Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

Discussions on UFOs, ghosts, myths etc.

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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#101  Postby NucleicAcid » Mar 04, 2010 2:17 pm

Mac_Guffin wrote:See, I don't like that "if you dig deep enough" line. It's a bit of a cop-out.


Because a lot of the evidence for paranormal effects is phenomenological and it's just not the same reading about it in a journal as experiencing it yourself. Normally, people don't have to do things like perform the double-slit experiment on their own in order to know that wave-particle duality exists, because there is a body of research generated by specialized scientists that is generally accepted. When that was in its infancy, many scientists believed electrons behaved like bullets and light like waves. It took a paradigm shift of the entire community (catalyzed largely by solving the ultraviolet catastophe) for the new beliefs to be accepted as fact.

Progress in parapsychology is comparatively hindered because a) there are thousands of times more (staying in the comparison) physicists than paranormal researchers and b) because many people in the larger scientific community (esp. CSI[COP]) outright angrily oppose paranormal research and spread misinformation about the research being conducted.

When creationists ask me about evolution and its evidence, I come back with a basic summary of why it's true.


You asked for a basic summary of paranormal experience and its evidence, and I told you: Years of reports of experiences, data collected by ghost hunters, lab research into psi, and independent researched conducted by individuals or groups in the communities.

It's not the scientists being evasive, it's elusive phenomena. Quantum entanglement has been demonstrated, however, in setups that measure for it, an entangled pair is generated in only one in a few billion emissions (IIRC). They solve that by using a coincidence counter to filter out the 999,999,999 emissions that don't do anything interesting. (it also helps that it only takes about 15 minutes to acquire several billion emissions). That's basically what experiments like massive Ganzfeld trials and Associative Remote Viewing do: they have to compile large amounts of data because a) not everyone has the capacity to demonstrate ESP at all b) very very few people can actually demonstrate it on demand. Ghost hunters have to go through tens or hundreds of investigations in order to find a single one with really good evidence. Not because they are looking for anomalies and they're waiting for the coincidences to catch up (because these 'coincidences' are often way above and beyond chance after you factor in how many investigations are performed), but because it just isn't something that you can manifest on demand.

Which is why we use science to collect more information so that one day we do know how to get it to happen on demand.
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#102  Postby Teuton » Mar 04, 2010 6:20 pm

-Sylvan-Shadow- wrote:
Okay first things first, I am an atheist, but I do believe in spirits or whatever you want to call them.


An important point: The nonphysical spirits of philosophy/theology, which are bodiless and consist of no stuff at all, are different from the paraphysical spirits of folk mythology, which are not not bodiless and consist of some alien stuff.
Nonphysical spirits are invisible by definition, since bodiless beings lack a physical surface that could reflect light.
The god of theism is a totally nonphysical being that has no body and isn't even located anywhere in space.

"We commonly think that we, as persons, have both a mental and a bodily dimension—or mental aspects and material aspects. Something like this dualism of personhood, I believe, is common lore shared across most cultures and religious traditions, although it is seldom articulated in the form of an explicit set of doctrines as in modern western philosophy and some developed theologies. It is often part of this 'folk dualism' that we are able to survive bodily deaths, as souls or spirits, and retain all or most of the mental aspects of ourselves, such as memory, the capacity for thought and volition, and traits of character and personality, long after our bodies have crumbled to dust.
Spirits and souls as conceived in popular lore seem not be entirely without physical properties, if only vestigially physical ones, and are not what Descartes and other philosophical dualists would call souls or minds—wholly immaterial and nonphysical substances with no physical properties whatever. For example, souls are commonly said to leave the body when a person dies and rise upward toward heaven, indicating that they are thought to have, and be able to change, locations in physical space. And they can be heard and seen, we are told, by people endowed with special powers and in an especially propitious frame of mind. Souls are sometimes pictured as balls of bright light, causing the air to stir as they glide through space and even emitting faint unearthly sounds. But souls and spirits depicted in stories and literature, and in films, are not the immaterial minds of the serious dualist. These latter souls are wholly immaterial and entirely outside physical space."


(Kim, Jaegwon. Physicalism or Something Near Enough. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005. p. 73)
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#103  Postby Tbickle » Mar 04, 2010 6:40 pm

NucleicAcid wrote:
Mac_Guffin wrote:See, I don't like that "if you dig deep enough" line. It's a bit of a cop-out.


