Dork Tower busts ghosts

By Phil Plait | May 6, 2011 2:09 pm

As you might expect, I am not a big fan of ghost hunting shows. Stopping every ten seconds and dramatically whispering "Did you hear that?" is not exactly the best way to run a scientific investigation.

So I’m pleased to see satires and such of those programs, and I think the web comic Dork Tower does it pretty well here.

Man, there’ve been a lot of good sciencey skeptical web comics lately. Keep ‘em coming, folks. It’s one of the best ways to spread the word.


Related posts:

Ghostly reflections
Ghost hunting results in death
When is a man like a horse?
TAPped out

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Debunking, Geekery, Humor, Skepticism, TV/Movies

Comments (71)

  1. marti

    Could you please fix the link for “Ghostly reflections”? I’m just seeing inert text.

  2. Damon

    Cute, but remember that like the shows themselves these comics are for entertainment’s sake and hence shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The real world is full of mysteries that can’t be recreated in any lab and are indifferent to whether you have a camera handy or not to manifest themselves. Science is one field of thought, but certainly not the only one, and it pains me to contemplate the amazing things you’re missing on your very own planet because you’re too afraid to come out from behind your telescope and use your imagination.

    This comic is mostly a relief to paranormal investigators like myself, because it means these folks are too busy doodling to stink up our research in person. If cartoons are your front line for skeptical brainwashing then I don’t think we are in any real danger of being herded into your Occam’s Concentration Camps any time soon. Not unless you’re prepared to get your hands dirty, but something tells me it’s much easier to mock something from the safety of your living room blog-generator rather than venture bravely into a dark place with an EM detector. For a website named after a misspelling of a renowned work of fiction about multiple universes, I frankly expected more than cheap shots at (laugh) sci-fi channel programming.

    When you’re done lumping us into the “anti-vaxxxxxer” category or dismissing things you don’t understand and are too frightened to think about as swamp gas and the planet venus, perhaps we can have a real conversation about the issue. Until then, keep spending millions of tax dollars on giant donuts to isolate letters of the alphabet or whatever it is you crazy kooks do in your free time.

  3. paulmc

    @Damon – got any proof of the paranormal? Something that the rest of us can reproduce? Anything at all will do.

  4. Dan I.

    Damon,

    Show me a single confirmed EM reading that rules out all knowns scientific phenomena and you can talk about EM readings in dark places.

    Yes the real world is full of mysteries that can’t be explained in any lab…yet. At one point electromagnetism was a “great mystery.”

    Science knows it doesn’t know everything, otherwise it would stop. But the difference is that science keeps trying, it doesn’t throw it’s hands up and go “Clearly this is some unknowable mystical phenomena.”

  5. KaneHau

    “paranormal investigators like myself”.

    Damon, let me know when you get your investigation results in a peer reviewed scientific journal with independent laboratory confirmation.

    It really is that simple.

    Otherwise, it deserves to stay on the science FICTION channel. Provide proof that can be independently verified and you get to move to NOVA.

  6. David P

    LMAO, Poes Law.

    If Damon is for real, that is priceless.

    Pg 1 = I don’t understand what science is & your too afraid
    Pg 2 = brainwashing, Godwin’s law & your too afraid
    Pg 3 =your too afraid & LHC makes alphabet soup?

  7. “Until then, keep spending millions of tax dollars on giant donuts to isolate letters of the alphabet or whatever it is you crazy kooks do in your free time.”
    Spending that money on being scared of dust and shadows in an old building instead might be an option if, for once, you would produce something besides the bloody blurry photo. Evidence. Not your opinion that you’ve found something paranormal. Proof. Just once.

    “and it pains me to contemplate the amazing things you’re missing on your very own planet because you’re too afraid to come out from behind your telescope and use your imagination.”
    That wouldn’t be my very own planet, that would be my imagination. Learning to distinguish between the two is really, really useful.

  8. “…it pains me to contemplate the amazing things you’re missing on your very own planet because you’re too afraid to come out from behind your telescope and use your imagination.”

