Have you experienced a ghost?

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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#181  Postby Will S » Apr 21, 2011 10:02 am

Scot Dutchy wrote:Metal fatigue? Maybe the design of the lock or a habit of constantly putting the key into the slot in a certain way. We never realise what we do out of habit.

Interesting! You mean that the key had been constantly stressed that particular point, and, although it has previously never shown signs of bending, it been weakened, and, finally, bent in one catastrophic event?

Sounds possible.
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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#182  Postby Scot Dutchy » Apr 21, 2011 10:04 am

Will S wrote:
Scot Dutchy wrote:Metal fatigue? Maybe the design of the lock or a habit of constantly putting the key into the slot in a certain way. We never realise what we do out of habit.

Interesting! You mean that the key had been constantly stressed that particular point, and, although it has previously never shown signs of bending, it been weakened, and, finally, bent in one catastrophic event?

Sounds possible.


Brings down planes.
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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#183  Postby jerome » Apr 21, 2011 10:05 am

trubble76 wrote:
But Jerome, those are just commentaries on stories, not scientific investigations.


Yes exactly my point. I write a commentary on a number of cases of the type that you felt would attract the attention of every scientist: they didn't. People ignore these things. That was precisely my point. You did after all write

trubble76 wrote:
Here's my problem with this and similar stories; let's assume every word is completely true, we know where there is a place on Earth that is home to an active ghost. Anyone of us can go and examine the phenomenom of all the furniture pilling itself against doors, or messages from beyond the grave being written in flour. And yet, what would be undoubtably one of the greatest discoveries of humankind, more important even than the Irish peace process or the Moon landings, remains undocumented.


So I thought I'd best try and indicate that such cases are not uncommon, yet gather no scientific attention.


trubble76 wrote:
Quantum Physics is a virtually unfathomable mystery to most humans, including (like me) those with above average physics educations, but the science is solid, the experiments clearly defined and documented and the results fairly unambiguous. Given the correct equipment and processes as described in their notes, anyone can recreate their experiments, despite how unlikely the results seem.
If there are houses where obvious and unavoidable physical processes are happening that would seem simple to document and test, and there are giants of academia throwing their weight behind investigation, then why do we have little more than campfire tales.{/quote]

http://www.rationalskepticism.org/forma ... ml#p225828 shows we have a little more I hope? CAmpermon and I plan to return to the debate very soon :) And there ghosts are defined as what Will calls ghosts, because otherwise my claim would be trivial. :)

trubble76 wrote:
If tables can be piled against doors by a force, then the past Presidents of the SPR could surely devise a method to absorb this new information into our Laws of Physics. Why do we not cover Furniture Rearrangement By Spirits in our schooling? Why is there no section in out insurance claim forms for damage done by demonic possession?


Well if we assume an intelligence behind these effect, human or otherwise, then that question is simple to answer? :)

trubble76 wrote:
This house is still there, I assume. It seemingly offers easy access to evidence of previously unknown physical processess.
To refer to my early point, there is a house with a fossilised pre-Cambrian rabbit. There are thousands of people that would make fame and fortune from being the first to scientifically document this rabbit, and all they have to do is go and look. And yet, there is no fossilised pre-Cambrian rabbit in any text book, museum or university course.
The only answer that makes any sense at all is, every single word of it is rubbish, from start to end. And proving otherwise is very straightforward, get thee to that house and document the gun-bender in action, or do the left-over spirits of humans murdered decades/centuries before get camera shy?


Unfortunately there is a clear pattern of time elapsing and the case disintegrating as the beasties stops performing: that has remained consistent across the cases. In theory though, yes one could do just that. What bothers me is very rarely, the Max Planck guys and the parapsychologists excepted, does anyone do that.

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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#184  Postby jerome » Apr 21, 2011 10:06 am

Scot Dutchy wrote:
Will S wrote:
Scot Dutchy wrote:Metal fatigue? Maybe the design of the lock or a habit of constantly putting the key into the slot in a certain way. We never realise what we do out of habit.

