Paranormal Fun in Gettysburg

First of all, let me say I’m very open-minded about the paranormal. Okay, okay, I’m a true believer most of the time (see this post regarding one experience I felt very sure about). However, I also exercise healthy skepticism, especially when viewing YouTube videos or the many “ghost hunting” shows on cable. Sometimes I think there’s something there; other times, it’s just too much of a stretch, especially when analyzing EVP (electronic voice phenomena). I rarely hear what the ghost hunters claim their “ghost” is saying, and I’m often doubtful it’s anything at all. And I am a believer.

As I wrote in this April 24, 2014 post, Diamondqueen and I did have a very strange experience on the Triangular Field at Gettysburg. We were stunned when the Ghost Hunter M2 app on her smartphone erupted in what we decided were artillery sounds. We didn’t necessarily buy into the idea we were picking up electromagnetic recordings of battle sounds, but it was sure fun to keep an open mind. However, we were just as open to the possibility the app was rigged, maybe with some GPS thing that would signal it to play battle sounds because we were on a battlefield; or maybe someone locally had the ability to transmit such sounds just to freak out tourists and laugh at their gullibility

Here’s the video of our initial experience with the artillery sounds. You are welcome to giggle at our excitement and and my near credulity:

While we were roaming around the following afternoon, we stopped by the Triangular Field again with the Ghost Hunter app, but this time no cannons boomed. As Diamondqueen stood there staring at her indifferent smartphone, I played the video from the evening before on my camera. At the point on the video where I say, “Let’s hear some more of that gunfire!”, Diamondqueen’s phone woke up and responded “No!” rather testily. We don’t believe it was a real ghostly message, but the timing was priceless.

We had no more luck with the Ghost Hunter app anywhere on the battlefield until Saturday evening. We were on the East Cavalry Field, where Confederate and Union forces had clashed in a cavalry battle on July 3. In that confrontation, George Armstrong Custer’s and JEB Stuart’s men wrangled violently. The East Cavalry Field isn’t as heavily visited as other parts of the Gettysburg battlefield, plus it’s comparatively remote. And on a windy April Saturday night as the sun was setting, it was empty and rather eerie.

We’d already roamed around a bit; then I left Diamondqueen back near a Union monument to nose around closer to the road. Suddenly she yelled my name. As I scurried back, I called, “Is it doing it again?” She said, “Yes!” I took the following video of that experience:

Since it was getting dark, we decided to leave, but we left the Ghost Hunter app running on the phone when we got back to the van. This time the thundering noises never stopped as we drove through the cavalry grounds. Here’s the video of that experience:

Some of our excitement waned when we reached the main highway and the booming sounds continued. What’s more, we stopped at a Wendy’s for a late snack, and Diamondqueen kept the app running, although with the volume turned down. As we ate in the brightly lit restaurant, the ghost app stayed active, still blasting away. By this time we’d gotten jaded and our willing suspension of disbelief evaporated like a disembodied spirit.

Because of my surgery just a few days later, not to mention the recovery period, I didn’t get back to these videos for weeks. When I finally had them ready, I posted them on YouTube and sent links to my mother, Diamondqueen, and my brother John, a computer and electronics expert. Although Diamondqueen and I both had Googled the Ghost Hunter M2 app, neither of us located the information my brother uncovered. From his e-mail:

I’m not sure what you searched for, but I Googled “m2 ghost hunting app thunder” and got a number of hits. The most interesting was on the web page for the app itself. Under “What’s New,” it had:
Version 2.3 (May 17, 2011)

Multiple Spatial Instrument improvements.
Ability to enable/disable thunder sounds.

It looks like the app uses the various sensors on the phone (ambient audio, magnetometer, accelerometer, maybe others like GPS or barometer) and some sort of algorithm to pick the sounds that it plays, including the “EVP.”  Whether it’s really detecting ghosts is subject to interpretation (although I read some of the reviews and was shocked by how gullible people can be), but it looks like the thunder sounds are programmed into it.  Apparently it will also make howling sounds.

I think even Diamondqueen was a little bummed. We hadn’t really believed it was real, but I, for one, had wanted to. It made for some really startling moments, and I’ll always enjoy watching these videos and remembering how it felt to have those experiences. (Of course, Diamondqueen pointed out that if howling sounds had suddenly come out of her phone, she might have screamed, “Oh, my God–the Rebel yell!” and hightailed it for the van.)


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