    If something only exists to people who “use [their] imaginations,” then it’s not real by definition.

    And your insistence that having your low standards of evidence called out is like being herded into a concentration camp reveals an incredibly thin-skinned sense of imaginary victimhood.

  9. Martha

    Damon said: “you’re too afraid to come out from behind your telescope and use your imagination.”

    Yes if only Galileo had come out from behind his telescope and continued to imagine that church doctrine about Earth’s place in the cosmos was correct.

  10. David J.

    I believed in the paranormal once, I was about five or six. The more I tried to confirm the existence of ghosts the less I was convinced, or should I say the more aware I became of the fact that it was not that I ever believed in them but that I wished it were true. Wouldn’t it be cool if ghosts and telekinesis were real things? My child mind thought so. I think Damon and other “researchers” on the paranormal are no different than my younger self; we both knew it wasn’t real. Well, there is one exception, I had the good sense at a young age to give that crap up and spend my time with more useful pursuits, like legos.

  11. Matt B.

    “The real world is full of mysteries that can’t be recreated in any lab…”
    Such as everything in space. Astronomers don’t have labs.

    “…and are indifferent to whether you have a camera handy or not to manifest themselves.”
    Well, if phenomena are truly indifferent (rather than being frightened into non-occurrence by a camera), then someone should have been able to record them by now. Again, science is familiar with this. That’s why they built the LHC; instead of waving away requirements for proof, they built a way to observe and record things.

  12. PayasYouStargaze

    Wow the crazy started early in this topic.

    Anyway. The whole idea of ghosts usually requires a big step back from reality. At least the way they are usually portrayed (in the poor quality videos included).

    1. Why do ghosts have clothes? Why would a particular set of clothes be imprinted on the person’s spirit when they die? It makes no sense. Ghosts should be naked.

    2. Why are humans the only living creatures to leave ghosts? Well OK there are a few exceptions but the ghost animals usually have some relation to a human event or death.

    3. My personal favourite. Ghost trains! Why would a train have a spirit? When would it be formed? Do only steam trains have spirits? Actually, some cars have said to leave ghosts too. It makes no sense!

    So yeah. Unless Damon or anyone else has some answers to these pressing questions I think I can live my life without believing in ghosts. An answer to the ghost train thing would be particularly nice.

  13. I would honestly like to know how you calibrate ghost-detecting equipment; do you get the zero reading by putting it in a room which is guaranteed non-haunted? Also, how do you test it’s working properly; is there some sort of ectoplasmic test card you can point it at before commencing a session? I’d be very interested to know how ghost detectors were invented; presumably someone had an electronic device on test and, after eliminating light, heat, radio, microwaves, IR, radioactivity, gravity, sound, magnetism and static, decided the only thing left it could be detecting is ghosts…

  14. ND

    @1, Storm? Is that you?

  15. Dennis

    I lol’ed when he called it his “research”.
    Hey Damon – I hear those dowsing rod doohickies that the Iraqis are using as bomb detectors work great as ghost detectors too.
    Also – those silicon & hologram tuned Powerband things will increase your sensitivity to the Paranormal.

    Sorry bud – but you’re on the wrong blog.
    This is a No Woo Zone.
    I think you’ll be much more comfortable here: http://www.sylviabrowne.com/
    Good luck with your “research”.

  16. Electro

    @1,
    “…..venture bravely into a dark place with an EM detector….”

    HAHAAAHHAAA!!!!!(snork)

    A) Bravery is generally defined as action in the face of fear. Since I don’t believe there could be anything supernatural there to be afraid of, you’re right, I could not “bravely” enter that space anymore than I could “bravely” step on a sidewalk crack.

    B) Even in your imaginary world, has any account ever been recorded of spookies actually harming a person?

