May 10, 2006
Ghost Tech: The Essential Guide to Paranormal Investigation Equipment
By Vince Wilson
Publisher: Whitechapel Productions (May 2005)
Pages: 112 - Price: $12.95
Interview by Jeff Belanger - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ghostvillage.com author interview
Vince Wilson is the founder of the Maryland Paranormal Investigators Coalition, a regular lecturer on the subject of supernatural research, and an all-around good guy. Ghost Tech is Wilson's first book and it delves into the nitty-gritty of the technical aspects of ghost hunting. We caught up with Vince to talk about his favorite subject: paranormal investigations.
What got you started in paranormal investigations?
Almost ten years ago my friend, Renée Colianni began going on these little “paranormal hunts.” She would hear of an urban legend or ghost story and go to the location surrounding the legend and check it out.
After visiting Maryland’s “cry-baby” bridge. (Most states have a “cry-baby" bridge -- it usually involves the tale of a young mother who had given birth to a child out of wedlock during a time when that was taboo. In the story the mother throws her baby over the bridge and then kills herself the same way. Hence the place is forever haunted by the crying baby.) Renée decided to invite me along on a trip. Being a technology, science, and history geek for years, I decided to see how far I could take it with our little ghost hunting expeditions. Friends and some of Renée’s family started coming with us. I began doing online research as well, reading as much as I could find on “ghost hunting” and paranormal research. When people started contacting us to see if their homes were haunted I thought it was time we had an official name and Web site. Thus, I created the Baltimore Society for Paranormal Research (or BSPR).
I contacted as many “experts” as I could (although... are any of us truly experts?). I quickly became good friends with Rosemary Ellen Guiley (author of the Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits as well as over thirty other books on the supernatural), Troy Taylor (American Ghost Society founder and author of the Ghost Hunter’s Guidebook and more than 30 other books on the paranormal), Mark Nesbitt (of Ghosts of Gettysburg fame) and many others. Sometimes however, I could sense the experienced ghost hunters I would talk to from other parts of the country were rolling their eyes on the other side of the PC or phone line. Rolling their eyes at the fact that I was a ghost hunter from Maryland.
Maryland, it would seem, had an unfavorable reputation when it came to paranormal research. At the same time we were trying to perfect our techniques and increase our knowledge of our own equipment (why did we use EMF meters?) we were discovering that Maryland had a bad rep due to, how can I say... less reputable ghost researchers in the area. Too many groups in my home state were either bumbling their investigations, trying to get on TV to fatten their egos, or taking advantage of poor souls for profit (no pun intended). I decided it was time for a group that would establish criteria and a higher level of standards for investigating in Maryland. I formed the Maryland Paranormal Investigators Coalition (MD_PIC) to counteract the less professional groups of investigators in Maryland.
What's your favorite piece of ghost hunting equipment and why?
My 35mm camera. It is a nice SLR camera. I know I am old-fashioned in this respect, but you just cannot beat a negative for photographic evidence.
What's the most often misused piece of equipment?
It's a tie between the Trifield meter and the IR non-contact thermometer.
The Trifield meter, which we always see on the cable “ghost hunter” shows is not something you can just wave around like Egon’s PKE meter. The Natural EM Trifield meter from Alpha Labs (www.trifield.com) is so sensitive it can detect a thunderstorm’s electrical and magnetic effects from more than three miles away! It was designed for detecting geomagnetic fields. It is best used in a stationary position since it is affected by magnetic north. However, when used in conjunction with a compass, you can walk with (carefully), it's effective. Read Ghost Tech (www.ghosttech.net) for more info on that.
The Infrared non-contact thermometer was designed to detect the temperature of objects that you wouldn’t want to touch under normal situations. The food service industry uses them for measuring the temperature of raw food. The military uses them for measuring the temperature of jet engines and the like. Ghost hunters? We’re supposed to use them for detecting cold spots caused by ghosts. There’s just one problem- they can’t be used for that by design.
The IR non-contact thermometer emits a beam of Infrared light that must hit a solid object in order to reflect back the beam to the device. They detect the emitted light given off by the solid object and translate that into a temperature reading. Some are specifically designed to ignore interference from air fluctuations. Yes, they look cool, however, aren’t ghosts by nature intangible under most circumstances?
What role does solar activity (solar x-rays and geomagnetic fields) play in a ghost investigation? I've heard some people claim when there is high activity it's the best time to investigate, others have said only investigate when there's low activity. What's your position?
I say investigate under both conditions and take lots of notes! Just make sure you leave your electronics like EMF meters and electric field meters at home on high energy days.
Solar x-rays given off by the sun (duh!) will hit the Earth’s atmosphere and create electromagnetic fields that can disrupt equipment here on Earth. A Natural EM Trifield Meter in particular will go nuts during a solar x-ray storm. Most other EMF meters will too.
So, test how much evidence you get with pictures and video on high-energy days and what kind of reading you get on low energy days.
Go to www.ghostvillage.com to find a nice meter with links.
How have you seen ghost hunting evolve in the years you've been doing this research?
That’s tricky question. I have seen ghost hunting move forward in some circles and move backward in others. For the most part, ghost hunting is in a bit of slump. Too many teams are out there watching cable TV shows as their teaching tools instead of learning more about new techniques and advances. Investigators need to read more books; share information with other groups, attend more conferences, and not be afraid to ask the hard questions.
What/where is your dream investigation?
Hmmm… I would have to say the Tower of London. I would love to spend a month there with all of my equipment.
Where do you see the field of paranormal research going?
Toward more scientific methods of research. We need to use the skeptics’ techniques against them from now on. Instead of them saying science proves ghosts do not exist, we need to show that there are theories to the contrary.
Who is your book, Ghost Tech for?
For any researcher who really wants to know the right way to use their equipment and why we use that stuff in the first place.
What's in your CD player right now?
A burned CD I made myself. It has "Cleanin’ up the Town" by the Bus Boys on it.
You can visit Vince Wilson's Web sites at: www.ghosttech.net or www.marylandparanormal.com
here to buy this book now.