CAUTION: Rant ahead.
I read two articles about things paranormal researcher Joe Nickell discussed on a July 4th Coast to Coast AM show about ghosts and ghost hunters, and it got me all fired up. (See: Professional paranormal investigator: There’s no evidence ghosts or aliens exist and Joe Nickell says paranormal investigators should ditch EMF and EVP detectors.)
Before I get going, it’s important to keep this in mind: I love, Love, LOVE my paranormal investigator friends. I know some really awesome people who have either founded, or are a very active part of, ghost hunting groups. They’re not only some of the nicest people I know, but also among the most interesting.
However, there have been times when even some of these people have coped a superiority complex with me simply because I am not part of a group and don’t do what they do. Meaning, I don’t aspire to “investigate” the same way they do by becoming a part of a group, getting a lot of fancy equipment, staying up all night trying to catch EVPs, etc.
One person even told me, “You’re really just more of a very informed ghost enthusiast.”
I was offended. At the end of the day, so is he. But I knew it’d be pointless to say that. He’d argue that wasn’t the case. After all, he’d spent thousands on equipment and countless hours “investigating” a variety of places.
Except, “investigating” and “research” are not synonymous. Sadly, popular ghost hunting TV shows have misled the ghost loving masses to believe finding proof of ghosts lies in using devices like EMF detectors and voice recorders.
Worse, they’ve led them to believe such devices capture “evidence.” But even worse than that is they’ve led them to think all it takes to be a researcher is acquiring equipment and using it in allegedly haunted places like they do.
Wrong. So, so, so wrong.
Professional paranormal investigator Joe Nickell says ghost hunters and paranormal investigators focus too much attention on their equipment when there’s absolutely no proof that what they’re “detecting” is a ghost.
~From Joe Nickell says paranormal investigators should ditch EMF and EVP detectors
From the beginning, I’ve lamented about the lack of true research when it comes to most ghost hunters, most especially the ones on TV. (See: Ghost TV Shows: Good for Paranormal Tourism, Bad for Paranormal Research, Before You Give Up On Ghost Hunting Shows, Give “SCARED!” A Chance, and “Do ghosts smell?” and 25 Other Questions that Haunt My Brain.)
The only show I’ve ever seen on TV that’s done any real research was American Paranormal. The rest is all just entertainment.
And guess what most of the paranormal groups out there do? Mimic what they’ve seen on TV. Very few are thinking outside the box or doing anything original when it comes to actual research. (Okay, so they research places and the stories behind them, but as far as doing actual scientific experiments? Not even close.) At the end of the day, they’re not even really investigating. And you know why I say that…because ghosts have not yet been proven to exist.
Think of it this way. When you have a murder or a missing person, you either have a body or someone who’s vanished. You have something to investigate. You know what you’ll find. Either the murderer, their weapon, motive, etc, or the person who went missing.
No one has ever found a concrete, 100% demonstrative example of a ghost…yet.
According to Nickell, the paranormal is being promoted in a negative way with a logical fallacy called “an argument from ignorance.”
Nickell believes that today’s ghost hunters aren’t using the scientific method to prove the existence of ghosts at all. Instead of going into a supposedly haunted house with an open mind to try to find out what’s really happening, they’re entering the house with the intention of proving the existence of ghosts.
~From Professional paranormal investigator: There’s no evidence ghosts or aliens exist
And let’s talk about evidence. Orbs, EVPs, blurry photos, weird K2 readings…what are they really? Lots of people like to claim they’re evidence of ghosts.
Orbs are most often dust, dirty lenses, bugs, light reflections…something other than balls of actual light. And even if they were, why do we assume, “Oh, it’s a ghost!”?
EVPs are impressive, but, again, what are they really? Voices from beyond? Voices of the dead?
Nope. They are voices you happened to pick up. Some say, “Well, they answered my question. That’s proof of an intelligent haunting.”
It is? Why? How do you know it’s not you trying to make it seem that way? How do you know it’s not a conversation carrying on the air waves somehow, or a blurp from a radio station or TV show spontaneously being picked up by your voice recorder?
In some cases, EVPs are even the voices of fellow investigators. They don’t mean to, but I’ve known more than one group throw out an EVP because luckily they happened to be video recording their EVP session. They noticed one of their members answering. (And they weren’t possessed. They were simply so into it that they answered the questions.)
“With UFOs we’re really talking about 5% or less of cases. Skeptics all agree that 95% of all UFOs can be relegated to the “identified” category. Those 5% are not unexplainable, they’re just unexplained.”
