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#16 canuck

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Posted 02 August 2008 - 07:50 PM

I believe in the existence of ghosts, and my belief is my reality. ;) To each their own.


Yes, and that is the point of this whole discussion.

I preface my comments by saying that I grew up in a haunted house and was about 15 or 16 before I realised that that which I and my family experienced on a daily basis was not “normal”.

I have also participated in various “ghost encounters”, and consequently have made friends and influenced people in both this world and the next.

You, and zillions of others “believe” in ghosts. So the big question is why?

If your belief is just a psychologicial phenomenon, then given its pandemic proportions, that in itself would make it worthy of intensive study. Ie: why do so many people believe in this one specific phenomenon? And equally important, why do so many reject it?

Alternatively, if it is based on the observation of a physically occurring phenomena, then again considering its pandemic proportions, intensive study of this phenomena should be an urgent priority.

However, as has been previously noted, while “mainstream science” continues to be belief based, progress is going to be slow.

PS: “Remote Viewing” was extensively studied at SRI (Stanford Research Institute) in the 1970's to mid 1980's under the direction of physicists Russel Targ and Edwin May. In 1990 the program was moved to SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation), and was wound down as a civilian operated program in 1994.

During its time at SRI/SAIC, the program was funded by the CIA, the Defence Intelligence Agency and NASA, all of which saw its potential value in intelligence gathering.

In that the program had demonstrated remarkable success, it became “classified” and moved somewhere within the intelligence community, where it apparently continues.

#17 stevenedel

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 09:32 AM

Spooks

Firstly, I refer to the term spook to be used interchangeably with ghost, spirit or entity. Although I do believe there is more than sufficient evidence to substantiate the existence of these forms of (super)natural phenomena as credible, I personally do not support the theory that these are the afterlife remains of human beings (there is no evidence to support that theory as far as I know).

Secondly, I would like to establish whether or not our scientific brethren has either the academic credentials or field experience necessary to address the issue of spirit research from an informed position.

One other thing, let’s try to keep the bloodshed to a minimum, we’re not all friends here but we’re not enemies either ...at least not yet. :Spaz:

Jim


Ok, as this is on the skeptic board, here's a skeptic. To begin with, I would hardly agree there is "more than sufficient evidence to substantiate the existence of these forms of (super)natural phenomena as credible". I have yet to see the first evidence that meets even the most lenient scientific standards. If you have it, please direct me to it!

Second, it seems to me the question is not whether academics have the credentials necessary for 'spirit research', but whether the people doing spirit research have any meaningful research credentials.

I don't buy the mystifications about these phenomena being difficult to observe and document. This board is full of stories claiming otherwise. People see apparitions; furniture moves of its own accord; strange noises are heard; loads of 'spirit photographs' are presented; EVP's are recorded; etc. etc.; it all seems pretty down to earth and observable to me. Science has detected things that are far more hidden and difficult to ascertain than these.

What is lacking is solid methodology, that rigourously rules out observer bias, alternative explanations and coincidence. Every time I read about some ghost 'research' what is most noticable is how people go in convinced of the existence of ghost beforehand, and then eagerly jump to conclusions. "Suddenly the temperature dropped, and there was no natural explanation, so it must be a ghost", that kind of thing. How can you be so sure there was no natural explanation? What steps were taken to rule out all natural possibilities, including self-suggestion? Did you take comparative measurements in a similar but not haunted location? Etc. etc. And even if you have actually ruled out every other explanation you can think of, how does that prove the temperature drop is caused by a ghost? All it proves is that there was an unexplained temperature drop.

Paranormal research isn't called pseudoscience because scientists are afraid of what they can't explain or understand (scientists tend to love what they can't explain, it gives them work to do); it's called pseudoscience because thus far that is what it is, due to its lack of rigour.

I would furthermore like to point out that simply because a belief is 'pandemic' that doesn't make it true. Belief in witches was pandemic at one time, as was the conviction the sun revolved around the earth. Beliefs usually say a lot about people's wishes and needs, and very little about reality.

