Do you know EMF? No, not the band that did the song 'Unbelievable' (which for one odd moment I thought was 'Supernatural' and even started singing it that way. I'm laughing just remembering that). I'm referring to Electro Magnetic Fields.
Please try to contain your excitement.
EMFs are fields created by electrical current. You know power lines, house wiring, electrical equipment like microwaves, computers, cars, and...well...basically everything we use on a daily basis with the exception of pencils. Don't worry, I'm sure those will be automated soon enough.
In a nutshell, EMFs are the force that surround any electronic object. The stronger the electronic current, the stronger the field surrounding it. You get the idea. I have faith in your intelligence.
Why, you may ask, am I bringing this up? Because Michael Persinger, the head of the Consciousness Research Lab at Laurentian University in Canada (always Canada) thinks the current upswing in supernatural phenomenon may, in fact, be caused by EMF. He tracks the sudden surge in ghost stories, paranormal activity and spiritual experiences to the invention and increased use of electricity.
Allow me to clarify. He does not think that ghosts are trying to come through or communicate with us through electrical currents. What he proposes is even more disturbing: That certain concentrated and specific patterns of EMFs can cause us to hallucinate. Those unseen presences some people feel? Just high levels of unshielded EMFs distorting what we are sensing. Those blurry blobs floating across the room? Just EMF fucking with the visual part of our frontal lobes.
He even has a crew to go out to investigate with a whole truck load of EMF detection equipment. One story has a couple claiming to have felt a 'presence' in the room and even felt something touching their feet while they laid in bed. The crew got there and found extra high concentrations of EMF in that very spot at the end of their bed. The house was found to be a fire hazard with multiple appliances plugged into one outlet and extension cords snaking around the house. More electric current, higher EMF.
But there's more (hold your applause). Persinger even thinks the earth's natural EMF can be a contributing cause. He went back and tracked 37 years worth of ghost stories and found a correlation between the earth's natural EMF fluctuations and an increase in people seeing ghosts or experiencing supernatural phenomenon. And even better, he thinks this may result in many religious experiences or 'God sightings' as well. Think of that. God is energy. Maybe that's what the religious freaks mean when they say 'God is all around us'.
What does this mean? I thought it meant what I believed all along. That ghost stories can always be explained. I'm not much for paranormal activity, even if it does make a good movie. I'm a rational thinker and believe anything can be explained on a scientific level. Or in a lot of these cases, a con artist level. Yes, that extends to religious 'miracles', too.
To prove his theory, Persinger even set up a 'haunt room' in his lab. He places a person in there and bombards them with mild and differing EMFs to reproduce paranormal experiences. So far, he's managed to do so on over 80% of the people he's tested. One even felt 'something get a hold of my leg and pull it, distort it, and drag it up the wall'.* He even places EEGs over the person's head to track brain activity, then covers that with a bandana and helmet (he calls it the 'God Helmet').
Sadly, just as I thought I had found a new hero, Persinger is not a debunker of supernatural phenomenon. He has left open the possibility that EMFs may allow our brains to become more open to otherworldly spirits. That maybe EMFs aren't the cause but a portal to something else. He's skeptical, of course, and I guess it's admirable he's keeping an open mind.
Still, I think his theory and resulting tests go a long way towards explaining what many think is unexplainable. It's human nature to put some sort of religious or supernatural cause to things we can't figure or don't make sense. Plus, people believe what they want to believe, regardless of the evidence in front of them.
So next time Casper comes visiting your bedroom, just tell him you're onto his Electro Magnetic ass. Then make sure your microwave isn't still on defrost.
* I first read about Persinger in 'Spook - Science Tackles the Afterlife' by Mary Roach. She even volunteered for the 'Haunting Room', but only heard police sirens in the sound proof room. It's an engaging and entertaining read.
Today's distraction: Check out the Shadow Lands Ghost Picture Gallery. I would particularly like to point out the second picture down that says the photographer 'couldn't explain the fog'. Yeah, by the looks it isn't fog, but cigarette smoke. Fucking boob!
If you scroll to the bottom there are other pages you get to. I love the ones that show a mysterious skeleton or monster face in the background. Then you realize they're taking pictures of their kids in HALLOWEEN COSTUMES!! Or the 'Orbs' that are obviously moisture on the lens or, you know, the moon.