We here at Stories in the Cemetery are fortunate enough that our business keeps us investigating every single evening possible. With that said, we are constantly innovating and thinking of new ways to add to the Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience and experiment with new methods and technologies in the paranormal field.
Enter The Estes Method.
If you haven’t heard about this experiment (which, if you’re here, you more than likely have), allow me to explain this very briefly.
There is a receiver of messages through a spirit box who is blindfolded and uses noise canceling headphones to have a multi-sensory deprivation for needs of focusing their listening skills to the spirit box.
The interviewer then asks questions unbeknownst to the receiver, to the spirit in question of haunting a said space.
A minimum of two investigators are needed for this experiment to work properly. Items needed: a spirit box (we prefer the SBox Ghost Scanner by Ghost Stop since it records your sessions), a blindfold, and noise canceling headphones.
Of course, there are innovations to this simple setup and they will be discussed as we move through this article.
The purpose of this article is to not only introduce you to the method (that’s been done before, check the resources below), but to use this experiment as part of our nightly investigations and show you the results of how we measure results and add it to our SITC Scoring System for our upcoming 2024 Paranormal Investigation Workbook.
We’ve added this method to our nightly Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience for our guest ghost hunters to train how to listen to a spirit box and then have an ESTES Method session for our final location.
The conditions that we use for reference of this study:
- Disposable, individually wrapped blindfolds are provided (check Amazon, plenty of options).
- The SBox Ghost Scanner is used and the entire session is recorded separately for this experiment. The Lead Investigator (when reviewing the recorded data) goes through this recording a bit more thoroughly to find anything missed during the session or to verify any relevant terms and phrases said in real time.
- The session is also video recorded by a minimum of one paranormal camera, preferably the infrared for the clearest picture.
- The receiver(s) are left out of the “history” portion of the location so they are not influenced by subliminal thoughts and expectations.
- The session is limited to ten minutes due to the possibility of hyperventilation, disorientation and/or lack of messaging coming through.
- Scoring the session is done on a three tier system for the SITC Scoring System:
- Unsuccessful: 0 points. Less than two answers were provided that were direct adjectives and/or nouns that were relevant to the expected haunting.
- Slightly Successful: 5 points. Two-three answers were answered directly with accurate information pertaining to the expected haunting.
- Successful: 10 points. Four or more answers were direct with accurate information pertaining to the expected haunting.
Yes, yes, yes, this will be another post using numbers and ratios to analyze the data. How else are we going to move this field along in the right direction?
Using the three tier system listed above, we put all the investigations that underwent an Estes Method and calculated the averages to see if this method truly works.
The three tier system is based on the terms/phrases said during the session only and though there may be outside occurrences such as other spirit boxes running with a receiver that knows the background of the haunting and personal experiences that may be relevant to the haunting, these were not accounted for in the three tier scoring system. We counted those as separate points in the SITC Scoring System towards the overall score of the investigation.
The following calculations are from the months of March through June of 2023 with a grand total of 61 investigations that had an Estes Method performed.
There were a total of 180 points accumulated using the three tier system of 0 points, 5 points and 10 points. When averaged out, this gives the overall score of 2.95 points per investigation. If we look at this 2.95 on the scale of 0-10 (given the three tier system), this shows that the Estes Method falls in between the Unsuccessful to Slightly Successful rating.
Doesn’t sound too promising, but let’s look at the brighter side of this. That’s a 1 out of 3 chance that any success will come out of one of these sessions. The articles researched showed that there are plenty of skeptics around this method and with these kinds of averages, they seem to be justified. However…
Stories in the Cemetery sees anywhere from 40-60 curious ghost seekers per week on average for the Interactive Ghost Hunting Experiences. They are curious because they, like you, watch the television shows, follow paranormal social media channels and so forth. I’ll take the one out of three chance that a successful session will occur because for Stories in the Cemetery, that means two successful sessions per week on average.
What we teach these curious ghost seekers is that ghost hunting is never black and white and messages aren’t always in yes/no answers. In fact, this article should prove to you that Stories in the Cemetery isn’t in the Hollywood business of glorifying and fabricating fears for the sake of an audience. We’re honest not only with our guests, but also to ourselves and our studies. So, in our curious minds, a 33.33% chance of a success in an Estes Method session is going to be worth the shot and well, let’s face it, the Estes Method is just fun to participate in and even watch how it unfolds.
