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June 19, 2009 11:36 AM   Subscribe

The objective of the experiment was to determine whether infrasonic frequencies and magnetic field fluctuations similar to those found in supposedly "haunted" spaces can elicit physiological or psychological effects similar to those experienced in "hauntings".
posted by Pope Guilty (39 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.
posted by The World Famous at 11:38 AM on June 19, 2009 [14 favorites]


Statistics are currently being carried out on the data and will not be fully known until the end of November 2005.

So... Anyone know how this turned out?
posted by selenized at 11:42 AM on June 19, 2009


Responses from participants included a "sense of presence", "chills on the spine", "uneasiness in a particular part of the room", "dizziness", "glowing ball" hallucinations, seeing flies in the chamber, auditory hallucination of somebody coughing in various parts of the chamber and sensations of mist; though it is not clear yet what the causal relationship is since some of these sensations were reported in the chamber when neither the infrasonic nor the magnetic field equipment was switched on.

Holy crap. All they need is someone with a night-vision camera and they've got FOX's new fall hit!

Fascinating stuff.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:43 AM on June 19, 2009


I have a theory that the ax-grinding sound in my head is being generated by...

...someone in this...very...room!!!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:44 AM on June 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Anyone know how this turned out?
Preliminary findings here.
posted by Abiezer at 11:45 AM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lisa: [spots Dr. Gould running up] Hah! Here's Dr. Gould now. What
were the results professor?
Dr. Gould: Inconclusive.
Lisa: Inconclusive! Then why did you run up like that!
Dr. Gould: [embarassed] Can I use your bathroom?
posted by anazgnos at 11:45 AM on June 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


So... Anyone know how this turned out?

Here's the abstract.
posted by Pants! at 11:49 AM on June 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


So... Anyone know how this turned out?

I could tell you, but first I will need an old priest and a young priest.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:50 AM on June 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


I could tell you, but first I will need an old priest and a young priest.

I swear, if you start singing that Sting song, I'm going to punch you right in the face.
posted by The World Famous at 11:51 AM on June 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


Infrasonic, huh. Did anyone shit their pants?
posted by exogenous at 11:51 AM on June 19, 2009


Here's the abstract.

More people need to set up Bugmenot accounts for academic websites.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:56 AM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's the abstract.

I just did a whois check on that IP and it says the server is located inside my own house!
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:59 AM on June 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


That new Ghostbusters game is pretty bad-ass.
posted by LordSludge at 12:04 PM on June 19, 2009


the Australian Sheep–Goat Scale

WHAT
posted by elfgirl at 12:04 PM on June 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


I just skimmed the article that Abiezer linked to above. Here are some relevant tidbits:

In each case, on both EXIT scale and floor plan, the only significant predictor of the number of unusual experiences reported was the TLS score. EMF condition, infrasound condition and ASGS scores were not significantly related to either measure and neither, crucially, was the hypothesised interaction between EMF condition and TLS scores.

Many of the participants in this experiment reported experiencing mildly anomalous sensations. To this extent, we can indeed claim some success in building a haunted room. It is possible that the experimental set-up used in this study (a quiet, round, cool, dimly lit, featureless white room) may have constituted a form of mild perceptual deprivation that was sufficient to induce a hallucinatory altered state of consciousness in some participants...However, the degree to which these anomalous sensations were reported was unrelated to the experimental conditions employed. Given that all participants were informed in advance that they might experience unusual sensations whilst in the chamber (in line with the ethical requirements of informed consent), the most parsimonious explanation of our findings is in terms of suggestibility. Such an explanation is supported by the fact that TLS scores, known to correlate with suggestibility (Granqvist et al., 2005), significantly predicted both the total number of anomalous experiences reported on the floor plan and the scores on the EXIT scale.


In plainer English:

The setup. People were placed in 4 different environments in the experiment: EMF but no infrasound; infrasound but no EMF; both; neither. If their hypothesis was correct, we would expect more people (in a statistically significant sense) in the EMF and/or infrasound rooms to report strange sensations. In addition, we would expect those who were most susceptible (had a highest 'TLS score') to be most responsive to these effects.

The result. Many people reported strange sensations, but not to a (statistically significant) higher degree in the environments that included EMF and/or infrasound than not.

