Disclaimer – This article is intended to provide basic information concerning electromagnetic fields, the use of EMF Meters as ghost detectors, and some health concerns often associated with electromagnetic fields/paranormal experiences. You’re not going to find an answer to every question you have, or an explanation for every “Well, what about this…” scenario. This article serves as a starting point for further research if you so choose. But if you do, I advise you choose wisely – don’t be sucked down the rabbit hole of metaphysical and pseudoscientific websites that simply rehash the same bullshit over and over. And be cautious of websites that want to sell you meters by the use of extraordinary claims that have no supporting evidence listed. I am also not a medical doctor, so the information presented here is from medical sources (listed in the references) and not my opinion. Definitions are taken straight from the sources.
Shout out to Rob Lea of The Skeptic’s Boot and Mitch Silverstein of Nyack Paranormal for his help on this.
1 -What is EMF?
EMF is the abbreviation for several things. The FreeDictionary.com site lists forty-nine definitions of this one acronym. For electrical engineering dealing with circuits, it stands for Electomotive Force, not Electromagnetic Field (EM field). Electromotive force is the characteristic of any energy source capable of driving electric charge around a circuit. I’m relating this because when having a conversation about EMF, it can be a different conversation depending on who you’re talking to.
Back to the ghost stuff…
An electromagnetic field is a physical field produced by moving electrically charged objects. It affects the behavior of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The field can be viewed as a combination of an electric field and a magnetic field.
Electric fields exist whenever there is a positive or negative charge present. Any electrical wire that is charged will produce an associated electric field. This field exists even when no current is flowing. The higher the voltage, the stronger the electric field will be at a given distance from the wire. Electric fields are strongest close to a charge or charged conductor, and their strength rapidly diminishes with distance from it. Conductors such as a metal shield them very effectively. Other materials, such as building materials and trees, provide some shielding capability. Therefore, the electric fields from power lines outside the house are reduced by walls, buildings, and trees.
Magnetic Field – come from the motion of electric charges. A magnetic field is only produced when current is flowing, such as when a device is turned On. The higher the current, the greater the strength of the magnetic field. Note: Magnetic fields are not blocked by common materials such as the walls of a building.
Electromagnetic Field (BOTH) – are strongest close to their origin and rapidly decrease at greater distances from the source. An electric field will exist even when there is no current flowing. If current does flow, the strength of the magnetic field will vary with power consumption but the electric field strength will be constant.
Electromagnetic Spectrum – encompasses both natural and man-made sources of electromagnetic radiation. It consists of all the different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation – including visible light, infrared waves, radio waves, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays.
There are two types of electromagnetic fields; Ionizing and Non-Ionizing.
Ionizing EMFs (mid to high-frequency radiation) are high-level radiation which has the potential for cellular and DNA damage. This includes Far Ultraviolet (UV), X-Rays, and Gamma rays. Sources on Ionizing radiation include cosmic rays from space, radon gas, x-ray machines, and nuclear reactors.
Non-Ionizing EMFs (low to mid-frequency) is generally perceived as harmless to humans. However, it can pose a considerable risk when not properly controlled. This type of radiation includes Extremely Low Frequency (ELF), Radiofrequency (RF), Microwaves, Infrared (IR) radiation, Visible Light, and Near-Ultraviolet light. Sources of Non-Ionizing radiation include Microwave ovens, computers, WiFi, cell phones, and power lines. Lasers commonly operate within the ultraviolet, visible, and infrared frequencies.
2 – How are Electromagnetic Frequencies measured?
Electromagnetic radiation is energy that travels at the speed of light and spreads out as it goes. It can be expressed in three ways:
Energy (Electron Volts)
FM – 88 to 108 MHz
AM – 549 to 1600 kHz
UHF – 300 Mhz to 3 GHz
The Utility frequency, (power) line frequency (American) or mains frequency (British) is the electricity that runs through your house and office. In large parts of the world this is regulated at 50 Hz, although in the Americas and parts of Asia it is typically regulated at 60 Hz. Most of the EMF meters being used by ghost hunters are calibrated to 50/60 Hz for this reason.
