What are the odds?
When I first starting investigating a few years ago, my favourite piece of equipment was the Ovilus 3. Not knowing much about it apart from the fact it was used on TV and could seemingly talk to me from the other side, I thought this was about as good as it could get. All I needed to do was to ask a question and the answer would appear on the screen. I didn't need a piece of equipment with flashy lights, this was so easy and I could sit and have a conversation with someone from the other side. As time went on and I investigated and learnt more and evolved as an investigator, I became more and more skeptical of the Ovilus. I realized that the power of suggestion really influenced how you use this device and I also noticed that a lot of random words not related to anything were appearing. What is your name? 'TABLE'. That just makes no sense. In order to really understand what was going on, I had to look past the bells and whistles and the famous voice saying 'dictionary mode' and work out what was really going on.
How does the Ovilus work?
The Ovilus has existed in many different formats, with the most popular being the Ovilus 3 model. This is the model which was most commonly seen on TV shows like Ghost Adventures and is probably the most recognizable to paranormal enthusiasts. It has been discontinued now and you can only buy it second hand from someone willing to sell it. It will set you back at least $800 AUD from my recent browsings on eBay. There is then the Ovilus 4 which has also been discontinued and the current model the Ovilus 5 which is on the current TV shows again like Ghost Adventures and Ghost Brothers. The Ovilus 5 device will cost you around about $465 AUD including shipping. Being a paranormal investigator is expensive.
They all work in a similar way, they are just updated to look fancier and each upgraded models have a larger database of words. For the sake of this exercise, we will be looking at the Ovilus 3 model as this is what I have been studying. The official explanation of how it works from the different 'ghost hunting equipment suppliers' is: "The revolutionary Ghost Box Ovilus III converts environmental readings into real words. Now you can get real words and phonetic responses to your questions. Theories suggest that spirits and other paranormal entities may be able to alter our environment such as electromagnet frequencies, temperature, etc. The Ovilus III takes advantage of this by using these frequencies to choose a response from a preset database of over 2,000 words. The idea behind this, is that an intelligent entity will be able to alter the environment in such a way that forces the Ovilus to "speak" an appropriate response." What is very important to note is the fine print and something that even appears on the box when you purchase one: 'For entertainment purposes only'.
So what is in this database of words?
The database programmed into the Ovilus 3 contains exactly 2049 words. New models contain more words. How do I know this? A couple of years ago, I contacted Digital Dowsing who are the makers of this device. I managed to get my hands on the database. Thinking I was pretty special and the only one to have this information, I was surprised to find out the information was also readily available on their website. Here is a link if you want to have a look. I downloaded this a couple of years ago into an excel spreadsheet. Wanting to learn more about how this device works, myself and Martin (Co Founder of Paranormal X Files) sat down and spent a good month taking turns and looking up the dictionary translation for every single word in the database so that we could get a better understand of what kind of words are in there. What we noticed straight away was that this device has been programmed with words that are quite specific to paranormal investigation. There are words relating to religion, crime, medical conditions, names, numbers even words relating to physics and astrology. The majority of the database however is made up verbs, adjectives, nouns etc words like run, because, tree, ball, even the word paranormal is in there and of course my favourite the word orb. This was work we completed a few years ago, but I recently thought to myself, I can do more with this information.
Why do random words come out?
Looking at the theory behind it, if it is using readings from the environment around you, it is picking up on everything. Even you just holding it could cause it give a reading, the power point in the wall, the static electricity in the air could all be contributing to the reading. This is what I believe is causing these random words. Some other theories I have heard from fellow investigators are things like, 'The spirits are picking a word in the dictionary that might sound like what they are trying to communicate. Quite often when the device speaks, it sounds like it is saying a word completely different to what is on the screen', 'the device is preprogrammed to spit out random words in the hope it will match the conditions' and the most bizarre is that 'it has a microphone inside that records your conversations and it works out what words might be relevant'. These are not my opinion, these are theories I have just heard from fellow investigators. I really do just think the random words are a result of the environment surrounding you.