Interesting! You mean that the key had been constantly stressed that particular point, and, although it has previously never shown signs of bending, it been weakened, and, finally, bent in one catastrophic event?

Sounds possible.


Brings down planes.



Very much so. In fact one of my colleagues in spook hunting did his PhD on exactly that: stress metal fatigue in airplanes, and the relationship to the structure of said metals. I'll send him the key story of that is ok and ask for a comment if you want Will?

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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#185  Postby trubble76 » Apr 21, 2011 10:11 am

Will S wrote:
trubble76 wrote:A word of warning. Several times in my life I have said "There's no way a human could get through that gap", every time I have been proven wrong. Humans can get through unbelievably small gaps sometimes. We can sometimes be too quick to label something a human impossibility.

Yes, indeed!

An extension of the same idea. My wife an I once went for walk in the country with some friends using their car. When we got back to the car park, Peter (Jerome - did you spot that? I've just done it too! :smile: ) pulled the car ignition key out of his pocket and found that the top 10 mm or so had been bent to a precise right angle. You'd think that, to do it, you'd have to have used two pairs of pliers, or a vice and a hammer - the bend was so neat and precise. Doubtless, it had happened at some time since Peter had last used the ignition key, but we were totally unable to work out how, when and where. (The best explanation I can offer is that, when he last removed the key from the slot, something had caused him to lurch sideways, thus bending the key. But none of us had any recollection of that happening.) Although it was a bright day, the experience was decidedly ... spooky.

So this is evidence for ... what? To be rational, all it's evidence for is that sometimes things happen for which we're very hard put to find a plausible explanation. Or is it evidence that there's a key-bending poltergeist on the loose in the neighbourhood of Pill? :shock: Actually, the car park we used, once served a mental hospital, so, obviously, in the past, there had been lots of mentally disturbed people around ... :shock: :shock:



All it needs is a strong pivot near the end and a relatively light force on the long side will bend it around the pivot point.


----------------------------------- (key)
^ (pivot) (my makeshift diagram doesn't come out so good, use your imaginations)

Fixed left side, downwards force on the right side = weird looking bend near end of key. The hotter and more fatigued the metal, the less force is required.
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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#186  Postby Scot Dutchy » Apr 21, 2011 10:30 am

jerome wrote:
Scot Dutchy wrote:
Will S wrote:
Interesting! You mean that the key had been constantly stressed that particular point, and, although it has previously never shown signs of bending, it been weakened, and, finally, bent in one catastrophic event?

Sounds possible.


Brings down planes.



Very much so. In fact one of my colleagues in spook hunting did his PhD on exactly that: stress metal fatigue in airplanes, and the relationship to the structure of said metals. I'll send him the key story of that is ok and ask for a comment if you want Will?

j x


Go ahead. I would be interested.

Was that not the trick that spoon-bending man did? He had all the spoons fatigued before the show started.
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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#187  Postby trubble76 » Apr 21, 2011 10:43 am

jerome wrote:
trubble76 wrote:
But Jerome, those are just commentaries on stories, not scientific investigations.


Yes exactly my point. I write a commentary on a number of cases of the type that you felt would attract the attention of every scientist: they didn't. People ignore these things. That was precisely my point. You did after all write

trubble76 wrote:
Here's my problem with this and similar stories; let's assume every word is completely true, we know where there is a place on Earth that is home to an active ghost. Anyone of us can go and examine the phenomenom of all the furniture pilling itself against doors, or messages from beyond the grave being written in flour. And yet, what would be undoubtably one of the greatest discoveries of humankind, more important even than the Irish peace process or the Moon landings, remains undocumented.


