Funders or Partners, Past or Present
Click here to find out about the partners and funders in this image

Click here for the PSI Facebook Group

Comments (optional)

>>More about Membership

Sister Sites

Click here to visit the sister sites represented in this image

Battery Drain and Investigations

PSI’s Dave Wood has a look at the common of gripe of the paranormal investigator: that those pesky entities are running their batteries down!Batteries

Few can remember a time before talk of ‘paranormal battery drains’ entered the general dialogue of a field investigation. Who has not heard, more often that you would care to remember, someone exclaim that a brand new battery has unexpectedly ‘died’. This is usually followed by some attempt to blame a ‘ghost’ for stealing this energy.

One blogger recently noted that it seems to be a ‘fact’ unquestioned by investigators that ‘spirits have something to do with energy’ and ‘batteries have something to do with energy’ and hence batteries draining means that either the ‘spirit’ is building up its energy to say ‘hello’ or wants to recharge after having appeared. This assumption has always struck me as superstitious and self-sustaining and I marvel that this idea remains unquestioned, and that no research has ever been conducted.

So what can cause apparent battery drain, if not ghosts? Some of the simpler explanations include old batteries, faulty batteries, batteries recharged on various occasions, faulty equipment and cheap batteries. On this latter point, most battery operators accept that any battery cheaper than Duracell and placed into digital camera will not survive more than a few shots, especially where the flash is used. All these are perfectly valid reasons.

Another interesting explanation , particularly when itit comes to camcorder batteries, is the tendency of camcorders (and cameras) to misread the level of battery remaining. This phenomenon takes place frequently with digital cameras in the most mundane of circumstances. Another compelling explanation is the ‘extreme cold’ theory. Battery manufacturers will warn you that at low temperatures, batteries will under-perform.

During one recent investigation a camcorder had lost power more quickly than expected. PSI investigations allow, on the third visit, a period of time for group analysis: to get to the bottom of xenonormal events. An anecdotal experiment was devised. One fully-charged camcorder was left in a relatively warm room for twenty minutes, and another was placed in a room that was well below freezing. In just twenty minutes the ‘warm’ control condition had registered the expected twenty minutes loss of battery, whilst the ‘cold’ condition had registered a full forty minutes of battery loss!

It may feel compelling if your batteries always seem to fail in haunted places, or coincide with a period of ‘activity’. Why is this referred to as superstitious? Superstitions are events where two things seems to coincide, so we form a mental association between the two. In this case battery drain and hauntings probably coincided because batteries were used much more intensively than normal, and therefore had more opportunity to go wrong; not to mention the cold environments frequently investigated. This observation would have been reinforced by a repetition of the event, a loose theoretical tie-in to the discredited ‘ghosts as energy’ theory, and perhaps the coinciding of an apparent paranormal experience. Perhaps battery drains act as a ‘trigger event’. Much like a piece of ‘ghost hunting equipment going off’; to people nearby this triggers to idea that ‘something is going on’ and hence experiencers are more likely to notice and misperceive ambiguous stimuli. All explanations are guesswork supported by anecdotes so far, even if one theory might be more compelling than the other. So how do we find out for sure? A well-designed experimental procedure should provide some results, one way or the other. Watch this space…