Because a lot of the evidence for paranormal effects is phenomenological and it's just not the same reading about it in a journal as experiencing it yourself. Normally, people don't have to do things like perform the double-slit experiment on their own in order to know that wave-particle duality exists, because there is a body of research generated by specialized scientists that is generally accepted. When that was in its infancy, many scientists believed electrons behaved like bullets and light like waves. It took a paradigm shift of the entire community (catalyzed largely by solving the ultraviolet catastophe) for the new beliefs to be accepted as fact.

Progress in parapsychology is comparatively hindered because a) there are thousands of times more (staying in the comparison) physicists than paranormal researchers and b) because many people in the larger scientific community (esp. CSI[COP]) outright angrily oppose paranormal research and spread misinformation about the research being conducted.


Those are the same excuses that defenders of aliens/UFO's, homeopathy, and other forms of woo use as well. That's not good by the way. If there were sufficient enough evidence and reason to do more research in this field, there would be more scientists taking an active part in it. You have now stepped into the conspiracy theory arena with this.

When creationists ask me about evolution and its evidence, I come back with a basic summary of why it's true.


You asked for a basic summary of paranormal experience and its evidence, and I told you: Years of reports of experiences, data collected by ghost hunters, lab research into psi, and independent researched conducted by individuals or groups in the communities.

It's not the scientists being evasive, it's elusive phenomena. Quantum entanglement has been demonstrated, however, in setups that measure for it, an entangled pair is generated in only one in a few billion emissions (IIRC). They solve that by using a coincidence counter to filter out the 999,999,999 emissions that don't do anything interesting. (it also helps that it only takes about 15 minutes to acquire several billion emissions). That's basically what experiments like massive Ganzfeld trials and Associative Remote Viewing do: they have to compile large amounts of data because a) not everyone has the capacity to demonstrate ESP at all.

Has anyone been able to demonstrate it at all in a controlled setting?

b) very very few people can actually demonstrate it on demand.

You haven't yet demonstrated that a single person has yet to do it. Isn't it amazing how those who claim to have the ability suddenly cannot do it in a controlled setting? Doesn't that tell you something?

Ghost hunters have to go through tens or hundreds of investigations in order to find a single one with really good evidence.

Evidence of what exactly? Since ghosts/spirits have not been proven to exist, they only evidence they are finding is that there is something that they can't expalin.

Not because they are looking for anomalies and they're waiting for the coincidences to catch up (because these 'coincidences' are often way above and beyond chance after you factor in how many investigations are performed), but because it just isn't something that you can manifest on demand.

Which is why we use science to collect more information so that one day we do know how to get it to happen on demand.

How to get what to happen on demand?
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#104  Postby Darkchilde » Mar 04, 2010 6:46 pm

-Sylvan-Shadow- wrote:Seriously, you're all a bunch of self righteous ignorant asshats.

Like Jerome has said, there is evidence.


MOD NOTE

Sylvan Shadow, the above constitutes a personal insult towards the members of this forum. Please read the forum rules carefully which can be found here: http://www.rationalskepticism.org/old-announcements/forum-users-agreement-t76.html

Now, since you are new to the forum, I am only going to strongly suggest that you read the forum rules carefully.

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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#105  Postby NucleicAcid » Mar 04, 2010 7:21 pm

Those are the same excuses that defenders of aliens/UFO's, homeopathy, and other forms of woo use as well. That's not good by the way. If there were sufficient enough evidence and reason to do more research in this field, there would be more scientists taking an active part in it. You have now stepped into the conspiracy theory arena with this.


Alien/UFO phenomenon is driven solely by experiences. You can't walk into a field and try to get abducted by aliens. Homeopathy has been rigorously tested, and has failed to show an effect beyond placebo on virtually every experiment.

With haunted locations and psi experiments, you have grounds to test a hypothesis, rigid experimental guidelines with concrete criteria for success failure, and replication. We've been in the realm of science for a long time now.

Has anyone been able to demonstrate it at all in a controlled setting?


Yes.

You haven't yet demonstrated that a single person has yet to do it. Isn't it amazing how those who claim to have the ability suddenly cannot do it in a controlled setting? Doesn't that tell you something?


As I already stated, people with psychic abilities have demonstrated it in controlled environments. Sure, a great number of people think they have psychic abilities, just as many people think they're cut out for the NBA.

And yes, it is more difficult to do most things on demand, in a tightly controlled setting, with people watching. It's called performance anxiety. Have you ever auditioned for a part of a play, or a musical instrument?

Evidence of what exactly? Since ghosts/spirits have not been proven to exist, they only evidence they are finding is that there is something that they can't expalin.