Finally, though absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it is even less evidence of presence!
Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)

#18 CaveRat2

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 10:39 AM

I agree about the quality of evidence. As a scientific researcher it is one area I constantly critisize. Take EVPs for example. I am an electronics specialist and as such am well aware of the multitude of ways recorders can give false positives. I constantly urge people to get rid of those cheap little digital recorders because of the numerous faults they introduce. (Aliasing, sample errors, conversion errors, bit resolution, phasing questions, shielding, the list goes on.

Yet not a day goes by that someone doesn't make a claim they got a great EVP with there little $50 portable digital voice rcorder. When the evidence is easily questioned, how will we ever make any advances? The argument is they can't afford the high end recorder and analysis equipment needed to do good science. Then how can they claim their EVP is valid? They have poor quality evidence and they should be willing to admit it. But they will argue the point up and down till all you can do is throw up your hands and give up trying to show them the error in using cheap equipment. And in some cases I will include those "experts" on TV too. They have access to technical people who could easily point them toward quality equipment, yet don't seem to utilize their expertise. They should know better. Or are they simply "promoting" some particular piece of equipment to sell the masses. Maybe some "product placement?"

So till we can get our own act together and either decide to do serious research using quality equipment, or on the other side admit that we are hobbyists and we like to go out and scare ourselves sometimes, nothing will change. Each of us needs to decide which category we fall under and respond accordingly. Researcher or hobbyist?

Edited by CaveRat, 03 August 2008 - 10:44 AM.

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#19 JimDe

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 10:44 AM

Ok, as this is on the skeptic board, here's a skeptic. To begin with, I would hardly agree there is "more than sufficient evidence to substantiate the existence of these forms of (super)natural phenomena as credible". I have yet to see the first evidence that meets even the most lenient scientific standards. If you have it, please direct me to it!

Second, it seems to me the question is not whether academics have the credentials necessary for 'spirit research', but whether the people doing spirit research have any meaningful research credentials.

I don't buy the mystifications about these phenomena being difficult to observe and document. This board is full of stories claiming otherwise. People see apparitions; furniture moves of its own accord; strange noises are heard; loads of 'spirit photographs' are presented; EVP's are recorded; etc. etc.; it all seems pretty down to earth and observable to me. Science has detected things that are far more hidden and difficult to ascertain than these.

What is lacking is solid methodology, that rigourously rules out observer bias, alternative explanations and coincidence. Every time I read about some ghost 'research' what is most noticable is how people go in convinced of the existence of ghost beforehand, and then eagerly jump to conclusions. "Suddenly the temperature dropped, and there was no natural explanation, so it must be a ghost", that kind of thing. How can you be so sure there was no natural explanation? What steps were taken to rule out all natural possibilities, including self-suggestion? Did you take comparative measurements in a similar but not haunted location? Etc. etc. And even if you have actually ruled out every other explanation you can think of, how does that prove the temperature drop is caused by a ghost? All it proves is that there was an unexplained temperature drop.

Paranormal research isn't called pseudoscience because scientists are afraid of what they can't explain or understand (scientists tend to love what they can't explain, it gives them work to do); it's called pseudoscience because thus far that is what it is, due to its lack of rigour.

I would furthermore like to point out that simply because a belief is 'pandemic' that doesn't make it true. Belief in witches was pandemic at one time, as was the conviction the sun revolved around the earth. Beliefs usually say a lot about people's wishes and needs, and very little about reality.

Finally, though absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it is even less evidence of presence!

Typical skeptical response as I imagined it would be...

Simply because an individual claims to be unaware of existing credible data is certainly not cause to continue to claim it doesn’t exist. Who made you the evidence police?

I question anyone’s ability academic or not to be in a position to judge critical data as to its authenticity, simply stating that one is qualified to do so gets us nowhere, so if you are qualified to determine evidence of a paranormal nature please be so kind as to direct that information to me!

And while I agree with your observation that this and many other boards are typically loaded with so called evidence merely lends credence to the statement that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The lack of respect for the ‘pseudo-scientists’ tells me that a less than well intentioned examination of data is to be expected on your behalf.

Furthermore, if you recall, I offered to share with you in a PM access to data and a published analysis (albeit from pseudo-scientists) but you saw fit not to respond to my offer. Once again that tells me that your lack of respect and disdain for the pseudo-scientific studies of such phenomena exposes you as a less than well intentioned individual and not one seeking an accurate resolution.

