New Zealand paranormal investigation group cites EMF effects

Here is another pop media story about paranormal investigation groups in the local news. But this piece I found a bit intriguing…

Christchurch Paranormal Investigators Using New… | Stuff.co.nz.

While teams on television might run around in the dark chasing phantoms and scaring each other, Christchurch Paranormal Investigators New Zealand (CPINZ) are pioneering a new set of tools and techniques to investigate perceived hauntings and put uneasy minds at rest.

Most “hauntings” are caused by electromagnetic fields, creaking and popping from earthquake-damaged houses and ionised charged particles.

“About 5 per cent [of paranormal claims] can’t be explained,” says CPINZ founder Anton Heyrick.

Electromagnetic fields (EMF), in particular, could make people perceive things that aren’t there.

“Anything over five gauss [the unit of measurement of a magnetic field] and you start to have feelings of something going on and your hairs stand up. A microwave can emit 180 gauss,” he says.

There were a whole lot of claims in that little clip from the article. Let’s unpack them.

The first point – that they are using new tools and techniques is not particularly borne out by the piece. Mentioned are only the EMF detectors that lots of other groups use and at the very end, some new vehicle with no details provided. The “most hauntings are caused by…” claim has zero evidence given to support it. Earthquake related noises and effects on structures is a very reasonable explanation for some oddities. But the other two claims – ionized particles and EMF fields are unproven. To state this in such a way is incorrect. I would like to see the claims for the effects of EMFs. There have been lots of anecdotes but when actually tested, people who say they are sensitive to EM fields DO NOT do well. There are thousands of papers on this. I looked at some of them for this post. But today I went to the World Health Organization site on EMFs to see the latest consensus in a nutshell. The site notes:

Some members of the public have attributed a diffuse collection of symptoms to low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields at home. Reported symptoms include headaches, anxiety, suicide and depression, nausea, fatigue and loss of libido. To date, scientific evidence does not support a link between these symptoms and exposure to electromagnetic fields. At least some of these health problems may be caused by noise or other factors in the environment, or by anxiety related to the presence of new technologies.

This is not exactly the same comparison. But again, I can’t seem to locate good evidence that some people in some situation experience phenomena that is perceived as “haunting” but can be attributed to EMFs. That statement does not appear to be substantiated. If anyone has links to research or recommendations on that, PLEASE send to the editor or post in the comments. I’d love to look more into this. We do have some substantiating evidence that infrasound can make people feel uneasy. But this also seems to be very selective. In the article on the New Zealand group above, they note that an alarm clock caused an elderly woman to perceive strange activity. That is not the first time I’ve heard that. But, that can be tested. It SHOULD be tested. That sounds like a serious drawback that consumers should know about if they plan to purchase that device. Regardless, it appears to be pretty rare that this effect happens.

Ionization is also an interesting idea that I have looked into with regards to earthquake precursors. It does have an effect on life at the surface but it must be confirmed that it is actually occurring and the behavior is the connected to the observation.

The article notes that this paranormal investigation group also brings in a building inspector, an electricity specialist and a nurse to help determine the cause of the problems and he is looking for a psychologist to help too. I commend this approach, but would never say an incident is really paranormal. The best you can say is “I don’t know”. It sure would be nice to see some of these groups really document some of their investigations well, consult some actual specialists and cite scientific references so we can get on track with thinking about these cases. It’s time to get serious. No more playing around with gadgets and sciencey stuff.

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  4 comments for “New Zealand paranormal investigation group cites EMF effects

  1. July 6, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    There is strong evidence that high EMF and also magnetic fields can evoke paranormal experiences in some people. http://publicparapsychology.blogspot.de/2007/10/magnetic-fields-and-haunting-phenomena_31.html lists a bunch of studies. See also http://ejp.wyrdwise.com/EJP%20v19.pdf#page=3

  2. Caroline
    July 7, 2013 at 6:40 AM

    The situation is about EMF and magnetic fields is a bit more mixed than Alex (and the old parapsychology links) suggest. An up to date review from a neuroscientist was recently published in the Skeptic Magazine: http://academia.edu/1009539/Magnetic_Fields_Anomalous_Experiences_A_Sceptical_Critique_of_the_Current_Evidence

  3. July 25, 2013 at 1:57 AM

    Hey guys, firstly thanks for taking the time with our article. As I am sure you all know by now, the media is not very good at taking real good hard facts and placing them into a whole article rather very small parts of a statement. Now at the end of your post you spoke about documenting this. CPINZ has a reason for why we have gone out and looked for the professionals we have. Each one is involved in creating an online database that the public will be able to follow live as investigations take the data, this will be tied into the new gear we will be bringing into this field using the very exciting research lab. The media did not have any of the good info on on any of these facts. Each professional will create a base line of forms that will be at the database, for each investigation it will be their job to make sure each form is filled in live for the public to view and then latter see from the database, this will include the new arduino tech we are building to help monitor our investigators, our gear and medical signs from the team, all being built by the teams electronic specialist. Things like medical sensors so we will make sure never again will a hype situation take place as vitals don’t lie, its that simple, ion sensor with live feeds back to the the RRV, all our tools being built will send live data back to the rrv where the public can keep up to date, this is where we were talking about new idea and tools for this field, it is all based around our RRV. It is about taking the basic tools used today and really building on them, testing them and making sure they belong in this field. Each team will be wired using arduino so at all times we will know where they are and what tools they have on them this will remove any false positive we often find and the questions of can you prove where your investigators are when this took place. Now as for the research and idea;s into the energies after the earth quakes we spent a long time really researching them, taking data and all that is going to be made available, but as we only do this part part time as it is we are bogged down in trying to create what we are and that data will be tied into our database, we have an amazing IT specialist and programmer on the team making all this a reality. A lot of this will also be placed into our productions which we are working really hard to bring a real new look to how this field is worked and as far away from what we call the as seen on TV way of investigating. Thanks for looking into our article and i hope you guys can follow our future as we see it being a new and exciting future for this field with CPINZ really pushing what is know about this field. I think the best any one team can ever do is be prepared to go over and beyond the normal, look into things other are not, and this is where our research and understanding into EMF’s and the energies from the quakes, howeve i hope no one ever has the chance to study this as it means your city will be destroyed like our and many killed, the history we lost in our wonderful city is very sad indeed.

    Thanks all,

    Anton Heyrick
    CPINZ- Progressive Supernatural Research & development.

    • July 25, 2013 at 8:30 AM

      Lots of words there and not much concrete stuff that convinces me. Who are your experts? What are they “professional” at? IT systems? One thing stands out: you can’t scientifically research the supernatural. It’s beyond natural, by definition. So… with such a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works, I’m not very impressed, sorry.

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