  17. Electro

    …..well maybe if there was a mugger hiding in the dark place waiting to brain me with an HP Lovecraft hardcover….yeah, you win

  18. TheSolPhoenix

    “Wow the crazy started early in this topic.”
    Well said,
    To add to your comments.
    If such a thing as ghost were possible, then why such a limited selection. There have been millions of people that have died in the past hundred years alone. Surely many of them would like to communicate.
    Why are people like Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, and Albert Einstein, not talking to us? Surely them and many other scientist would do everything they could to speak to us about their new life.
    Finally, I am over 99% sure that Houdini has never been called. Despite the fact that he stated he would do so as long as the proper information was provided. “Rosabelle believe”

  19. Andy

    What? There’s no way Damon’s for real. It has to be a put-on. He hits every conceivable stereotype. I call shenanigans.

    I hope.

  20. Jamie

    “This comic is mostly a relief to paranormal investigators like myself”
    Did anyone else stop reading there?

  21. noen

    Ghosts are the new UFOs. The millennials don’t want to look like their dumb ol’ parents but they still want to believe in something so they buy into these ghost programs.

  22. CChere

    The best example of ridiculous “evidence” on a ghost hunting show that I ever saw was a swinging rope hung across a door way. The fact that the rope was swininging was held up as evidence of supernatural activity. But, the doorway happened to be on a ship. Which was floating on the ocean. It would have been better evidence of supernatural activity if the rope _wasn’t_ swinging.

  23. Grand Lunar

    Noen says it best.

    Personally, I’m sick of all these TV shows showing paranormal “investigators”, and the undeserving popularity they get, especially when much of what is shown is a bunch of nothing, or just ordinary phenomenon that is trumped up by people screaming profanities.

    We need something to snap people back into reality.
    Something that I would call an Apollo 8 moment….

  24. Noid

    Lol Damon, 8/10, will troll again.

  25. MethodSkeptic

    But that’s funny, I’ll have to tell the UFO kook who keeps coming to our skeptics in the pub meetings that his EM anomaly-hunting will have to control for ghost activity.

  26. Ema Nymton

    Holy crap, Damon!

    You’re quite stupid!

  27. “For a website named after a misspelling of a renowned work of fiction about multiple universes…”

    Actually, Dork Tower was named after a late-1970s Dungeons and Dragons module ( http://www.amazon.com/Dark-tower-Fantasy-Judges-Guild/dp/B0006YKC94 ) – but I see facts aren’t your strongpoint…

    “…but something tells me it’s much easier to mock something from the safety of your living room…”

    Actually, it’s pretty damn easy to mock from just about anywhere. But living rooms? Notoriously poorly lit for drawing.
    ” I frankly expected more than cheap shots at (laugh) sci-fi channel programming.”

    Nah. That’s pretty much it, actually…well, that, Cthulhu, and badly-drawn muskrats. Geeze. Look for things that aren’t here, much? :D

  28. HvP

    Sure, it would be great if we could find some way of proving the existence of ghosts, spirits and other supernatural stuff. But the problem is that the only evidence supposedly in favor of it was derived via sloppy methods and over active imaginations with no legitimate attempts made to control for natural causes or biases.

    I can’t speak for others here, but I would LOVE for substantial, verifiable evidence to come to light that supports the actual existence for spirits surviving after death. The value to science and society would be truly monumental.

    Can you imagine the advances that could be made to science and society by figuring out by what medium consciousness could be conveyed without a body? Or, how does an apparently non-physical entity affect the physical world?

    But, all we’ve gotten for our troubles so far is a dim-witted spoon bender, a carnie that likes to play 20 questions, and a group of guys that didn’t bother to read the instructions on their expensive electronics equipment.

  29. Michel

    The eloquence of Damon´s post is amazing for a troll.
    Very uncaracteristic.

  30. Michel

    youtube.com/watch?v=2ZCChwZL17A

    And there you have it.

  31. dave chamberlin

    Guess which paper had this headline.

    GHOST HUNTERS ENJOY 100% SUCCESS RATE, despite the fact not one person has ever provided definitive empirical evidence of the afterlife.

    Yep, The Onion

  32. mariana

    I saw a ghost–or was it, I am a ghost? Can’t keep it straight since they upped my meds.

