The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific Sells “Ghost Detectors” & Other Woo

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 14, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I became aware of something that, as both a skeptic & science teacher, shocked me: Edmund Scientific, one of the oldest & most respected outlets for selling science equipment for educational use, has gone over to the dark side.  They are actively marketing & selling paranormal woo…

edmund-woo-meter

What are these products that Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific is now selling on their website?  They are…

EMF Ghost Meter – This is nothing more than a standard EMF (electromagnetic field) detector, which usually detects EMFs that are low frequency, such as radio & microwaves.  I have no beef with Edmund selling EMF detectors (I even have one in my classroom), but what galls me is the manner in which they are marketing this device.  They are actually calling it a ghost detector – and by doing so they are giving credence to the pseudoscientific flummery of the paranormal woo-meisters!  As they say on their website:

Detect Paranormal Presences

The preferred unit of paranormal investigators, this Ghost Meter can be used by laymen with professional results. The unit responds instantaneously to EMF fluctuations and spikes in energy with a detecting range of 50 to 1,000 Hz. The VLF range is 1,000 to 20,000 Hz. An easy-to-read LED display and silent on/off push switch make for seamless, simple operation.

Such devices are often used by so-called ghost hunters as they bumble around in the dark, freaking themselves out at every cool draft of wind & creaky sound they hear.  In reality, there is absolutely no reason to think that EMF meters are detecting any kind of “ghostly entities”, as a simple application of Occam’s Razor often shows that what the meters are actually detecting is the low-frequency EM-waves given off by nearby lighting fixtures, electrical lines, or even the other equipment carried by the ghost hunters themselves!

But if you thought that was bad, it gets worse.  Here are some other gems that Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific is now selling…

3-in-1 Paranormal Research Instrument – Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific claims that this device serves three uses: it is an EMF meter, a temperature sensor, and it’s also a flashlight.  Of course, they market it as much more than that…

Essential Ghost-Hunting Tool

Measure EMF, measure ambient temperature, and provide a source of light all with one advanced instrument. Designed exclusively for paranormal investigators, this incredible tool has everything you need to track and detect the presence of ghosts. It features a green-lit screen, custom dual display for EMF and ambient temperature, and night view backlit display. The EMF burst mode detects EMF movement rapidly, and the record feature allows you to capture minimum and maximum values from your adventures and investigations.

Notice how they pitch the “EMFs = ghosts” idiocy again, but this time they add something else: the “temperature fluctuations = ghosts” idiocy!  Ghost hunters often take any kind of temperature anomaly as evidence of a ghost when it is not surprising that more likely, and perfectly plausible & reasonable, explanations abound for any such temperature fluctuations.  It’s almost as if these folks think that simply because they have a piece of cool technology in their hands that it somehow magically makes their paranormal claims more sound.  It doesn’t, because their reasoning is off base, and no amount of technology can fix that, only proper reasoning.  As the old computer adage goes: “Garbage In, Garbage Out”

And now for the coup de gras of Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific’s woo-woo…

Remote Viewing DVD – I don’t even know where to begin on this one.  Let’s just look at the claims advertised on the website:

Learn the Intuitive Science of ESP

In 1995, the CIA admitted to sponsoring a highly classified government program called STARGATE where “psychic spies” to remotely view people, places, and events. Similar to clairvoyance or ESP, remote viewing is a natural ability everyone posesses. Since the RV program is no longer classified, Lyn Buchanan now shares the techniques he independently developed for remote influencing and reveals the secrets of his research for the first time. Learn the history and latest applications of this amazing field of “intuitive science” and discover for yourself how to devleop and use your own RV-ESP skills.

Learn the basics from the best and progress into advanced remote viewing all with one DVD.

Oh, this is the ultimate in a *facepalm* moment… Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific is marketing a DVD they claim will make you psychic! Aaarrrrgh!  Remote viewing is a branch of ESP which, like all ESP, was thoroughly debunked years ago, yet here we see a respected scientific & educational outlet actively promoting it.  I think I’m going to throw up…

I find it absolutely appalling that a company dedicated to selling & distributing equipment to scientific classrooms around the world is wasting its time selling this nonsense!  What’s next: fairy dust, leprechaun hats, and unicorn horns?

To me, as a physics teacher, this is the equivalent of opening up their catalog to the biology section and finding products for sale that promote creationism. It is outlandish & unacceptable that Edmund Scientific is even involved in this.  And until they correct this situation by removing these misleading advertisements & products from their website, I will no longer purchase any of their products.  I will also do all that I can to encourage others to boycott and protest against these actions.

If you’re as incensed as I am about this stupidity on the part of Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific, let them know by emailing  them at scientifics@edsci.com.  In addition, there is a comment section at the bottom of each product page where you can leave feedback.  Perhaps if enough people voice their displeasure, the company will do the right thing and kick this pseudoscientific crap to the curb.

8 Responses to “Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific Sells “Ghost Detectors” & Other Woo”

  1. Holy crap! That’s just nutty…

    Their argument will be “it sells.”

    But so does meth and don’t sell that.

    gotta draw a line people.

  2. […] the stupid is just burning my brain.  I explain in another recent entry why these “ghost hunters” – who should really be called […]

  3. […] Despite the crudeness & vulgarity of their criticism, the South Park guys aren’t that far off the mark in pointing out the logical fallacy (basically, arguing from ignorance – a LOT of ignorance) committed by these lame-o doofuses who stumble around in the dark, scaring themselves for the cameras.  For a more detailed critique of “ghost hunters” and their pseudoscience, see my earlier blog post on the subject. […]

  4. […] up like crazy over the last couple of years.  Of course, I’ve written before about how ghost-hunters are essentially deluding themselves because they have no clue what they’re doing, but this website – What the Hell was That? – does a far better & more thorough job […]

  5. […] magazine about the Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific ghost detector (my blog post on the subject is here) and how that once respected science teaching outlet had now decided to go down the rabbit hole of […]

  6. […] Posted by mattusmaximus on November 4, 2010 If you recall, last week I posted the first of two skeptical lessons with a Halloween theme to them, and now I share with you the second one: the Haunted Physics Lab.  I cannot take credit for this idea, as I borrowed it years ago from my colleagues in the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).  What I did differently is to add a number of skeptically-oriented twists to it, such as why Ouija boards don’t work and why “ghost-hunters” are full of hooey when they claim EMF meters are detecting ghosts. […]

  7. […] may recall that I made a blog post in 2009 – titled Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific Sells “Ghost Detectors” & Other Woo – wherein I strongly criticized the science teaching outlet called Edmund Scientific for […]

  8. […] 5. EMF Woo – These are a collection of blog posts I have made over the years regarding the nonsense and pseudoscience surrounding EMFs (electromagnetic fields).  These posts – and the lessons associated with them – range from addressing claims of low-frequency EMFs inducing cancer to ghost-hunting woo (and the companies that promote such nonsense). […]

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