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Does alot of poor evidence = good evidence?


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#16 plindboe

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 06:42 AM

IMHO, I've been giving this topic some thought and believe that evidence should not be classified good, poor, better or best. You either have evidence or you have none. If we try to classify evidence into categories, everyone will then be arguing the fine-line between them. Next people will want to rate evidence on a scale of 1 to 10, eventually adding qualitative percentiles. Quite frankly it would then lead to further discussion with still having no positive conclusions being drawn. It would turn out to be like the dog chasing it's tail.


It depends on how you define evidence. I define it to be "anything that can be used to establish whether a proposition is true or false". In the court, eye witness accounts counts as evidence. But the evidence can be seen as weak or strong depending on the credibility of the witness. The anecdotal evidence of a known liar would count as weak evidence, while a experienced expert's testimony would be more trustworthy and would therefore count as a stronger piece of evidence.
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." (Bertrand Russell)

#17 Vampchick21

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 09:57 AM

Ok, what exactly, if you had the money, the time and access, would you do/use to collect evidence of the paranormal?


I'll have to think about that. It's alot easier to find errors in a protocol than setting up a good one yourself, I'm not pretending it's a piece of cake. That said, I have made suggestions in the past whereby ghost huntings can be made more scientific. They were by no means perfect, but I think they could have made the research at least remotely scientific. I can try to find the thread if you want. (Right now I'm going to bed though as I'm extremely tired)


I'd be very interested to see how you would do it, so I'll patiently wait. It does take some thinking, as I'm still thinking on how *I* would conduct an investigation. :) And yes, if you want to link me to these other threads, by all means!

I'm not sure I understand this particular statement. Could you clarify?


I'm talking about the tendency of false belief systems to become more and more intangible, the more failures there have been in getting them verified, so the scraps we're inevitably left with are beliefs that are constructed in a way to be totally unverifiable by any means whatsoever.



AH! So you're referring to believing in something blindly. Right? Which is never good actually. I personally believe in ghosts and spirits, although I've never had an encounter that I can specifically say was a ghost. But I also know that the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs in my own house is actually the old wood and nails (original to the house) are expanding and contracting.

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#18 Gherick

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 03:55 PM

It depends on how you define evidence. I define it to be "anything that can be used to establish whether a proposition is true or false". In the court, eye witness accounts counts as evidence. But the evidence can be seen as weak or strong depending on the credibility of the witness. The anecdotal evidence of a known liar would count as weak evidence, while a experienced expert's testimony would be more trustworthy and would therefore count as a stronger piece of evidence.


Hey there, plindboe

I've read the whole thread, and I decided to give my input here. You seem like an educated individual with some excellent input. I've leaned my own education towards the Sciences to analyze and find grounded evidence. But here is a problem I face in this area. I'm considered biased for the existence of paranormal activity, and since I've had some very strong experiences since I was young, my credibility has been called to inspection more than once after giving my testimony as to why I have no problem with my belief.

Of all the things I've seen that would pretty much give visual and verbal proof to a skeptic's satisfaction, they were few and far between. While I've discussed on this board some of those rare but powerfully compelling moments where there is no longer any doubt, I left out countless moments were they were of the "normal" variety of oddities you have discussed.

The problem isn't so much finding credible evidence, but having the situation and equipment necessary to examine and record the unusually powerful moments where everything that is sought after is more than displayed.

An example is in order. Let's take my Wife, whom I've been married to for 19 years. I know she exists, but you've never seen her. If you wanted proof and I tried to photograph her to post the picture, let's just say I have a better chance at photographing the ghost of Elvis. She is more than camera shy and no amount of pleading or bribery will get her permission to shoot a photo. So... I set her up. I hide and wait. She walks into the room, I snap the picture, and there is a chase. She does get the camera from me and she takes out the film and tosses it into the garbage and scowls at me. I sleep on the couch for a few nights, as she has all ready told me absolutely not and deems fit to punish me some. (This actually happened, but not for the reasons of giving proof of marriage to this woman, lol) So what happens is I tell you of this hot blooded woman who has a seriously negative response to having a photo took. I have no evidence, but you still need to make a choice. You can either believe or stay a skeptic.

My Wife is an intelligent woman with a will of her own. I learned that these entities are also intelligent and will purposely avoid being recorded. Or if they do get recorded, they either miss it or it's one who doesn't really care. But I've seen literally, all hell break lose. Once a camera comes out, or any recording device, they clam up. I've been in a house where you will hear an angry shout about 2 feet in front of you with nobody there. Turn on a digital recorder, you may get an EVP if lucky, which is less than even a whisper.

