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Something I've wondered about...


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BaronIveagh's picture
BaronIveagh
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A thought occurred to me today as I had to listen to someone harangue me that ghost hunters were the snake oil salesmen of the modern age:  I'm not overly familiar with any 'hard' scientific studies of the phenomena.

Has anyone ever, say, tried to introduce controlled conditions into a supposedly haunted location and just recorded data, for example?  I was being rather roughly treated as I could not off the top of my head recall anything more elaborate then field research and as far as I know no one has ever weighed a ghost. 

So, where is the 'hard' scientific interest?
 

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Something I've wondered about...

I always introduce controlled conditions during investigations and actually record any activity rather than fish for, or try to stir up a paranormal experience with pseudoscience.

When I approach a case I investigate the reported experiences associated with that case and try to work suitable controls into the experimental design of the investigation. I often wonder whether some ghost hunters are just interested in “proving ghosts are souls” and trying to generate evidence for this at every opportunity and any so called haunted location, regardless to what has been experienced there. They then tend to shoe horn these experiences into their pet theories.

There are too many different groups, all operating to different standards, with different agendas.

However, there are genuine researchers looking into the science behind hauntings. There is a whole field of interest for example, looking at the witness experience and possible environmental effects on the brain that may lead in some cases to haunting like phenomena.

What about EMFs? Although by no way conclusive and not always possible to validate, you have had people like Dr Michael Persinger, Dr Chris French and Dr Jason Braithwaite looking into these weak fields, their effects on the brain whether they could be responsible for some haunting type reports.

Infrasound and it’s relationship a reported haunting was looked at in 1998 at Coventry University by Vic Tandy and Dr Tony Lawrence, who wrote a paper called “Ghosts in the Machine” for the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.

You also get fields such as Anomalistic psychology? “The study of human behaviour and experience connected with what is often called the paranormal without the assumption that there is anything paranormal involved”

BaronIveagh's picture
BaronIveagh
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Re: Something I've wondered about...

I was aware of the weak field experiments;

I too try to approach anything unusual strictly from a data gathering perspective.  The problem is that as I'm gathering data about something anomalous that most people interpret as ghost hunting, And in all honesty, we're doing field work, where the possibility of error is fairly large even among highly trained professionals.

I've had this idea floating around in my head to prove that something is going on, that these anomalies are at least real, despite not understanding the underlying cause of the phenomena, by creating totally controlled laboratory conditions in a haunted building. 

Basically, my idea is to place unmanned observation equipment into a totally sealed building and just roll camera, as it were, to try and eliminate humans from the equation entirely and hope for reproducible results. 

Summum Nec Metuam Diem Nec Optima

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Something I've wondered about...

Taking away the human element is an experiment that can be done and I thinkk has been done.  There is certainly equipment available to monitor a location remotely though I am personally an avocate of needing a human presence there to experience the phenomena though.

We tend to investigate claims of experiences, therefore removing the human element aren't we changing the conditions in which the experience occurred?

 

BaronIveagh's picture
BaronIveagh
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Re: Something I've wondered about...

The problem is that by introducing a 'human element' into the equasion, we take the objective and make it subjective.  I'd just like to conclusively proove once and for all that 'something' out of the ordinary is occuring.  What the cause of this is would depend on what evidence was found.. 

Summum Nec Metuam Diem Nec Optima

Mysteryshopper
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Re: Something I've wondered about...
BaronIveagh wrote:

A thought occurred to me today as I had to listen to someone harangue me that ghost hunters were the snake oil salesmen of the modern age:  I'm not overly familiar with any 'hard' scientific studies of the phenomena.

If you are simply 'ghost hunting' then there does not seem to be any obvious science involved. If, however, you are intereseted in the question, why do people report ghosts and what are they, there is a lot of science you can do.

Multi-instrument kits have been left for prolonged periods in haunted locations (like Tony Cornell's SPIDER - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Cornell), however little of interest was found. I believe that is because people are an essential part of the paranormal experience. Instruments can tell you if there is anything unusual about a ghost hot spot but they rarely record anything of interest on their own.

Mysteryshopper
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Re: Something I've wondered about...

Another repeated post ...

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Something I've wondered about...
Mysteryshopper wrote:

Another repeated post ...

Sorry about that.  It is not the greatest forum software.

BaronIveagh's picture
BaronIveagh
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Re: Something I've wondered about...

Of course, the implication of that would be that human being serve as a catylist of some sort.  Then again, i what I'm reading here about SPIDER is true, the device was fairly primitive.  

What I had in mind was more elaborate, including total EM imaging of the structure, with overlapping veiws of IR, UV, and visible spectrum recorders for about a year.

There's a house in Gettysburg that I actually have in mind for this, if I could ever get funding for it.  100% of the people I've talked ot that have lived there (about 20) say they've had some sort of experiance, including full appritions, noises, smells, time shifts, and TK activity.  Only thing I saw when I visited for about a half hour was a door open on it's own, admittedly, but...

Summum Nec Metuam Diem Nec Optima

Mysteryshopper
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Re: Something I've wondered about...

I think you should go ahead with your project, if you can. All new research is always welcome.

I have some queries - what is EM imaging? Is this something to do with electromagnetism? If so, how does your imager work?

You talk about imaging 'the structure' - is that the whole house or a part of it? Wouldn't there by privacy issues?

I actually videoed a door opening on its own on an investigation once. However, close examination showed that a draft was responsible and the latch was weak.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Something I've wondered about...

I think this would require an extensive site examination first, becoming familiar with drafts, loose window frames, noises from chimneys etc, in all differant weather conditions.  This way you would be in a better position to identify the natural noises etc that your instruments might pick up.  The effect of vibrations from traffic outside may also be an issue. 

Analysing all the recordings would be a mammoth task.

I remember one time a team got very excited about shadow forms moving around a room they were monitoring.  It turned out to be a moth between a light bulb and light shade.  Not having a human available to investigate such things as they happen may cause problems, unless

 



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