As often happens around this time of year, I have been getting a lot of questions about different ITC/ghost-hunting apps. While I haven’t evaluated all of them, I generally try to consider a few things:
1) What is the app actually doing? Access to the source code is a must to ensure there is no baked-in bias. Ideally, we should be able to view the code, compile it and then load our builds onto our own devices.
2) Is there fraud detection/error checking? There is an old adage in programming “garbage in, garbage out.” What steps does the app take to ensure the software isn’t being gamed or tricked? Since people often post these apps’ outputs on social media as paranormal evidence, how do we know the app’s inputs are valid?
3) How are the app’s data used? Is it stored locally for your personal use, or are the data being collected in a more extensive database for some larger analysis? Beyond personal privacy issues, if data are being collected, not only do points 1 and 2 become even more critical, the issue of data transparency needs to be addressed. We need to know that the locally recorded data matches what’s in the database.
4) Some apps use the phone’s sensors to monitor and record environmental data. Others take those data (or pull from other sources) to facilitate communication with non-corporeal entities (ITC). Since ITC requires some psi if the app includes an ITC function, has it been independently verified that psi can impact the underlying system?
5) If psi can impact the system, can we identify the source of psi? Remember, since psi is not bound by space or time, the content of psi-based messages can’t be used to determine their origin. ITC effects may be generated by external entities or the operator’s psi.
6) Regardless of the technical issues, what impact does using the app have on the operator? Some apps can produce negative and disturbing content. Some apps might promote “paranormal addiction.” How do the app and its developers address these and related issues?
We published a paper about how we went about evaluating one of the early ITC software systems. It can be downloaded for free.
Boccuzzi, M., & Beischel, J. (2011). Objective analyses of reported real-time audio instrumental transcommunication and matched control sessions: A pilot study. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 25, 215-235. [PDF]