Electromagnetic Field strength, expressed in microteslas or milligauss, is what is being measured by your common EMF meters. This is an important distinction; the K2, Luton, Mel-Meter, etc. are not displaying a reading of electron volts, meters, or hertz, which is the frequency. EMF meters are providing a measurement of the strength of the field being produced from a source.
3 – What are EMF meters?
EMF detectors are handheld devices that use highly-sensitive components designed to find fluctuations in the amount of electric or magnetic energy in a given area. It can measure AC electromagnetic fields, which are usually emitted from man-made sources such as the electrical wiring in your home. Gaussmeters, or magnetometers, measure DC fields, which occur naturally in Earth’s geomagnetic field and are emitted from other sources where direct current is present.
Below is a list of the most commonly sold EMF meters within the paranormal community. I’ve added the prices (at the time of this writing), how many axis each reads, the frequency range the devices can measure, and the strength ranges each displays.
LT Lutron EMF-822A ($79.95)
Axis – 1, Range – 0-199.9 mG / 0-19.99 microT, Frequency Range 30 – 300 Hz (Calibrated at 50/60 within 4% + 3 digits)
Axis – 1, Range 0-30mG, Frequency Range: 50-60 Hz
GAUSS MASTER™ ($34.95)
Axis – 1, Range – 0-1 mG / 0-10 mG, Frequency Range: Calibrated at 50/60+ Hz
PRO 1-AXIS GAUSSMETER (MEL-Meter)
Axis – 1, Range – 0-200 mG / 200-2,000 mG / 2,000-20,000mG. Frequency Range: 30 to 300 Hz
K-2 DELUX WITH ON/OFF SWITCH ($59.90)
Axis – 1, Range – 0-20+ mG, Frequency Range: 50 – 20,000 Hz (20kHz)
*Accuracy of ±5% at 50-60Hz
E.L.F.-ZONE™ GAUSS METER ($12.95)
Axis – 1, Range – 0-8+ mG, Frequency Range: 20 Hz – 10kHz
Trifield Flat Frequency Meter ($149.95)
Magnetic 1: Axis – 3, Range – 0-100 mG, Frequency Range:50 Hz – 100 kHz (Accuracy + 20% between 50 Hz – 500Hz)
Magnetic 2: Axis – 3, Range – 0-3 mG, Frequency Range:50 Hz – 100 kHz (Accuracy + 20%)
Electric: Axis – 3, Range – 0-1000 mG, Frequency Range:50 Hz – 100 kHz (Accuracy + 30%).
60 Hz: Calibrated for North American power frequency (and certain other regions).
50 Hz: Calibrated for European power frequency (and certain other regions).
Flat: Specialized meter with flat frequency response at 50 and 60 Hz. Not sensitive above 2000 Hz.
ES: Extended Sensitivity to frequencies down to 5 Hz (electric and magnetic). Not recommended for general electromagnetic testing because it takes longer to stabilize after being moved.
4 – Do EMF meters measure the entire spectrum? All frequencies?
No. They are not measuring the entire electromagnetic spectrum. This is a common misconception among paranormal enthusiasts, and one that I hear often during “Ghost hunting 101” events. Groups claim “These devices read the electromagnetic spectrum”, when they are actually designed to be sensitive to a specific frequency range – they don’t read x-rays, or gamma rays, or even visible light!
However, they cannot distinguish frequencies from each other. Meaning that the meters can’t tell the difference between 60 Hz and 200 Hz, or both coming together at the same spot. To use an analogy – a scale can measure how heavy an object is, but it can’t tell you what that object is.
