THE “GHOST” BOX DELUSION

Posted on June 11, 2012

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By: Demetrius (Co-Founder of the OCPRS)

Not long ago, Richard Syrett of the Conspircay Show (from 740 AM radio) contacted the Catholic Paranormal Research Society. Mr. Syrett was producing a show on the subject of Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP), and other methods of Inter-Transcommunication (ITC) used to communicate with the dead. In particular, it was the “Ghost” Box, which was of interest. Unfortunately, the CPRS was unable to accommodate Mr. Syrett and provide sceptical perspectives on certain matters. The CPRS has already addressed the “Ghost” Box in a previous article, but it seems as though more must be said about both the subject of communicating with the dead, along with other technologies thought to enable people to converse with the dead.

Public interest in the “Ghost” Box has obviously grown rather than diminished. It is for this reason that the CPRS will re-examine, and provide a broader range of details to help people understand how the “Ghost” Box works. In addition to how it works, other often ignored considerations will be presented. The most obvious consideration presented herein is to help people recognize how technology can serve as the means whereby people enter new age and occult philosophies and practices. The pseudo-science used to explore the paranormal often involves non-Christian beliefs and practices. Yet, most people engaged in so-called “research” of the paranormal do not recognize this fact. For this reason, when the CPRS presents the Christian perspectives and beliefs on paranormal subjects there is often a negative reaction from those believing themselves to be “objectively” examining the same phenomena. The purpose of the CPRS is to provide rational explanations, and to present Christian perspectives to incidents thought to be – or which are – paranormal.

How The “Ghost” Box Works

The inventor of the “Ghost” Box – Frank Sumption – describes his box as a “White Noise” generator making use of what he prefers to call “raw-audio.” This “raw-audio” utilizes both broadcasting and non-broadcasting channels/stations from which “aliens”/“spirits” form their responses or messages to the living. The box is essentially a radio, which can operate on either Amplitude Modulation (AM) or Frequency Modulation (FM), and does indeed make use of both broadcasting and non-broadcasting channels/stations. Essentially, the “Ghost” Box scans through the various channels/stations from which anyone listening will hear a combination of static (from the non-broadcasting channels) and fragments of words and other sounds (from those channels actively broadcasting). White Noise is commonly associated to static sound, such as the noise created by a television or radio that is turned on but does not receive a signal. According to Webster’s Dictionary, White Noise is defined as: “a random noise consisting of a uniform frequency, over a wide range of frequencies.” Mr. Sumption believes that the static noise combined with the words or sounds heard on broadcasting channels/stations as they are quickly scanned, qualify as White Noise. The problem is that the “raw-audio” defined by Mr. Sumption is not White Noise.

The “Ghost” Box designed by Mr. Sumption also includes a dial used to control the sweep or scan rate, whereby the speed through which each channel/station is scanned can be controlled. In other words, the so-called White Noise can be manipulated or adjusted. Why the word manipulated is used here is due to how the broadcasting channels/stations can be utilized to generate the words anticipated by a “Ghost” Box user. The voices do not occur from the White Noise.

There are other devices used by paranormal enthusiasts – such as the Radio Shack Hack Box – which can be altered to function similarly to the “Ghost” Box. The only difference between these hacked boxes and the “Ghost” Box is that the sweep or scan across the various channels/stations cannot be controlled. The hack versions simply scan at uncontrollable rates of speed. Among different Hack Boxes observed, the rate of speed varied, and some provided nothing but static noise, while others did include some broadcasting channels/stations.

What Actually Happens When the “Ghost” Box Is Used?

Radio broadcasts consist of a variety of programming – music, talk shows/interviews, news and weather reports, commercials, and so on. Radio content is very diverse. Throughout the variety of programs, there are countless varieties of language utilized – in this case, words. The variety is truly enormous. These words consist of adjectives, verbs, nouns, etc. In addition to descriptive words, actions, and names, there are also numeric values provided, such as dates, time, temperatures, prices, and so on. As a sweep or scan of each channel/station takes places, the broadcasting channels/stations – consisting of a variety of programming – provide an immense selection of words and numeric values. The “White Noise” which is supposed to provide the words utilized by “aliens”/”spirits” when communicating with the living, are actually the sounds obtained from broadcasting channels/stations, and not the static noise of non-broadcasting channels/stations. However, there are other factors involved in this process which serve to further complicate and produce a delusion among those who are only too eager to use the “Ghost” Box.

