Blog Archives

Glass Divination Challenge

Glass divination is a technique used by many paranormal research teams at supposedly haunted locations. The aim is to communicate with the spirits of the deceased, who push the glass around a surface (usually a table top) in response to questions. People sit in a circle and focus their ‘energy’ on the glass to help the spirit move it.

Think ‘ouija board without the board’ and you have glass divination.

Successful glass divination is a product of two things; either somebody around the table is intentionally moving the glass, or the people around the table are unconsciously moving the glass. The first is called cheating, the second the ideomotor response.

Scientific tests by American psychologist William James, French chemist Michel Chevreul, English scientist Michael Faraday (Zusne and Jones 1989: 111), and American psychologist Ray Hyman have demonstrated that many phenomena attributed to spiritual or paranormal forces, or to mysterious “energies,” are actually due to ideomotor action.

Furthermore, these tests demonstrate that “honest, intelligent people can unconsciously engage in muscular activity that is consistent with their expectations” (Hyman 1999).

They also show suggestions that guide behavior can be given by subtle cues (Hyman 1977).

The above mentioned ‘suggestions that guide behaviour’ include folklore tales attached to a building, or the stories told to the investigator about what has happened or been witnessed at the location, by the owner of the location owner/staff/residents. If you are aware of the fact that a woman who was murdered is said to haunt a corridor in the building looking for her unmarked grave, it’s likely that that knowledge will influence the way in which the glass moves.

There is a simple yet effective way to test whether the glass is being moved by the people resting one finger upon it. You need to be able to visually see the movement, and I have found that the best way to do this is by covering the glass with putty. Any intentional or unintentional movement of the glass by those touching it will show in the soft putty.

Here’s a demonstration:

Why not try using putty as a control, and letting us know the results?


The Q.E.D conference

In recent years, much skeptical output tends to focus on alternative medicine and other associated areas. Yet for a significant number of people, the most common experience of the pseudoscientific can be found not in the pseudomedical, but in the paranormal. Whether it be through TV shows like Most Haunted and Ghost Hunters International, or through the use of ouija boards and the proliferation of urban legends, polls tend to place belief in ghosts at around the 1 in 7 level in the general population (unsurprisingly, this figures differs greatly when compared to the skeptical or scientific population).

With so many people attesting to have experienced the paranormal, can we simply discount their tales…

or is there something to learn even where explanations come with a more natural than supernatural flavouring?

Of course, would be the BARsoc answer to the question that ends the statement above, but if you’re an avid follower of this site and the work of our researchers then you probably already know that.

The statement is taken from the blog on the website of the QED conference that is taking place at the Piccadilly hotel in Manchester on the 5th & 6th of February, and we’re pleased to be able to say that at least four BARsoc researchers are going to be present (it may go up if more can be talked into buying a ticket, of course.)As exciting as the prospect of different BARsoc researchers from all areas of Britain meeting at a great event such as QED is, it gets better because the statment above is describing the ‘Ghost Investigations Today’ panel that is part of the conference with not one but TWO members of the British Anomalistic Research Society taking part.

The panel will be Professor Chris French from the Amonalistic Psychology Research Unit that is based at Goldsmiths, BARsoc co-founder Hayley Stevens, Keen Folklorist, ghost researcher, BARsoc member and crop-circle know-it-all Trystan Swale and well known Parapsychologist Dr Ciaran O’Keefe who is best known for his involvement with Most Haunted.

You can read more about the panel here. We are very excited about this at BARsoc HQ. Not only because the event sounds so brilliant – with speakers such as Prof. Bruce Hood, Kat Akingbade, Chris Atkins, Jon Ronson, Eugiene Scott and more in the line up, but because often Paranormal Research, Ghosts, Hauntings, Anomalous Phenomena and the down right spooky stuff that is reported every single day is often (but not always) over looked at skeptical conferences and events.

QED has a panel dedicated to ‘Ghost Investigations Today’ on the Saturday just before lunch, and because of this, we think QED is pretty awesome.

If you’re attending the event be sure to look for BARsoc members in the audiences and the crowds, and come along to the panel on the Saturday with any questions you might have. We certainly hope to meet some BARsoc followers at the event.

If you haven’t already, you can buy your tickets by clicking here.

Oh, and yes, we know the acronym for the panel is G.I.T – that wasn’t lost on us. Pesky QED kids…

Breaking the glass divination myth

Written by Allyson

What is glass moving, what is its function and does it do what it’s supposed to?

For quite some time now people have associated glass moving or “divination” with contact from the spirit world. But how do we know this is the real deal?

Read the rest of this entry

Green Laser grids – the new ghost fad?

After they were used on the US television show Ghost Hunters, green laser pointers that fill the room with small green laser dots are fast becoming the next must have accessory on the ghost hunting scene. Various ghost hunting equipment sites stock them and say:

“This high-powered laser emits a grid of green dots useful for detecting shadows or general visual disturbances during an investigation. Set it in front of a running camera to catch potential evidence. 6x STRONGER than the imitators.

You can adjust the size and shape of the stars by turning the adjustable lens. Detach the lens and it will function as a high-powered laser pointer viewable for 8 miles!”

So the reported benefits of this green laser grid pointer are:

– Good for detecting shadows

– Good for seeing general visual disturbances

– Good for catching potential evidence when in front of a camera

Below is what the green laser grid looks like.

It’s very difficult to see why this device has any place on a paranormal investigation as there are some major flaws with it and the theory behind it.

1 – If anything, this laser device would make observing your surroundings harder.

2 – Shining a laser around in front of a camera lens is likely to cause light flares and illusions on the camera lens.

3 – Investigators would be more likely to observe illusions because of this device because not only are they standing in the dark, they’ll have laser lights all over the room messing with their eyes.

3 – It has only become popular due to being used on a paranormal television show. Ghost Hunters is a show that claims to be scientific in its approach when we know they are not, and have a very mixed up view of what science it.

4 – It would be easier to view shadows and “general visual disturbances” by turning on the lights.

Looking for ghosts in the dark

The idea that you have to look for ghosts by turning the lights in a location off is a complete myth and is only done to make the environment the investigators are in seem more scary and thrilling.

Ghost experiences and sightings are reported by people who are in all different conditions. Some have the lights off, granted, but some also see or experience weird things with the lights on, or in broad daylight. Any decent researcher knows that the best way to research such phenomena is to replicate the conditions it was experienced in. Investigating in the dark regardless of when the phenomena was witnessed, or what conditions it was witnessed in is silly and pointless.

Not only that, but turning the lights off while investigating paranormal claims causes a lot of problems. Problems such as:

– Poor vision,

– A heightened expectation for something scary to happen,

– causing people to feel on edge which makes them more likely to interpret something as spooky or scary,

– not being able to witness anything that happens correctly

– huge health and safety issues.

If you want to see shadows or any possible “general visual disturbances” little green dots are not going to help you. This is simply another pointless gadget being marketed at thrill seeking television ghost hunter fans.