For example, the popular K2 meter has a frequency sensitivity range of 50 to 20,000Hz (or 20kHz). This range includes household current, appliances, and radio frequencies. What needs to be understood is although the K2 is sensitive to all those frequencies, it is only calibrated for the 50/60 Hz frequencies, + 5%. Let me repeat – they are calibrated for your house current! If you don’t know for certain that the field you’re measuring is 50/60 Hz, then you have no way of knowing if your reading is accurate. Think about that. It the case of the K2 meter, it’s readings do not appear to be consistent. In tests I’ve done, I’ve found the device was not consistent with its readings while the same equipment was at the same distance from the meter, doing the same operations.
During research of a previous article on the K2, I found an interesting note from the GhostMart.com website (which no longer seems to sell ghost hunting equipment) in response to their own testing with various devices. They stated: “When used side by side with these high-end digital models one thing became very clear. The readings produced by the K-II were simply not consistent. It was in fact very responsive to EMF fluctuations but there was no pattern to the level of the EMF measured by the K-II Meter.”
Oh, and here’s something that’s important as well. Your EMF meter is not giving you the frequency…you’re getting the strength of the field being produced. Meters give measurements in microteslas or milligauss (common in America). They are measuring the magnetic flux – which gets pretty complicated and is much too long for this article. So, I would suggest looking it up yourself.
Because you’re measuring the strength of an unknown frequency, your 10mG reading might actually be 25 mG or it could be 2mG…because the frequency it’s measuring may be higher or lower than 50/60 Hz.
5 – What’s the difference between Single-axis and Tri-axis?
Most meters used by ghost hunters are single-axis meters, meaning they can only read the strength of an electromagnetic field on one axis at a time. Normally referred to as the X, Y, and Z axis…these are the three dimensions you must rotate the meter in order to gain the most accurate reading. By contrast, a three-axis meter, like the Tri-Field Meter, can measure all three axis at the same time. These are the more expensive devices starting around $150.
The K2, Gaussmeter, MEL-Meter, and the Lutron…are all single axis meters. Every time a ghost hunter walks into a room and waves their K2 or Mel-meter around to get “base readings” – they are wasting their time. They might as well not do a damn thing. Here’s why…
First, it’s standard for ghost hunters to go into a location and do “base readings” either during setup or right after. This activity usually takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes as someone holds a meter in their outstretched hand while moving from room to room. This is not obtaining accurate readings, much less anything remotely resembling a baseline. You need to spin the meter in all three axis everywhere in the room in order to get the most accurate reading possible with single-axis meters, + 5% of course (see your User Manual). Taking a reading in one spot, on one axis, at one time during the night does not equal a baseline reading.
If you really wanted to have a somewhat accurate baseline, you would need dozens of meters all over the place for at least a 24 to 48 hour period – at the bare minimum. Ideally, you’d want to track the levels over the course of several days or weeks to best determine what the normal levels, spikes, and dips are. All kinds of things can affect your readings; from automatic lights, cooling systems, heating systems, automated machines, pumps, and so on.
Another issue comes up with the way the device is used during ghost hunts. It’s common for someone to be walking across the room or down a hallway and get a spike, they turn around to go to the same spot…but now the field is gone! Was it a ghost moving away? No, the reading is suddenly gone because the meter -a single-axis meter – is now being held in a different orientation and is no longer able to read the field.
6 – Where did the “2 to 7mG” range come from?
This “tribal knowledge” idea has been around since I was ghost hunter back in the 90s. I have no clue where this range came from, though I’ve been searching for quite some time. I remember being at an early ghost conference in Gettysburg, sometime around 1997, and being told that 2 to 7 mG was what you wanted. If you got a reading within that range, you had a ghost. Bullshit – it means you just weren’t close enough to the source to figure out what the source was. Back then, as I still see these days, many ghost hunters simply stop looking for a source once they get within this range. To be fair, I am seeing more groups keep going until they find the source. Some groups have abandoned the use of EMF meters altogether. Unfortunately, meters like the K2 are still a common toolbox item.
