Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

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Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#1  Postby jerome » May 13, 2010 3:43 pm

I enjoy formal debates - they make me think, and work through my position - and I'd love to have a formal debate related in some way to ghosts and apparitions. Anyone interested? I'm pretty mellow, not overly bothered by "winning", I just like exploring issues, and it's been a while. Anyone want to take me on? We can work out a title?

j x
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#2  Postby Thommo » May 13, 2010 3:47 pm

I know nothing about ghosts (probably because there's nothing to know!), but I'll be cheering from the sidelines if you get one set up. :cheers:
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#3  Postby Luis Dias » May 13, 2010 3:50 pm

At last, a challenge for a formal debate! Kudos for jerome to stand up to it.

I'm not very interested in the subject though... but could you elaborate on what grounds would you more or less be debating from? I know you are a christian, but I know nothing about your stance over ghosts...
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#4  Postby Atheist Evolution » May 13, 2010 3:57 pm

I would certainly be interested in debating this, but first you need to state your position and your first argument.
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#5  Postby I'm With Stupid » May 13, 2010 4:02 pm

Are you allowed to consult the "other side" for help? Image

:plot:
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#6  Postby BlackBart » May 13, 2010 4:05 pm

It was the Janitor all along.
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#7  Postby jerome » May 13, 2010 4:06 pm

I believe people experience "ghosts". I doubt anyone denies that people have spooky experiences. I however believe some such experiences represent "real ghosts" -- ghosts that are in some sense objective entities: that they stand independent of the observer, and i do not believe that any current naturalistic explanation, for example infrasound, underground water, gauss variation, etc, etc, accounts for some aspects. These independent entities often appear to display intelligence, possibly self awareness, and be reactive to their environment, leading me to suspect they may represent some form of discarnate intelligence, or a human consciousness operating remotely. I hope that is reasonably clear.

In short "I believe in ghosts". I would draw from the literature, my research, and philosophical arguments - my main texts are probably

Evans, H (2002) Seeing Ghosts: Experiences of the Paranormal, London, John Murray

Green, C & McCreery, C (1975) Apparitions, London, Hamish Hamilton,

Gurney, E, Myers, F, Podmore, F (1886), Phantasms of the Living, Society for Psychical Research, London

Hart, H.. (1956). Six Theories About Apparitions, ProcSPR, 50, 153-239

McCorristine, S. (2007) "Dreaming While Awake: The Evolution of the Concept of Hallucination in the Nineteenth Century" in Forum: The University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & the Arts, Special Issue 1.

Salter, W.(1938) Ghosts and Apparitions. London: G. Bell & Sons

Sidgwick, E. (1885). Notes on the Evidence collected by the Society for Phantasms of the Dead, ProcSPR 3, 69-150

Sidgwick, E. et al. (1894). Report on the Census of Hallucinations. ProcSPR 10, 25-422

Tyrrell, GNM (1953) Apparitions, New York, Pantheon Books

Watt, C, Wiseman R, (2009) The Ghost in the Machine; An Internet Study of Haunting Experiences, paper presented at the 33rd International SPR Conference, Nottingham

West, D.J. (1948). Mass-Observation Questionnaire on Hallucinations. JSPR 34, 187-196

West, D.J. (1990). A Pilot Census of Hallucinations. ProcSPR 57(215), 163-207

West , D.J. (1995). Notes on a Recent Psychic Survey. JSPR

but I just took that list from a paper i am about to submit, so it is not inclusive. I'm happy to define the debate parameters as my opponent desires. Does that help AE?

Thanks guys, look forward to it..

j x
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#8  Postby Luis Dias » May 13, 2010 4:12 pm

Thanks, jerome. I think I'll look forward to read your debate :cheers:
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#9  Postby jerome » May 13, 2010 4:16 pm

I really enjoy this stuff. I got involved back in 1987 and have been quite heavily involved in research on hallucinations (from a medical and psychological perspective), naturalistic theories to explain the claimed phenomena, and purported poltergeist cases and hauntings for about twenty years now. It's what sharpened my critical faculties and got me in to the whole scepticism thing, and while irrelevant I think to the atheist/theist debate I think the ghost issue is certainly a lot more complex and interesting than I realised before I started. :)

j x
Last edited by jerome on May 13, 2010 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#10  Postby Luis Dias » May 13, 2010 4:19 pm

Well the forum is about skepticism, not "atheism". I think it fits rather neatly here.
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#11  Postby jerome » May 13, 2010 4:22 pm

Luis Dias wrote:Well the forum is about skepticism, not "atheism". I think it fits rather neatly here.


Exactly. :) And I tend to regard myself as an informed process sceptic, though others might disagree. I'm not actually committed to any one interpretation of the phenomena though, so I won't argue "ghosts are dead guys", and I think I should be clear that I believe that 99% of "ghost experiences" are perfectly explicable by quite mundane and natural causes. Howevere there is enough left for me to be willing to make a case; and I love a good discussion!

