Posted: Aug 14, 2010 3:46 pm
by campermon
First of all; apologies for a short post!

As you may be aware, Jerome and I have had a little diversion from regular debating practice in order to carry out some beer mat physics to investigate the claims made by Dr Barrie Colvin (see previous posts).

In order to keep everyone up to date, I decided that this post should be a quick Campermon Beer Mat Physics AnalysisTM of the results.

Jerome very kindly supplied the forum some of the ‘anomalous’ poltergeist raps that were used in the study and he also made a number of raps of his own.

Twistor very generously gave up his time to produce graphs of the waveforms of these sounds (using Oracle), take measurements of the attack times and calculate attack times as a percentage of the total sound length.

Many thanks also to Grahamh who, despite my cynicism ( ;) ), managed to superimpose an ‘anomalous’ rap waveform on top of a normal rap that he produced.

The full story can be found in the 'peanut gallery' from here; paranormal/peanut-gallery-existence-of-ghosts-apparitions-t6933-380.html#p393697

Beer Mat Physics Analysis…….

Being a beer mat experiment, I won’t go into detail about the method. Essentially, Jerome provided us with various raps in *.wav form which he made with his PC. Jerome then shared these and some ‘anomalous’ rap files with us. Using various free software, we looked at the waveforms to see if we could identify the ‘anomalous’ raps qualitatively. Twistor, very kindly, put the analysis on a quantitative level by taking some measurements of these sound waves:


The sound waves can be viewed here; http://www.weirdscience.pwp.blueyonder. ... waves.html

Before we move on, let’s look at what Colvin concluded in his paper;

“There appear to be reasonable grounds for concluding that the unexplained rapping effect produced at various apparent poltergeist cases in a variety of countries exhibit an unusual acoustic waveform pattern, characterized by a relatively slow rise to maximum amplitude, followed by an equally slow decline in amplitude.”

Colvin makes the claim that a characteristic of the ‘anomalous’ raps was ‘a relatively slow rise to maximum amplitude, followed by an equally slow decline in amplitude’. If this is the case, then a plot of ‘Attack time’ and ‘Attack time as a % of total’ should show plots of anomalous points in a clear ‘band’ well above other plotted points. This is what the results show (Poltergeist raps arrowed);


A larger version can be found here: http://www.weirdscience.pwp.blueyonder. ... catter.jpg

As you can see, the ‘anomalous’ sounds do not appear to ‘stick out’.

Intriguingly, there does appear to be a correlation between ‘attack time’ and ‘attack time as a % of total’. If indeed there is such a correlation, then sound ‘CJ03’ (Jerome’s ex wife bouncing upstairs) appears to be anomalous….. ;)

However, there are not enough data points to make any claims of correlation. The purpose of this plot was to show that there appears to be no characteristic features of the four identified ‘anomalous’ poltergeist raps that separate them from ‘normal’ raps.

I would suggest that if Colvin were to show that poltergeist raps were ‘anomalous’ then he should, as we have done in a half arsed manner (‘a bit Heath-Robinson’ as Twistor put it!), make quantitative measurements on these raps and compare them to many (100+) self produced raps. If the poltergeist raps are indeed different, then they should stick out like a ‘dog log in a swimming pool’.

Further thoughts on this….

One thing that has nagged me from the Colvin paper was this statement from the abstract;

‘Differences in low-frequency wave properties between the two classes of sounds have been noted.’

OK, this has bugged me because in the body of the paper he doesn’t mention much about this. He doesn’t explain in any detail how he treated the recordings, for example, did he filter out the low frequencies only for his analysis? If so, what band of frequencies? Colvin does not make it at all clear, which is one of my original criticisms of the paper.

One explanation for any anomalous low frequency waves observed on the poltergeist recordings may lie in the fact that they were originally recorded on analogue gear and then digitized. Colvin states that he did digitize some himself, but other, digitized sources, were provided by others. Perhaps these recordings suffered from ‘aliasing’? Aliasing occurs in the digitization of a signal when the input signal frequency is higher than the sampling rate. It results in the addition of low frequency signals appearing on the digitized copy. More here;

In Conclusion….

We didn’t find anything anomalous about the poltergeist raps and Colvin’s findings have not been reported in sufficient detail. Perhaps Colvin should take the advice of Grahamh and reanalyze his findings according to this method;

‘For starters...

1. Define a measurement methodology
2. Quantify Colvin's results, following 1. (since it seems he failed to do this!). Establish a two-set classification.
3. Describe the natural source hypotheses.
4. Confirm the predictions of 3. with tests and quantitative results.
5. Establish if any particular natural methodology is precluded by the details of the incidents his results relate to
6. Try various natural methods to reproduce the effects Colvin reports, both his raps and the polt recordings.
7. Quantify the degree of agreement achieved in populating both classes defined in 2.
8. Conclude that there are no anomalous sounds in Colvin's polt data if all can be reproduced by feasible natural methods.’

Where to know?

To those readers who have studied all the posts in this debate you will spot a pattern. Evidence for the supernatural largely rests on story and anecdote. Where evidence of the scientific kind has been presented by the ‘paranormalists’, as in the Colvin case, it demonstrates poor methodology and even poorer reporting of the results. In contrast, the reader will see that there is a wealth of science that adequately explains much of the phenomena we have discussed.

We haven’t yet seen any cases, with quality supporting evidence, that may support the statement that some ghosts may represent discarnate consciousness. Metatron said it best;

“Whenever the scientific method is applied properly to the field, parapsychology delivers nothing.”