You don't have to conclusively prove something exists in order to test for it. Duh. That's how science works. You do the tests in ORDER to build evidence to support a hypothesis. You never prove anything outside of logic and mathematics.

How to get what to happen on demand?


What I mean is that currently, one of the biggest complaints against parapsychology is that one lab can run an experiment one way and get results, and another lab can 'replicate it,' and they think they have all the variables controlled for and are doing it exactly the same, but they do not succeed in replicating it. There are clearly extraneous variables that cause demonstration of psychic abilities or ghosts/spirits to be more or less successful. We have a rough idea of what some of them are (e.g. sheep-goat effect, usually skeptics of ESP score at chance or worse than chance, while believers tend to score better than statistical significance), but there are currently a lot of things that we don't understand. Until we have a better protocol of "You need conditions A, B, and C, with an absence of D, in order to produce effect X" that gives good results a majority of the time (you never have success 100% of the time, ever, in any science, full stop.), skeptics will piss and moan about replicability.
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#106  Postby Virus » Mar 04, 2010 7:37 pm

jerome wrote:
No it's a 450+ page analysis of the results of a census! :)


This site summarizes the Report on the Census of Hallucinations.

http://www.pflyceum.org/153.html

First of all it's not even about ghosts, it's about ESP. Get your story straight. Secondly, it's based entirely on data obtained by personal testimony. This is your grade A, solid gold evidence? Looks like weaksauce to me.

I'm not reading 450 pages. Summarize the conclusion as succinctly as possible and tell me why I should be impressed with it. Otherwise I'll go back to ridicule and cheap jokes.
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#107  Postby Tbickle » Mar 04, 2010 7:48 pm

NucleicAcid wrote:
Those are the same excuses that defenders of aliens/UFO's, homeopathy, and other forms of woo use as well. That's not good by the way. If there were sufficient enough evidence and reason to do more research in this field, there would be more scientists taking an active part in it. You have now stepped into the conspiracy theory arena with this.


Alien/UFO phenomenon is driven solely by experiences.

It is the same for ghosts.

You can't walk into a field and try to get abducted by aliens.

People actively seek out extraterrestrials, attempt to communicate with them, and would willingly go along with them if given the opportunity.

Homeopathy has been rigorously tested, and has failed to show an effect beyond placebo on virtually every experiment.

Again, this the same as with ghosts. Could you provide a link to a paper from a peer reviewed journal explaining that the existence of ghosts or ESP has been documented? Oh, I see. The scientific community is actively fighting this from happening, right?

With haunted locations and psi experiments, you have grounds to test a hypothesis, rigid experimental guidelines with concrete criteria for success failure, and replication. We've been in the realm of science for a long time now.


Again, what exactly are you testing?

Has anyone been able to demonstrate it at all in a controlled setting?


Yes.

Great! You'll have no problem directing me to the study.

You haven't yet demonstrated that a single person has yet to do it. Isn't it amazing how those who claim to have the ability suddenly cannot do it in a controlled setting? Doesn't that tell you something?


As I already stated, people with psychic abilities have demonstrated it in controlled environments. Sure, a great number of people think they have psychic abilities, just as many people think they're cut out for the NBA.


Please provide the link.

And yes, it is more difficult to do most things on demand, in a tightly controlled setting, with people watching. It's called performance anxiety. Have you ever auditioned for a part of a play, or a musical instrument?

Evidence of what exactly? Since ghosts/spirits have not been proven to exist, they only evidence they are finding is that there is something that they can't expalin.


Yes, actually. On occasion I performed better than my average and sometimes worse. Isn't it amazing that it is always complete failure on the parts of these individuals?

You don't have to conclusively prove something exists in order to test for it. Duh. That's how science works. You do the tests in ORDER to build evidence to support a hypothesis. You never prove anything outside of logic and mathematics.

I know that, but demonstrated to the point that we can sure of it's existence. Ghost enthusiasts have not yet done anything of the sort.

How to get what to happen on demand?


What I mean is that currently, one of the biggest complaints against parapsychology is that one lab can run an experiment one way and get results, and another lab can 'replicate it,' and they think they have all the variables controlled for and are doing it exactly the same, but they do not succeed in replicating it.

What exactly is "it"?