Although I don’t know the exact origin of this pseudo-range, I can wager a guess. Back in the 90s, the common EMF meter was the Dr. Gauss meter. Yes, this was the pre-K2 era of ghost hunting. The scale on the Dr. Gauss meter went from 0 to 10mG. There is a color bar under the numbers that go from Green (0 – 2), to Yellow (2 – 7), to Red (7 – 10). The yellow section indicated the range of 2 to 7 mG. Hmmm, that’s…strange. I wonder if the common range for ghosts was born from a lazy decision to pick the “middle range on the meter” – not too cold, not too hot…but juuuuust right. For now, this is where I’m betting the idea started.
Sadly, this idea is still being promoted on websites that sell and/or use EMF meters for ghost hunts. Here’s a few examples
“A paranormal occurrence or ghost may give off milligauss readings in the range of 1.5mg to about 6mg depending on the EMF meter you use.” – Long Island Paranormal Investigators *They give no supporting evidence for this
“Spirit phenomena will normally register in the range of 2.0 to 7.0 milligauss.” – GhostStudy.com *They provide no supporting evidence for this claim
“Some (meters) have colored light displays allowing you to discern the range in which a disturbance occurs, usually 2 to 7 milligauss.”
Ghost Worlds: A Guide to Poltergeists, Portals, Ecto-Mist, & Spirit Behavoir, pg 197
“When using the EMF as a tracking device look for fluctuations of 2.0 to 7.0, this usually indicates spirit presence. Anything higher or lower is normally has a natural source.” – The GhostHunter Store *No evidence is given to support this statement.
7 – Fluctuations?
In the last quote above, fluctuations are mentioned as an indication of spirit presence. However, there are several things that can cause fluctuations of an EM field. We already learned that the strength of the magnetic field will vary with power consumption. This includes air conditioners, refrigerators, and even wiring depending on the demand on the line – such as when devices are turned on and off.
This is something that must be taken into account – devices that switch On or Off. Devices on timers, motions sensors, or based on temperatures (thermostats). Even lights turned on or off in different parts of the house may increase or decrease the strength of the magnetic field in your area if the wiring passes through the room you’re in.
Quote – “Since fields created artificially by television, lights, computers, etc. are primarily the product of electricity running through their wires, they do not fluctuate. They always remain constant.” – Joshua P. Warren “How to Hunt Ghosts” *This is incorrect, the strength of the magnetic field will vary with power consumption. If a device is drawing different levels of power, the field will fluctuate. If a computer is in Sleep mode, and you bump the mouse…it wakes up – there will be a fluctuation. If an air conditioner compressor turns on, there will be a power drain (we can see this in lights that briefly dim at the same time).
Fluctuations can also come from outside your environment! I have yet to be on a ghost investigation that conducted experiments in a controlled environment. We learned earlier that magnetic fields are not blocked by common materials such as the walls of a building. This opens you up to magnetic fields from outside, perhaps from a neighbor’s house (row homes, twins, apartment buildings), or RF signals from trucks going by on the street, using citizen band (CB) radios.
Oh…and remember those base readings we talked about earlier? If you took them – however inaccurate they are – before you set up your DVR cameras, monitors, and other devices…you just changed the environment by setting all of that equipment up.
8 – Can EMF meters detect ghosts?
First – in order for EMF meters to be useful in detecting ghosts, you’d have to know the qualities of a ghost. You’d have to be able to establish, confirm, replicate, and demonstrate that ghosts do affect electromagnetic fields…and in what specific ways. These ways would then be able to be measured.
Second – Before you get to that, you need to establish that ghosts actually exist. Despite dozens of crappy TV shows that tell you otherwise, this oh-so-important thing has NOT been done. Nope, ghosts are still rooted firmly in the realm of subjective belief…they are not confirmed, verified, or established as fact.
Third – A common mistake from ghost hunters is that when one encounters an allegedly anomalous EM field, and can’t find (or don’t look for) a source, they determine it must be a ghost. When you do this, you are, in fact, making up a conclusion. Why? You didn’t find a source! If you didn’t find the source, then you Don’t Know What Caused It – it’s that simple. When you inject a preferred conclusion without supporting evidence, you just tampered with the results – deceiving yourself and everyone you tell your story to.