Finally, as I’ve stated, all members are welcome to participate in this discussion on ghosts... However, it would be appreciated if you had something to offer the readers other than unsubstantiated opinions (either pro or con).
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#20 MoonChild

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 12:35 PM

If your belief is just a psychologicial phenomenon, then given its pandemic proportions, that in itself would make it worthy of intensive study. Ie: why do so many people believe in this one specific phenomenon? And equally important, why do so many reject it?

Personal belief, and how each people interpret what happens to them.

Alternatively, if it is based on the observation of a physically occurring phenomena, then again considering its pandemic proportions, intensive study of this phenomena should be an urgent priority.

Then again, depends on who and why they are looking into such phenomenon. For a sceptic they always look for data that will support their belief, and for a believer they always look for data so support their cause. Is there a bridge that can genuinely get around this?
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#21 canuck

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 07:51 PM

If your belief is just a psychologicial phenomenon, then given its pandemic proportions, that in itself would make it worthy of intensive study. Ie: why do so many people believe in this one specific phenomenon? And equally important, why do so many reject it?

Personal belief, and how each people interpret what happens to them.

Alternatively, if it is based on the observation of a physically occurring phenomena, then again considering its pandemic proportions, intensive study of this phenomena should be an urgent priority.

Then again, depends on who and why they are looking into such phenomenon. For a sceptic they always look for data that will support their belief, and for a believer they always look for data so support their cause. Is there a bridge that can genuinely get around this?


I think you may have misunderstood my comment; I was not being critical of your (and my own) belief. I was attempting to provide a background context.

I was saying that given the huge volume of data accumulated, over a long period of time, and over all cultures all over the world, there is evidently a phenomenon that requires investigation.

Whether that phenomenon ultimately is shown to be psychological delusion, or a new life form, is irrelevant. The important issue it that it should be thoroughly and rigorously investigated, and these investigations continued until a satisfactory explanation is provided.

Ideally, this explanation would provide a theoretical framework, and describe the means and methods required to reproduce the observed phenomena on demand. So the explanation, ultimately, should be both descriptive and predictive.

Let me give an analogy: if suddenly all over the world people started reporting that their left big toe was turning red, you can be sure that herds of scientists would be tripping over themselves to write their grant applications.

So the question is: “why doesn’t this happen in regard to supernatural phenomena?”

The answer has been discussed adnauseum in other threads on these pages, but it essentially boils down to the fact that modern science is belief based and that which doesn’t fit the beliefs, is rejected and ridiculed.

Such research as is being conducted is necessarily being conducted ad hoc, and on a shoestring budget.

There is a saying that is very relevant: “Funerals are the biggest single drivers of change in science”.

#22 MoonChild

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 12:29 PM

I think you may have misunderstood my comment; I was not being critical of your (and my own) belief. I was attempting to provide a background context.

Neither I have misunderstood, nor I found your post to be critical on my previous post. I was just making a generalized view on belief as a whole. No offense taken at all.
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#23 Johnny Eck

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 12:34 PM

Bob Dylan once said that "money doesn't talk, it swears." So you'd think that if ghosts exist, someone would be able to prove it they were paid enough. In 1922 Scientific American magazine offered two $2,500 awards, one for the first person who could produce an authentic spirit photograph under test conditions and the other for the first medium to produce an authentic "visible psychic manifestation"

Houdini, the famous magician, was a member of the investigating committee, and guess what? Nobody won the prizes. A couple of the spiritualists who entered the competition got busted, though, for trying to cheat. Hmmm . . .
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#24 canuck

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 07:36 PM

Bob Dylan once said that "money doesn't talk, it swears." So you'd think that if ghosts exist, someone would be able to prove it they were paid enough. In 1922 Scientific American magazine offered two $2,500 awards, one for the first person who could produce an authentic spirit photograph under test conditions and the other for the first medium to produce an authentic "visible psychic manifestation"

Houdini, the famous magician, was a member of the investigating committee, and guess what? Nobody won the prizes. A couple of the spiritualists who entered the competition got busted, though, for trying to cheat. Hmmm . . .


A valid observation, but it falls into the category of: "so what?".