Rare is the moment it's caught on camera in full evidence, but what is not rare is catching something on a camera or digital recorder, and having the picture distorted or the film compromised with smudges or red pixel stretching that indicates flawed digital memory. Like my wife, most spirits have the tenacity to ruin evidence too.

I've been looking for ways to resolve this, and other than having you there in person on a "hot" investigation without equipment, you may end up joining the ranks of men like me. And your own credibility may end up being questioned too, by other skeptics.

So I pose this. Is the lack of good evidence the results of intelligent manifestations to limit believability and hence, hiding the fact that these evil things can and do happen so the unwary can get tormented more often, or is it as you suggest, that people tend to label minor oddities as proof more often than they should?

:)

#19 plindboe

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 10:38 AM

Hey there Gherick,

thank you for the nice and interesting post. I'm a very busy individual, but I will return to address your points and questions when time permits.
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." (Bertrand Russell)

#20 canuck

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 06:12 AM

There is a bigger issue here: there are numerous cheerleaders for "science" who have only a passing acquaintence with both the processes and actualities of science.

Further to this, they lack the imagination to apply that which is known to the observed world around them. They continue to sing the same uninformed song; and the song never changes.

Case in point: it is mainstream science to talk about "parallel universes", and their impact on our, and other universes. There is very little, if any, "proof" of the existence of these universes. Yet they are routinely discussed in every physics department on earth.

For the sake of argument, assume that mainstream science is correct, and that there are "parallel universes".

Why is it not equally valid to discuss the possibility that such a universe may be populated by living entities, and that some of these entities are manifest in our universe?

If speculation arises in a physics department, then it is OK. But if it arises amongst the general population, it is to be ridiculed?

Seems to me the high priests of religion had this same problem many years ago.

#21 stevenedel

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 12:15 PM

Peter, you're putting up a terrific argument here, and I'll just enjoy and not get in the way. Except for these two small remarks:

@Gherick: Please do read the Sagan quote again. Isn't that exactly what you are doing in your post? Also: if you'd take Plindboe into that house, and he would come back telling us he heard that angry shout too, that wouldn't be watertight proof, but my preparedness, as a skeptic, to assume something is really going on there would dramatically increase. I.e., you can always seek confirmation from truly independent observers, preferably ones who do not believe in hauntings and who know nothing about that shout until they hear it themselves.

(It does puzzle me, by the way, why on the one hand the dead take such pains to manifest themselves to us, but on the other hand are so determined never to be filmed... It is a rather dismaying thought that neurosis apparently continues even after death, though maybe for me as a psychologist it opens up interesting job opportunities)

@Canuck: There is no direct evidence of parallel universes. But they are implied by theories that have such strong explanatory power regarding observable aspects of our universe - that cannot be explained otherwise! - that until something better comes along it is worthwhile to apply them and take the parallel universes into the bargain. The parallel universe theory results directly, if by means of very complex mathematics, from empirical evidence. It can hardly be called random speculation.

Edited by stevenedel, 27 November 2007 - 12:18 PM.

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)

#22 Mabon

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 02:22 PM

What an interesting thread Plindboe.
I'll add my two cents into the mix. LOL!

Indeed, an orb photo can never be considered proper evidence. It doesn't even fulfill the lowest standards of evidence, because there are always mundane explanations that can apply.


On this I agree. There are too many explanations for 'orbs'. And for the most part those can be repeated easily. Maybe the orb won't be in the exact spot but under the same conditions you get very similar (nearly identical) orbs.

However, I have to point out that it's often very hard to go back to an area where you caught the first pieces of evidence and get the exact same thing again. You might get something different. You might get nothing. That's the hard part regarding paranormal investigation, and one I think that causes many to utterly dismiss it, unfairly.


I left Vampchick21's answer in because it does echo some of my thoughts. But I'll expand on it.
If you go back to a location that you captured an interesting image/sound or other bit of evidence, if the conditions are similar an individual still may not get the exact same image or sound but if there is something similar that can't be determined to be a atmospheric defect or faulty equipment or (sadly) hoax, I would say that would be a repeat and successful.

I appreciate the ghost researchers' effort but I think they are going about it the wrong way entirely. There's no way the current research can yield results that will gain attention from the scientific community because there seem to be nothing scientific about this way of collecting data at all. Let's face it, photos, videos, tape recordings can never be accepted as evidence, because in each case there are more mundane explanations.