Innovating an innovational method
We couldn’t very well have a new style and/or method to attempt without someone trying to amend it with an additional approach.
Ghost Tube, the creators of apps like SLS, Vox and the Original Ghost Tube, have come up with a new approach to the Estes Method and well, we just had to try it.
Ghost Tube’s new app, SEER, is taking advantage of not only this new method in ghost hunting, but also the latest technologies of Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality. Here’s how it works:
Using the magnetometer in your cell phone, the app will generate AI Imagery in a VR setting to be watched and created through Ghost Tube’s VR Headset. Just slide your phone in the headset and slap on the normal gear for an Estes Session: noise-canceling headphones and a spirit box. The images will be generated before your eyes. What’s more is that you can save the images after your session to show the other participants in the session.
Stories in the Cemetery has added the VR headset to the Estes sessions of the Interactive Ghost Hunting Experiences but with one small twist. We don’t just gear up one ghost seeker. We separate them. One Seer, One Listener. Both the Seer and Listener are deprived of the history of the location while the other ghost hunters in the group are briefed before the session. This keeps everything in a controlled environment.
In just a short time, we found this to be a fantastic addition to the Estes Method sessions. The images created in sessions from June 20-July 2 (we’re still testing methods), there were 38 images created with 16 of those being relevant to the haunted space. That’s 42%, an even better ratio than that of the Estes Listening sessions of 33.33%.
In short, we’re still monitoring the numbers and experimenting with questions to ask during these sessions. Make no mistake, both of these methods, whether combined or separated, are just fun and creepy to experiment with. By hosting these sessions, I watch the expressions of the observing ghost hunters when we have a full connection and that’s why we do what we do. Ghost hunting will never be black and white, but Stories in the Cemetery will continue to try and make sense of experiments and how we approach them so there can be tangible, measurable results instead of just watching television hosts looking for the next jump scare for their audience.
We invite you to our Interactive Ghost Hunting Experience, it’s not TV, and we’ll show you how we’re constantly experimenting looking for answers while making connections not only to the spirits of Charleston, but we’ve seen where our ghost seekers are having personal experiences from lost loved ones. Spirit activity is never guaranteed, but we can guarantee an unforgettable experience overall.
As this ghost hunting method evolves (and we’re positive it will), we’ll continue to monitor and make any changes to the Paranormal Investigation Workbook year after year after we’ve had the opportunity to experiment with the method, measure it and come to have a better understanding of why these methods may or may not assist in finding truths behind paranormal happenings.
An ESTES Method Session with SEER App Enhancement
Below you’ll find the ESTES Session from our June 23, 2023 investigation. This session had a second ghost hunter using the SEER App headset. You can find the images below the video. Pay attention to the instructions given before the session.
Ghost Stop. (n.d.). GhostStop Ghost Hunting Equipment – SBox Ghost Scanner Spirit Box. Ghost Stop. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.ghoststop.com/sbox-ghost-box-recorder/
Ghost Tube. (2023, June 22).…………／＞. YouTube. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://ghosttube.com/products/ghosttube-seer
Hallozween. (n.d.). The Estes Method. Hallozween. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.hallozween.com.au/the-estes-method/
Penny. (2020, January 15). The Estes Method with Penny Griffiths-Morgan. Haunted Houses. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.haunted-houses.co.uk/the-estes-method-with-penny-griffiths-morgan/
Pfeifle, T. (2019, February 20). Estes Method — Astonishing Legends. Astonishing Legends. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://astonishinglegends.com/astonishing-legends/2019/2/16/estes-method
Swope, M., & Navarro, M. (2023, March 29). “Hellier” Investigator Connor J. Randall Discusses The Stanley Hotel and Co-Creating the Estes Method [Interview]. Bloody Disgusting! Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://bloody-disgusting.com/interviews/3756516/hellier-investigator-connor-j-randall-discusses-the-stanley-hotel-and-co-creating-the-estes-method-interview/
This article has a podcast episode on Stories in the Cemetery. It is episode 44, subscribe on Spotify.