9 – Health Issues
Quote – “Most experts agree that chronic exposure to more than 2.5 milli-Gauss is inadvisable.” This quote is from the website LessEMF (under the Gauss Meter description), an online store that sells various EMF meters, shielding, and products – their business is EMF. This claim is something I’ve often heard from various paranormal groups, stating that high EMF levels or long exposure can cause things like
The quote is based on guidelines put forth by an organization called “Institute of Building Biology + Sustainability IBN”, a German-based company that appears to add a holistic approach to building structures. I’m using this quote because it echoes beliefs from several groups I’ve interacted with, who believe there are health issues associated with high levels of EMF, including headaches, dizziness, confusion, loss of balance, mood swings, and even hallucinations.
Here’s the first paragraph from the IBB&S IBN guidelines, describing what they based their limits off of…
“The Building Biology Evaluation Guidelines are based on the precautionary principle. They are specifically designed for sleeping areas associated with long-term risks and a most sensitive window of opportunity for regeneration. They are based on the building biology experience and knowledge and focus on achievability. In addition, scientific studies and other recommendations are also consulted.”
Their guidelines are based on ‘experience and knowledge and focus on achievability”. This is disturbing to me since it doesn’t seem to be based on scientific studies…which should be the main source material. They do mention “scientific studies and other recommendations are also consulted”. The problem here is they failed to provide references to these studies. They also seem to add that as more of an afterthought. What were the “other recommendations” they mention? They don’t come back to that. In small print, they do include values from other sources, including some I’ll mention below.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website, “In the United States, there are no federal standards limiting electromagnetic fields from power lines and other sources to people at work or home. Some states set standards for the width of right-of-ways under high-voltage transmission lines because of potential for electric shock.”
The International Commission On Non- Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), released standards in 1998 and again in 2010. Their recommended exposure limits were slightly higher then LessEMF & the Institute of Building Biology + Sustainability IBN were promoting.
Exposure Limits 1998
Occupational: 5,000 mG (50Hz) & 4,170 mG (60Hz)
General Public: 1,000 mG (50Hz) & 830 mG (60Hz)
Exposure Limits 2010 Update
Occupational: 10,000 mG (50Hz & 60Hz)
General Public: 2,000 mG (50Hz & 60Hz)
In addition, the ICNIRP further stated “Low Frequency (1 Hz – 100 kHz) – Overall research has not shown to date that long-term low-level LF exposure has detrimental effects on health. High Frequency (100kHz – 300 GHz) – The overall evaluation of all the research on HF fields leads to the conclusion that HF exposure below the thermal threshold is unlikely to be associated with adverse health effects.
According to the World Health Organization website section entitled “Conclusions from scientific research”, it states…
“In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionizing radiation approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30 years. Despite the feeling of some people that more research needs to be done, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals. Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research.”
When looking at the scientific consensus of over thirty years of research, the conclusion is there is no harm from the levels or types of EMF you would be exposed to in a home, office or historical location that paranormal enthusiasts would be visiting.
I also want to note that sleep deprivation can also be the cause of many of the symptoms reported by paranormal enthusiasts, their witnesses, and anyone else. Symptoms include impulsive behavior, depression, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, sleepiness, irritability, disorientation, trouble thinking and concentrating, pains, and hallucinating. When you consider most ghost hunts go into the wee hours of the night/morning, after people have been up all day, sleep deprivation is something to keep in mind. Especially when you have ‘clients’ that haven’t been sleeping well.
10 – Electromagnetic Sensitivity – Is it real?