There are clearly extraneous variables that cause demonstration of psychic abilities or ghosts/spirits to be more or less successful. We have a rough idea of what some of them are (e.g. sheep-goat effect, usually skeptics of ESP score at chance or worse than chance, while believers tend to score better than statistical significance), but there are currently a lot of things that we don't understand. Until we have a better protocol of "You need conditions A, B, and C, with an absence of D, in order to produce effect X" that gives good results a majority of the time (you never have success 100% of the time, ever, in any science, full stop.),

What do ESP and ghosts/spirits have to do with one another? Are they connected in some manner and what is your evidence for this? If they aren't one in the same, why are you combining them? Shouldn't they be handled as two seperate issues?

skeptics will piss and moan about replicability.

For someone that seems to have some amount of trust in the scientific method, I'm surprised that you would diminish the need for an experiment to be replicated.
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#108  Postby jerome » Mar 04, 2010 8:03 pm

Virus wrote:
jerome wrote:
No it's a 450+ page analysis of the results of a census! :)


This site summarizes the Report on the Census of Hallucinations.

http://www.pflyceum.org/153.html

First of all it's not even about ghosts, it's about ESP. Get your story straight. Secondly, it's based entirely on data obtained by personal testimony. This is your grade A, solid gold evidence? Looks like weaksauce to me.

I'm not reading 450 pages. Summarize the conclusion as succinctly as possible and tell me why I should be impressed with it. Otherwise I'll go back to ridicule and cheap jokes.



I did summarise it in the video actually, but I shall do so again later - busy at moment so will have to wait till late. It's not about ESP trust me - it's about ghosts. :) It does actually discuss telepathic theories of ghosts (but ESP as a term could not be coined for another 35, years, and Myers invented telepathy in '88 I think) I'll cite a couple of cases from it, and the discussion... You can have a look at the public parapsychology links as well? (that's a primer on Apparitional Research).

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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#109  Postby jerome » Mar 04, 2010 8:04 pm

Tbickle wrote:
Again, this the same as with ghosts. Could you provide a link to a paper from a peer reviewed journal explaining that the existence of ghosts or ESP has been documented? Oh, I see. The scientific community is actively fighting this from happening, right?
.



I cited half a dozen earlier in the thread???

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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#110  Postby jerome » Mar 04, 2010 8:05 pm

Teuton wrote:
-Sylvan-Shadow- wrote:
Okay first things first, I am an atheist, but I do believe in spirits or whatever you want to call them.


An important point: The nonphysical spirits of philosophy/theology, which are bodiless and consist of no stuff at all, are different from the paraphysical spirits of folk mythology, which are not not bodiless and consist of some alien stuff.
Nonphysical spirits are invisible by definition, since bodiless beings lack a physical surface that could reflect light.
The god of theism is a totally nonphysical being that has no body and isn't even located anywhere in space.

"We commonly think that we, as persons, have both a mental and a bodily dimension—or mental aspects and material aspects. Something like this dualism of personhood, I believe, is common lore shared across most cultures and religious traditions, although it is seldom articulated in the form of an explicit set of doctrines as in modern western philosophy and some developed theologies. It is often part of this 'folk dualism' that we are able to survive bodily deaths, as souls or spirits, and retain all or most of the mental aspects of ourselves, such as memory, the capacity for thought and volition, and traits of character and personality, long after our bodies have crumbled to dust.
Spirits and souls as conceived in popular lore seem not be entirely without physical properties, if only vestigially physical ones, and are not what Descartes and other philosophical dualists would call souls or minds—wholly immaterial and nonphysical substances with no physical properties whatever. For example, souls are commonly said to leave the body when a person dies and rise upward toward heaven, indicating that they are thought to have, and be able to change, locations in physical space. And they can be heard and seen, we are told, by people endowed with special powers and in an especially propitious frame of mind. Souls are sometimes pictured as balls of bright light, causing the air to stir as they glide through space and even emitting faint unearthly sounds. But souls and spirits depicted in stories and literature, and in films, are not the immaterial minds of the serious dualist. These latter souls are wholly immaterial and entirely outside physical space."


(Kim, Jaegwon. Physicalism or Something Near Enough. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005. p. 73)



That is ver y true Teuton, and a nice quote. Cheers! :cheers:
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#111  Postby NucleicAcid » Mar 04, 2010 8:58 pm

Pretty much that whole post was on the idea that parapsychology, in particular ghost and psi research, is different from other woo fields like UFOlogy, homeopathy, and astrology in that it has experiments that it runs that present good evidence, and is replicable. I emphasized the importance of replication, not diminished it. The pissing and moaning refers to the constant cries of (where 'it' = ghosts and psi phenomena, which I do believe are related) "It hasn't been proven yet! It hasn't been replicated by reputable scientists yet!" which should (hopefully) cease once a solid procedure is developed.