If a researcher/team (or however they prefer to identify themselves) intention is to find ghosts or other phenomenon, I agree that they will find it or a loophole as to why they didn't find it. (I cracked up about the invisible, not heat registering, non-corporal dragon.) But when a team goes into debunk activity they are going to go in with a completely different mind set.
They are going to look for flaws and problems with everything from banging pipes to a field mouse invasion or opossum in the crawl space creating that horrifying noise at midnight. Why the window fell, see if they can repeat it and so forth. What's left from that type of investigation is going to be IMHO more credible and worth looking at, if they do capture something on visual as sound.
Another thing that investigators forget is to note time/date/weather conditions as a part of their log on an investigation, if they even do one at all.

I don't think that evidence is lacking due to the nature of the paranormal, but rather that the nature of the paranormal have changed due to lack of evidence. What we are left with today after centuries of fruitless research are phenonema defined in a way that inherently excuses any lack of detection whatsoever, seems entirely impossible to verify by independent observers, they're immaterial, invisible and only show themselves whenever they want. This is what we're inevitably left with after countless failures, anything tangible at all seems to have gone out the window.


I disagree with a part of this assessment.. I think that the criteria for what will be acceptable evidence is changing as our technology changes.
A photo by itself is insufficient evidence to say that the area is haunted but a collection of several pieces of evidence could be supporting evidence.
At one time there was no DNA or fingerprinting either but crimes were solved and the testimony convincing enough to convict based on the merit of the evidence. With the inclusion of DNA there is less likely hood of error during a conviction but the same patient detective work that has been employed throughout recorded history still has to be there or the DNA evidence means very little.
The current state of technology has improved or validated 'gut instinct'. But instinct without evidence is pretty useless.
EMF, infrared photo/video capture are what is the latest greatest to the field and is IMHO a great boon. Person/s who have an experience can get some corroboration to their story by employing them.

Regards,
Mabon.

#23 canuck

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 12:15 AM

@Canuck: There is no direct evidence of parallel universes. But they are implied by theories that have such strong explanatory power regarding observable aspects of our universe - that cannot be explained otherwise! - that until something better comes along it is worthwhile to apply them and take the parallel universes into the bargain. The parallel universe theory results directly, if by means of very complex mathematics, from empirical evidence. It can hardly be called random speculation.


Hi Stevenedel:

Actually, the story is somewhat more complicated than that, and relates to the broader aspects of the religion of science. Specifically, it relates to the dominance of science by a panic driven priesthood who are bound and determined to maintain the dominance of their belief system.

The whole story of parallel universes only moved out from the imaginations of science fiction writers when the scientific evidence for an anthropic universe became pretty difficult to ignore.

The high priests of science had conniption fits when faced with the possibility that the universe may in fact be a directed creation, and the priesthood of science may need to start using the “G” word.

In order to avoid such a catastrophe to their belief system, the high priests created the concept of multi universes, and then twisted themselves into pretzels in their efforts to build a supporting base for this concept.

The result is a self contained abstract mathematical construct with very little that connects it to reality.

In such a mathematical creation, anything is possible. Observed facts are drawn into the theory, and then further mathematical constructs are contorted to fit the facts to the theory.

Every flaw in the theory is papered over with more abstract math. Abstract math is created to explain other abstract math; and the whole theory is one never ending, self consuming spiral.

It is a construct that provides employment for the priesthood, but provides very little to the advancement of our understanding of the universe.

In reality, very little of this abstraction is testable, reproducible, or observable. Therefore, it fails on all the fundamental criteria of science; it remains a creation of belief and religion.

If “scientists” were freed from the constraints of their religion, and were free to view the evidence of the world around them, they would find that the universe is a far more interesting and complex place than even their limited imaginations have provided.

There would be no need for such nonsense and multi-verses.

#24 stevenedel

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 07:21 AM

Canuck, you seem to have a strangely paranoid view of science. You seem to be saying that science cooked up a multiverse theory to get away from the idea of a directional, created universe as implied by the anthropic principle. But all the anthropic principle says is that to us the evolution of the universe cannot but seem directional, because if it hadn't resulted in us being here, we wouldn't be here to observe it. With hindsight, it appears directional though in fact the outcome is the result of a string of random events and natural evolution, and could have turned out a myriad other ways. It is fallacious (and pretty arrogant) to conclude that because our environment fits us so perfectly, it must have been intentionally designed to accomodate us. Evolution explains quite neatly (and with lots of empirical support) how life on earth adapted itself to the prevailing environmental circumstances.

