Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

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Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#1  Postby jerome » Apr 03, 2012 2:23 pm

Hayley Stevens has just written another fine article in which she shows just how loony some of my fellow ghosthunters are, and as usual I have written a response. It would be too much of a pain to post as it has so many links in, so I'll link the two articles, Hayley's first. There si actually very little disagreement between us --

http://heresyclub.com/2012/04/the-demon-in-your-mirror/

http://jerome23.wordpress.com/2012/04/0 ... sthunters/

Hope of interest!

j x
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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#2  Postby John P. M. » Apr 03, 2012 2:54 pm

I read the article in the first link. :)

I recognize much of it from when I was a 'believer' (theist). Not that I was doing any ghost hunting, but I had one poltergeist experience, and felt uneasy in that house then after. But at the time, I was easily impressionable. One of course was because of young age, but belief was just as big a factor. I was constantly warned by my overly religious mother about demons and how dangerous 'playing with the occult' was supposed to be.

Which of course, combined with paranormal / supernatural belief, makes rather mundane, everyday occurrences turn into something more. Tricks that are played on your mind by for instance optical illusions will settle as an otherworldly experience.

When I stopped believing in the supernatural, I remember vividly that everything became a lot more 'quiet' than before. Hard to explain. I suppose a believer would liken it to an exorcism or 'cleansing'...

The only times I get an emotion that is comparable at all nowadays, is if I get scared by a paranormal horror movie (very rarely now), or if I'm in a pitch dark cellar or something. But I'd say that (the latter) is rational, in the sense that fear of the dark most likely is an evolved thing. I suppose one gets eaten less frequently(!) if one is jumpy and alert in darkness than if not.

I have some experience with the New Age types as well, and to put an example to what I said about mundane things turning into something more, I once saw a photo posted to Facebook of a meeting a few of these people had had - adult people - and on that photo, you could see so-called 'orbs'. Now, in all seriousness, these 'orbs' were said to be spirit beings that they had captured on film, and they were all excited about it. I think that if one wants to believe, these things happen.

All that said, I'd be happy to go ghost hunting with you. Or... "ghost" hunting, as I would probably call it. ;)
I'd like to revisit the house I experienced that poltergeist for instance, because I think I have figured out how/why it happened.
Unfortunately I can't. Or at least, it would be very awkward.
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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#3  Postby Ironclad » Apr 03, 2012 5:43 pm

jerome wrote:Hayley Stevens has just written another fine article in which she shows just how loony some of my fellow ghosthunters are, and as usual I have written a response. It would be too much of a pain to post as it has so many links in, so I'll link the two articles, Hayley's first. There si actually very little disagreement between us --

http://heresyclub.com/2012/04/the-demon-in-your-mirror/

http://jerome23.wordpress.com/2012/04/0 ... sthunters/

Hope of interest!

j x


Jerome.. you are a ghostbuster..! :eh:

:think:

:yay:

:awesome:
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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#4  Postby Kenaz » Apr 04, 2012 5:26 am

Ironclad-

Did you even read the articles? They are about approaching the study of the claims of paranormal phenomena from a skeptical and scientific angle, not with preconceived beliefs tainting both the 'study' and the clients. I think it's wonderful that we have people studying these sorts of things from a rational and skeptical mindset.
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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#5  Postby Kenaz » Apr 04, 2012 6:45 pm

I'd like to apologize, Ironclad. It was me who didn't read it seems. I had only made it through the first article by Hayley, and now I understand your reply (in response to Jerome's article).

Jerome-

In summary, it seems that your proposition is that perhaps the decline of belief in religion was the cause of belief in yet another 'thing.' In your article you mention ghosts, ESP, and UFOs namely. It certainly may be true that dropping one belief opens the doors for another belief, but I'd say it's simply the tendency to accept something without evidence, a lack of critical thinking, skepticism, and rationality. Some may be born into a religion-free upbringing, but become attached to something else (such as UFOs) without being able to view assumptions, and throw them away without evidence.
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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#6  Postby jerome » Apr 04, 2012 7:25 pm

Hey JWG - absolutely. As I say in my piece, this is NOT an argument for religion - it is simply the case that lack of religious belief appears to correlate with belief in "New Age" type phenomena strongly. Hayley is a good friend, and as it happens an atheist - but she is also a strong critical thinker and sceptic, and the point I am making is the two are by no means synonymous. Atheism is defined by a single negative - and as I point out in various writings, we have seen the Anti-Science Atheists of the early 20th century, the Spiritualist Atheists who are still around today, and every other variety one can imagine. Scepticism and critical thinking are of the essence --- not an a priori prejudice. My latest blog post is an attack on James Randi's latest Pigasus Awards, where I accuse him of making this error with regard to Daryl Bem's notorious pregonition experiments, of allowing prejudice to obscure that this was actually good science, albeit potentially wrong - like the FTL neutrino results, which appeared sound until failed replications pointed the way to a technical fault.

I'll post a link in the Bem thread to it.