When a “Ghost” Box sweeps or scans the various broadcasting channels/stations, entire words can be heard and sometimes even a few words at a time. Most often, however, words are fragmented. The “Ghost” Box designed by Frank Sumption utilizes the sweep or scan dial to slow down the rate of speed whereby each station is scanned. The Hack Box does not have this advantage and most often produces fragmented words, but this is not a common problem among all Hack Boxes. This depends on how the radio is adjusted. Some Hack Boxes sweep or scan quickly past broadcasting channels/stations, while others experience brief moments of halting before resuming to scan. Regardless, the “Ghost” Box design of Mr. Sumption intentionally provides a dial to control the rate of speed the stations are scanned. The sweep or scan can be controlled to give the impression that “White Noise” is occurring, but when a question is asked the sweep or scan dial is used to slow down the rate of speed, and in this way recognizable words can be heard. Keeping all these factors in mind there are additional considerations. For now, consider the CPRS’s definitions for Subjective Validation and Pereidolia.

SUBJECTIVE VALIDATION/PERSONAL VALIDATION EFFECT – As identified in the other CPRS article concerning the “Ghost” Box, Subjective Validation is a form of cognitive bias whereby a person will acknowledge some form of information – in this case, words – to have significance. In cases involving the “Ghost” Box, a question requires an answer that has meaning to the “Ghost” Box user.

PEREIDOLIA – Also presented in the previous CPRS article exploring how the “Ghost” Box works, Pereidolia is applied to instances whereby a fragmented word or sound is acknowledged as information which cannot be substantiated. In other words, a sound acknowledged as a recognizable word by the “Ghost” Box user listening to responses to their questions.

How Subjective Validation & Pereidolia occur during “Ghost” Box Sessions:

In the many samples of “evidence” presented to the CPRS by “Ghost” Box enthusiasts, both Subjective Validation and Pereidolia can account for those individuals and groups who are under the delusion of speaking with “aliens/“spirits.” Of course, not every case presented to the CPRS is identical, and therefore there are instances in which both Subjective Validation and Pereidolia are a factor, while others are strict cases of Pereidolia, and so on.

In cases of Subjective Validation words are anticipated and acknowledged in various ways. For example, some questions often dictate specific or anticipated responses. One such question that is common to communication with “spirits” is, “Is there anyone else there with you?” Such questions can be considered close-ended questions. Such questions limit the range of responses. “Yes” and/or “No” are often anticipated responses to close-ended questions. There are also questions which generate a set of varied responses, otherwise known as open-ended questions. For example, “How did you die?” Keeping in mind the numerous varieties of broadcasting programs, responses may be obtained from a talk show about current events, or news updates. During such radio programs, words such as “police,” “robbery,” “shooting,” “stabbing,” are regularly reported. Other types of news reports may include weather updates, and words such as “storm,” “tornado,” “hurricane,” “flooding,” may be encountered. Other considerations also include much more common forms of news updates, and words such as “accident,” “traffic,” “fire,” may be encountered. These words are presented here due to the fact that they are commonly encountered on talk shows, and especially on news reports. The reality is that there are countless more words being broadcasted. However, where Subjective Validation is concerned, such words have special significance in accordance to the question asked: “How did you die?” Using such a question, words which do not reflect an anticipated response – or a response which can be contextualized to the question asked – are ignored. Words such as “free,” “sale,” or “prices,” hold no meaning since they may not be easily reconciled to the question asked. This is one way in which Subjective Validation works. An even better example may include a question such as, “How old were you when you died?” Here, a numeric value is anticipated. Radio broadcasts commonly mention numeric values for a variety of reasons – telephone numbers, temperatures, the time, addresses, dates, product prices, etc. The probability of hearing a numeric value was much higher in some of the tests conducted by the CPRS.

The technology – “Ghost” Box – provides a variety of words and/or numeric values, and simply becomes the means whereby the anticipated responses are delivered. Indeed, there is nothing paranormal occurring when considering how Subjective Validation works. In the majority of samples of “evidence” presented to the CPRS, a vast majority of words were ignored by the “Ghost” Box user who would only acknowledge words meaningful to the question(s) asked. In other words, Subjective Validation causes a “Ghost” Box user to become highly selective among the sounds or words heard. The “Ghost” Box user is subjectively listening for a response which makes sense.