The symptoms most commonly reported with this phenomenon include dermatological symptoms (redness, tingling, and burning sensations) as well as neurasthenic and vegetative symptoms (fatigue, tiredness, concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitation, and digestive disturbances. The reported symptoms are not part of a recognized syndrome and have been generally termed as “electrical hypersensitivity” or “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” (EHS)
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Some members of the public have attributed a diffuse collection of symptoms to low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields at home. Reported symptoms include headaches, anxiety, suicide and depression, nausea, fatigue, and loss of libido. To date, scientific evidence does not support a link between these symptoms and exposure to electromagnetic fields. At least some of these health problems may be caused by noise or other factors in the environment, or by anxiety related to the presence of new technologies. Some individuals report “hypersensitivity” to electric or magnetic fields. They ask whether aches and pains, headaches, depression, lethargy, sleeping disorders, and even convulsions and epileptic seizures could be associated with electromagnetic field exposure. There is little scientific evidence to support the idea of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Recent Scandinavian studies found that individuals do not show consistent reactions under properly controlled conditions of electromagnetic field exposure. Nor is there any accepted biological mechanism to explain hypersensitivity. Research on this subject is difficult because many other subjective responses may be involved, apart from direct effects of fields themselves. More studies are continuing on the subject.”
The issue that sticks out the most is that this condition is self-diagnosed. Those complaining of this condition is determining the cause, rather than a qualified doctor and medical staff. The symptoms vary from person to person. And furthermore, EHS is NOT recognized by the scientific medical community as a disease.
It’s important to note when doing research on EMF and health effects, you can find a virtual ton of information out there. And much of it comes up when discussing this topic with paranormal enthusiasts. Many repeat the claim that EHS is a recognized medical condition, or that hallucinations can be caused by sleeping too close to alarm clocks…and many other unsupported medical claims.
While researching, I noticed that sites that were selling EMF meters, services or “protection” devices…were the ones promoting these health issues. They offered no supporting data (from credible sources) other than claiming “hundreds of studies have shown”, yet…they failed to reference any of these studies. These were not science-based medical sources, they are businesses out to make a profit using fear mongering to scare you into buying their product.
When I focused on science-based sources – from medical doctors, World Health Organization, the International Commission On Non- Ionizing Radiation Protection, Public Health England, Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Services – I found that the scientific consensus was that ELF-EMF is not a health risk.
On the Ghost Hunters TV show, they would often point to EMF as the cause of potential paranormal activity. In an episode called “The Fear Cage” (Airdate: March 26, 2008), they’re investigating why one of their members, Kris Williams, becomes ill. Main characters Jason & Grant head down and start taking readings with an LT Lutron EMF meter. Jason comments that “Grant and I did a sweep heading to the basement, and EMF are off the chart.” While in the basement, Jason is holding the meter right against the wires, ie. against the source. His readings ranged between 46 to 108, which is high – 1 Gauss is equal to 1,000 milligauss, so we’re talking about 46,000 to 108,000 milligauss. But, as we learned earlier in this article, electromagnetic fields “are strongest close to their origin and rapidly decrease at greater distances from the source”. Jason is seen holding the meter directly on the electrical wires. I can do the same thing with my small 6-inch fan I have set up next to my desk. Without even touching the meter to the fan, the meter topped out at its limit of 200 Gauss (at a distance of 2 inches away).
Grant goes on to describes the Fear Cage as “a confined area at a location that is surrounded by, and filled with, a high electromagnet field. The reason it’s called a ‘fear cage’ is that if someone is exposed to a high-level electromagnetic field for a while, it can generate feelings of paranoia, nausea, skin irritations.” There are a few things wrong with this; first, his use of the term ‘confined’ is misleading, since we know that the magnetic field is not blocked by common materials such as the walls of a building. EMF could reach you from any direction within most buildings. Second, an area ‘surrounded by, and filled with, a high electromagnetic field’, would have to be an extremely confined area…as in, you’re laying on top of active electrical wires with more active electrical wires on top of you and strung down the sides of your body – that would be confined. The strength of a field rapidly decreases with distance. Using my 6-inch fan again, it topped out the meter (over 200 Gauss) from 2 inches away. Yet when I had the meter at my thigh (closest distance from me to the fan) at 19 inches away, the meter only registered 1 Gauss. That’s a huge drop.
