http://www.apaw71.dsl.pipex.com/decisions/ Paranormal Phenomena: More paranormal experimentation please!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More paranormal experimentation please!

A lot of people do paranormal research these days. However, the vast majority simply do 'investigations' at haunted houses. The trouble is, all this effort is really getting the subject nowhere fast. Too many people just want to 'see' something or 'prove' to themselves that ghosts exist (or don't!). None of this contributes to our understanding of the paranormal. In order to do that we need to go beyond the data collection phase (which is a kind way of putting what some people do) to the experimental phase.

I'm not talking about card guessing in labs, useful though that is. Indeed, lab research has shown that, overall, there might be a slight extra-sensory perception effect. If it exists, which is disputed, it is tiny and cannot possibly account for the far more obvious paranormal events reported 'in the wild'.

The time is surely here to move experiments out of the lab and into haunted houses. Though this has happened already, it is only to a very limited extent. These early experiments have shown, for instance, that people tend to report more strange experiences in places that 'feel spooky' eg. cold, dark, damp etc. There has also been some limited work showing that some haunted places may have unusual magnetic fields associated with them. But there is a lot more work to be done.

A very limited amount of experimentation occurs during existing vigils. This consists of testing to see if reported effects (such as strange noises) could have been caused naturally. Usually, though, these are perfunctory and inconclusive. They barely qualify as experiments at all.

The increased use of instrumentation on vigils could, potentially, bring about more experimentation. However, usually it is intended to 'record' ghosts and any associated effects they may bring. This has led to claims that ghosts are associated with changes in magnetic fields and increases in negative ion concentrations. I have never been able to track down the evidence to back these claims. These would be excellent claims to investigate with proper experiments!

I think the problem many researchers have with doing experiments is that they feel that such work is aimed at explaining 'away' ghosts as natural phenomena. I've never understood this attitude. If ghosts can be explained as magnetically-induced hallucinations, for instance, it is not explaining them 'away' at all. Indeed, it would validate ghosts as being real experiences!

I think it really is time to get away from ghost 'hunting' to move towards ghost experimentation. Only through this approach can we hope to understand the paranormal.

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