We have set up an ongoing set of experiments to collect more data for research into the Flashlight Phenomenon. This is a study designed to arrive at a more complete understanding of what is really happening with this controversial ghost hunting method. Early research is turning up some interesting findings. We will make periodic updates until the research is done and then we will publish our results and conclusions.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the Flashlight Method, this is believed to be a way to have real time interaction with an entity or spirit. The investigator unscrews the cap of a flashlight just enough to set the flashlight switch to a state somewhere between on and off so that the bulb is barely off. Then the investigator asks the entity to turn the flashlight on. If it turns on, the investigator asks it to turn the light off, and so forth in attempt at real time communication. There are obviously many problems with this type of procedure, including flashlight type, temperature, humidity, flashlight setting, location, etc. One of the prevalent arguments against the validity of the flashlight phenomenon is that it is simply thermodynamics causing the response. That theory suggests that as the flashlight body cools, it shrinks allowing the switch to make contact and the light turns on, then the bulb heats the flashlight expanding the body, breaking the contact and the light turns off. Proponents of the flashlight method theorize that spirits or entities bridge the gap in the switch or even turn the sleeve to make the flashlight go on and off. Still others argue that other factors such as vibration, humidity or dust shorts the light on and off. To some degree, those could all be correct assumptions.
For this study, we chose to use the popular Mini Maglite flashlight. We obtained 6 identical flashlights. Four of them have the original Xenon bulbs. Two of them have had the bulbs changed to an LED, one green, one blue. We held experiments in four locations. Two that were reported haunted locations (one indoor location, one outside location) and two that were considered not haunted (one indoor and one outside) as a control. We conducted "flashlight sessions" in Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Temperature variations were from 34 degrees to 96 degrees Fahrenheit at the outside locations and from 46 degrees to 88 degrees Fahrenheit at the inside locations.
We obtained the schematics for the original Mini Maglite and dissected one to get a better understanding of how the switching mechanism works as well as a good look at all of the components.
1. End Cap, 2. O-ring, 3. Spare Bulb Holder, 4. Spare Bulb, 5. Battery Pressure Spring, 6. Body Sleeve, 7. O-ring, 8. Switch, 9. Bulb, 10. Reflector Sleeve, 11. O-ring, 12. Reflector, 13. Lens, 14. O-ring, 15. Lens Cap.
Now to understand how the flashlight works, you have to understand how the switching mechanism works. Below is a copy of the illustrations used to file for the patent of the Mini Maglite. It shows cutaway views to illustrate the inner workings of the flashlight.
This is how this flashlight works. When the reflector sleeve (part # 24 in the above illustrations) is screwed clockwise all the way down, the switch is off. When the reflector sleeve is screwed counter-clockwise, the switch is on. Here is a better view of the switching mechanism. The positive (+) lead from the bulb (green) connects to the positive tip of the battery and the negative (-) lead from the bulb (red) connects to the inner lip of the flashlight body (dark blue) which is connected to the negative end of the battery.
Unfortunately, after working with these flashlights for a little over a year, we have found flaws in the switch design which render results obtained from testing and investigations invalid. There are too many natural factors that can affect the flashlight's ability to turn on and off. Among these are temperature, humidity, dust, static electricity, and electron flow capabilities. Another deficit is that it is impossible to precisely set the switches identically each time to accurately test for results. These factors have caused us to cease using standard Maglite flashlights for testing or use on investigations.
We have instead designed a modified flashlight with an external switch that can be reliably and accurately set and replicated precisely to gather more reliable data. A full discussion and demonstration is shown in the video below. We would urge all investigators to stop using standard flashlights as communication devices and instead build something similar to our non-switching flashlight to gather more reliable data in the field.
Here is the best scientific explanation that we've seen!