Their interpretation. The experimental setup itself (being placed in a small, dimly lit room, and told that you might experience strange sensations), and not EMF or infrasound, was responsible for the subjects' perceptions. Basically, if you place people in an unusual environment and tell people that it is haunted, the more suggestible ones are more likely to feel strangely.
posted by googly at 12:08 PM on June 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


In each case, on both EXIT scale and floor plan, the only significant predictor of the number of unusual experiences reported was the TLS score.

Times Literary Supplement? The Least Skeptical? Totally, Like, Stoopid? Trained Like Seals?
posted by pracowity at 12:16 PM on June 19, 2009


So, they didn't succeed in opening a portal to the other side using EMF or infrasound? That's a relief. Two less things I need to ban from my house (the others beign ouija boards and old betamax players).
posted by jabberjaw at 12:17 PM on June 19, 2009


elfgirl: I know!

"the Australian Sheep–Goat Scale, a widely used measure of belief in and experience of the paranormal".

Ok, sure, here's a PDF.

Nary a mention of sheep or goats.
posted by malphigian at 12:21 PM on June 19, 2009


Sheep/goat scale.
posted by exogenous at 12:34 PM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Their interpretation. The experimental setup itself (being placed in a small, dimly lit room, and told that you might experience strange sensations), and not EMF or infrasound, was responsible for the subjects' perceptions. Basically, if you place people in an unusual environment and tell people that it is haunted, the more suggestible ones are more likely to feel strangely.

They could prove this, of course, by bringing in other subjects and simply having them hang out in the space under some pretext, and see if they reported anything unusual. I wish they'd taken that extra step.
posted by anastasiav at 12:35 PM on June 19, 2009


pracowity: from the cortexjournal link: “The third [questionnaire] was Persinger's Personal Philosophy Inventory, although only the items that constitute the Temporal Lobe Signs (TLS) Inventory sub-scale were scored. These items deal with psychological experiences typically associated with temporal lobe epilepsy but normally distributed throughout the general population.”
posted by hattifattener at 12:35 PM on June 19, 2009


anastasiav: Probably wouldn't be allowed by the human subjects review peeps. "Informed consent", ethical standards, all that.
posted by hattifattener at 12:37 PM on June 19, 2009


So, they didn't succeed in opening a portal to the other side using EMF or infrasound?

If you use them both together you get the smash hit "Unbelievable".

you're always asking what it's all about, so listen to my replies...
MetaFilter: You're Unbelievable
posted by GuyZero at 1:05 PM on June 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm still holding out for dry-cleaning bags filled with marsh gas.
posted by Kinbote at 1:14 PM on June 19, 2009


Also, Ed Warren might be slightly delayed.
posted by Kinbote at 1:16 PM on June 19, 2009


So now all we need to do is:

1. Figure out how to induce Teh Scary
2. Hook up a wii-mote to a faux camera case
3. Make a new version of Fatal Frame

Shudder.
posted by yeloson at 1:22 PM on June 19, 2009


I was waiting for someone in an empty office building after dark once and had an experience with infrasound. I'm hanging out in an empty hallway, and I get a creepy feeling. I can't quite place it. Empty, echoing halls, dimmed lights...and when I go up that particular darkened stairwell, the feel gets stronger and stronger as I go up. It was a sort of vague unease. That's when I notice the air circulation vent in the ceiling at the top of the stairs. Air handlers and vents can develop resonances that produce infrasound.

I'd just read not more than a few months before about infrasound's supposed triggering of creepy feelings, so it's possible it was just a confirmation bias kind of thing. Still, I think there's some basis for linking infrasound and feelings of hauntedness, and I score a big ol' zero on the sheep-goat test above.
posted by echo target at 1:25 PM on June 19, 2009


The keynote speaker at a paranormal conference takes the stage. Before his speech he asks the audience "Please raise your hand if you believe in ghosts". Practically everyone in the audience raises their hand.

"OK, now keep your hand raised if you've actually heard or seen a ghost." Over half the hands go down.

"OK, now keep your hand up if you've touched a ghost." There are only 3 hands still raised at this point.

"Interesting! Have any of you had sex with a ghost?" Only one hand is still in the air.

"You sir! Come up on stage." The man steps forward. "This is fascinating! Please tell us all about your experiences! What is it like to have been so intimate with a ghost?"