    Personally, I’d love it if there were ghosts…or an afterlife of some sort. But aside from anecdotes (e.g. my grandfather died, came back, described something amazing and said he was no longer afraid to die after that and spent the next 15 years living as a changed man till he died again*) there’s not much for a skeptic to hang her/his fingernails onto.

    *far as I know, he didn’t come back that time but considering what a strong-willed stubborn guy he could be, I wouldn’t be overly surprised if I heard he had come back again. :)

  33. Grizzly

    What I love about being a skeptic is that we can be skeptical even of things that would help prove our point.

    Read about Dr. Michael Persinger, he’s got hundreds of articles in peer-reviewed journals. He came up with a theory that reports of ghosts might be linked to EM stimulation of areas of the brain… nothing supernatural. Sounded truthy, but strangely not reproducible. That’s what is great about science, it should not discriminate based on sentiment!

    Yes there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in OUR philosophy, but that just conjures up a sense of mystery that sets some of us investigating and puts us on the road to discovery. Because for everything that has ever been described as super natural there is a natural explanation.

    But there is an equivalent to “truthiness” in research too, it’s the clothing of self-serving research in the trappings of science by waving expensive gadgets around.

    I’ll leave the ghosts for Scooby-Doo.

  34. I do wonder what happens to the energy in our bodies when we die. It gets released and goes somewhere.

    Does it stay intact? I think it’s an interesting topic. But yeah, ghosts are nonsense. It’s just lowest common denominator programming.

  35. Robin Byron

    Grizzly wrote: “…ghosts might be linked to EM stimulation of areas of the brain… nothing supernatural. Sounded truthy, but strangely not reproducible.”

    In a recent episode of NOVA, this was demonstrated with targeted magnetic stimulation of the brain. Every time a certain part of one patients brain was stimulated, she sensed and could ‘see’ a shadowy presence just to her right side (reproducible). Kind of a spooky holographic effect? You can find relevant videos at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ but, alas, I’m not certain that particular segment is included.

  36. HvP

    “what happens to the energy in our bodies when we die”

    Well, the thing about energy, see, the thing about it is – despite what many woo-woo types would have others believe – energy is a VERY well defined concept in the sciences.

    The kinetic energy in a dead body becomes exhausted as it stops moving (usually by falling to the ground.) Some potential energy exists in isolated pockets as long as muscle fibers, ligaments, and other tissues remain under tension. As they begin to break down the fibers begin to tear which releases that potential energy in the motion of the breaking fibers.

    The chemical energy of a dead body is enormous and is passed along to any other creatures that wish do consume it in the decomposition process. Unless, in the case of cremation, it is released or reorganized in the burning process. Even in the case of decomposition the chemical energy largely results in the release of heat and waste gasses from the metabolism of microbes.

    There is still a lot of electrical energy stored in a body due to ions suspended in an electrolyte. Basically, that’s why your body works in the first place and it’s easier to just call it “body chemistry”. These charges are significant on a molecular level, but on a larger scale there isn’t a large enough voltage gradient across the body to have any kind of effect on things outside of the body.

    There will still be a large amount of radiant heat energy immediately after death, but that will tend to radiate away over the period of a few hours until the body comes to thermal equilibrium with its surroundings. Although, there still can be localized pockets of heat generated by microbial decomposition.

    There is an interesting, though gruesome, research facility at Western Carolina University that can probably go into greater detail about these process though, if you’re interested.

  37. HvP

    Oh, and of course the remains of a body will continue to emit a tiny amount of nuclear radiation for thousands of years due to the decay of potassium-40 and carbon-14. :)

  38. I’m a fiction writer. I find the idea of ghosts fascinating, and for fun, I’ve tried to come up with plausible mechanisms for them to exist. No real luck so far. Although I create fiction, I have to live in reality (which is a pretty amazing place, if you’ve got curiosity).

    Damon, good luck with your “research”. As soon as you get some proof, I look forward to reading your account on the front page of every newspaper in the world. (Guess I’m showing my age with that reference.)