When the sweep or scan of the “Ghost” Box encounters a broadcasting channel/station, it does not always encounter entire and clearly audible words. Instead, many words are fragmented. The sweep or scan may encounter a word – such as “accident” – at the beginning, middle, or ending. For example, using the word “accident,” a “Ghost” Box user may hear “acci…” rather than the entire word, “accident.” When such fragmented words are encountered, the mind attempts to interpret what was heard. Hypothetically, and to help people understand what is being stressed here, the first part of the word “accident” (or “acci…”) may be interpreted as the word “axe,” since they sound alike. Once again, using the question, “How did you die?” the fragmented word “acci…” may be confused for the word “axe” simply because such a response can be reconciled to the question asked. What occurs here is a form of Auditory Pereidolia with aspects of Subjective Validation. The word is misheard and incorrectly interpreted. Of course, this is partly due to the type of question asked, and partly owed to the fact that the sweep or scan only encountered a fragmented word.

It would seem as though the question(s) influences whether Subjective Validation or Pereidolia are involved. On the other hand, the technology itself introduces these problems. Yet, there are also strict cases of Pereidolia. In such cases, the “Ghost” Box user is solely responsible for creating words from sounds that are otherwise unrecognizable. In some cases observed by the CPRS, various sounds were interpreted as words, although there really was no word. This problem is also common in many Electronic Voice Phenomenon – or EVP – experiences, and is not an exclusive problem occurring only with the “Ghost” Box.

When Subjective Validation and Pereidolia are not evident there is also the common mistake of contextualizing words that are heard incorrectly. For example, there are many words which sound alike, but have entirely different meanings. Words such as soul/sole, hire/higher, fair/fare, and so on. The written form of these words distinguish one from the other, but when heard by a “Ghost” Box user, such words cannot be properly identified. Without the appropriate context for what is heard, there is a form of cognitive bias occurring, although it is not necessarily Subjective Validation or Pereidolia that is involved.

Whether words are heard in their entirety, or whether they are fragmented, it is ultimately how they are contextualized in accordance to the questions asked by the “Ghost” Box user. In other words, both Subjective Validation and Pereidolia can be influenced by the type of question asked. These problems are further complicated, especially by how the auditory sense can become impaired. Ultimately, how the mind interacts with the intended purpose of the technology in question – the “Ghost” Box – can easily produce powerful delusions.

How the “Ghost” Box Works According to Frank Sumption

Having presented the rational explanations, it is equally important to understand how the creator of the “Ghost” Box describes the intended method of operation for his creation. In one of his responses to the CPRS’s article Ghost Box Fraud, Mr. Sumption stated,

“The use of the box that I recommend is to record, do not ask questions, as this biases the mind to create/look for those answers, then listen from tape—yeah analog tape is what I prefer.”

According to this description, the “Ghost” Box is left to sweep the various channels/stations, and White Noise. The session is recorded. There are no questions asked in order to engage in a dialogue with the “aliens”/”spirits” thought to communicate with the living. Unlike the multitude of “Ghost” Box enthusiasts who actively engage in what they believe to be a dialogue with “spirits,” Mr. Sumption’s description contradicts the initial claims of interacting with the spirit world. If his description is indeed the correct methodology then why do the vast majority of “Ghost” Box users treat the device like a telephone to the spirit world? When Mr. Sumption first introduced his invention to other paranormal enthusiasts he certainly did not object to it being used for the purpose of communicating with the dead.

Like other forms of technology used to interact with the spirit world the “Ghost” Box is slowly replacing the Ouija Board in popularity among paranormal researchers and paranormal enthusiasts alike. Both the “Ghost” Box and Ouija Board are similar in purpose; ask a question, receive a response. Popular culture and the numerous non-Christian beliefs and practices of the occult are deeply embedded in most paranormal theories and beliefs. The “Ghost” Box was absorbed into the paranormal community according to how people have traditionally engaged the spirit world – the séance, Ouija Board, trances, and of course ITC. Ever since the mid-19th century paranormal phenomena has been strongly influenced by modern spiritualism and technology. The “Ghost” Box and other recent introductions of technology used to explore the paranormal world have become intertwined into the world view according to those influences and standards set forth by spiritualists and so-called physical researchers. As for the intended method described by Frank Sumption, the CPRS believes Mr. Sumption’s methodology to be the intended method for using his invention. Unfortunately, the influences extending throughout the paranormal community have overlooked his methodology in favor of those beliefs and practices emerging from the relationship established through modern spiritualism and physical research. This raises another concern. Is the use of the “Ghost” Box being confused for science?