The Ganzfeld series was supposed to be that procedure, and did show that certain types of individuals had markedly better performance than others, however, it suffers the main drawbacks of a) generates very few data points for the amount of time spent collecting data b) is not good for repeatedly testing individuals (because of time constraints).

Here is a link to both "Does Psi Exist?" and "Updating the Ganzfeld Database" on Daryl Bem's website:
http://dbem.ws/online_pubs.html
And for counterpoint, Milton & Wiseman's publication in 1999 in response to Does Psi Exist, and was followed and encompassed by Updating the Ganzfeld Database
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10414223
Between those three articles you have pretty much a condensed version of the entirety of the Ganzfeld debate.

And Jerome has already kindly provided a large body of information on ghosts.

But it's clear that these discussions are generally the union of two separate, subjectively one-sided debates, one in which the skeptics have all the answers and the parapsychologists are ass backwards morons lacking any critical thinking skills whatsoever, and one in which the parapsychologists continue to provide scientifically sound evidence, and skeptics refute it with yelling "WOO!" repeatedly. Both sides think their perspective is the correct one.

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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#112  Postby Virus » Mar 04, 2010 9:24 pm

jerome wrote:
I did summarise it in the video actually, but I shall do so again later - busy at moment so will have to wait till late.


I watched your video and all it contains is an appeal to testimony. That's all you've got. That's all you will ever get.
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#113  Postby jerome » Mar 04, 2010 9:34 pm

What about the lab experiments I linked earlier/ Public Parapsychology, third or fourth link?
And what do you mean by "ghost" because i think we may be arguing past one another? Do you mena "dead guy"?
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#114  Postby Crocodile Gandhi » Mar 04, 2010 9:37 pm

But it's clear that these discussions are generally the union of two separate, subjectively one-sided debates, one in which the skeptics have all the answers and the parapsychologists are ass backwards morons lacking any critical thinking skills whatsoever, and one in which the parapsychologists continue to provide scientifically sound evidence, and skeptics refute it with yelling "WOO!" repeatedly. Both sides think their perspective is the correct one.


I was unaware that arbitrarily using various instruments in an arbitrarily chosen house to find somewhat anomalous occurences and making a wild jump to conclude that it is an entity for which you have no reason to believe exists, let alone has the qualities that you are arbitrarily looking for, was scientifically sound evidence.

Now, if you would be so kind, please tell me why it is worthwile using EMF to 'detect' ghosts when you have not a clue whether ghosts can create or distort electrical frequencies?
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#115  Postby jerome » Mar 04, 2010 9:48 pm

I have seen no evidence for that assumption: I personally counsel ghost hunters the best use for an EMF meter in a ghost hunt would be if you were to need to rehang a picture and want to knock a nail in a wall without being electrocuted. My planned next piece of research involves psychomanteum induced hallucinations and MRI scans to try to identify neurophysiologiocal correlates of the "ghost" experience. However Radin (2001 in Houran & Lange Multidisciplinary Approaches to Hauntings) noted that environmental variables changed during even psychomanteum induced apparitional experiences -0 this ppaer looks interesting but I have not read it properly yet - http://www.pamelaheath.com/PDF/PlaceMemory.pdf

I spent much of the 90's chasing environmental variables - firstly gauss, later infrasound (after Tandy and Lawrence), then after agreeing with Cornell and Braithwaite there was nothing in that (though almost every (mainly sceptical) site i have seen that deals with that hypothesis misunderstand Tandy's original paper, or had simply not read it - it's the standing wave effect NOT the presence of low frequency sound that matters) I moved on to trying to do lab based studies, but currently I'mm writing up my spontaneous case collection after grounded theory analysis. If you want to look at the kind of thing I worked on in the 90's, Wiseman's paper is probably the best http://www.richardwiseman.com/resources/hampton.pdf and a great place to start is Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Stevens, P., Greening, E. & O'Keeffe, C. (2003). An investigation into alleged 'hauntings'. The British Journal of Psychology, 94, 195-211. http://www.richardwiseman.com/resources ... ntings.pdf Hey people cn't say I don't try!