Grant tells us that it’s called a ‘fear cage’ because if someone is exposed to high-level EMF for a while, it can generate feelings of paranoia, nausea, skin irritations”. This falls under the various symptoms (among much more) reported by people claiming to have electromagnetic sensitivity. Yet, the scientific medical consensus is EHS doesn’t exist. Furthermore, there is no accepted biological mechanism to explain hypersensitivity. Funny how he fails to mention this…
Later in the episode, Kris Williams is shown coming out of the Ladies Room and wiping her mouth a few times, implying that she had been vomiting (this is later confirmed by Jason). She feels “queasy” again the second time she goes down the basement, even though her partner, Dave Tango, declares “There’s no EMF…whatsoever” (Note: he doesn’t correctly take a reading with his meter). Interestingly, Grant Wilson makes a comment later in the episode – “We were suspicious that maybe Kris is hypersensitive to electromagnetic fields, or maybe it was legitimately paranormal, or ya know, maybe something she ate just didn’t agree with her.” The first choice is something we’ve discussed in this article and is simply not an option. If there was such a thing, and Kris was suffering from it, then she would have been sick every time she was near the very equipment they use in their headquarters, and in every episode of the series. The second choice is a pure belief-based assumption since there is no data in support of the claim that is was something ‘paranormal”. The third choice is most likely the cause, yet it is included almost reluctantly – she most likely became ill due to something she ate.
During the “Reveal” part of the episode, Jason and Grant again bring up the idea that “we may be discovering that she’s (Kris) is hypersensitive to these things (EMF)”, and describes some of the symptoms of EHS. They tell the owner of the building that the basement is the ‘perfect setting’ with high EMFs…and that high EMFs fuel paranormal activity (speculation). They fail to mention how EHS is not a recognized disease, any of actual science behind how electromagnetic fields work, or that they were holding the meters directly on the wires. They cherry-picked the spooky & scary sounding stuff and ignored the information that would explain the very mundane events that took place.
The ‘fear cage’ idea (it is not a theory) the Ghost Hunters present to their fans is based on a lack of knowledge, cherry picking the data, and a misunderstanding of the equipment they’re using. This should not be surprising, since they have followed this train of thought with various other devices, such as the K2, the flashlight trick, and so on.
As my friend Mitch said, “episodes like this are looked upon by many groups as a training video. They emulate what is presented on TV blindly. That goes for equipment, methods, and ideology.” It’s true, such groups fail to research the claims thoroughly for themselves, and so continue to practice and preach misleading information that remains popular within the paranormal community.
Electromagnetic field meters do not “detect” ghosts. Ghosts are not tapping on these meters and making them light up in response to your questions. These are subjective experiences filtered through a core belief that ghosts exist (even though they haven’t been proven to) and a misguided belief, fostered by paranormal TV shows, that these devices “pick up their energy”.
As with other gadgets in the ghost hunting toolbox, these devices are used by enthusiasts without any understanding of why. There are no controls used to avoid false readings. In fact, the reputation of these (and other such) devices thrive on this concept! False readings are what drives their popularity since there is usually no attempt to eradicate known or unknown variables. When is the last time you saw a K2 meter or “spirit box” put inside a quality Faraday cage?
Long-standing “tribal knowledge” – readings between 2 & 7 mg mean it’s paranormal, mysterious spikes, or “unexplained” fluctuations – have no origin invalid, supporting data…they were born from poor methodology, ignorance, and confirmation bias. Medical issues like headaches, dizziness, even hallucinations have all been associated with paranormal activity, due in large part to TV shows like Ghost Hunters who present poor methodology, ignorance, and confirmation bias. With some good research, we can easily see that these symptoms originate from more natural causes; sleep deprivation, anxiety, and other factors. Even a bad meal can cause nausea to set in a few hours later.