(As an afterthought: If Earth had been specifically designed to accomodate us, the designer might have done his job a lot better. Why didn't he create an earth without microbes that cause disease; without cancer-inducing UV rays from the Sun; with less limited resources and without large unfertile areas... etc. etc.?)
Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)

#25 canuck

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 08:06 PM

Canuck, you seem to have a strangely paranoid view of science. You seem to be saying that science cooked up a multiverse theory to get away from the idea of a directional, created universe as implied by the anthropic principle. But all the anthropic principle says is that to us the evolution of the universe cannot but seem directional, because if it hadn't resulted in us being here, we wouldn't be here to observe it. With hindsight, it appears directional though in fact the outcome is the result of a string of random events and natural evolution, and could have turned out a myriad other ways. It is fallacious (and pretty arrogant) to conclude that because our environment fits us so perfectly, it must have been intentionally designed to accomodate us. Evolution explains quite neatly (and with lots of empirical support) how life on earth adapted itself to the prevailing environmental circumstances.

(As an afterthought: If Earth had been specifically designed to accomodate us, the designer might have done his job a lot better. Why didn't he create an earth without microbes that cause disease; without cancer-inducing UV rays from the Sun; with less limited resources and without large unfertile areas... etc. etc.?)


Hey Stevenedel:

Paranoia would imply irrationality and delusion. The counterpoint to that is knowledge and experience.

Granted, I am exaggerating and yanking chains to make a point, but the fundamental point I have been making is valid: “science” is dominated by particular belief systems and ideologies, and anyone who challenges those does so at their peril.

Yes, I am saying that the multiverse theory was cooked up in order to explain the observed facts in a manner that is consistent with prevailing ideology.

There is a prevailing view in “science” that the universe, and all in it, is a manifestation of random mechanical/chemical/physical processes; and that “life” and “consciousness” is the result of similar processes.

This is an ideological position, not a position based on “science”. The available facts have been interpreted to fit the prevailing ideology, and alternative and equally valid explanations are actively discouraged.

This ideological bias is reflected in your own comments noted above. You state that “in fact the outcome is....etc”.

Well, no; it is not “in fact” anything.

Your viewpoint is only one interpretation of the available facts, and your interpretation is made from within the confines of the current ideology. That does not make your interpretation “in fact”.

Furthermore you state that: “It is fallacious (and pretty arrogant) to conclude .... etc”. That may be true; but an alternative interpretation of the facts could be that the universe was created with a particular end point in mind, and life on earth is but one point on the line leading to that endpoint.

Also, you state that: “Evolution explains quite neatly... etc”. Well, no it doesn’t.

The current ideology of Darwinian evolution was formulated more than 150 years ago when our body of scientific knowledge was still pretty small and primitive. It seemed a reasonable explanation for the facts as they were understood at the time.

However, we now know a lot more about biology, cell biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, and statistics than was even imagined at that time.

The facts we now have available reduce the Darwinian theories to little more than the quaint musings of the ignorant.

It is significant to note that Darwin proposed his theories at a time when the world was undergoing a cultural revolution away from the then prevalent and dominant influence of religion. There was a backlash against all things religious, particularly amongst those with a “scientific” predisposition.

Darwin came along at the right time with an alternative view of the universe. Accordingly, his views were enthusiastically embraced by those who were seeking a secular view of existence. So one form of religion was substituted for another.

The tragedy is that the Darwinian theories are still taken seriously by a large percentage of the scientific community, and thereby precludes rational investigation of alternative explanations of the facts.

If the available facts underpinning the anthropic principle are viewed without the current ideological bias, they are highly suggestive of a consciously designed structure And this is why the principle is the subject of heated debate within the scientific community.

The core of the debate is that it implies that we scientists should start to use the “G” word; and this is anathema to the secular high priests of science.

Clearly, these ideological biases in science are major barriers to our understanding of the universe in that they actively preclude those areas of investigation that do not fit within the current ideology.

#26 LadyWolf

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Posted 10 December 2007 - 11:40 PM

I think that belief systems are just that. People can believe what they want but scientific proof is important in proving that it's "real" and not just a belief.
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#27 Direwrath

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 01:14 PM

I prefer seeing one no matter how small piece of good evidence over piles of bad evidence, guess I'm overly skeptic but I want the truth and to have that all my human wants to find evidence has to be put on the backburner.

It's the only way you'll ever truly know.