:)

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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#116  Postby jerome » Mar 04, 2010 9:50 pm

For Crocodile Gandhi (from my blog) --

The six types of Ghosthunter according to CJ (ie. Jerome)–


1. the Safari Group - out to “catch” a ghost on film, armed with the latest in video, camera and laptop equipment. Every “vigil” begins with several hours of wiring and setting up sensitive devices all over the shop to allow these latter day big game hunters to bag the spook. Usually succeed only in making you uncomfortable using the toilet in case you are being filmed or monitored, and while generally pleasant folks there is more technobabble than an episode of Star Trek. Always find an “anomaly” which as they are usually waving around EMF meters sensitive enough to pick up a fridge being turned off at 300m is no surprise! Unfortunately likely to follow their own mobile phones in their pocket around with the EMF meters, convinced it’s a spook, and tend to be Very Serious Indeed, while having very little knowledge of the literature of parapsychology. Never publish their results.

2. the Legend Trippers – usually young people, who have dared themselves to go to the spooky place, where they plan to drink alcohol, tell ghost stories, frighten each other and make out. Not all legend trippers are teenagers – some are much older, but if you want to flirt and hear a lot of screaming these are your folks. No ghosts caught but they have a good time, a bit like a fairground haunted house! They never publish their results.

3. the Pyscho-dramatists - ok, these tend to be ladies, and these groups usually revolve around one or two star performers, with several minor competing mystics, all of whom compete to tell you the story of the lost little Victorian girl who was the daughter of the wicked Squire who abused her terribly, etc, etc – sort of paranormal MisLit. Occasionally they encounter Terribly Evil Entities (TM) whose lack of corporeality has not slaked their lusts, and who have designs on the mediums person, which in many cases having seen the medium and witnessed their shrieking I would agree anything planning on ravishing is a deeply unnnatural entity. When they find a spook a redemptive myth is played out, and the spirit “moved on” in to “the light”. Bizarrely, despite my cynicism I once saw this process appear to do something useful — not all people in this category are nuts — however a considerable number are. They never publish their results.

4. The Enthusiastic Amateurs – always nice, people unsullied by contact with other ghost hunters and sometimes still naive enough to think that orbs are definitely paranormal, and scorn the dust hypothesis, these people have watched Most Haunted and bizarrely responded by wanting to do it themselves rather than selling their TV and emigrating. I like them a lot, because generally you can teach them a few good habits, and sell them merchandise for said dodgy TV show, and because on the whole these are good hearted people with often great knowledge of local folklore and history. Enthusiastic, fun folks. They never publish their results.

5. The Ghosthunting Machiavelli - this person has been in a dozen groups in the last year, all of which split off or schism-ed from each other. They have appalling relations with half the groups in the UK, and love to discuss ghost group family trees, their many enemies, and who is doing what with whom (in the bedroom not the haunted house usually!). Often they have a profitable sideline in running paying events, but really they seem to mainly succeed in creating new groups and then alienating the committees of said groups. They never publish their results, which is probably just as well!

I suppose I should offer my own perspective and why I differ very slightly while still having many of the failings I point out light heartedly in others, and some new ones all of my own. All these “types”, and most groups contain a mix of types, resulting in internal conflict, favour a method of investigation called the “vigil”, which means pretty much sitting around all night waiting for stuff to happen. They hope to observe and interact with the phenomena first hand, and hence all the mediums/night vision cameras/EMF meters (very handy of you want to put a nail in the wall and not electrocute yourself, or see if your neighbour has turned on their washing machine, not so useful for ghosts!) and shouting “is there anybody there?” Not bloody likely with you lot kicking up a row.

I have of course sat through many hundred of these (being paid to do so for a long while) but my preferred method is the Inquiry Model. Briefly, arrive in daylight, and interview carefully the witnesses to previous “sightings”. Record their testimony, and photograph “the scene of the crime” from many angles. Try to ascertain where the story originated, and who knew what and when about the purported phenomena. Collect interviews and evidence for as long as it takes,and perhaps attempt to reconstruct the incident. Carefully check out maps, and local histories for any useful clues, and then consult with relevant experts – often builder, plumbers, electricians, naturalists, geologists. The emphasis here is on understanding how the account arose, and on trying to find the origin and explanation for the ghost, rather than sitting around trying to see it yourself. of course if the occurrences are frequent you might well do that — but the tragedy of Most Haunted was it suggested ghost hunting was about personal encounters with the unknown, whereas really its generally about understanding and trying to explain other peoples experiences, and then writing up what you find. I’m not sure I have put this very well, but perhaps you can follow my intent?
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#117  Postby Crocodile Gandhi » Mar 04, 2010 10:55 pm

Great work, Jerome. I really enjoyed that (your blog article).

