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What Is A Ghost? (EXCERPT)

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This is an edited excerpt from Chasing Spirits: The Building of the "Ghost Adventures" Crew by Nick Groff and Jeff Belanger

One lesson Ghost Adventures has taught me is that this stuff is real, and it's a lot more prevalent than I'd previously thought. I've picked up a lot of ideas on how to investigate and how to get results from each location. Does it work every time? No. I've had plenty of misses, but I've also had a lot of successes in gathering profound evidence of spirit contact.

Going to so many haunted places has caused me to think about what might be out there and why our equipment helps us make contact.

When I was a kid, I thought a ghost was some apparition that comes into our world to scare us. That's what ghost stories taught me, and it's the theme that Hollywood ran with. But now I realize an apparition is only one version of the ghost experience. It's also the most rare.

Here's an experiment you can try right now: Think of a friend from your childhood. Go ahead -- close your eyes and envision that friend. You can actually see that person. Your memory fired some electrochemical impulses in your brain that allowed you to visualize your friend. Energy made that happen.

Energy can't be created or destroyed; it can only change forms -- that's a law of physics. Not a theory of physics -- a law. It's called the law of conservation of energy. It means that if you take an isolated system, such as a person, the energy contained in that person can't be destroyed. It can change forms from chemical energy -- like the signals that travel down your nerve pathways -- into kinetic energy, the energy required to move your arm, for example, but the energy is always there.

This law makes sense to me. It means that when we die, our energy must go somewhere. The flesh and bones -- the empty vessel -- is left behind, but the energy survives.

Every time we remember someone who has passed on, we are using an electrical impulse in our brain to call up that person's image. That memory and image gives you a connection to that person. This is why so many people have visitation experiences involving their deceased loved ones.

The ghost experience isn't just seeing an apparition. People can sense ghosts, like the way you can tell when someone walks into the room behind you. People can smell ghosts -- I can't tell you how many times witnesses have reported smelling perfume or a cigar when no source can be found. Smell is closely related to memory, so that scent may call up something specific in the case of a deceased loved one. People hear ghosts -- sometimes we hear disembodied voices in a location. And then, of course, there's actually seeing something. The ghost experience involves our senses. There's no way around it.

So if spirits are energy, and if we need our senses to experience them, then we have a lot of equipment available that can be adapted to help us validate what we're experiencing in a haunted location.

For example, we were investigating a historic home called Rocky Point Manor in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, in season five. This old home saw some serious shit during the Civil War. Rocky Point Manor had become a field hospital. Many soldiers lost their limbs and some lost their lives. We found all kinds of artifacts in the dirt-floor basement, from bones to belt buckles.

During this investigation, I was out in the Perryville battlefields with my PX device -- a kind of meter with a built-in audio dictionary. The PX takes readings of the electromagnetic field and runs it through software to determine a number. That number corresponds with a word in the dictionary. We believe spirits can use this device to communicate with us.

We set up an experiment where we had cameras on a room with lines back to monitors at a base. We took turns going in. Aaron went in and the PX said nothing. I was next. Just as I was about to leave, I put my hand on the doorknob and the PX said, "Close" -- as in, close the door. Okay, fine, could be a hell of a coincidence. So now we all got quiet and I asked, "Why?" and then the PX says, "Nick." So now I'm thinking this isn't just a chance. I can't tell you how the spirits manipulated the circuits, but something happened to spit those two words out at that exact moment.

But that wasn't the end of it. After I walked out into the hallway, it said, "Enemy." Considering this was a field hospital, that word had significance. At the same time it said the word "enemy," I felt an electric charge run through my body.

The equipment is great because it can validate your experience. The best judge, however, is you, the living person. When you feel that tingle, the hair stand up on the back of your neck, you might be in the presence of something.

When you open a dialogue with whatever is on the other side, you might not like everything you hear... and sometimes, if your gut tells you to, you run! Fight or flight is a powerful human response to danger. I know we've been teased about making a run for it, but I won't apologize.

When my body tells me to run, I'm going to run. Always keep your guard up. Always.