By: Demetrius (Co-Founder of the OCPRS, Toronto Canada)
Paranormal Researchers have always adopted various technologies to conduct investigations. In recent years, a controversial technology that has gained popularity among paranormal researchers is the “Ghost Box,” created by Frank Sumption in 2002. Before anyone can appreciate what a “Ghost Box” is or how it works, it is worth exploring some other recording devices that have been used to record the voices of “spirits.” What may become apparent to most people is how some technologies have been used to promote the belief in paranormal activity rather than provide any legitimacy.
There have been various technologies used to record the voices or sounds of “spirits” since the dawn of the 20th century. The earliest such recording, albeit unintentional, was made by anthropologist, Waldemar Bogoras (b.1865 – d. 1936) in 1901. Using a phonograph to record the languages, songs, and beliefs of various indigenous tribes in Siberia, Bogoras recorded something unexpected. It was during the recording of a ritual performed by a Chuckchee shaman that Bogoras also recorded unexplained voices, which spoke in English and Russian. According to some sources, the Minnesota State University continues to maintain and study the recording. Despite examinations by physicist, the recording remains unexplainable. Bogoras’ recording is not only the earliest, but is the most credible and fascinating piece of evidence considered to be paranormal.
There was nothing extraordinary about the phonograph used by Waldemar Bogoras. The phonograph recorded and reproduced sounds mechanically. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that electrical recordings revolutionized the recording industry. Experimentation with electronic communication with the spirits of the dead continued, but it wasn’t until people like Konstantin Raudive (b. 1909 – d. 1974) made numerous and successful electronic recordings. One method developed by Raudive was to record from a radio not tuned to any working broadcast – otherwise known as “white noise.” Electronic recordings of spirit voices gained much popularity as a result of people like Konstantin Raudive.
Eventually, electronic recordings of “spirit” voices – as a technological application for paranormal research – came to be known as Electronic Voice Phenomenon or EVP. The term was introduced during the 1970’s by a publishing company, Colin Smythe Ltd. The ways in which EVP is used by paranormal investigators varies, and some have even attempted to improve upon these techniques by improving the technology. Why EVP is so popular among paranormal researchers is largely due to how recording devices can be used as a means to obtain evidence. However, some paranormal researchers use EVP as a mediumistic technique.
In 2002, a man named Frank Sumption introduced a new technological application to paranormal research called, Frank’s Box – otherwise known as the Ghost Box. Ironically thought to have been invented for the purpose of speaking with “spirits,” Frank Sumption didn’t create the device for such a specific purpose, but includes Extraterrestrials, and other disembodied “intelligences.” Why it is called a “Ghost Box” is due to its popularity among ghost hunters who use it strictly to communicate with the spirits of the dead. It is supposedly capable of communication with “spirits” whereby the living can receive immediate responses, rather than have to review the recording at a later time. How does the Ghost Box work? Here is a non-technical summary: The Ghost Box utilizes what is thought to be “white noise” – as mentioned above with Konstantin Raudive – along with an AM (Amplitude Modulation) radio receiver, from which the radio amplitudes (or channels) are quickly swept through, back and forth like a scan. When questions are asked, it is thought that these sweeps across the various AM channels provide an electronic voice for spirits/extraterrestrials, who can then answer the living. In other words, the Ghost Box provides real-time communication with the spirits of the dead or extraterrestrial intelligences. Sounds scientific? Not at all and here is why.
Frank Sumption claims to have received the designs for his EVP device from a disembodied voice, of which he is not entirely clear about. This doesn’t necessarily discredit him, but does raise issues about the credibility of his technological application. As for the Ghost Box itself, there is a completely rational explanation for how it works, and why people believe they are speaking with the spirits of the dead or extraterrestrial intelligences. Here is a brief explanation for how the Ghost Box actually works: By using a repetitive scan of AM radio channels, a combination of broadcasts and static noise will occur. This is similar to turning the radio dial on your car stereo system quickly. What will be heard, are a combination of stations broadcasting music, commercials, news, talk shows, and some static noise. These ongoing broadcasts communicate names, places, times, dates, and numbers, and other wordings. When the Ghost Box is used, typical questions are asked, such as, “What is your name?” or “Where are you from?” or “How did you die?” and so on. As the Ghost Box scans through these AM channels it will produce jumbled names, places, and numbers etc. that are commonly broadcast. This is not even “white noise” from which the so-called spirits of the dead or extraterrestrial intelligences speak through. It is merely the broadcasted signals providing the words as they are quickly scanned. Many supporters of the Ghost Box argue that the answers they receive are not random, but are very specific responses to their questions. To explain why this occurs, a few rational explanations can be provided through psychology.
