Saturday 15 May 2010

A Telephone Line to the Dead?

After doing a little research online I recently purchased a new piece of equipment. Originally invented by Frank Sumption, it is a Franks Box. Well in actuality it isn't. It works in a similar manner, but a Franks Box (I believe) is a trademark, so everyone now seems to call them a Ghost Box. How it works is quite simple. It is a radio that has autotune but never actually settles on a channel. It sweeps the A.M. band constantly. A little like if you constantly turned the tuner knob slowly backwards and forwards. The idea behind it is that you ask questions and snippets of conversations come back out of the speaker that are supposed to be spirits communicating with you.

Being the open-minded person that I am I thought I had at least better test one of these things before coming to any conclusion, so I bought one off Ebay quite cheaply. Consequently I sat down on a quiet evening when I had the house to myself and prepared myself to "have a conversation with the other side". I have to admit that some of the snippets it came back with after I had asked a question ranged from total jibberish to the coherant. One question I asked was "how is the best way to contact relatives who have passed over" and it answered by telling me to buy the greatest hits of Johnny Cash. Another question I asked was "Is anyone in the room with me right now", to which it answered "well of course" - that sort of made me raise my eyebrows.

After playing with the new toy for about fifteen minutes I found myself getting a headache with the constant channel tuning. It really can become most annoying. If I had to be honest I found it to be less than 20% coherant in its answers, the rest of the time it was just total nonsense. Just to give balance I found my copy of the Collected Works of Sherlock Holmes (yes I am a Conan Doyle fan) and asked the same questions and opened the book with my eyes closed and pointed to a place on the page with my finger. The coherancy of the answers were actually slightly higher, at around 30% - but yet again a degree of interpretation came to bear. It was a little like someone answering you in riddles.

My conclusion is that the Ghost Box and a copy of a big thick book will both give random answers as long as you are willing to use a little imagination, but the ghost box throws out more random junk because of the nature of radio advertising. My thoughts are that the box is an amusing parlour game but not to be taken seriously. It is merely a random phrase generator.

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