Your observation merely serves to underline the difficulties in investigating new phenomena, particularly when so little is known about them.

Nobel Prizes are awarded in recognition of this fact: they acknowledge that significant discoveries and contributions to knowledge are very hard to come by, and invariably are the cumulative result of many lifetime’s work on the part of one or more individuals.

The study of spooks and related phenomena is no different; we don’t even know what it is we are looking at, let alone how to produce them on demand. Note that in numerous of my previous posts on this subject I have explicitly stated this is one of the ultimate objectives of the study of the supernatural.

#25 JimDe

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 07:42 PM

Then again, depends on who and why they are looking into such phenomenon. For a sceptic they always look for data that will support their belief, and for a believer they always look for data so support their cause. Is there a bridge that can genuinely get around this?

Moonie, you raise an interesting point, I think the problem is stemming not just from skeptic and believer but from this rift between the scientists on both sides of the fence filtering down and creating confusion on all levels. Were they to put their collective minds together (as Oniix stated) they would most likely produce or at least identify a system that (works) and establish guidelines to be followed by all interested parties and thereby nullifying the rift between skeptic and believer. Sad but true that canuck’s saying about funerals is also true of many fields and not just science (for instance I think Pete Rose should be in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame but it will most likely not happen until the current and several subsequent administrations go belly up).

‘We’, the non-scientific community (or roughly 90% of the planet) generally assume that any scientist (and) especially those associated with well known universities are well versed in their field of study, and when a university awards a PhD to an individual for a field of study we assume that individual to be competent and deserving of the title ‘Doctor of...’

Aside from the obvious, ‘we’ don’t necessarily distinguish one classification of scientist from the other. I believe this rift between mainstream science and pseudo science is a problem they’ll eventually work out between themselves hopefully sooner than later. We rely on these people to give us answers, solve problems and explore the possibilities of reality but I think even more so we expect them to advance our understanding of life and propel us into the future. And if history has taught us anything it’s that the pioneering rogue scientists are often the ones who make the breakthroughs that get us there.

Once again, maybe not the best choice of words...
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#26 canuck

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 12:43 AM

‘We’, the non-scientific community (or roughly 90% of the planet) generally assume that any scientist (and) especially those associated with well known universities are well versed in their field of study, and when a university awards a PhD to an individual for a field of study we assume that individual to be competent and deserving of the title ‘Doctor of...’


Your comments suggest that a "scientist" has a broader range of expertise than is really the case.

A PhD is “Doctor of Philosophy”, it is not specifically a doctor of science, or doctor of anything else. It certifies that the recipient has undergone a particular training process; it does not imply that he has any specific knowledge.

In practical terms, the awarding of a PhD acknowledges that the recipient has developed expertise in the tools and methods of research in a very specific area of interest.

In addition, it recognises that they have developed a working familiarity with the broad body of knowledge associated with that specific area of interest, with detailed knowledge of a specific topic within that area.

In other words, it means that the person has a relatively deep knowledge of a very narrow field.

Ideally, the PhD is supposed to be the beginning of that person’s education; not the end. Reality is somewhat different.

In reality, there is very little interaction between disciplines and bodies of knowledge in science. Most scientists interact mainly with people with common interests, and therefore they continue to develop their depth of knowledge, but not the breadth.

There is an ancient joke circulating around graduate schools, which has more than just a taste of truth: “an expert is someone who learns more and more about less and less, until they know everything about absolutely nothing.”

Sadly, this is reflected in much of what passes for informed debate in our society.

#27 Vampchick21

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 10:26 AM

I'm curious.

Let's say that JimDe's proposal in his inital post is true, that a ghost or haunting is not a spirit of a long (or recently) dead human being.

What I'm curious about is what could the phenomena therefore be? If we remove the human aspect, what else could possibly cause these things (apparitions, unexplainable mists, EVPs, sounds with no known source, phantom smells, objects moving, etc, etc). It's clear to me that something is going on, has been going on for likely most of human history.

I guess I'm asking for theories, if this is not caused by the spirit of a dead human being, then what?

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#28 AnnieV

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 11:44 AM

I'm curious.

Let's say that JimDe's proposal in his inital post is true, that a ghost or haunting is not a spirit of a long (or recently) dead human being.