Critical thinking can exist independently of anty given ideological baggage, and we all carry ideological baggage. The point is not my own, but actually derives from Martin Gardner, Grandaddy of the American Scepticism and founcer of CSICOP. I'd be really happy to discuss these issues though!

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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#7  Postby jerome » Apr 04, 2012 7:26 pm

Incidentally Hayley et al have interviewed me twice on the Righteous Indignation Podcast - episode 40 and I believe 114 (actually 104). If you'd like to hear more I'll post links.
Last edited by jerome on Apr 04, 2012 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#8  Postby jerome » Apr 04, 2012 7:58 pm

John P. M. wrote:I read the article in the first link. :)

I recognize much of it from when I was a 'believer' (theist). Not that I was doing any ghost hunting, but I had one poltergeist experience, and felt uneasy in that house then after. But at the time, I was easily impressionable. One of course was because of young age, but belief was just as big a factor. I was constantly warned by my overly religious mother about demons and how dangerous 'playing with the occult' was supposed to be.


Yep, I was brought up irreligiously - in fact impiously -- but I'm just as riddled with irrational fears. I just was never as far as i recall afraid of spooks as a youngster. Hayley's article is excellent isn't it? She interviewed me and the PChairman of ASSAP David Woods on Righteous Indignation podcast after we did a paper on ethical issues in ghosthunting for ASSAP's journal ANOMALY last year. It's here if anyone interested -- http://www.talkaboutstrange.co.uk/episo ... t-hunting/ 105, not 114 as I said before.

John P. M. wrote:
Which of course, combined with paranormal / supernatural belief, makes rather mundane, everyday occurrences turn into something more. Tricks that are played on your mind by for instance optical illusions will settle as an otherworldly experience.

When I stopped believing in the supernatural, I remember vividly that everything became a lot more 'quiet' than before. Hard to explain. I suppose a believer would liken it to an exorcism or 'cleansing'...


:)

John P. M. wrote:
I have some experience with the New Age types as well, and to put an example to what I said about mundane things turning into something more, I once saw a photo posted to Facebook of a meeting a few of these people had had - adult people - and on that photo, you could see so-called 'orbs'. Now, in all seriousness, these 'orbs' were said to be spirit beings that they had captured on film, and they were all excited about it. I think that if one wants to believe, these things happen.


When I first got involved with the Most Haunted crew, series 2, I pointed out orbs were perfectly explicable. The fans still go on about them today though! A few good papers debunking them exist, but the earliest I know of was Andrew Oakley's paper on the phenomenon, explaining them in terms of how digital cameras work.

John P. M. wrote:
All that said, I'd be happy to go ghost hunting with you. Or... "ghost" hunting, as I would probably call it. ;)
I'd like to revisit the house I experienced that poltergeist for instance, because I think I have figured out how/why it happened.
Unfortunately I can't. Or at least, it would be very awkward.


I'd be interested to hear more about it, and would love to go ghosthunting in Norway one day. I may just get to actually. (Skynd Dem! Hurtig! Jeg er ikke englaender. Jeg er dansk. Hjelp! Tretti år har! Kommer undsaette mig! ;( Hjelp! Jeg vil ikke bli her! Jeg vil reise iaften!)


j x
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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#9  Postby John P. M. » Apr 04, 2012 8:07 pm

jerome wrote:(Skynd Dem! Hurtig! Jeg er ikke englaender. Jeg er dansk. Hjelp! Tretti år har! Kommer undsaette mig! ;( Hjelp! Jeg vil ikke bli her! Jeg vil reise iaften!)


j x


Ha ha! :lol: -That reminded me of the 'Norwegian' at the start of John Carpenter's The Thing (1982)! :lol:

You could make yourself understood here with that, though. ;)
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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#10  Postby jerome » Apr 04, 2012 8:10 pm

Yes I'm rubbish at it. I'm hampered by only knowing a little Danish badly from my childhood there and almost no Norwegian, and only having a 1904 Dano-Norwegian dictionary to hand. Norwegian has changed far far more than most languages since 1904! :D Still I had a go! :) I take it you got the gist?
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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#11  Postby John P. M. » Apr 04, 2012 8:13 pm

Yeah, I got most of it. :)
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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#12  Postby HomerJay » Apr 04, 2012 8:23 pm

JWG wrote: I think it's wonderful that we have people studying these sorts of things from a rational and skeptical mindset.

Psychiatrists?
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Re: Ghosts, God and the Trouble with Ghosthunters

#13  Postby Kenaz » Apr 07, 2012 5:07 am

HomerJay wrote:
JWG wrote: I think it's wonderful that we have people studying these sorts of things from a rational and skeptical mindset.

Psychiatrists?


Clever sarcasm, but what is it you are actually trying to say, directly? That it's all bunk so we shouldn't investigate it rationally and with as less assumptions and belief involved as possible? Just walk around with your hands over your eyes and plugging your ears. That's the kind of attitude that, ironically so, actually springs up belief - faith. But of course, we know everything already, there is nothing to be found in curiosity and honest study in odd phenomenon. It killed the cat you know! :what:
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