Smartphone Paranormal – A perspective on the controversy


Is a “smartphone” part of your investigation kit? If so, why? If not, why? For the purpose of this article, I intend to take a quick look at some of the comments given as reason not to use a smartphone as an investigation tool. I intend to counter these reasons. Not to convince people to use smartphones for paranormal investigation but rather an effort to get people to not hastily dismiss potentially useful equipment.

Smartphones shouldn’t be used for paranormal investigation because…

  1.  …there are apps to create fake ghost images and otherwise prank for entertainment.
    People have been using various methods to modify images as long as there have been images to modify. Why apply this bias to smartphones and not all other images? Even further to the extreme, some people dismiss all paranormal oriented apps because some apps are intentionally “misleading” or for entertainment only. If we are to follow this thought, since evidence of any nature can be “fraudulent”; we should dismiss all paranormal evidence.
  2. …they aren’t designed to detect paranormal events.
    There is not a single piece of equipment in existence which is designed to detect paranormal events. If we are to dismiss equipment because it isn’t designed to detect paranormal events, then we have no equipment to use. There are various type of equipment intended for use by paranormal investigators but, nothing about such equipment is designed to detect paranormal events.
  3. …they don’t include the necessary technology.
    As far as necessary technology goes, yes, smartphones do contain the technology to work similar to many other pieces of equipment. The venerable K2 has very similar circuitry compared to what can be found in smartphones. Apps for EMF, audio, vibration, etc…rival some of the functionally similar equipment paranormal investigator desire most. Smartphone cameras now rival many cameras paranormal investigators use without questioning a single image.
  4. …cell phone signals interfere with other equipment in use.
    Don’t use a smartphone simultaneously with other equipment that is obviously effected by the use of the smartphone. Or, use an older smartphone that is no longer connected to a network; load the desired apps from wifi.

In conclusion, use what ever equipment provides results you suspect may be leading to something meaningful. The paranormal community will continue to disagree on a “best approach”. If a smartphone app helps with some aspect of an investigation, use it. Can a smartphone be the only equipment a paranormal investigator uses? Yes. Should use of smartphone apps be avoided? No. Should it be the only equipment used? Probably not.

Rob Hillstrom

Rob Hillstrom

Director / Chair Science at TEPI
Paranormal: Somewhat cliché but, my experiences began at a young age though I don’t recall making the “paranormal” association until the age of 9 when my grandmother died and returned for a visit. Through the years, I have given many phenomena more attention; from subtle dream images to apparent physical contact from “unseen” sources. I have been involved in independent research/study and investigation for about 30 years and began using some equipment about 20 years ago. I have been working with the Colorado based TEPI team since 2010. As a science oriented investigator, I am a bit of a contradiction. I believe the experience more so than the evidence. Simply because there can be many plausible explanations for most evidence. The experience on the other hand, can sometimes be very complex and difficult to explain easily. Professional: I have a Master of Science degree that essentially qualifies me to manage a multi-discipline team in their efforts to accomplish technical activities. (If I say more the MIB might show up.) My engineering background is primarily electronics but includes mechanical, astrophysics, and some aspects of thermal, optical, and audio. Previous careers were medical including paramedics and medical device technology (design, manufacturing, and training medical staff). I also dabbled heavily in photography before the wide spread use of digital imaging. Ideological: I was raised Presbyterian but allowed to find my own path. I studied Zen for a short time and explored many other faiths. In my late teens I attended a seminar on the subject of Quantum Physics and how it relates to our mind and consciousness; this was the turning point in my belief system. I did not become a scientific skeptic, I simply began to view nearly everything differently. I removed definitions I had learned and replaced them with relationships to my personal experiences and observations. Things once clearly defined as paranormal now had a plausible spin to them. Personal: In my spare time I write dark music, dark poetry, and horror/science fiction stories.
Rob Hillstrom

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