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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#12  Postby Moridin » May 13, 2010 4:29 pm

Let us assume that jerome takes the position that ghosts and apparitions exists. What sort of arguments could the philosophical naturalist (let us assume that the opponent would have this worldview) use?

Perhaps the argument from the necessity of naturalism, Carrier's BAN/BANBE, the argument from physical minds, an argument from incoherence and the fallibility of anecdotal evidence could provide useful for a negative case.

Perhaps the majority of jeromes arguments would be

1) arguments from ignorance (X occurred. Science cannot yet explain X in every detail. Therefore, X or the cause of X was supernatural)
2) arguments from anecdotal evidence (counter with millions of people are sure that aliens exists or that their religion are true, but this is false given jeromes form of theism, point out that this is special pleading and that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence)
3) arguments that contradict mind/brain identity (any talk of "immaterial consciousness or being")
4) arguments that presuppose that the ghost concept is logically coherent (demand to have a logically coherent definition of ghosts, reject every definition that are contradictory like "immaterial consciousness" etc. If no logically coherent definition of ghosts can be provided, reject the ghost-concept via noncognitivism; if the ghost-concept is contradictory, it cannot exist in reality).

which are, from the view of philosophical naturalism, all demonstrably invalid.

I think this could be an interesting stance to debate from.
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#13  Postby pensioner » May 13, 2010 4:33 pm

The only ghost I ever saw was when I had drunk a gallon of good Yorkshire ale if you want to take me on pay for the beer. :cheers:
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#14  Postby Luis Dias » May 13, 2010 4:42 pm

Well, there's also the point of double blind confirmation of ghosts observation.

Remember that for us to be sure that a particular observation is not the product of a deranged mind, we have a powerful tool: independent verification. It's one of the pillars of science. Now, have independent observations ever occurred? And they have to be really independent, for the power of suggestion is not negligible in this case.

If such a study could confirm an equal observation by independent observers, I would be impressed. As is, I only see here evidence that the human mind is filled with maladies and problems... just like any other organ.
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#15  Postby LIFE » May 13, 2010 4:44 pm

And here I was...thinking I should disable the "Formal debates"-forum since it's an empty hall for months now :D

I won't if it actually gets some real attention...
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#16  Postby Paul Almond » May 13, 2010 4:45 pm

I think that ghosts (in the usual sense of the word in which people mean it) are hyper-unlikely, but still much more likely than God ((in the usual sense of the word in which people mean it), which is super-hyper-unlikely. I will justify this if anyone tries to back me into a corner.
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#17  Postby Kenaz » May 13, 2010 4:45 pm

While I try to remain an "open-minded" skeptic, in that I do not close my mind to anything; but I requite evidence. In this case, I have none at this time; but I do however realize there are people out there who have experienced a "ghost" or similar paranormal event they couldn't explain. Before we understood exactly what a rainbow was, I'm sure it was seemingly "paranormal" to them as well. But, as I said, until I experience it personally; I can't speak for their existence. Even if I did, I would remain skeptic to the fact that there are a number of factors or causes in play I may be unaware of (ie: sleep paralysis, EMF levels, etc).

Like all things we don't have a solid and concrete understanding of, they become "supernatural" or mysterious. The stance, "I don't know" is all too scarce.
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#18  Postby LIFE » May 13, 2010 4:50 pm

JWG wrote:But, as I said, until I experience it personally; I can't speak for their existence.


Here's an experiment: Stay awake for 2 days or more and you'll start seeing things that are not there very vividly. E.g. washbowls cobwebbed and stuff like that. It's somewhat scary and interesting at the same time. Tricks of the mind for sure.
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#19  Postby Luis Dias » May 13, 2010 4:50 pm

I have experienced ghosts before. In fact, three. At the same time. And it was a quite lively experience.

Funny thing: they were pirates! :lol:

They weren't very friendly though...

I was quite sick, though, and very weak (in the verge of passing out, and feeling my fingers numbing down or itching of an invisible invasion of ants).
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Re: Ghosts - anyone up for a formal debate?

#20  Postby Kenaz » May 13, 2010 4:52 pm

LIFE wrote:
JWG wrote:But, as I said, until I experience it personally; I can't speak for their existence.


Here's an experiment: Stay awake for 2 days or more and you'll start seeing things that are not there very vividly. E.g. washbowls cobwebbed and stuff like that. It's somewhat scary and interesting at the same time. Mind tricks for sure.


Don't forget to include my next statement regarding that to follow it up.. :naughty: :grin:

JWG wrote:Even if I did, I would remain skeptic to the fact that there are a number of factors or causes in play I may be unaware of (ie: sleep paralysis, EMF levels, etc).


This would include the effects on the brain and hallucinations resulting from sleep deprivation. I will actually plan on trying your proposed experiment, though. :cheers:
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