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The most disputed paranormal tools of the trade

When it comes to Paranormal devices, we all have our preferences, devices we do use on our regular basis, devices we trust and know we can rely on to gather valid, concrete and scientific evidence.

There is no doubt we would all love to wear proton packs and use a ghost trap to capture ghosts, but unfortunately — or realistically — we do have to use real-life devices.

We live in such a high-tech society that it allows unprecedented advances when it comes to the development of new tools that can be used in the paranormal field research.

Some devices are created for studying the paranormal, while others are built for other fields and were later adopted by paranormal investigators, such as EMF detectors. We all have experience with those, so this is my personal take on the devices that may or may not provide the best results.

The risk involved with using any of the devices is getting data that might not be paranormal in nature, and could be misinterpreted. The paranormal field is in a precarious state due to more and more people, with no experience, trying their hand at paranormal investigation. This leads to too much evidence that is unvalidated through scientific theory.

SLS Camera

A recent addition to the field, the Structured Light Sensor Camera System (SLS) was originally developed as part of the X-Box gaming system. According to Kinect, the camera works through an infrared light projector with a monochrome CMOS sensor that shows everything as dots arranged in 3D formation. These infrared dots allow the camera to show depth and detail. The software “sees” people by recognizing joints and movements. It will detect paranormal entities that the program recognizes as human shapes.

My reservations regarding this device are due to that it was developed as part of a gaming system. It allegedly detects human shapes and displays them on screen but there is no evidence, nor are there any scientific studies to back up the idea.

In my mind, this is just for entertainment purposes and should not be regarded as confirmation of paranormal activity.

Flashlight experiment

The flashlight experiment is unfortunately used quite often in many TV Shows and is therefore seen by viewers as an investigative staple, despite it does not provide evidence of communication.

It is nothing but a trick that has been disproved many times.

Here is the general explanation behind it: When you turn on the flashlight, the bulb will start to generate heat and the reflective cone will start to heat up. As it does so, the reflector will start to expand and inflate in size.

If you unscrew the top of the flashlight, even slightly, just enough for the light to go off, the reflector will start to cool down. When it does, the change in temperature will cause the metal inside the flashlight to expand and contract, creating random on and off contact, therefore, causing the light to randomly turn on and off.


The pendulum has been used in dowsing practices for centuries.

The idea is that you would hold it straight, ask yes-or-no questions and after setting up parameters such as swing to the right for yes or left for no.

In terms of the pendulum used as a dowsing rod, it is believed that the pendulum would detect either water or minerals. However, there is no scientific evidence that confirms the validity of that claim.

Moreover, we do know that the ideomotor phenomenon (IMR) is what is the most likely behind the pseudo results obtained with a pendulum.

The term ideomotor was first introduced by William Benjamin Carpenter in a scientific paper in 1852. He explained that muscular movement could be originated independently from conscious desire. Also known as the Carpenter effect, the term later evolved from ideomotor to ideo-dynamic in 1854 to try to cover a larger range of applications.

It was proven on numerous occasions that even small movements or oscillations are sufficient to be derived into larger pendulum motions. Pendulums are to be written off, though. They can be used in addition to other devices such as EMF detectors, EVP recorders, or photography.

Phone apps

Nowadays, there is a phone app for pretty much everything, from ordering your food, to track your phone or find your car.

So, it is no surprise that the paranormal field saw a plethora of paranormal apps pop up over the years. From photo to video to EMF recorders and even an ouija board, the range of apps varies from useful to gimmicky. So, you really need to tread carefully if you want to go an app and use it for paranormal investigating.

My take is that you don’t need an app. Most phones have media recording as a basic function. You don’t need anything else.

The risk involved with apps is either capturing disingenuous evidence generated by the app for entertainment purposes. Or you run the risk of altering a piece of evidence to the point that it is no longer original. The only alteration I do, for reviewing purpose, is to switch from colour to black and white, as it sometimes that can help provide a better perspective.

However, even when doing that, paranormal investigators have to be careful as this change could increase the risk of pareidolia — the tendency for the mind to create recognizable shapes from a random visual pattern. The best evidence is best kept untouched.

I am not questioning the validity of these tools, as some investigators do get results with them. I am suggesting that if paranormal investigators want to use them, they should use them in conjunction with other devices, to back up your evidence with several sources.

The more evidence you get through various sources, the better your ability to assess a paranormal situation.

The paranormal research field is still progressing when it comes to technology. I am confident that we will see incredible results in terms of technological advances, which will be advantageous in the collection of evidence and helpful in being recognized by the scientific community.

There will be trials and errors testing devices and determining their application to the paranormal field but this will allow us to be better equipped in the future.

Anton J. Buchberger is the founder and lead investigator for Edmonton’s Pandemonium Paranormal. He’s been investigating the uncanny for 11 years.

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