Have you read much about Ed Warren? He used to be big in the ghosthunting world. I think my favourite quote of his is, "You feel that cold? That's ghost cold."
If I believe in heaven I deny myself a death. Dying keeps me conscious of the way I waste my breath - Cosmo Jarvis
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#118  Postby jerome » Mar 04, 2010 11:23 pm

Oh shit yes. Him and Lorraine Warren were self-styled demonologists, and demonology is now the default paradigm for a huge number of US ghost groups. This scares me senseless, and I engage in endless petty internet debates with them, before being atgged "satanic" or "possessed". There was another fellow who billed himself as a parapsychologist -- and held seances with the spirit of Elvis and JFK. The world is full of loons. Unfortunately the ghost hunters generally have nothing to do with parapsychology - only Ciaran O keefe sort of straddles the divide, and mabe to a lesser extent Matthew Smith (and me). There are absolutely brilliant ghosthunters - Richard Felix is a top bloke, and Steve Parsons has an amazingg knowledge of parapsi from what I can make out - and you get people like Andrew MAckenzie and Manfred Cassirer, Maurice Grosse and Tony Cornell, but t they wer eall old style psychic researchers. I'll write a piece on Most Hauunted one day.

You can tell a real parapsychology enthusiast (like me or Nucleic Acid) because we waffle on in arcane verbiage, cite incredibly dull and little read texts in Journals no one reads, and are profoundly tedious human beings. Actually another peice from my blog - you have to read the link to get it though. Someone wrote a piece called "A day in a life of a psychic investigator" so I wrote my cheerfully accurate piece in response (originally posted on UK Skeptics where i am CJ.23 - yes i spend most of my time as a "sceptic") -- here is the original piece I was responding to - http://www.ehow.co.uk/how-does_4693687_ ... .html?cr=1 and my response

"A Day in the Life of a Paranormal Investigator

A Paranormal Investigator is someone who can’t get a real job or any PhD funding. They wake up in the morning to a stack of unpaid bills, and then sweet talk the lovely bailiffs at the door. After a discussion with said gentlemen they pay some cash and mentally cross out their food budget for the next two weeks. They also note the recording they need to finish their lecture review for deadline today has still not arrived. Huzzah!

A paranormal investigator picks up the clothes they wore last night off the floor, hurls a book on Attachment Theory at the cat and wonder if SPR journals burn nicely once the gas has been shut off. They then dedicate four hours to grounded analysis of carefully collected accounts of spontaneous cases – or reading peoples ghost anecdotes to you and me. They code, construct categories by hand because they can’t afford QSR software, and after a hard mornings work with black coffee cos they have no milk they decide they have not made any advances over what Sidgwick and co had in 1894.

So they pop on the JREF for a morning of playful abuse, and after lunch (noodles, with noodle sauce, 12p a bag from oriental supermarket) they wonder why MAcDonalds, Wilkinsons and WH Smiths rejected them. So they spend couple of hours filling in application forms so they can be anything but a paranormal investigator.

The afternoon is busy, busy, busy! Reading the EJP in the bath as the nice shiny paper is not effected by splashes, they realise they are still after all these years useless at the level of stats required to check the articles validity. They wish they could afford a netbook so they could consult SPSS in the bath, but they would only drop it.

After a refreshing bath they set out to track down someone who reported a spontaneous case to them to verify certain questions arising from their account. The email will be ignored, they nearly always are. Wishing they had chosen a better paid career, like say leaflet distributor, professional philosopher or non-affiliated theologian who sells 5 books a year, they start work on a piece on the development of fairy lore in the early modern period, because they have nothing better to do. Then it hits them – they have no food for tea!

But huzzah! they have a call – and the phone is currently connected because their girlfriend paid the bill. And for once it’s not a debt collector! Nope, they are invited to give a talk to a local group. They start drafting it, becoming more and more depressed as they realise no one is actually interested in theoretical work or the parapsychological literature, so it end up as “adventures in ghosthunting”, a comic tale of sitting around in the dark in rooms filled with other hopefuls, while absolutely nothing happens. The difference in being a pro is you don’t have to pay for the privilege.

Suddenly they decide to reach for their handy EMF meter. They can’t hear the washing machine from the basement but long experience shows this device can pick it up – have they washed their pants, as girlfriend coming tomorrow? They dream of the day they can afford a second pair.

Afternoon brings email: another studentship rejection, disturbed family members wondering how you became so unemployable, and a coffee break dedicated to the lesbian mediumship of Eva C – less exciting than it sounds – from an old PSPR. They decide to kill Cousins, Braithwaite, Luke etc for being so much better looking and better funded than them; but then reject the notion, and return to the Spud-U-Like application.

