sit back and leisurely film it. I can’t wait for the numerous EVPs that will invariably be frustrated moaning.

  7. cmroch says

    LOVE IT! I just saw this Tweet and had to come right here and read your article. YES! Thank you! I’m glad you called them on them claiming they did this experiment “scientifically.” This is just one more example of them not understanding the true magnitude of what that is. You rock!

  8. Jason says

    It is good to see paranormal groups calling TAPS out on their garbage rather than trying to join the “TAPS Family” and tow the SyFy company line of what “scientific” means. It’s kind of sad, the Jason Hawes of Season 1 would never let 99% of what makes it to TV these days slide. Anyone who’s ever played with a flashlight knows you’ll get it to turn on and off by loosening the battery cover. It’s not a ghost, just a bad connection. But there’s so many people out there who take what they say as gospel. It’s sad.

  9. rtl says

    Hello, just saw this and wanted to comment. Full disclosure, I go on ghost hunts a lot.

    I completely agree on the “scientific” statement. These are not scientific experiments and no one in the paranormal field should use that word because it poisons the discussion.

    The flashlight. I was skeptical as well, still am a little. But don’t form an opinion until you have done your own tests. You all seem like very smart people and it seems like you would want to do your own research on it before you dismiss it. I was at a famous haunted place and was told to place my flashlight in a room because the entity that was supposedly there like to play with them. I have never done this test because I was skeptical of it like you all. It was my flashlight so I am familiar with how it works usually…I unscrewed the top placed it in the middle of the room and it went on and off for a long time. Sometimes for a second, half second, or a few seconds. It was random with no pattern. I was skeptical for the very reasons you all stated. I did it in three other rooms at this place and it only happened in the room they told me it could happen in. I was still skeptical. So I did it in my house, it never went off once. More recently I was on an investigation and was doing more flashlight tests. We were the first group to ever investigate this historic place. We were not getting good results with the flashlight, nothing I felt good about at least. However we were getting some odd activity this night and I did have one very odd flashlight experience. At one point in the middle of the room the EMF went off. I said without hesitation I don’t believe it’s an entity and if they are they need to turn on the flashlight next to the EMF…with about a second delay it turned on. Coincidence, possibly…but that’s two places were my flashlight acted like this. I have seen it not work many, many more times that it has worked. So my opinion, I don’t know…but I have seen it work…and I’m more open to it now than I used to be. As with anything in this field you have to be so careful to jump on the band wagon with saying something it paranormal.

  10. SamanthaC143 says

    ACTUALLY it does work very well. It worked for me Last night at an on civil war cemetery. The light did not go on or off unless I asked it to.. This was a spur of the moment type thing so unfortunately I didnt have my Voice recorder on my but i was trying to use my cell phone to document my findings. When the energy had the flash light ON i would ask it a question like “what is your name?” and the light would start flickering a little but as if it was using its energy to to keep the light on and answer at the same time. Ghost hunters actually recently had an episode when they used two lights and it would turn on what light they told them to. That is my next experiment. When i went to check the recording on my phone last night it wouldnt play so when I go back in a couple night I will be prepared and have my video recorder and voice recorder. IT works! Just try it.

  11. sam smith says

    First of all I want to start by stating that I believe in the paranormal. My wife and I lived in a haunted house and experienced everything except apparitions, disembodied voices and being physically touched. However, this flashlight test leaves me scratching my head. The investigator instructs the ghost to either touch the button or twist the cap of the mini maglight. Okay, the maglight is a a round cylindrical object. It seems to me the flashlight would move if it were manipulated in such a way. I have very little confidence in this test. I used to believe that Jason and Grant were reputable but this leaves me with only more questions. All their newer episodes show very minimal evidence and it has become boring. The Ghost Adventures and that other ghost hunter show is a joke and the hosts are nothing but annoying. At least Jason and Grant aren’t annoying. Oh well, now I’ve vented.

Continuing the Discussion

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