Saturday, April 27, 2013

Scientific Ghost Hunting or Just Plain Fraud?

“Ghost hunter”…"Paranormal Researcher”…."Paranormal Investigator”. These are labels that ANYONE can give themselves. You, me, your Grandma, the teenager down the street, anyone. The label itself is meaningless as the name itself does not denote any actual skill or advanced knowledge on the subject. If I tell you I have a BS in Chemistry, you may assume that my knowledge level regarding Chemistry is more than someone with a BS in Physics, and you’d be generally correct. If someone says they have a PhD is Chemistry you may assume they have more knowledge regarding Chem than I do and you would most definitely be correct in your assumption.  But what about the paranormal field? What if I said “I have been doing this for 30 years...” Does that make me an expert? The simple answer is NO. There are no experts or professionals in this field,  no one is “scientific” and I will tell you why.


Without a ruling consensus of the generally accepted correct way of doing things, like that is taught in an accredited school with an accredited field of study, what you are left with are myths being presented as facts, hypotheses being presented as theories and “evidence” having hypotheses formed around their origin when the evidence is nothing paranormal in nature to begin with. If a person has been paranormal research for 30 years, and for 30 years been doing things the wrong way then they are an expert in doing things the WRONG way and nothing more. Also, just because you see something on TV does not mean it is the appropriate or most logical way of doing things. Because unlike, let’s say surgery where they is a definite right and wrong way of doing things, you can’t say that with this field. But that doesn’t stop people from saying that they do the things the RIGHT way and making definitive statements about the paranormal based on their “experience” or their in-depth knowledge of how TV para-celebs seem to investigate.  When it comes to TV, we have to remember that what you see is directed, edited, and probably scripted sometimes to form an hour show. The people who are on the shows are beholden to their producers who are beholden to networks that are beholden to the ratings. If they need to make a show different in some way or want their investigators to do something contrary to what they would normally do in an investigation, who do you think wins out? Probably the person paying the bills and not the person who is investigating. Bottom line it is entertainment and should be view as such.


So let’s look at some examples of common beliefs and statements that paranormal “experts” perpetuate:


Example 1:  “We are doing cutting edge research.”


Let’s say a group of investigators are doing “research” around their “EVPs.” OK…well how can they prove to me that their EVPs are EVPs to begin with? It’s really not hard to tell when a EVP is someone in the room or someone breathing etc when you are properly trained, yet people still put up those EVPs on their websites as evidence and then base their research around said false EVPS. Saying “because it sounds like an EVP” or “I know it wasn’t me” is not enough of an answer of certainty to base RESEARCH around the supposed EVPs. Neither is “I remember exactly what was going on at that point” is a good enough reason to base research dependent on that EVP being a true voice of a ghost.


Besides my group I have yet to find another group that has any methodology put into place to help validate their EVPs.


Example 2: “We have to investigate the dark because spirit lights are easier to see in the dark.”  


Well, how do you know that spirits emit light? We can’t scientifically prove the existence of spirits to begin with so how can you then tell me they emit light? What about the homeowners stories of seeing shadows, apparitions etc…aren’t they almost always when it is light in the room?  


I have heard people saying that they investigate in at night (but that doesn’t explain why it needs to be “lights out”) because there are less machines running etc that can throw off their equipment, which leads me to my next example…


Example 3: “We use scientific equipment.” 


You do? Really? Using a KII, a Mel-meter, etc is NOT scientific. Does an electrician go into a house and use an EMF detector and say s/he is doing science? No. Oh, but people on TV and other books I have read said that ghosts emit an EMF so you get a spike when they come around. Other people also say that you should use an EMF pump because spirits need EMF to manifest. Some people run with both hypotheses as fact. Are either of them facts? No. Well, they are theories, right? No, they are merely unproven hypotheses and nothing more.

Can you use tri-field meters and EMF detectors to get readings from the house and make correlations of certain things such as high EMFs in a room and people feeling queasy or dizzy or feel nothing at all? Sure! But you cannot use those devices to prove the presence of a spirit. You may say "but what about if I get an EMF spike when I caught that EVP?" Again, you may have a correlation, but it does not prove that the EVP you caught is the voice of a ghost or that the EMF spike had anything to do with it.


The very basic matter of everything is ghost hunting is not a science, and cannot be done scientifically. You cannot follow the scientific method because you have a variable (the spirit) that you don’t even know exists and cannot be controlled or manipulated for any experiments to be done on it. Until the day when you have a ghost that will do things on command and you can PROVE is there doing things on command then everything is speculation at best, fraudulent misinformation to sell pointless “scientific” devices at worst.


So if you are an established team, a brand-new team, or just someone with an interest in paranormal investigating and tell homeowners, business owners, teach classes on, etc of the common myths in this paranormal field that have no basis in scientific fact then you are perpetuating fraud. Plain  and simple. If you want to be respected and taken seriously then use critical thinking when it comes to the commonly held ideas in this field before you go around and spout them off as fact. And be prepared to be held accountable for your words and your evidence. If you say “this is a picture of a apparition” then you need to tell me exactly how you know that. If you tell me this an EVP of the person who died in the house, you need to prove it. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, not some EMF spikes or someone mumbling under their breath.


If we really want some “paranormal unity” then we need to stop perpetuating myths as facts, use our brains, and hold each other accountable for supposed evidence instead of saying “great catch” anytime someone has something they claim is paranormal. Imagine a baseball team where all the kids had no clue what to do so they came up with ways to play with this bat and ball that they imagine were best, and then taught each other. Meanwhile while they taught each other bad techniques their coaches sat back in the dugouts drinking beer and told them they were great all the time. Would anyone get better? Of course not! This is the paranormal world right now.  Without pressure or peer scrutiny this field will continue its downward spiral into ridiculousness.  And the sad fact is that we are pretty much at bottom as it is but perhaps someday when a person says they are a paranormal investigator, it will mean that they use common sense, good practices, and critical thinking. But we are certainly not there yet.


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