So I thought I'd best try and indicate that such cases are not uncommon, yet gather no scientific attention.


trubble76 wrote:
Quantum Physics is a virtually unfathomable mystery to most humans, including (like me) those with above average physics educations, but the science is solid, the experiments clearly defined and documented and the results fairly unambiguous. Given the correct equipment and processes as described in their notes, anyone can recreate their experiments, despite how unlikely the results seem.
If there are houses where obvious and unavoidable physical processes are happening that would seem simple to document and test, and there are giants of academia throwing their weight behind investigation, then why do we have little more than campfire tales.{/quote]

http://www.rationalskepticism.org/forma ... ml#p225828 shows we have a little more I hope? CAmpermon and I plan to return to the debate very soon :) And there ghosts are defined as what Will calls ghosts, because otherwise my claim would be trivial. :)

trubble76 wrote:
If tables can be piled against doors by a force, then the past Presidents of the SPR could surely devise a method to absorb this new information into our Laws of Physics. Why do we not cover Furniture Rearrangement By Spirits in our schooling? Why is there no section in out insurance claim forms for damage done by demonic possession?


Well if we assume an intelligence behind these effect, human or otherwise, then that question is simple to answer? :)

trubble76 wrote:
This house is still there, I assume. It seemingly offers easy access to evidence of previously unknown physical processess.
To refer to my early point, there is a house with a fossilised pre-Cambrian rabbit. There are thousands of people that would make fame and fortune from being the first to scientifically document this rabbit, and all they have to do is go and look. And yet, there is no fossilised pre-Cambrian rabbit in any text book, museum or university course.
The only answer that makes any sense at all is, every single word of it is rubbish, from start to end. And proving otherwise is very straightforward, get thee to that house and document the gun-bender in action, or do the left-over spirits of humans murdered decades/centuries before get camera shy?


Unfortunately there is a clear pattern of time elapsing and the case disintegrating as the beasties stops performing: that has remained consistent across the cases. In theory though, yes one could do just that. What bothers me is very rarely, the Max Planck guys and the parapsychologists excepted, does anyone do that.

j x


Oh I see, I thought you were telling me that many cases have been examined by scientific luminaries, such as those SPR peeps. Apologies.
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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#188  Postby HPrice » Apr 21, 2011 10:43 am

Will S wrote:Yes, words are important. But why do you say that the folklore-based definition of ghost is flawed? What's wrong with it? As far as I can see, there's nothing much wrong with it at all.


It is flawed because there are plenty of people out there who believe in it literally! It leads some of them to do investigations with EMF boards and ouija boards and to kids hanging around churchyards at night.

Why didn't they? I think the reason is obvious: to do so would have risked causing the utmost confusion.


The difference is that the examples you quote are of theoretical agencies, originally invented by scientists themselves, which did not in fact exist. By contrast, with ghosts we are talking of a traditional concept that has two aspects - a folklore part and a very real part. By allowing the two to conflate, it causes endless confusion. If the general public used the ghost researchers definition of ghosts, they would have a much clearer idea of the difference between the two aspects. It would remove confusion, not create more.

So why do people like Jerome and yourself want to redefine the word ghost? And to redefine it in such an outlandish way as to make it literally meaningless to say, 'At first I thought I'd seen a ghost, but then I realised that is was only a trick of the light.'


As a description of a human experience, it IS meaningless. I can't help it if people say meaningless things. Apart from anything else, the phrase 'trick of the light' has no practical meaning at all. Light obeys the laws of physics, there is no trick involved.

I don't know the answer to that question, and I can only speculate. Perhaps you have some kind of residual emotional attachment to the word ghost, and you don't want to let go of it. (Religious people often behave in a similar way. They want to hang on to the word 'God', and they don't like the idea of saying, flatly, 'There is no God'. So they redefine God in a broader and vaguer way, so as to make it undeniable that God exists.)


If you give a word a more accurate definition most people, who don't really care about such things, will simply adopt it by default. If you invent a new word, only the minority who care enough will bother to adopt it. There is no sentiment involved (except perhaps passion for a badly abused subject), only pragmatism.

But, be that as it may, can't you see the scope for confusion if you insist on making your definition of 'ghost' so totally subjective, and so far from what is normally meant by the word?


