Friday, October 30, 2009

Scientifically Haunted House Suggests You’re a Sucker

Wired Science: "Fake blood, canned screams and plastic skeletons are fun, but if you want a real haunted house, turn to scientists.
To test whether it’s possible to artificially induce paranormal experiences — or, from a different perspective, to technologically summon a spirit — researchers at London’s Goldsmith College and architect Usman Haque designed a scientifically haunted room.
They were inspired by earlier studies in which test subjects reported contact with the phantasmic when exposed to electromagnetic fields and waves of infrasound.
This hasn’t just taken place in the laboratory. Odd EMF fields have been recorded at reputedly haunted castles. And geomagnetic flux caused by shifting tectonic plates reportedly produces surges in poltergeist sightings. Meanwhile, infrasound waves below the level of human hearing have been linked to visitation.
Of course, ghosts — which 40 percent of the American public claim to believe in — are only one possible explanation. Perhaps people feel something, and what they call “haunting” is their uniquely sensitive power of perception. Maybe they’re just suggestible.
So Christopher French, head of Goldsmith’s Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit and editor of the Skeptic magazine, built the haunted room: a white, wood-frame canvas tent 9 feet in diameter, located in the front room of a London row house. It was entirely featureless, but hidden speakers cast infrasound waves like those measured in supposedly-haunted Coventry Cathedral. Other speakers projected sound waves that produced an electromagnetic frequency used in laboratory stimulation of paranormal feeling.
Each field’s range was focused in a different part of the room, and some areas were field-free. If haunting indeed had a wavelength, then people would ostensibly report unusual experiences in the target areas."

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