Library Articles
Just a Radio

May 2013

By Stephanie Bohn

Many paranormal investigators use a device known as a “ghost box,” which is essentially a radio that has been altered in such a way that it constantly cycles through stations, providing snippets of sound that spirits can presumably use to create words and sentences. I remember first hearing of this contraption, hearing the explanation of how it works, and thinking to myself, “HUH? Spirits can do this? Who says?” I could not imagine how anyone could come to the conclusion that spirits would actually be able to manipulate radio frequencies to this extent, it is a fantastical claim.

Nevertheless, this concept did not come across as strange to many groups, and they busily set about testing it out. To their surprise, words and phrases actually did emit from this mysterious box in response to their questions. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I would be expected to sit in on one of these sessions.

Before that even happened however, I tried to come up with possible explanations, in my own mind, for the positive results obtained by these groups. It seemed to me that what was likely happening is the participants’ ears were hearing unintelligible sounds and their brains were organizing them into responses to the questions asked. I have read about many excellent examples of this, such as the claim that our eyes do not even need to see all letters in order to comprehend. Try reading the following:

7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5! 1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 L1N3 Y0UR M1ND 15 R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17.

As you can see, our brains do most of the work for us when processing information. What appears, at first glance, to be a random pile of letters and numbers is effectively sorted into relevance by our brain as we go along.
When the time came for my first sit in on a ghost box session, I knew what I had to do. As the first question was asked, I plugged my ears. As soon as I unplugged them, I heard a snippet come out of the box, what sounded like a man saying, “Lorraine.” Everyone else present gasped and said, “Maine, did you hear that?” they all seemed to agree that the voice had said Maine. I asked what the question had been, and they told me it was “what state are you from?” Perhaps if my ears had been unplugged and my mind had been primed to hear the name of a state, I would have also heard Maine. But I did not.
For every subsequent session I was fortunate enough (detect sarcasm here) to attend, I either plugged my ears for the question or listened to the question and then forced my ears to really listen afterward. With concentration, I was able to focus on what was actually coming out of the device, not what I was expecting to hear in response, and absolutely every time I heard something different from the rest of the group.

Another interesting observable phenomena that takes place while using the ghost box is the power of suggestion. Group members unable to discern what is being said “hear” what others hear, once it is spoken aloud. To test your own hearing, find the creatively made videos that are the re-imaginings of song lyrics when they are in a foreign language; captions on the screen convince your brain. My favorite example of this is a video that, for a time, was a staple of my dear friend’s internet show, watch here:
In addition to being a catchy tune and responsible for much bopping in my chair, I was impressed by the way my brain convinced my ears that they were really hearing the lyrics suggested.

Due to the tests that I had conducted myself, during every ghost box session for which I was present, and getting the identical result each time, it became impossible for me to take this device, or any “evidence” obtained, seriously. Knowing the capabilities of our brains and knowing that any intelligible answers may be the creation of our own minds, it is necessary for me to dismiss the ghost box as yet another tool that was created to encourage false positive results. I would speculate that the practice of finding voices and words in the white noise of a radio came about because people convinced themselves they were hearing things that weren’t actually there; things of which were made sense by their very efficient brains. If we are expecting a certain word, a certain inflection, or a certain tone, it will be heard thusly, and we will be able to say, “we heard it with our own ears!” when a more accurate statement would be, “we heard it with our own brains!” | contact@