The man replies: "Ghosts? I thought you said goats!"
posted by ssmith at 1:47 PM on June 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


There are so many different variations of that joke around the world. The one I first heard was the same set-up, only replacing "ghosts" and "goats" with "álfur" (elf) and "kálfur" (calf).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:59 PM on June 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Here's the actual PDF link to the Australian Sheep-Goat Scale.

Some of the questions make me nervous about people who could answer in the affirmative.
posted by winna at 2:33 PM on June 19, 2009


One day I want to start a "ghost removal" business; it'll work something like this, I'll go into a haunted house, find the source of the spirit and help it move on to the next plane of existence with some spiritual home renovations.

"You feel a cold draft whenever the ghost passes you in this hallway? Yeah, that happens, these old houses are known for this kind of problem. Here's what we are gonna do, with my infrared camera, I can see some dimensional gaps here that are letting him through, so what I'm gonna do is pack some blessed fiberglass insulation here into this wall, and that will prevent him from moving down this hall in the future."

"Floors creaking downstairs as the ghosts cross the living room? I know. It drives me crazy when they do that. My trick for this is to plant some holy 3 3/4" wood screws all along here and... right over here. What this is going to do is drive them from the room as they can't stand fractionated steel binders. I couldn't tell you why, but it works."

"Lights flickering as you pass through the room? Well, I'll be honest, it looks like you've got a full on poltergeist going on here. What I'm going to do is get my electri-cleric in here to pull the wiring and find out which one is allowing the spirit to remain trapped in this place. We'll can usually identify it by the burn marks, so what we'll do is replace the entire run with new copper and then take it away the cursed wires and bury them in consecrated ground. That'll set the ghosts free"

Though I suspect that when word of mouth gets around about my amazing success rate, Discovery will be banging down my door trying to get me to do my own reality show appearance on Ghost Hunters, and that'll just be awkward.

I'll have to add infrasound to my bag of tricks though; I hadn't thought of that...
posted by quin at 2:35 PM on June 19, 2009 [22 favorites]


So now all we need to do is:

1. Figure out how to induce Teh Scary
2. Hook up a wii-mote to a faux camera case
3. Make a new version of Fatal Frame

Shudder.


Speaking of Fatal Frame/Project Zero (which remains the only videogame I had to turn the lights back on to play), it looks like some enterprising fans are rigging up a way to play the criminally unreleased-in-the-West fourth installment via an SD card hack. Hell yeah.
posted by permafrost at 4:05 PM on June 19, 2009


I just found an excellent overview of published research on infrasound, here's the PDF.
posted by waxboy at 5:20 PM on June 19, 2009


one serendipitous day in 2004 I read two articles on Freaky Feelings. The first one was about pipe organs. the article said that the huge subsonic pipes [big enough to walk inside] can actually blast people outside themself. People reported disassociation during the organ performance, that they attributed to a religious experience. The second article was about haunted houses in England. A researcher went thru with a EMF detector gun and a thermometer. He/she logged in locations of wacky EMF fields and genuine cold spots. Double blind scenario where researcher did not know location of wailing headless wraith or wronged suicidal lover. Very high correlation between reported spookiness and measurable phenomena. Dang, probably read both articles in Metafilter!
posted by ohshenandoah at 6:18 PM on June 19, 2009


My farts are infrasonic, and they've been known to cause "a sense of presence", "chills on the spine", "uneasiness in a particular part of the room", "dizziness" and "glowing ball" hallucinations. They can also frighten cats.
posted by orme at 7:16 PM on June 19, 2009


Quin, that sounds like a good way to also make old homes more environmentally sound. I suspect the type to blame the house being cold on ghosts wouldn't normally care to look into cost-effective ways to reduce their heating bills or carbon footprint, so you may also be able to sell carbon offsets. Or you could just tell people on the fence about a renovation that ghosts cause global warming.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:17 PM on June 19, 2009


*jumps out, waving hands*

BOO!
posted by Pronoiac at 11:18 PM on June 19, 2009


Basically, if you place people in an unusual environment and tell people that it is haunted, the more suggestible ones are more likely to feel strangely.

And there's a number of amusing TV shows dedicated to precisely this principle.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:04 AM on June 20, 2009


And there's a number of amusing TV showsreligions dedicated to precisely this principle.

</heavyhanded-but-true>
posted by DU at 11:31 AM on June 20, 2009


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