In the interests of stirring the pot and livening up the discussion, let me draw attention to three theories that have gone through the whole “scientific method”; and despite this, have become “conventional wisdom”.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that contradicts both the conclusions drawn, and the resulting conventional wisdom, the view that has prevailed is that which defends the livelihoods of its proponents, as opposed to the empirical science.
The actual results generated by the “scientific method” were distorted, misinterpreted, cherry picked, misrepresented, falsified and fraudulently presented in order to push the agenda of vested interests.
In other words, the “scientific method” stands no chance in the face of politics and vested interests.
Here are three current theories, to illustrate the point:
1. The diet/cholesterol/fat/atherosclerosis/heart disease theory.
Theory based on fraud and misrepresentation.
Actual result: a possible Nobel Prize for the prime proponent.
2. Darwinian theory of evolution of the species.
Theory conclusively blown out of the water by the Genome Study in 2001.
Actual result: zillions of dollars of research grants still being awarded to Darwinians.
3. The climatic effects of human generated CO2.
Theory definitively disproved by atmospheric physics, thermal physics and historical data.
Actual result: failing careers revitalised and glory gained through politically correct BS.
It is such a comfort, the too few times I pop in here, to find that Canuck is still the same. This particular post I found interesting: to prove the supposed bias and unreliability of scientific findings, Canuck quotes other scientific findings, which, following his own line of reasoning, would be equally biased and unreliable.
It is always nice to have a conspiracy theory at hand to get rid of findings that you don't like, but to pretend that all scientists are just a bunch of money-grabbing impostors who are happily doctoring their data is of course silly, as well as an insult to the many dedicated scientists who work hard to get a clearer view of the facts. Of course science isn't perfect, of course there are those who abuse it, but it has brought us heaps of understanding and has improved our lives in innumerable ways. Imagine where we would be without it.
If ever there is to be convincing evidence of ghosts, psychic abilities or any other paranormal phenomenon, there is no other way to provide it than through the scientific method. These boards are full of claims that are quite easy to test through fairly simple yet scientifically sound procedures. Just one example: it strikes me that EVP recordings are usually presented with the instruction to listen for a voice saying this or that; mostly, we only get to hear the fragment containing the supposed voice. With the suggestion firmly in place, most people will indeed hear the "help me" or "get out of here" or whatever other desperate message the 'other side' has supposedly been sending. This happens for the same reason we see human faces in anything from a wrinkled tablecloth to the moon: humans are pattern-seekers.
The evidence would be a lot more convincing if, say, 100 randomly chosen subjects were presented with an extended audiofragment that at some point contains the supposed EVP. They should get no more instruction than to listen closely for anything remarkable or recognizable they may hear, and if they do so, to write down what they are hearing and at what point of the recording. I would be impressed if even just 15 or 20 of these 100 unprimed subjects would note down the same message at the same point in time on the tape. I also think it is very unlikely this would happen with any of the EVPs I ever heard. And mind you, while it would be impressive, because it suggests that something non-random is there, it would still not in any way prove that the message that was heard came from a ghost. The fact that a message is heard doesn't in itself tell us anything about its source, and the fact that we can't readily explain its presence doesn't in any way lead to the conclusion that it must 'therefore' be supernatural.
Jumping to conclusions, a lack of criticism in determining what your evidence is actually telling you and what is your own interpretation or wishful thinking is the most common error I encounter among paranormal believers. As is the kind of reasoning I find in Duncan's post: "people can be insane, so places can be insane too". How is that? People have minds that can malfunction; a house is made of bricks, wood and mortar, it has no consciousness, no way of storing memories or even of experiencing what is going on inside it. I find it a huge stretch of the imagination to believe that places can be insane. Thousands of questions need to be answered before I can understand how that would be possible.
So while I may not be overly charmed by the tone of the initial post in this thread, I quite understand the challenge it poses. Paranormal believers are constantly saying that the evidence is all over the place, but the fact is it isn't. Not, in any case, evidence that would meet even the mildest scientific standards. And believe me, I've looked.
Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)