The rational explanations do suggest that the “Ghost” Box has become a pseudo-scientific instrument used to communicate with “spirits.” Like physical researchers of the past, “Ghost” Box users are much more comfortable labeling their practices as science rather than a form of spiritualism. At the core of their beliefs and practices, “Ghost” Box users have themselves adopted various aspects of spiritualism and the standards of 19th century physical researchers. The fact that the “Ghost” Box is used for the purpose of communicating with the dead, and for the fact that the majority of “Ghost” Box users ignore the reasonable recommendations of Mr. Sumption, the technology itself has degenerated into a practice of spiritualism. It is for this reason that the CPRS prefers to call “Ghost” Box users, “ITC-Spiritualists.”

When Rational Explanations Do Not Apply:

What about instances whereby the “Ghost” Box produces results falling outside the rational explanations provided here? The technology itself has no special powers. Why then does it seem to work for some people? The answers to these questions are many, but only through those answers provided with a Christian perspective can there be any worthwhile explanation considered by those identifying themselves as Christians.

Having compared the “Ghost” Box to the Ouija Board, it is not difficult to see why such a comparison is problematic, and yet justified. As a means to engage in a dialogue with “spirits” both the “Ghost” Box and Ouija Board provide the motivation. Like any instrument – primitive or otherwise – the intent to communicate with the dead should be of concern since such a practice is a prohibited act according to the Church. The Ouija Board is directly associated to séance-like practices, but the “Ghost” Box is presented as a scientific tool. Such assumptions, between the two objects, impairs people from recognizing why the “Ghost” Box may produce results. It is the intent to communicate with the dead, which seems to measure the success of the “Ghost” Box, and not the technology itself. For instance, the Latvian researcher of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), Konstantin Raudive, successfully – and under clinical conditions – was able to capture the voices of “spirits.” Yet, even in his highly popular book, Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead, it is not the technology entirely responsible for the success of any recorded messages from the spirit world. The presence of a medium/psychic is noted as improving the success in any such recordings. Long before audio recording technology existed, communication with the dead has always been a practice belonging to non-Christian religions and occult philosophies/practices. Recording technology simply stumbled upon a phenomenon, of which people wrongfully credited the technology for discovering. The technology simply made communication with “spirits” widely accessible by providing another means.

In his book Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, Fr. Seraphim Rose identifies how modern-day phenomena can easily manipulate people with the desire to gain entrance into the world beyond our own. According to Fr. Rose, humanity has become “ready in an instant and unquestioningly to believe and follow hardly-disguised demons wherever they might lead.” He noted this observation about UFO phenomena, and although not directly explaining EVP, the technology of the modern age has itself become a phenomenon whereby demons exploit people and lead them into spiritual ruin. This is not an absurd notion, especially if one considers that even the pioneers of EVP – Konstantin Raudive – have acknowledged the higher probability for success when mediums/psychics are involved. The CPRS can’t help but recognize the intent to communicate with “spirits” as a dominant factor to any measured success. The receptiveness of demons drawn to such intent is well documented in the experiences of the Church. When the “Ghost” Box provides results outside the rational explanations, what must be acknowledged in any authentic case, is the intent, and not the technology.

Many people may find such perspectives to be absurd, but objects like the Ouija Board, and the “Ghost” Box have been successfully accepted by those desiring to speak with the dead. The CPRS believes that if demons are responsible for authentic cases, there must also be a reason for any such deception to occur. In this case, the “Ghost” Box may not only draw people into the prohibited practice of communicating with the dead, but will have such people spread the false teachings and practices to others. In doing so, the desires to spiritually pollute people – desired by demons – are successfully transmitted to unsuspecting people who believe they are communicating with the souls of the departed. In fact, the CPRS has observed a variety of non-Christian world views described by those “Ghost” Box users who have protested the CPRS’s conclusions regarding how the “Ghost” Box actually works. Most did not leave their names, especially since most protests against the CPRS were combined with threats and vulgar insults. However, much more publicly known examples are readily identified through people like Chris Moon, and even Frank Sumption himself.