What are the odds that the word I am looking for will come up?
Whether a spirit really is manipulating the surroundings to give a word that is relevant or if it is just picking up the natural environment around us, it essentially becomes a numbers game as to if the word you are looking for will come up. My theory when it comes to using equipment and whether or not it is a useful tool or not is to know how it works so that you can properly interpret the data. So to make it easier for you, I have personally sat down and gone through and documented every single word in the dictionary and made a few categories to work out the percentage chance of the word you are looking for coming up. You can then decide for yourself out in the field that when you get a direct answer to your question, based on the odds how to interpret the responses you are getting. All numbers are approximate because it is possibly in the scramble of words, I have missed one here or there. Here is what I found:
- There are approximately 103 names in the database meaning there is a 5% chance a response will be a name
- There are approximately 41 words related to religion in the database meaning there is a 2% chance a response will be related to some sort of religion or religious belief
- There are approximately 36 numbers or word spelling out a number meaning there is a 1.75% chance a response will be a number
- There are approximately 29 words relating to family members such as Mother, Father etc meaning there is a 1.4% chance a response will be related to a family member
- There are approximately 17 words relating to a country or nationality meaning there is a 0.82% chance if you ask 'What country are you from', that the device will answer with a country
- There are approximately 20 words relating to body parts meaning there is a 0.97% chance a response will be a body part
- There are approximately 7 words which are colours meaning that there is only a 0.34% chance a response will be a colour
- All 26 letters of the Alphabet are programmed into the database meaning there is a 0.1% chance that if you ask what is the first letter of your name that the answer will be a letter
What do I do with all this information?
Well whatever you want to really. The way I am looking at the above is that the odds of the word I am looking for coming up are actually pretty low. I would be looking at the conversation as a whole. If out of 100 words that have come through only 1 was relevant, it was likely to be a co incidence because even though the odds are low, they are still possible. If it seems you are getting several intelligent responses in a row, that to me would be pretty interesting. Just based on the odds of several intelligent words randomly coming up, I would suggest buying a Tattslotto ticket if it does happen! On TV it seems like they never get these 'random' words and their whole conversation appears to be intelligent. Don't be fooled by editing. I am sure they also get the random words, it just doesn't make great television. We all know how much the power of suggestion works with the Ovilus. Try to be aware of it and don't get caught up in the moment. Only concentrate and validate an answer if it seems to be a direct answer to your question. If they can give you an answer once, they can surely do it again. I have heard rumors that some people have claimed words that have come up on the device that are not pre programmed. I have not had this happen but it is possible that there are extra words programmed in the device that not listed on the database list made available to the public
So what am I going to do with this information? I am setting up over the course of the next few months a bit of an experiment. I will be using the Ovilus device at Black Rock House in the same room over a series of weeks. I will do a session for the same length of time and ask the same questions. I will be logging the answers that come through to see if there is some sort of pattern. The pattern would help me to understand if it is the envrironment around me as I would expect the same words to keep coming up in the same room (which I have noticed in the past). Having it all logged and front of me, I can then properly interpret the results. I don't know what I will do with the information at the end of it but it is going to be a fun and interesting challenge doing it and really it is just something I am interested in investigating. I am not setting out to debunk the Ovilus or setting out to prove it is legit, I am just trying to better understand it for myself and I am happy to share my data if it is going to help someone else. I know how it works but I want to know WHY we are getting the answers we are getting. I have a love/hate relationship with this device. Most of the time, I am unimpressed with the answers it gives. When I do get a very direct answer to a question, I admit that it peaks my interest. When I get 2 or 3 in a row, my opinion of the Ovilus starts to change a little bit, especially now knowing what the odds are. Take this device for what it is. I wouldn't be relying on it to give you definitive answers, especially if you were working a private case or tryng to get answers for someone, but it is something you could have a little bit of fun if you are just out investigating and I wouldn't be taking the results too seriously.
I want to hear from you. What do you think about the Ovilus? Tell me in the comments below.
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