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Do groups help or hinder paranormal research?


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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Mysteryshopper wrote: You
Mysteryshopper wrote:

You wouldn't be laughing then, would you ....

Believe me, any laughter was mad manic gibberings as I desperatly looked for a way to avoid his bus photograph album.  Dan reminded me the other night that this guy also used to memorise bus time tables.......so not totally useless then :)

I have been thinking a little more about some groups though, particulary those that just pay to attend reputedly haunted loactions, it could be described as Paranormal Tourism.

PhenomInvestigator
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Groups' Approaches May be Flawed

The chief difficulty especially with 'paranormal research groups' is that their approaches are often flawed.

In fact, it is not surprising that mainstream science has a problem with such groups since they generally don't follow anything vaguely resembling the Scientific Method.

Given there is no arguably hardly a formal definition of terminologies, and there is no model of ghosts, haunts or apparitions extent, how is one to devise hypotheses, experiments, theories and ultimately laws? It cannot be done with the paucity of definitional structure currently extent. This is the greatest problem, I would argue, even above whether or not one believes in the potentiality of the phenomena.

If I work for example in physics, and I am trying to see if other investigators working in and around my field have contributed anything of interest, even if they publish in questionable places, I am going to be inhibited from understanding and potentially replicating their work and findings if they don't present it in a form useful and understandable to me as a scientist.

Of course, there is also the issue of how many groups present themselves, which likewise influences the public and by extension those members of the public who are scientists. Bad press doesn't help anyone's cause.

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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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PhenomInvestigator
PhenomInvestigator wrote:

The chief difficulty especially with 'paranormal research groups' is that their approaches are often flawed.

In fact, it is not surprising that mainstream science has a problem with such groups since they generally don't follow anything vaguely resembling the Scientific Method.

Given there is no arguably hardly a formal definition of terminologies, and there is no model of ghosts, haunts or apparitions extent, how is one to devise hypotheses, experiments, theories and ultimately laws? It cannot be done with the paucity of definitional structure currently extent. This is the greatest problem, I would argue, even above whether or not one believes in the potentiality of the phenomena.

I think you've hit the nail on the head there, but what is the answer?  Is the have a go culture of Ghost Hunting hindering research?  Should it be restricted to people with sound scientific backgrounds?

PhenomInvestigator
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Correcting the flaws

There are two aspects to research. One is what one might call 'popular' research. This is the provenance of the paranormal investigator or ghost hunter. While there is a broad range of experience and dedication in these communities, they generally share in common a lack of discipline and methodology. And they really don't have a problem with this situation for the most part. In other words, they don't see this as a real issue.

The other aspect is the scientific research, typified by the current work of some research parapsychologists. Here the desire is to model the problem formally and describe hypotheses and experiments that forward scientific thinking. While this work progresses slowly (Braithwaite's work is well-known to this crowd for example) there is a disconnect between the two aforementioned groups.

A solution to the disconnect also suggests an opporunity for perfecting parallel work in the second group. We need good definitional models and frameworks as I indicated before. This really needs to come from the second group, the scientific research community. Thus far, this has really not materialized as it must. There has been some disagreement in the community worldwide and there is a lack of overall focus by research parapsychology to this otherwise thorny problem. The answer, I maintain however, is not for parapsychologists to declare a lack of remit for the problem, but instead to embrace it and provide structure and definition of the problem even if they have no solution at present. This is the nature of research.

When such structure exists, it then becomes important for less-disciplined interested parties (a subset of the first group in this case) to become more aware of the fundamentals of the scientific process. In other words, they must become educated. And they should embrace the fundamentals consistently to foster communciation and the creative exchange of ideas. This could potentially provide a wealth of information to the scientific research community, provided of course that community reconciles its many differences with the less-scientific investigators.

This is a long-term problem which requires a comprehensive fix. It will not happen overnight. But those in the research community who can and will begin these sorts of dialogs will to a great degree foster better communications. What must happen soon is that those less disciplined investigators should understand that there are many facets to the work and should know who the real contributors are. These should be the persons of reference as opposed to strictly television personalities.

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Anomalous Phenomena is Unexplained not Impossible
Psi is Subtle not Absolute
Anything is possible, it'a all a matter of Probability


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Ophiel
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Braithwaite's work is not

Braithwaite's work is not parapsychological - its mainstream science - but yes I see your point.

With his team he has pioneered the longitudinal investigation and work on mag fields, context, hallucination.  Very much a mainstream approach - and a welcome one in the sea of nonsense we see on TV etc.

Interesting stuff (wink)....

PhenomInvestigator
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Perhaps we need to clarify definitions

Braithwaite presents at the Parapsychological Assocation conferences and is a member of the P.A. His work is illustrative of research parapsychology, a scientific endeavour which is apart from ghost hunting and paranormal research.

The key remit of parapsychology is to bridge physics and psychology. This is the only scientific discipline which does so. It is quite possible that the most leading-edge work done today is in reality done by the most under-funded and smallest group of scientists working: namely,  parapsychologists. 
 
Mainstream science does not recognize parapsychology in many academic venues. It is just now beginning to get traction as it becomes clearer that there is more to scientific enquiry than matieralist positivism has previously suggested.

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Anomalous Phenomena is Unexplained not Impossible
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Red Don's picture
Red Don
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I have been thinking about

I have been thinking about group training and what scale would it have to be on to be useful. I know ASSAP (not a member yet) have investigator training courses which are meant to be pretty good and teaches how to approach the subject scientifically. From what I understand those who complete the training become recognised accredited ASSAP Investigators and if a group wants to become affiliated to ASSAP they need one of these investigators to be an active member. This way you get a network of groups all operating to a certain standard.

PhenomInvestigator
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Entirely agree

I think the ASSAP model is quite good as I understand it, and I really wish something like that could be successfully implemented here in the States. It takes an academic mindset to really put it together, which of course exists at ASSAP. I do think that this approach, requiring some level of training which at least tries to avoid the pitfalls and wrong information so many investigators have fallen into is at least a good start to building the consistency and perhaps as important correctness and ethics lacking in many quarter in the paranormal investigation field today.

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Anomalous Phenomena is Unexplained not Impossible
Psi is Subtle not Absolute
Anything is possible, it'a all a matter of Probability


Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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I think the real trick would

I think the real trick would be getting a good effecitive model working worldwide if possible.



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