Frank Sumption eagerly and freely shared his invention with others, and still does today. The CPRS believes he does so in order to connect with like-minded individuals rather than to convert people to his own personal beliefs. Furthermore, the CPRS does believe Mr. Sumption is sincere in his views, although misguided. Evidence of such misguidance is when he introduced the “Ghost” Box to a man named Chris Moon. In one of his responses to the CPRS, Mr. Sumption expressed,

“I do very much regret showing it [the “Ghost” Box] to Chris Moon so he could take it public.”

Unlike the methodology described by Mr. Sumption, Chris Moon operates the “Ghost” Box in the same way most “Ghost” Box users do – in a séance-like dialogue with “spirits.” In all likelihood, it was Chris Moon’s method that influenced the majority of “Ghost” Box users. Having appeared on the television program Paranormal State, Chris Moon has made the “Ghost” Box extremely popular, and paranormal enthusiasts were very eager to take up this so-called telephone to the dead. Chris Moon promotes himself as both a paranormal investigator and medium, through which the “Ghost” Box he uses, enables him to communicate with the dead. He is a prime example of an ITC-Spiritualist. Unlike most other people experimenting with the “Ghost” Box, Chris Moon does not strictly credit the technology with any special powers. Instead, the “Ghost” Box is an instrument allowing him to channel “spirits” through his own natural abilities. The relationship between his so-called abilities and the technology are intertwined. The outcome of having introduced the “Ghost” Box to Chris Moon has damaged and side-lined Mr. Sumption’s credibility.

The regret for having introduced the “Ghost” Box to Chris Moon has left Mr. Sumption in a position where he needed to exclude the more common séance-like dialogue methodology. The consequences of having done so only contradicted his initial claims of holding two-way communication with “aliens”/”spirits.” Despite this, he did not desire to have his invention or himself associated with blatant spiritualism. Unlike most ITC-Spiritualists, Mr. Sumption does not limit his invention to speaking with the dead, but includes extraterrestrial intelligences. His beliefs concerning the afterlife are not explicitly clear, but in various responses to the first CPRS article, Mr. Sumption has provided some details. For instance, in one of his responses he identified his belief that the souls of the departed maintain their memories, ability to think, and so forth. Yet, the “Ghost” Box was not limited to receiving messages from the dead, but from other entities. Interestingly, he does not identify these other entities as demons. The Christian world view is not something Mr. Sumption seems to take into account. Despite his very non-Christian views about the afterlife, there are key differences between Mr. Sumption and other ITC Spiritualists. Unlike Chris Moon who promotes his medium/psychic abilities alongside the “Ghost” Box, Mr. Sumption is very clear about his device having no special capabilities other than providing “raw-audio.” It is his claim that the “raw-audio” assists “aliens”/”spirits” to construct the messages he hears through his boxes. ITC Spiritualists like Mr. Sumption fail to recognize that it is not the technology enabling communication with “spirits.” What they fail to see is that it truly is their intent. The technology serves as the motivation. Between ITC Spiritualists like Chris Moon and Mr. Sumption, the differences are minor, but what remains consistently the same is the intent, not the technology.

Conclusions:

Interestingly, the CPRS has never received “evidence” from among “Ghost” Box users claiming to have spoken with saints or angels. Neither has the CPRS been able to locate any “Ghost” Box recording claiming contact with either saints or angels. Not surprisingly, serious “Ghost” Box practitioners have never claimed to communicate with Jesus Christ. With countless claims of having penetrated the spiritual world, why are “Ghost” Box users not capable of communicating with the heavenly inhabitants? This question should raise concern among anyone who sincerely believes that they are communicating with “spirits” using a “Ghost” Box. One “Ghost” Box user suggested that the lack of contact with saints or angels suggests that the spiritual world defined by the Church is wrong. Of course, the CPRS response was that saints and angels do not engage in dialogue with non-believers in the way demons readily and often do.

Limited to communicating with what are believed to be the spirits of the dead, or “aliens,” people are becoming severely delusional, believing they can define the spiritual world through the use of a radio. There is an abundance of evidence available from the CPRS supporting the view that demonic influences are behind such phenomena. Unfortunately, ITC Spiritualists refuse to see any truth in the Church. Indeed, the Church holds no truth for such people, but somehow a radio does.

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