You imply I have a choice when the definition is, in fact, drawn entirely from evidence. I can't change the evidence to make the word more exciting.

Just a final thought: have you a therapeutic motive? Could it be that you have a kindly, honorable (but still, in my opinion, misplaced) desire to deliver consolation to people who think they're had an experience of the supernatural? Is it that you want to be able to reassure them that, despite all the debunking which you're done, that they really and truly did (in some sense!) see a 'ghost'?


It is a definition based on scientific pragmatism, not sentiment.If someone believes they've seen the spirit of a loved one, I don't think they'd find my definition of a ghost particularly comforting at all.
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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#189  Postby HPrice » Apr 21, 2011 11:02 am

Regarding the mysterious bending key, I have a comment. When products are newly invented, they are incrementally improved by engineers, using better shapes, better materials and so on, to improve performance. There comes a point, however, where there isn't much you can do to make something like a key more functional. So then, in order to give a particular model a sales edge, designers take over from engineers and make products more 'sexy' instead. This may involve unintentionally reversing some of the engineering improvements. So a key may be made in a shape which looks more attractive but is less resistant to stress. It may be made from a lighter material which is not as stiff or resistent to metal fatigue. I've noticed that many modern products may look good but they don't have the durability of their 'uglier', but more functional, antecedents.
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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#190  Postby Will S » Apr 21, 2011 12:03 pm

HPrice wrote:
Will S wrote:Yes, words are important. But why do you say that the folklore-based definition of ghost is flawed? What's wrong with it? As far as I can see, there's nothing much wrong with it at all.


It is flawed because there are plenty of people out there who believe in it literally! It leads some of them to do investigations with EMF boards and ouija boards and to kids hanging around churchyards at night.

Why didn't they? I think the reason is obvious: to do so would have risked causing the utmost confusion.


The difference is that the examples you quote are of theoretical agencies, originally invented by scientists themselves, which did not in fact exist. By contrast, with ghosts we are talking of a traditional concept that has two aspects - a folklore part and a very real part. By allowing the two to conflate, it causes endless confusion. If the general public used the ghost researchers definition of ghosts, they would have a much clearer idea of the difference between the two aspects. It would remove confusion, not create more.

So why do people like Jerome and yourself want to redefine the word ghost? And to redefine it in such an outlandish way as to make it literally meaningless to say, 'At first I thought I'd seen a ghost, but then I realised that is was only a trick of the light.'


As a description of a human experience, it IS meaningless. I can't help it if people say meaningless things. Apart from anything else, the phrase 'trick of the light' has no practical meaning at all. Light obeys the laws of physics, there is no trick involved.

I don't know the answer to that question, and I can only speculate. Perhaps you have some kind of residual emotional attachment to the word ghost, and you don't want to let go of it. (Religious people often behave in a similar way. They want to hang on to the word 'God', and they don't like the idea of saying, flatly, 'There is no God'. So they redefine God in a broader and vaguer way, so as to make it undeniable that God exists.)


If you give a word a more accurate definition most people, who don't really care about such things, will simply adopt it by default. If you invent a new word, only the minority who care enough will bother to adopt it. There is no sentiment involved (except perhaps passion for a badly abused subject), only pragmatism.

But, be that as it may, can't you see the scope for confusion if you insist on making your definition of 'ghost' so totally subjective, and so far from what is normally meant by the word?


You imply I have a choice when the definition is, in fact, drawn entirely from evidence. I can't change the evidence to make the word more exciting.

Just a final thought: have you a therapeutic motive? Could it be that you have a kindly, honorable (but still, in my opinion, misplaced) desire to deliver consolation to people who think they're had an experience of the supernatural? Is it that you want to be able to reassure them that, despite all the debunking which you're done, that they really and truly did (in some sense!) see a 'ghost'?


It is a definition based on scientific pragmatism, not sentiment.If someone believes they've seen the spirit of a loved one, I don't think they'd find my definition of a ghost particularly comforting at all.

