Ghost Hunting and the Scientific Method

I really wanted to write this up during October but just didn’t get around to it. That being said, it’s still quite close to Halloween, so….

I wanted to write briefly about Ghost Hunting. There seems to be quite a craze surrounding it these days with a host of popular TV shows like Ghost Hunters (and all it’s spin offs), Paranormal State, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Lab, and so on. And just to be fair, I am interested in the subject and have to admit that most of these shows are entertaining to one degree or another, well, except the Travel Channel’s “Most Haunted” which is the most hokey and dubious thing I have ever seen.

Even though my religious beliefs somewhat conflict with what most people consider “Ghosts”, I do think that people experience that type of phenomena, at least as they understand it. As such, I believe there is some value to it’s study and possible understanding. I just don’t at all agree with the way they do it.

I believe the only way to legitimize the field would be to pursue it in a completely scientific manner. This immediately excludes all the “something just touched my shoulder” and “I feel tingly all over” stuff. What needs to happen is capturing quantifiable evidence on audio and video. For this reason, I believe the Ghost Hunters show to be far in the lead. However….

There are problems in their application of the scientific method. Now the steps to the scientific method are: Question, Research, Hypothesize, Test the Hypothesis, Analise and Conclude, and Issue Results. Many of these they do an admirable job with. I did notice some problems with the Hypothesize and Testing phases in a few instances though.

1) Turn off all the lights to go Ghost Hunting. If the normal occupants are seeing ghosts (or what have you) during the day while they are watching TV, then why are you trying to find the ghosts in the middle of the night with all the lights off?

2) EMF readings. If you change the environment, ie turn off all the lights and TVs, then how are you going to be sure that the EMF readings are the same as they are normally when the normal occupants are experiencing phenomenon?

3) Ghosts draw “energy”. Most ghost hunter people will tell you that ghosts dray energy to materialize or whatever. They will suck batteries dry sometimes in a matter of moments and make lights flicker, etc. If that is so, then why shut off all the power and “go dark” while checking for spirits? Wouldn’t they be better able to manifest if there were more abundant sources of power around? (lights, tv, radio, etc).

4) Orbs. Dust, Bugs and reflections. Don’t waste our time. ’nuff said.

5) Don’t like Christians? A lot of these shows have no problem bringing in some sort of self professed pshychic, occultist or witch, but you hardly ever see a Christian pastor. Exactly why is that? Do the ghosties stay hidden when real Clergy are present? And if so, why is that?

And just so it doesn’t seem like I am picking on the ghost hunters of the world, I recently read this article which makes reference to scientists using high emf and ultra low frequency to create their own “haunted room” which they deem as proof that hauntings are simply explained away by current science. You will note, however, that in the results of their study, nobody saw a ghost. In fact, nobody heard one either. Their test group simply experienced “creepy feelings”. What does that prove by scientific method? Well, it proves that high EMF and low frequency sound can make you “feel creepy”, which is something alltogether different than seeing and hearing “ghosts”.

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One Response to “Ghost Hunting and the Scientific Method”

  1. damntxn Says:

    Science Is Basically Just A Philosophy

    The proof for this is relatively easy to demonstrate, just by examining the Scientific Method. The Scientific Method is the way in which scientists determine their truth. The Scientific Method is expressed as the following:

    1. Observation – observe something happen
    2. Hypothesis – make a hypothesis based on your observations
    3. Predictions – make predictions based on your hypothesis
    4. Experiment – do experiments to determine if your predictions are correct.
    5. Repeat until there are no discrepancies between the various steps.

    Now the first thing that can be noted is that the Scientific Method itself cannot be verified by the Scientific Method. That is, the Scientific Method is a system to determine truth. A system that determines truth cannot prove itself, for in the attempt to prove itself it must first assert that it is true in order to determine whether or not it is true, which is circular reasoning. Therefore, the Scientific Method is itself dependent upon the observer’s philosophical presuppositions to begin with—it must be presumed in order to be used. In other words, the Scientific Method is accepted because an observer decides by faith to accept it as true, not because an observer knows that it is true. This acceptance is not provable, but is instead merely assumed axiomatically based on the philosophy of the observer.

    The results of the Scientific Method are called “scientific.” But since the Scientific Method itself is dependent upon the philosophy of the scientist (that is, the Scientific Method can be used by both materialistic scientists, naturalistic scientists, and supernaturalistic scientists), the results of science are nothing more than a philosophical view expressed through a specific system. The same thing happens with logic (that is, people of various philosophical backgrounds can come to different conclusions while not violating the laws of logic because each person comes from a different presuppositional background).

    In other words, that which is “scientific” is nothing more than a philosophical view expressed through the Scientific Method, which is itself an unprovable axiomatic system. As such, the scientific answers presented are only as good as the philosophical presuppositions put into the system in the first place. This means that, rather than giving certain knowledge and distinguishing truth from error, the Scientific Method is nothing more than a way to determine whether something is consistent with your presupposed philosophy. Only if your presupposed philosophy is certain and true can the results of the Scientific Method be certain and true, and then only if the Scientific Method is also true (simply stating that it is consistent with your worldview would not necessitate the truth of the Method, even if your worldview is correct).

    So science, like religion, is a system of belief that conforms to a presupposed understanding of reality. Science is a philosophy, just as much as religion is.

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