Also consider the glaring fact that what paranormal enthusiasts are looking to detect; ghosts/spirits, which have not been shown to actually exist…much less that they would have any effect on a device like an EMF meter. Think about it, you’re not affecting the K2s, the Mel-Meters, or the Guassmeters…and you have tiny electrical currents flowing through you. You have small electrical and magnetic fields because of your biology. If you can’t make these meters go off, what makes you think the idea of a ghost will?
The bottom line here is basically this – the only reason to believe EMF meters detect or interact with ghosts is blind belief. This belief was then reinforced by para-celebrities that had no idea what they were doing, and frankly…were making shit up as they went. There is no science behind the belief that ghosts use, can manipulate, or are composed of EMF – none, nadda, zero.
If ghosts do exist – and that’s a big IF – this technology is not going to solve the mystery.
1 – TheFreeDictionary.com. S.v. “EMF.” Retrieved August 15 2017 from http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/EMF
2 – AllAboutCircuits.com. Retrieved August 15, 2017 from https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/threads/what-does-e-m-f-stand-for.11111/
3 – National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. June 15, 2017. “Electric & Magnetic Fields”
4 – World Health Organization. Accessed on July 2, 2017. “What are electromagnetic fields?” http://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en/
5 – WikiPedia.com. Accessed on July 2, 2017. “EMF Measurement”
6 – Cameron, Patrick. April 24, 2017. “How Does An EMF Detector Work?” http://sciencing.com/emf-detector-work-4909640.html
7 – Radford, Benjamin. October 27, 2006. “The Shady Science of Ghost Hunting”.
8 – LessEMF.com. Accessed on July 2, 2017. “AC Magnetic FIeld Gauss Meters & Detectors”. https://www.lessemf.com/gauss.html#459
9 – Townsend, Maurice. 2008. “Ghosts, Baselines and EMF Meters”. http://www.assap.ac.uk/newsite/articles/Ghosts%20EMF%20meters%20and%20baselines.html
10 – Long Island Paranormal Investigators. Accessed on July 2, 2017. “EMF – Electro Magnetic Field Theory”
11 – Juliano, David. 2011. Accessed on July 2, 2017. “Ghost Hunting 101”
12 – Eaton, James W. 1999. “How to use an EMF Meter”
13 – International Commission On Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. “Low Frequency”
14 – EMFs.info. 2017. “Limits in the USA”
15 – Mild, Kjell Hansson. Repacholi, Mike. Deventer, Emilie van. Ravazzani, Paolo. October 2004. “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity”. International Workshop on EMF Hypersensitivity.
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17 – Barrett, M.D., Stephen. August 28, 2015. “‘Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity’ Is Not a Valid Diagnosis”
18 – Goodwyn, Melba. 2007. Llewellyn Publications. “Ghost Worlds: A Guide to Poltergeists, Portals, Ecto-Mist, & Spirit Behavior”. Pg 197
19 – Biddle, Kenneth. September 24, 2014. JREF Swift website. “Testing the K2 EMF Meter: Does it Communicate with Spirits? No.”
20 – Institute for Baubiologie + Okologie IBM. June 2008 “Building Biology Evaluation Guidelines For Sleeping Areas”. Accessed on October 5, 2017
21 – EPA Home. Accessed on October 5, 2017. “Electric and Magnetic Fields”
22 – Pietrangelo, Ann & Watson, Stephanie. June 5, 2017. “The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body”.
23 – Schweitzer, Kate. October 30, 2009. PopularMechanics.com. Accessed on October 5, 2017. “Scientists Debunk Personal Electromagnetic Fields on Fringe: Sci-Fi Fact vs. Fiction”
24 – US Department of Labor. Accessed on October 8, 2017. “Non-Ionizing radiation”
25 – US EPA. March 2007. “Ionizing Radiation Fact Book”. Accessed on October 8, 2017. https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi?Dockey=P1001BA7.PDF
26 – Ghost Hunters. Air date: March 26, 2008. Season 4, Episode 4. “The Fear Cage”.