    (HvP, great post.)

  39. PayasYouStargaze

    @HvP

    What about the energy in a “dead” train?

    PS. You don’t have to answer it, as it’s a silly question with a straightforward answer. But something has to go into the whole ghost train thing.

  40. UmTutSut

    I’ll reluctantly jump in here.

    I’ve never seen a “ghost.” I don’t know what a “ghost” is or how an apparently immaterial entity could interact with our known physical world. I do know that humans — sometimes in groups — have observed what they perceived to be human apparitions that sometimes have appeared to interact with material objects or with people themselves. So unless you take the position that everyone who reports such a thing is lying or can’t tell a human shape from an Oldsmobile, some kind of phenomenon is genuinely occuring.

    There are many more paranormal investigators than you see on TV. (The Ghost Hunters guys were doing investigations long before the TV show.) They are investigating with tools that they think *may* be able to detect some evidence that said phenomena are occuring. Do they have the *right* tools? How can anyone be sure without knowing what the phenomena actually represent — and no one knows that at this stage of human knowledge.

    At least paranormal investigators like Damon are out there TRYING to gather evidence. Some skeptics apparently would rather smirk and ridicule the premise that “ghostly” phenomena exist, whatever they represent, because no one has yet met their standards of evidence.

    I don’t watch any of the shows except Ghost Hunters. Jason and Grant have frequently said they actually manage to *debunk* about 80% of “paranormal” activity. IMO, they’ve gathered sufficient video and audio evidence to show *something* is happening. I don’t think anyone yet knows for sure what that “something” is.

  41. Electro

    @30

    “So unless you take the position that everyone who reports such a thing is lying or can’t tell a human shape from an Oldsmobile, some kind of phenomenon is genuinely occuring. ”

    The issue that is not fully understood here is the functioning of the human brain.

    We see patterns where there are none.
    We have confirmation bias.
    We hallucinate.
    We have an unfortunate bent to profit from what others want to be true.
    We have an innate need for attention, and will lie to get it.

    “…because no one has yet met their standards of evidence… ”

    ummm….yeah, thats how it works.

  42. Doug

    @UmTutSut:
    Link to this “sufficient video and audio evidence” for there being something out of the ordinary at all?

    People suffer from delusions all the time, particularly when in heightened emotional states of fear, as one in wont to be in a dark, creepy place. Why is it that ghosts tend to be “sighted” at night when people can barely see anything at all, let alone non-corporeal spirits wisping around? You cite individuals and groups observing “what they perceived to be human apparitions” but I’ve never seen or heard of anything close to that on these ghost shows (except for as hearsay in the introductions). I’m sure you know all about pareidolia and our hyper-active agency seeking abilities, so without solid evidence I don’t know why you would find such claims plausible in the least.

    As for applauding the ghost hunters for trying to find something while the scientists “smirk and ridicule,” you fail to appreciate that these claims are nothing new, have been investigated by professionals in the past, and found to be completely lacking in substance. The proposed explanations for these claims (i.e. what puts the “ghost” in “ghost hunters”) is so absurd and implausible according to everything we know about the world around is, and the actual evidence at hand is so poor, that next to no scientists see the phenomena as worth investigating.

    It’s like homeopathy and other quack medicine – it’s been investigated, and has shown no merit, and yet its supporters somehow have the gall to claim that THEY are being original and bold and the scientists are lazy and arrogant, when truly the reverse is the case. Unless there is some new evidence to suggest science takes such claims seriously again, whether mystical water healing or human ghosts, it is absolutely appropriate for scientists to ignore such things. On the medicine front, I’m sure most of us skeptics wish they were even better at ignoring quackery.

  43. UmTutSut

    Doug says: “You cite individuals and groups observing “what they perceived to be human apparitions” but I’ve never seen or heard of anything close to that on these ghost shows”

    Ghost Hunters on their first investigation of St. Augustine Lighthouse. *Something* was caught running up the stairs and *peering down* at the camera over the top rail.

