Time to Throw Out
wouldn’t catch a self-respecting paranormal investigator, anywhere in
the country, without some sort of temperature gauge. Dave Wood questions
why everyone is bothering…
Whether it’s an old fashioned mercury thermometer, a modern weather
station, digital probe, spot thermometer or data logger – everyone has
them in abundance. But why are we using them, and are they even
measuring what we want them to?
One stock response is that the interaction between ‘ghost’ and human
somehow involves a change in temperature. Overlooking the dearth of
non-anecdotal evidence for this, let’s look into this further.
Some people theorise that spirit manifestations are marked by ‘cold
spots’. Be that when someone ‘feels’ a cold spot it means there is a
ghost around, or when registering a localised drop in temperature
everyone should expect a spooky experience. Astute investigators might
even be interested in whether a cold spot can be objectively verified
(and attributed to something normal) or whether cold spots are internal,
Whether you tread the path of woo, pseudo-science or rationalism, it all
seems to come back to the idea of measuring a localised cold- (or
indeed, hot-) spot.
So do these temperature gauges do what we want them to do, do they
measure localised cold spots? If you are thinking about whole rooms
going cold for sustained periods of time, then temperature gauges are
probably fairly useful. However if you were thinking of the localised
and often time sensitive cold spot, then the story is rather different.
Old fashioned thermometers are notoriously unresponsive, so if you are
measuring a brief change in temperature you probably should not use one
of these. The same principle goes with digital thermometers, for example
weather stations. If you were thinking of the spot thermometer, best
think again. Hopefully everyone knows that these do not measure ambient
temperature variations, merely the surface temperature of whatever
surface (or person) is behind the cold spot. Data loggers might seem
like a God-send for investigators concerned about consistency and human
error, but the response rate on standard models is around twenty
seconds. Perhaps not so useful, after all. Having said that, a new model
available through the manufacturers will register a change of
temperature within seconds, putting it on a responsively par with some
models of digital probe.
So we have established that if you are looking for a meaningful quick
response, new model data loggers and certain digital probes may work.
The next stumbling block is that temperature gauges are localised to the
area immediately surrounding the sensor. This means that unless the
probe or logger is exactly where the cold spot is said to be, it will
not be measured. Having a dedicated temperature taker on hand to rush to
the location of the cold spot is not useful either. Even if they were to
make it whilst the cold spot is still felt, the chances are that they
will spend valuable seconds measuring the ‘wind speed’ temperature
involved in rushing from A to B. This is further compounded by the
fact that if you move any thermometer, responding to an 'experience', it
will be scientifically unmeaningful as you will not know what the
previous temperature was in that spot.
The only saving grace for temperature gauges might a labour and cost
intensive one. Having at least one logger for each person may be a
start, but it would have to be complemented by repeated grid surveys of
the area to provide a baseline. Another alternative might be a thermal
imaging camera - albeit not for ambient 'cold spots' - but these are beyond the cash flow of most
One thing we can be sure of is that keeping a temperature gauge hanging
around on the off chance of capturing some unrepresentative, anecdotal
evidence is not especially useful.
Back to Top