What I'm curious about is what could the phenomena therefore be? If we remove the human aspect, what else could possibly cause these things (apparitions, unexplainable mists, EVPs, sounds with no known source, phantom smells, objects moving, etc, etc). It's clear to me that something is going on, has been going on for likely most of human history.

I guess I'm asking for theories, if this is not caused by the spirit of a dead human being, then what?

I think that's what JimDe was trying to ask in the original post, but instead the thread has turned into a debate of other sorts. I could be wrong there though.

I've had these thoughts for years myself, that it's possible that what we call "ghosts" really have nothing to do with deceased human beings or their spirits. I think the general population of believers tends to cling to the spiritual side of things, simply because it doesn't necessarily bring about questions that we feel compelled to answer, explain and understand. If there is something we don't know from a spiritual aspect, it's much easier to say "It is the mystery of God" or "We just aren't meant to know some things". However, if we take a scientific stance on paranormal phenomena, it becomes a quest for absolute knowledge in this area and it's no longer okay to "settle" for the "we may never know" conclusion.

To answer your question, VampChick, other theories out there involve things such as time loops, wormholes and parallel dimensions (which could, in fact, be the very dimension we call the "spirit realm" or "spiritual plane"). Even with the former two of these theories, we would likely be, in effect, seeing a deceased human being.

I know little about the proposed concept of time loops, although I can only assume we'd be able to view a looped event that has already taken place, hence the fact that these "ghosts" are from the past.

Likewise, with wormholes...Einstein's theory of relativity allowed for the existence of wormholes in the fabric of space-time, as well as the possibility of time travel through a wormhole...however, one who chose to travel to the future in this way would NOT be capable of returning via the same mode of transportation (as far as Einstein's theory permits anyway)...again, could help explain somewhat the reason we only view "people" from the past. Furthermore, any wormhole that you might use in an equation in quantum physics is an unstable wormhole...if their existence is fact and they ARE created spontaneously here and there, they certainly wouldn't last long before closing off...which is another interesting aspect to contemplate, seeing as how most "ghosts" seem to be there and gone in the blink of an eye ;)

I won't even get into parallel dimensions at this time, or I may be here all day :P

As far as EVPs, sounds, smells and moving objects, I believe there have been theories produced within the concepts of telekenesis (obviously, unawares) and mental projection, as well as various psychological phenomena. These things could also be explained by any of the previous theories I mentioned above.

This is a great topic, and I only hope the thread can get back on track...if that's where it was intended to be in the first place? :P

Edited by AnnieV, 06 August 2008 - 11:50 AM.

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#29 MoonChild

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 11:49 AM

Even if we agree upon time loops and worm holes, Annie, how does it satisfactorily explain a haunting? Even a worm hole will have to have the entity on some plane for it so be visible for us as a haunting. And how does one explain the residual haunting?
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#30 AnnieV

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 01:02 PM

Well, time loops would, in large part, account for residual haunting...much of the explaination is similar...the same event taking place over and over again.

With wormholes, the theory (if we could even call it a theory) is a much grayer area. The wormhole would act as a temporary "portal" to the future, so we would actually be catching a glimpse of a real, living human being for a moment in time, rather than the spirit of a deceased human being. This person, in the small time frame in which they are existing in our time and space, could then presumably communicate as usual, thus an intelligent haunting. This concept can incorporate other factors, such as vortices, as well. But, assuming we can't control the occurance of an unstable wormhole (nor can we control the location or duration of the opening, even if we can prove they exist), it would seem to be spontaneous and random.

If we take a moment and assume that wormholes are fact, the concept does give rise to a thousand other questions: if this were the case, why then is there no record of these kinds of events from history?...does something happen to one's memory in the process?...what causes some "ghosts" to appear solid, while others are seemingly transparent?...could this be only one truth of many, while there are several other explanations to the various phenomena?...are wormholes the link to parallel dimensions, rather than a link to our own past?...if wormholes are a one-way ticket, as Einstein proposed, what happens to those who seem to travel through them?...or are we simply looking "through" a wormhole when we see a "ghost"? There are so many questions that come to my own mind, and I'm sure some of them CAN be answered by modern science...I'm just not aware of those answers, obviously.
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