The Flashlight Sessions- Debunked

by Joe Cairney

As a Paranormal Investigator, it will come as no surprise that I follow several TV shows involving Paranormal Investigations. You see, I’m always on the lookout for innovative ideas on this subject matter, and to be quite honest, I do use several of the techniques that I have seen on these shows. One of the many techniques that I have always had my doubts about, and as a result of this, have never tried, is the use of flashlights to communicate with Spirit. You know, its the one where you unscrew the head of the flashlight until it is real easy to turn on and off, you then leave it on a flat surface and begin inviting a spirit to turn it on and off in answer to your questions. The investigators that use this technique on television appear to have a fair amount of success with it. Although I’ve always had my doubts about the technique itself, I’ve never doubted that those who get results, truly believe they are communicating with Spirit. But its never sat right with me. Yeah, I know, so this is your line in the sand Joe! Well, I guess it is, but now I feel vindicated in this stance thanks to the following article. What I have here is excerpts from the original article by Matthew Kielty, called ‘Explaining The Flashlight Sessions’, which is basically a report of the findings of Burkhard Reike:

Explaining The Flashlight Sessions
Thursday, October 30, 2014 – 06:04 PM
By Matthew Kielty

“Burkhard told me this started for him when he was watching the ScyFy show “Ghost Hunters” (I’m assuming you get the gist of the show from the name). Over and over, these ghost hunters would pull out flashlights, ask questions into the air and then – just like in Dennis’ story – the lights would flash on and off.
At first Burkhard thought, eh, they’re probably just tapping the table or some sly trick. But then he noticed something: all the different ghost hunters were using the exact same flashlight. The mini-Maglite, two-cell AA, with an incandescent lightbulb.
So Burkhard bought a couple, brought them home, and took them apart. Now, the thing about these flashlights is that to turn them on or off, all you have to do is screw or unscrew the top of the flashlight. When you do this, two tiny bits of metal come into contact with each other. When they’re touching, the electrical circuit is open and the light is on. When they aren’t, the circuit is broken and the light is off. Here’s an illustration of the inside of the flashlight from Burkhard’s video (contact point is on the right-hand side, in yellow):

(Photo Credit: Burkhard Reike)

Burkhard ran through a dozen or so trials and experiments, five weeks worth, and found that this whole trick comes down to one part of the flashlight, the reflector. It’s the dome-like mirror that surrounds the light bulb and focuses all that light. And here’s how it works:
When you turn a flashlight on, the bulb generates a bunch of heat and the reflector starts to get really hot. As it gets hotter and hotter, it starts to expand, getting bigger and bigger. Then, if you want to ask some ghosts questions, what you do is you unscrew the top of the light JUST enough so that the light goes off. Now, because the light is off, the reflector starts to cool down and contract until it pushes one tiny piece of metal into contact with the other tiny piece of metal and … BOOM! The light bulb goes on. With the light back on, the reflector gets hot again and starts to expand … and expand … until it pulls the metal pieces apart again. And the light goes off. Then the reflector contracts, and so on.
Burkhard used a microscope camera and math to figure out that the expansion and contraction of the reflector is basically like turning the head of the flashlight 3 degrees. Cool detail, right?
But, I should say that it gets way more complicated than that – there’s oxidization, fritting, molten metal – but the point is, as Burkhard said, “this is by definition something that is normal and not paranormal.”