##################

Belief is what makes religion, it is also a part of science.

But here's the difference.

One grants the believer tangible evidence, something that they can see, feel, touch, taste. And soon begin to understand. Science....

The other has shown no evidence despite what has been said through word and mouth from people who have little to make them believable in my opinion. Religion....

Based on the psychological workings of the human brain, one can explain religion away as being wholly based on a human's mundane need for understanding their environment, and their wish to survive beyond death as they are today. Atleast that is what started the whole chain reaction, but it progressed into a fight for power using fear as a crutch against those with easily bought minds.

I don't mean any insult against anyone bearing a religion, but when mankind was a baby (we are still young compared to other species) we were not so knowing about the workings of things. I didn't know any other way to explain that simple way of thought.



Give one proof that a god exists, then you will turn heads. On the other hand a scientist can give you proof that dinosaurs did exist, or that certain plants do help the human body fight disease.
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#28 secretsign

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Posted 17 December 2007 - 09:40 AM

I say take plindboe to one of the hottest haunted places, stay there untill he has a truley paranormal experince and see if he stays a skeptic.


alas, he may still remain skeptic..lol
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#29 Seeker

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Posted 17 December 2007 - 06:42 PM

I say take plindboe to one of the hottest haunted places, stay there untill he has a truley paranormal experince and see if he stays a skeptic.


alas, he may still remain skeptic..lol



Sounds like fun actually. Can I watch?
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#30 canuck

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 03:47 AM

I prefer seeing one no matter how small piece of good evidence over piles of bad evidence, guess I'm overly skeptic but I want the truth and to have that all my human wants to find evidence has to be put on the backburner.

It's the only way you'll ever truly know.



##################

Belief is what makes religion, it is also a part of science.

But here's the difference.

One grants the believer tangible evidence, something that they can see, feel, touch, taste. And soon begin to understand. Science....

The other has shown no evidence despite what has been said through word and mouth from people who have little to make them believable in my opinion. Religion....

Based on the psychological workings of the human brain, one can explain religion away as being wholly based on a human's mundane need for understanding their environment, and their wish to survive beyond death as they are today. Atleast that is what started the whole chain reaction, but it progressed into a fight for power using fear as a crutch against those with easily bought minds.

I don't mean any insult against anyone bearing a religion, but when mankind was a baby (we are still young compared to other species) we were not so knowing about the workings of things. I didn't know any other way to explain that simple way of thought.



Give one proof that a god exists, then you will turn heads. On the other hand a scientist can give you proof that dinosaurs did exist, or that certain plants do help the human body fight disease.

Hey Direwrath:

Your comments are valid observations, but you don’t carry your observations all the way through.

Religion is an artificial construct of fact, fantasy and delusion created and developed by groups of individuals. This construct serves three purposes: it feeds people with easily grasped explanations for their observations of the universe that surrounds them; and it provides a crutch to lean on in the face of adversity.

An equally important function is that it is an instrument used to maintain the position and influence of “The High Priests” in society, and thereby ensure their continued employment and livelihood.

There is much within religion that you “can see, feel, touch, and taste.” The function of the High Priests is to seek out these things, and to incorporate them within the belief system of the religion. That which can’t be made to fit, is dismissed as “heresy” or “blasphemy”, or “ridiculous”.

Exactly the same applies to “science”. Here, things that you can “see, feel, touch, and taste”, and a lot of things that you can’t, are consolidated into a belief system: this system is called a “theory”.

A rush of people, who would otherwise be unemployed, attach themselves to this theory, and they become its “High Priests”. They defend this theory to the last research grant; and anything which doesn’t fit this theory is ignored, dismissed or ridiculed. The livelihood of the High Priests of Science is paramount, and is thereby assured.

The issue currently under discussion here, is the scientific evidence which has been accumulating which suggests that the universe is a directed creation.

The logical implication of this evidence is the concept of a creator. This concept is derived from the facts of mainstream science, and is independent of any religion. It is not a fanciful derivative of belief, or wishful thinking.

This is what gives the High Priests of Science conniption fits. The concept of a directed universe is totally contrary to their entire belief system; and if this concept were to take hold, many of the High Priests of Science would taste the joys of unemployment.

Accordingly, in order to defend their livelihoods, they are obliged to construct explanations which force fit their religion to fit the facts, or force the facts to fit their religion. We have already mentioned the “Multiverse Theory”; and isn’t “String Theory” now up to eleven dimensions?

Alice would have made a wonderful High Priest of Science.




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