Wasting an hour on wondering why no one seems to be participating Alex Tsaris’ Jaytee the Psychic Dog replication the earnest paranormal investigator returns to their grounded analysis, struggling with methodological issues.

Evening: a bitter ex-wife accusing you of leaving her in poverty, hungry cats yowling for food, and your mother sadly asking how work went? You set out to meet a veteran investigator of mediumship who will buy you lunch,and an enjoyable hour of salacious gossip about the misdeeds of contemporary physical mediums later, well fed, you feel the strength to once again face writing up a study you performed eight months ago. Finally even you are bored with it, so you start work on looking at the geological maps of Gloucestershire, and a water table plan of Cheltenham from Severn Trent, trying to work out if GW Lambert really was on to something.

You get another call – there is a vigil in a haunted house, a local tourist spot, can you attend only £30? Muttering to yourself a Noel Coward lyric

“The Stately Homes of England,
Though rather in the lurch,
Provide a lot of chances
For psychical research-“

You politely enquire who experienced what and when? It seems a tourist thought they saw something in 1982 in the East Wing, and a the under gardener swears he saw the dead master in 1963. On and a cleaner heard a voice call her name last Wednesday but six.

So you suggest that rather than taking 50 people to sit in the dark all night, festooned with electronic gizmos, while a lovely lady reconts the sad tale of the spirit girl who starved to death on Christmas Eve, it might be worth actually just interviewing and recording what the witnesses said, and having a look at that? The person trying to sell you the ghost night hangs up.

You sigh and stare out the window, and regret ever becoming a paranormal investigator. And then you wake up the next day and post this on UK Skeptics. :)

I think this is a bit closer to the truth actually"
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#119  Postby NucleicAcid » Mar 05, 2010 3:13 am

I really like that perspective, that of 'it's more likely than not that you will find nothing on any given investigation, so it's better to pursue the data that's already there.' Although, people do seem to enjoy sitting around in a spooky place with a strange fascination. It's much more 'active' feeling. Potentially a waste of time, but much more 'rewarding' if something juicy does happen.

I'll have to pick your brain good and hard at some point. My group will be investigating a building on campus some point before May, and I would love to have a primer from someone who has probably been doing this for longer than I have been alive.
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"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere."

-Carl Sagan
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Re: Ghosts, spirits, those unexplained things....

#120  Postby tnjrp » Mar 05, 2010 6:06 am

Teuton wrote:An important point: The nonphysical spirits of philosophy/theology, which are bodiless and consist of no stuff at all, are different from the paraphysical spirits of folk mythology, which are not not bodiless and consist of some alien stuff. Nonphysical spirits are invisible by definition, since bodiless beings lack a physical surface that could reflect light
Yep, when considering the subject of spirits in the Western spiritualist thinking this is a distinction that needs to be remembered. Ghosts would be paraphysical in nature as they are assumed to be interacting with their surroundings in an objectively observable manner while the nonphysical spirits/souls of the dead would be restricted to visiting you in dreams or other purely subjective ways. I'm pretty sure the official line of the Abrahamic religions is that the dead can at best manifest in the latter form, if indeed in any form. Maybe Jerome can enlighten us at least to the extent of Anglican stand on this? :think:

---

jerome wrote:I have of course sat through many hundred of these (being paid to do so for a long while) but my preferred method is the Inquiry Model. Briefly, arrive in daylight, and interview carefully the witnesses to previous “sightings”. Record their testimony, and photograph “the scene of the crime” from many angles. Try to ascertain where the story originated, and who knew what and when about the purported phenomena. Collect interviews and evidence for as long as it takes,and perhaps attempt to reconstruct the incident. Carefully check out maps, and local histories for any useful clues, and then consult with relevant experts – often builder, plumbers, electricians, naturalists, geologists. The emphasis here is on understanding how the account arose, and on trying to find the origin and explanation for the ghost, rather than sitting around trying to see it yourself. of course if the occurrences are frequent you might well do that — but the tragedy of Most Haunted was it suggested ghost hunting was about personal encounters with the unknown, whereas really its generally about understanding and trying to explain other peoples experiences, and then writing up what you find. I’m not sure I have put this very well, but perhaps you can follow my intent?
Well, I suppose that's about the best way one can go about it at present. However this would seem to often lead to the dilemma the most serious "UFOlogists" also face -- they are examining post hoc accounts about their subject matter, not the subject matter itself.
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