“The idea that the 5% proves the existence of UFOs is just an argument from ignorance”, says Nickell. “Nobody has proof or disproof of an actual extraterrestrial craft or a ghost.”
~From Professional paranormal investigator: There’s no evidence ghosts or aliens exist
At the end of the day, ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, etc…they’re nothing but fantasy, figments of myth and imagination. They don’t exist.
Yet, they may exist.
But the way most people currently approach proving that isn’t going to capture the proof needed to turn fiction into fact.
Here’s another way to look at it. It’s like when you get sick. You know your body is malfunctioning. But you have to figure out exactly what is causing it to do that.
Like when I had cancer. I knew something was very wrong. It took many tests, of many varieties, over several days to determine what my tumor was (it might have been a fungus ball and not even a tumor), if it was cancer (once they determined it was not a bad infection or a fungus ball), and what type of cancer it was (once they determined it wasn’t a benign tumor).
But the very first step was trying to determine what it was.
We automatically think we’re dealing with ghosts when we venture to allegedly haunted places with ghost stories. Then we use our equipment thinking we’re gathering evidence of the ghosts.
In fact, we’re not. We’re assuming ghosts are real and even exist at all.
We need to step back and first identify what a ghost is. Like with diseases. Before certain diseases were known or named, they had to be researched. Symptoms were cataloged. Biological evidence was traced. Diseases were then recognized and named.
Not that ghosts are diseases, but true investigators need to apply the same sort of techniques to haunted places where ghosts allegedly roam. Let’s see if we can identify actual signatures (and I’m not talking about EVPs, shadows, orbs, or other suspicious images), but really take into account all aspects of the place. Environmental, structural, emotional, atmospheric.
Most investigators log some of this, and, yes, some even catalog ghosts into groups, such as intelligent or residual. But no one is actually catching a ghost, or evidence of one. People automatically assume footsteps, weird smells, things moving by themselves, and other odd incidents are a ghost’s handiwork. And, yes, some people debunk some of this stuff, but when they can’t debunk it, they automatically cry, “Ghost!”
Nope. That’s not the next logical answer.
Even full-bodied apparitions are not proof of ghosts. That’s just someone seeing something…it could be anything from a trick of light and shadows to an overactive imagination to a tired mind.
And why isn’t it that more people don’t see the apparition? Why are some only “in-tune” with such things (as some psychics like to explain their “powers” of seeing the dead) but others aren’t? It doesn’t make sense.
That apparition has to leave some kind of physical evidence. Let’s use a weather analogy: Wind, rain, lightening, hail…even if we can’t recreate these events on a large scale, there are devices to measure their approach, occurrence, and aftermath. It’s not just some who see or experience them and others who don’t.
And if it’s the case that some are more in-tune to the natural universe because they are more empathetic or what have you, and that’s why they “see” things, well…maybe what we need to do is stop trying to find ghosts and instead concentrate on identifying DNA or personality traits or something along those lines of the living people who can “see” what others can’t. What’s different about them and their makeup?
Okay, one last example before I end this rant. People can be tracked right? You know a person has been somewhere because we eat, poop, wash, sleep. We leave evidence behind.
In 2012 we still believe ghosts can materialize out of thin air, even though the laws of physics do not support this theory. (Sidenote: this makes me shake my head. It wasn’t all that long ago people associated rattling chains and white sheets with ghosts. Who these days still believes that cheeky “evidence” of a ghost’s presence?)
Ghosts have to leave physical traces of some sort. There must be a signature we’re missing. There must be conditions under which ghosts appear.
Asking the thin air to answer your questions and then getting excited when you get a response is not proof of ghosts. It’s proof you’ve caught a disembodied voice on tape. But voices can’t just happen. It’s takes the mechanics of the human body to create the “noise” we call “talk” or “words.” What is creating that? How can a ghost with no body create noise? It’s not physically possible. Or is it? The wind can whistle. But we know it’s wind. And we know it has to do with variations in pressure.
Until we can figure out the mechanics and/or biology of what makes up a ghost, we can never say they exist. And therefor we can’t categorize any of the “evidence” people are currently passing off as proof of ghosts.
Sorry to burst the bubble of so many ghost hunters/paranormal investigators/paranormal researchers out there. However, like me, the majority of us are nothing more than well-informed ghost enthusiasts who desperately want ghosts to exist… and believe one day they might really be proven real.
But it’s going to take more than what we’re doing now to make that a reality.