*Featured in the February 2015 edition of Paranormal Insights Newsletter
TECHNOLOGY: THE INS & OUTS and UPS & DOWNS of EMF by Ben Robison
I was humbled when my friend & colleague, William, reached out to me to have me write for his monthly newsletter. He has been successfully doing this for some time now, and I just figured this man hated me since it took so long to have me contribute to it! I suppose he’s running out of quality writers and is picking from the bottom of the barrel now. I clearly jest, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this newsworthy publication.
What do I talk about? Where do I start? I rhetorically ask this as there is so much I could talk about. But, in an effort not to go all over the place, I will reserve myself to talking about the importance of understanding a specific piece of technology we so often employ in our investigations & research yet so often know very little about. I’m talking about the technology of “EMF/Gauss meters”. Yes, technology is great, and I love it just like Kip does in Napoleon Dynamite. However, it doesn’t come without its proverbial bag of caveats. You see, if you don’t truly understand what limitations the gadget in your hand has or even what it can or can’t do, then you’re no better off than if you use a turd to conduct your investigations. Albeit, as vile of an example that may be, it is the truth. I have seen people who call themselves investigators flaunt their faux knowledge of the technology they are using. I have seen their arrogance as they regurgitate the same lines they have memorized from their favorite show. So many times so that it has become sadistically entertaining and flippant in the essence of “science based” modus operandi.
Now, before you go tearing me a new rear end, you need to know that I do not possess an egotistical or arrogant attitude/mentality here. Those that know me well know that I am a very humble person. I’ll provide you an example of such. Even as I write this, I am learning that I had something wrong all along. Alas, I will not spill the beans on what I was wrong about just yet. You must continue to read to learn of my error. I’d like to add that this article isn’t about me telling you how to conduct your research, rather it is about me sharing some facts about this particular technology that we use as our investigative staple of tools in hopes that I can contribute to raising the overall bar of knowledge out there among authentic paranormal research investigators. It doesn’t matter whether you do this for hobby or for passion either. So, lower those eyebrows, put your judgmental thoughts to the back of your mind and read this with an open mind. I guarantee you’ll come out of it with more knowledge, as well as understanding, or your money back! (Of course, you get back what you paid me…which is nothing. Ha!)
Let’s just jump right in, shall we? EMF meters galore! Oh, how they empower us and make us feel like we are legitimate investigators of supernatural phenomena. We even look like those folks on TV! Too bad most of us don’t have a clue as to how they really work or what they are really measuring. The first thing you must know is that EMF meters do not prove that spirits exist! I have heard too many people out there say that they are detecting a spirit in the room they are in because their meter is registering an EMF spike. This is delusional, and please do not fall prey to this sort of mentality. You’ll just make yourself look like an armchair investigator who lives & dies by what they learn from your most cherished TV shows. For the most part, in this field, the majority of people get the idea of what electromagnetic fields (EMF) are: a form of energy. Even more specifically, it is a derivative of a few other forms of energy. But, even a large portion of them added with people who just have an interest in the paranormal don’t realize what generates EMF or the characteristics it possesses. Did you know there are single axis EMF meters and triple axis EMF meters? If you did, then kudos to you, as this is an essential dynamic that all too many investigators out there do not realize their meter either does or does not have. Most EMF meters are single axis. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you are aware of this limitation. For example, the infamous K-II and nearly all the MEL meter models are single axis. There are many other makes & models out there, but those two are widely known and used in this field. Now, while I promise not to delve in and take you down to the molecular breakdown of all of this, I will mix in some geek whilst keeping your interest piqued with my dazzling writing skills. Ok, maybe I’ll just hope to keep your interest with the topic itself.
So, why does it matter if your meter is single or triple axis? Before I answer that, think back to earlier in this article to my admission of being wrong. I am about to divulge the juicy details now. All along I have had it wrong. How I came to this is still an enigma to me. But, somewhere along my path in my studies of the technical aspects of science based paranormal research, I got it in my head that there were 3 magnetic poles within Earth. I have been sharing this tidbit of erroneous data with many people, and for that I am truly sorry. I mislead you…kind of. What I mean is, I have been telling folks that our planet has 3 magnetic poles, hence why we should be using a triple axis EMF meter, when in fact, our planet has a dipole system: a North and a South pole. All electrically charged objects are impacted by either of these poles in correlation to the distance they are from them. Now, I wasn’t completely off with my recommendation of using a triple axis meter. Like all of the EMF meters we use in this field, they are truly a gaussmeter. They measure the electromagnetic fields around us, of which we are mostly concerned with the magnetic fields in specific. This is based on a common agreed theory that spirits can manipulate these fields, therefore giving us a way to “detect” them, or a disturbance, in this particular field. Unfortunately, most newbie and novice investigators do not realize how tricky these fields are to measure. For that matter, even some so-called experienced investigators can be thrown into this pile of naivety as well!
