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.