Ghosts in the Machines

Everyone has an opinion about ghosts. Although they don’t realise it, more people have a belief in the supernatural than would accept other aspects of the paranormal, such as extra-sensory perception (ESP), cryptozoology (Big Foot, etc), or extraterrestrial life visiting us in UFOs. Why do I say that? Well we live in a largely non-secular world. If someone is religious in any way, they will likely believe in gods, angels, or an afterlife of some sort. These ‘supernatural’ beliefs of a spirit nature are not concepts often aligned with science. The supernatural falls under the blanket of the ‘paranormal’, which just means stuff that science can’t explain yet, or falls out of the usual methods of rigourous experimentation. This is a subject perceived as unscientific. So of course, I created a science show about it.

Look around the next science festival you are at. Notice the parents being dragged by enthused kids from VR experience to strawberry DNA extraction; they often find themselves forgotten and in need of something that appeals to them. Other kids do not develop an appreciation for need to understand science early enough, dismissing the subject as something they are not interested in pursuing. However, these disenfranchised parties come across a show about ‘ghost hunting’. It’s incongruous; something that can’t possibly belong at a science festival, and curiosity is peaked, so they investigate it.

And what do they find? Well, many ‘paranormal investigators’ will venture on a ghost hunt vigil, equipped with much kit, to look for evidence of interaction with ghosts. And they may encounter anomalies in the environment they are in; fluctuations in an electromagnetic field, garbled voices coming through a detuned radio, or experience cold spots. But does that equipment actually reflect evidence of a ghost, or could it be something else?

Likewise, just as equipment can be interpreted in a certain way, so can our own brains. Just how far can we trust our own perceptions as well as our equipment to determine we have evidence? We journey through a ghost hunt environmental, testing the chemistry and physics that can affect our perception. Is what we measure really evidence of ghosts, or something else? How can we become a better ghost hunter by thinking more like a scientist? And how can being a better ghost hunter, help us become more scientific in our thinking and habits?

I guess these are answers you’ll need to experience next time you see this show on the billing.

And don’t worry, we will not be invoking any spirits to join us. This is a family show, but it does have some mildly scary moments in it. Kids doing Key Stage 3 should be okay.