Take your beloved K-II meter for example. It is a single axis meter, and since it is, position is everything. If you are not holding it on either the North or South pole when an anomalous event occurs, you might see a reading of 0 when a triple axis meter would have registered a fluctuation, thus backing up the anomalous and/or personal experience the investigator had. The reason for this is that a single axis meter must be oriented correctly in order for it to measure the field (aka a “vector”), whereas a triple axis meter solves this problem by measuring the true strength of the field regardless of which way it is positioned. It does so by taking readings of the North & South poles with the first 2 antennas designed to read these axis’ along with a third “bridging” axis antenna. The meter’s design has it read all 3 at once (real-time), combine them, and give you either an analog or digital readout (depends on model of meter you have) of the true mean result of this EMF level. This makes a triple access meter much more efficient & accurate because it can be scanned rapidly across an area without having to re-position it to capture the change in the field, while giving you an optimum reading.
So I was wrong, yet right at the same time. I got the amount of magnetic poles wrong, but I was encouraging folks to use triple axis meters so that they could be more effective in the investigative research efforts. I can admit this, only because I want to remain humble and sincere about my interest in moving this field of research. As I always say, “Technicalities, they’ll get you every time”, and I am no exception.
Now that we’ve got a bit more understanding of how EM fields work, along with the difference and functionality of single vs. triple axis EMF meters, we can move forward with some other pertinent knowledge you should be armed with when using them. What metric or unit are you using to measure your EMF? Gauss is a good response, but milligauss is a more exact answer. Did you know that the frequencies in which milligauss are composed of attenuate very quickly? Let me word it another way. The signal strength of EMF’s become weaker in a very short distance. A good test is to go up to a digital alarm clock either by your bed or on your kitchen stove. First, just walk around the room to see what the baseline EMF level of the room is. This is likely to be 0mG (milligauss), but I’ve seen the ambient EMF levels in homes to be as high as 6mG. Next, get the meter as close to the clock without touching as possible. You should see the maximum reading that you will from it as well. It may even peg the meter out! Now, slowly move the meter away, and by the time you get roughly 8” or so away from the clock, you should be back to the baseline EMF level of that room. This is a good example of the attenuation of EMF. This tells us that when our meters register increased EMF levels, one of two scenarios is plausible: the anomaly fluctuating the levels is really close to the meter (and you, by proxy, if you are holding the meter). That or something else is creating a burst of EMF that is saturating the atmosphere around the meter, which it is picking up.
So, what causes a burst of EMF that we can explain away as not being supernatural in origin? Well, lots of things, but a great illustration of this would be your regular, run of the mill, two-way radios, aka “Walkie-Talkie’s”. Try this out sometime: take a pair of your two-way radios and an EMF meter of your choice (single or triple axis does not matter). Turn on the EMF meter and sit it down somewhere. Stand as close to the meter as possible and key up the two-way radio. You should see the EMF meter go nuts! This is because the two-way radio is blasting a strong signal that the EMF meter is capable of registering. Moreover, you will notice that the EMF meter will react to the keying up of the two- way radio even from a decent distance from it. This is why it is imperative that you only use two-way radios in certain scenarios. Outside of that, you should only turn on the radio when needed. Also, you might want to note if the location you are investigating is next to a thoroughfare for trucking. The two-way radios truckers use are much stronger than the standard two-way radios most investigative teams use. Their random transmissions may wreak havoc on your research with regard to observing anomalous changes to the EMF levels in the location you are investigating.
The last thing I’d like to touch on seems so obvious that I almost shouldn’t cover it. But, I’ve witnessed folks abusing (key word here) it so much that I better do so. OK, so how do YOU handle your meter? Are you paying close attention to how you whip it around, toss it down, and/or store it? If you didn’t know, now you know: these meters are finely tuned instruments. If you think they were made to endure aerobics, then you are dead wrong. Have you noticed when you move the meter abruptly or toss it down that you get a spike register on the meter? That’s because you’re jarring its delicate sensors and they’re malfunctioning as a result. This is not good for the meter. Believe it or not these meters were calibrated when built. If something is calibrated, it can be un-calibrated. How can this happen, you may ask. It’s pretty simple: by how you treat the meter and time itself. Just like our clocks, they do not stay accurate. Abuse, wear, and tear all play a part in it becoming out of adjustment as well as inaccurate. With time they must be re-calibrated or reset. Same goes for our EMF meters. Does this mean we have done this or most people will do it? No. Does this mean we should? Yes. If we rely on these instruments to help us catalog events and we’re applying a form of science based regimen, then we want our equipment to be fully functioning and tuned. At a minimum, you can sit several meters side by side, then introduce the same level of EMF to one or more of the antennas and see if you get different readings of EMF levels. A process of elimination, comparing the majority of your meters that respond the same versus the meter(s) that does not. Of course, knowing whether the majority of your meters, or the minority, are the defective meters is your next challenge. The message here is that you cannot expect them to take abuse and still provide you empirical data. If your meter is either constantly detecting EMF when other meters are not, or if it isn’t registering any at all, you may need to contact the manufacturer about getting your meter re-calibrated. I highly advise you to always, prior to investigations/research/studies, perform side by side EMF level checks. This isn’t fool proof, but it gives you an idea if one of your meters needs a V8. If you truly suspect it is not calibrated correctly, do yourself a favor and get it re-calibrated. You don’t want to be holding that proverbial turd I was talking about back at the beginning of this article!
I’d like to end by saying that I hope this helps raise your bar of knowledge with regard to the use of EMF meter technology in your future investigations or research, and good luck out there.