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Ghost Gadgets, Science, and Trying to Interpret the Weird

I can't even stand the word anymore. "Science." I stand at a distance to it in the context of the paranormal, yet it's thrown around like the hottest buzzword of the last 3 centuries. I think we've sold ourselves on the idea that science has all the answers, and as often as science screams back "WE DON'T", we're just not listening. It's safer to assume the world operates the way it does because people far smarter than ourselves have spent lifetimes providing answers and we just keep building on our factual knowledge of the universe from there. It applies to the paranormal the same way; science "knows" this or that, and we build our "facts" from a basis we built for ourselves but apply to everyone. So instead of standing around saying "I use a MelMeter and I note the fluctuations therefore I'm doing science," I figure: use the device and interpret it for yourself, per the context of the situation. I mean, what science are you doing? Where does science even need to factor into that?

Full Dark doesn't science very hard. We wouldn't claim to. While my degrees are in social sciences, I am not remotely a scientist besides the rare baking I do, which results in the oven doing some sort of heatmagic to cookie dough while I step away for 14 minutes at 350 degrees. We use a few more gadgets to investigate now than when we started around 3 years ago. I sold an ovilus back then after programming several Eric Cartman quotes into the audio files, and didn't really think much about the general gadgetry of ghost hunting until last year. Here's the thing though, if we're going to try to experience the paranormal, which has been the primary goal from day one, why would we not try nearly fucking anything to try to experience it? We still won't be providing science, or proof, of anything by using devices. We'll just be witnessing their reactions, and our own, and creating a narrative from our experience. Like anyone.

Recently, we've been diving deep into the use of the ole' ghost box, more early model digital recorders, sometimes a tape recorder (I harbor a love of Mid Century Modern ANYTHING), and EMF meters. If anyone watched the entire catalog of FDP's youtube videos, they'd see a very adamant Amy refusing to use EMF meters for all of 2017 into 2018. That's a fact. I felt I didn't need more than the audio and video components to investigate. I needed those parts to make videos and create the art that hits the channel, and I could have absolutely gone on the same way. There's a massive caveat to that though - I couldn't shake that I was leaving out possibilities that included the ones that come from using various devices. I'm the first to admit I change my mind a lot, and constantly question the validity of any and everything we're doing within the paranormal. I'm skeptical, but hopeful. So I had to open the door to more possibilities instead of stubbornly remaining A/V only.

Don't get me wrong, I've experienced the paranormal with only my eyes and ears before. It's incredible, and more validating than any device on a personal level. I think any ghost hunter who's had a good scare or uncanny experience or two would attest to that as well, and they'd want that type of interaction over anything that comes solely from the beeping of a machine. But what about the way some of these devices can be used? And how much of what happens creates an inexplicable scenario due multiple devices responding at the same time? What about the possibilities?

Here's the thing - if you go out there often enough, you're more likely to witness that ideal, full scenario of device responses in conjunction with something strange - a shadow, an EVP, a DVP, a footstep, sound, knock, scream, etc. It's happened to so many of us in the field, it's very, very hard to ignore.

So I can't.

I can't deny that some of the strangest things that have occurred while investigating where those "full scenarios" where devices and physical, auditory or visual fuckery has happened all together. We use some devices and not others, and we've been able to have a few intense paranormal experiences because of that. We want it to happen, we hope for it. We don't, however, science it up and take data away from these scenarios; we take experiences and footage of those experiences. Even the bad angles. We don't try to chart or plot the beeps and blinks of EMF meters. We don't science all over it when we're done, we cut and edit and score. And we talk, more than anything; about what happened to us during an investigation, and what it could possibly imply. There it is again. Possibilities. There's wonder and curiosity in 'maybe' and 'possibly', and those are the things that keep us going back for more, not for something we think we can prove to the world, let alone contribute to science.

I think I've found that it's okay to entertain and enjoy the maybes that EMF meters, ghost boxes, and a few other things like those can create. I don't have to defend any use (or non use) of particular ghost gadgets either. While we can't hang our hats on devices being absolute instances of paranormal activity, we can enjoy the possibility of what they could add to the full scenarios we always hope will happen when ghost hunting. We can try things, throw things out, be spooked as all get out by some things (hello, Estes Method), and think other things are total hooey (hello, SLS camera).

Full Dark is the art of the experience, and how we choose to experience it. It is not the proving ground or battle field of device usage and throwing the word "science" around for self-importance. Just because the device is based on science (electricity is pretty cool, eh?) doesn't mean anything I do with it is Suddenly Science. (An excellent name for a PBS children's show, btw.) I'm not the scientist, I'm the ghost hunter, FFS. At the end of the day (or a full night's investigation), it all comes down to one big MAYBE anyway.


Stay Creepy,

I'm Amy L. Bennett, a writer, multimedia artist, recovering archaeologist and YouTuber from Upstate, New York. I've been invested in all things strange and unusual since my dad gave me the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy when I was way too young. Along with my fiancé, Ryan, we've explored countless haunted locations in the US and abroad in search of the Weird.
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