This is difficult. :( I've reread my message, including the parts which you've omitted, in the light of your comments above, and it doesn't seem to me that you're addressing what I'm saying.

We part company with your first sentence. A definition isn't 'flawed' simply because many people believe that the entity defined actually exists, whereas, in reality, it most probably doesn't. You seem to think that a definition, somehow, depends on evidence. That's wrong; it doesn't.

To illustrate: here's a definition of the Loch Ness Monster: 'An animal, weighing more than 100 kg, living in Loch Ness, and which is unknown to science'.

Almost certainly, the Loch Ness Monster doesn't exist, though there are people who believe that it does. But, despite those facts, it's still a perfectly good definition.

Suppose a biologist came along and suggested some alternative definition, under which the Loch Ness Monster could possibly exist. For example, one easy way of doing that would be to delete the words 'weighing more than 100 kg' from the definition, so a new species of Daphnia (water flea) would qualify as the Loch Ness Monster!

Assuming that he wasn't making a joke, his proposal would be dismissed as idiotic. Well, the Inverness Tourist Board might think that there was something to be said for it, ;) but the scientific community certainly wouldn't! :(
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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#191  Postby jerome » Apr 21, 2011 12:55 pm

Will S wrote:

An extension of the same idea. My wife an I once went for walk in the country with some friends using their car. When we got back to the car park, Peter (Jerome - did you spot that? I've just done it too! :smile: )


Ah, yes! http://www.amazon.co.uk/Telling-Tales-U ... 436&sr=1-1 is by far the best book on this sort of thing by Professor Woofitt. Highly recommended. Unfortunately also almost impossible to get at a rreasonable price.

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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#192  Postby HPrice » Apr 21, 2011 1:05 pm

Will S wrote:This is difficult. :( I've reread my message, including the parts which you've omitted, in the light of your comments above, and it doesn't seem to me that you're addressing what I'm saying.

We part company with your first sentence. A definition isn't 'flawed' simply because many people believe that the entity defined actually exists, whereas, in reality, it most probably doesn't. You seem to think that a definition, somehow, depends on evidence. That's wrong; it doesn't.

To illustrate: here's a definition of the Loch Ness Monster: 'An animal, weighing more than 100 kg, living in Loch Ness, and which is unknown to science'.

Almost certainly, the Loch Ness Monster doesn't exist, though there are people who believe that it does. But, despite those facts, it's still a perfectly good definition.

Suppose a biologist came along and suggested some alternative definition, under which the Loch Ness Monster could possibly exist. For example, one easy way of doing that would be to delete the words 'weighing more than 100 kg' from the definition, so a new species of Daphnia (water flea) would qualify as the Loch Ness Monster!

Assuming that he wasn't making a joke, his proposal would be dismissed as idiotic. Well, the Inverness Tourist Board might think that there was something to be said for it, ;) but the scientific community certainly wouldn't! :(


Any definition of a word that seriously misleads a large proportion of the public is, in my opinion, flawed. It is the reason a ghost witness may call a medium rather than a parapsychologist if they feel they have a haunting. It is why ghost hunters use EMF meters and ouija boards, to no obvious scientific purpose. It is why parapsychologists, if they actually DO get to investigate a case, may be asked to 'get rid of it', rather than research it!

Changing the definitions of words has had useful effects in the past. For instance, though the words 'obese' and 'overweight' have popular meanings, they also have strict definitions related to body mass index. If we were to stick just to the popular definitions, which would obviously vary from person to person, the words would serve no useful purpose in health education. By defining these words precisely, based on evidence, the public now has a better understanding of the health issues involved. Words, and their definitions, change perceptions.
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Re: Have you experienced a ghost?

#193  Postby Spearthrower » May 12, 2011 4:40 pm

Have you experienced a ghost?


No, but I've experienced being with people who thought they'd seen a ghost when there was really nothing there to see except the swirling effect of being in a very dark place.
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