There are a few things people need to consider when using a Ghost Box. In doing so, the so-called responses obtained from the Ghost Box will be better understood. According to psychologists, there is a phenomenon called Pareidolia. It is defined as a type of misperception involving an obscure stimulus (an image or sound), which is perceived as something clear and distinct. This is a common phenomenon in EVP analysis. If this phenomenon is applied to the Ghost Box, it becomes obvious that the responses provided through it are given a greater sense of attention. However, this does not address the argument made that the Ghost Box provides specific responses to questions asked. An explanation for this involves Subjective Validation/Personal Validation Effect, whereby a person will accept a statement or other wording to be correct, or valid. In other words, when a person asks a question during the use of a Ghost Box, they will be paying attention to words reflecting an anticipated response. Any other information that is scanned throughout the AM channels will be ignored. What the Ghost Box amounts to is a condition of cognitive bias!
The Ghost Box is not owed to coincidence alone. This is not what is being suggested here. Instead, something familiar is occurring here in regards to other paranormal hoaxes and frauds that have been documented. In a similar fashion to mediums using Cold Readings, the Ghost Box provides responses that match or are relevant to anticipated answers or statements. What this amounts to is a technique of spiritual deception. Frank Sumption has provided the Ghost Box to various individuals who have used it for such a deceptive purpose. According to various reports, Frank Sumption has made only a few of these special boxes, and only for certain people. These recipients only receive a Ghost Box on the instructions of “spirits” given to Frank Sumption. Again, according to various reports, one such recipient is a man named Chris Moon, who uses the Ghost Box to charge people money in exchange for communication with their recently departed loved ones. This is no different from the techniques used by modern Spiritualists, who exploit grieving people for money.
Despite the rational explanations offered here in this article, the supporters of the Ghost Box argue that it is a scientific device capable of obtaining messages from beyond the grave. Since the Ghost Box is regarded as a form of EVP technology, the supernatural theory is that the spirits of the dead are made-up of energy. It is for this reason that many believe that ghosts can also be detected through EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) detectors. To continue, since EVP is based on electrical signals, ghosts can influence or manipulate electronic devices such as telephones, radios, audio recorders etc. Although EVP is not being questioned here in this article, the Ghost Box is, especially based on the supernatural theory just described here. Previously explored above, Waldemar Bogoras’ unintentional recording of disembodied voices had nothing to do with electronics or electrical energy. His recording was mechanical. It cannot be considered an EVP because it is not electronic/electrical. The OCPRS theory is that perhaps any recording device can be manipulated by demonic entities. For that matter, any object can be manipulated to convince humanity that there is power in objects, enabling people to use those powers in some way. This is not what the promoters of the Ghost Box believe, and naturally, no one expects them to. Technology has become a mask for which unsubstantiated beliefs are sheltered by unscrupulous paranormal practitioners.
Science is once again misapplied to technological applications in the field of paranormal investigations. There are, of course, credible paranormal researchers – who, being objective – are putting the Ghost Box to the test. Perhaps with their testimonies and experiments, further conclusions can be made about the Ghost Box in an objective fashion. However, the OCPRS, Toronto Canada does not accept the explanations or the “science” behind the so-called Ghost Box. In light of the psychological and rational explanations, and how the Ghost Box is being used to exploit people, it is most likely a fake; a FRAUD! All the Ghost Box really accomplishes is to promote unsubstantiated beliefs about the paranormal. In doing so, the direction of those beliefs can be used to manipulate and discredit paranormal research.