    Look, I have the same philosophy toward “ghosts” (whatever they may be) and “UFOs” (whatever they may be). Given that thousands of people have observed human-like apparations, even if you toss out 99.99 percent as delusions, matrixing, misidentification (although I think I’d know a human shape from an Oldsmobile), or whatever other “ordinary” phenomena you chose, you’re left with some that can’t be explained away. (Don’t ask me to cite anything particular without research) If nothing else, that core of unexplainables seems to indicate a valid phenomenon occuring.

  44. Autumn

    UmTutSut,
    I don’t think that anyone here is claiming that everyone who sees a “ghost” is stupid or silly, just that there is a much better chance that there is an alternative explanation. Sure, plenty of people really percieve things that seem supernatural and eerie. There are, however, about ten-thousand things that could cause a human to percieve such a thing which have resonable, naturalistic explanations, and one very unlikely thing that is supernatural.
    Until the ten-thousand things are ruled out, skeptics tend to favor them as explanations because they have been shown to exist.

  45. brett

    I want to believe

  46. I think most rational and critically thinking people are reasonable. They don’t laugh at people just to be mean for the most part.

    What rubs me and I assume many others is when people make claims to knowing the “truth” and having absolute “proof” when they actually have neither.

    When questioned their truth and proof disintegrates.

    I think we’re all very curious about things we don’t have the answers to and I have nothing but respect for people who are out there trying to find the answers.

    But when people start claiming to know things that they don’t know and won’t admit that their proof and truth massively failed when held up to scrutiny while at the same time condescendingly telling others that they’re “blind to the truth”, etc. Well, it’s time to start giving them the mocking they deserve.

  47. Scottynuke

    RE: Damon @ 1 —

    “I don’t think we are in any real danger of being herded into your Occam’s Concentration Camps any time soon”

    Anyone still want to argue that’s not a Poe? :)

  48. MartinM

    Given that thousands of people have observed human-like apparations, even if you toss out 99.99 percent as delusions, matrixing, misidentification (although I think I’d know a human shape from an Oldsmobile), or whatever other “ordinary” phenomena you chose, you’re left with some that can’t be explained away. (Don’t ask me to cite anything particular without research) If nothing else, that core of unexplainables seems to indicate a valid phenomenon occuring.

    What ‘core of unexplainables’? You haven’t demonstrated the existence of any such thing, you’ve just baldly asserted it.

  49. Stargazer

    Imagination is awesome, but it doesn’t tell you how the world really works. It might give you some new ideas on how to interpret data or something, but it will not add to your worldview simply because you can imagine it.

  50. UmTutSut

    Martin M says: “What ‘core of unexplainables’? You haven’t demonstrated the existence of any such thing, you’ve just baldly asserted it.”

    I said in my last post: “(Don’t ask me to cite anything particular without research).” The “core of unexplainables” is based on my general memory from the last couple decades.

    Martin, I think even you would admit that when someone says they saw an apparition of a human, in period clothing, in proximity, during a fully awake state in daylight, and it *spoke* to them… that’s kind of difficult to chalk up to misperception or tricks of light. And I know several such occurences have been reported on the seven seasons of Ghost Hunters. (No, GH couldn’t prove it happened.) Maybe people are lying, but if not, there seems to be something going on beyond the current state of physical knowledge.

  51. PayasYouStargaze

    @40 UmTutSut

    Show us the evidence. Show us the “core of unexplainables”. If you’re basing this on your own memory then we don’t have any reason to believe you. In fact, human memory is so unreliable that it makes half of these ghost stories possible. Show us something real. Take your time and do your research to find it if you must. We’ll wait, but don’t expect anyone to take you seriously on your assertions alone.

    As yet, there doesn’t seem to be anything going on beyond the “current state of physical knowledge”. Just people half remembering things they half saw and heard and victims of tricks and hoaxes. Having someone say they “saw an apparition of a human, in period clothing, in proximity, during a fully awake state in daylight, and it *spoke* to them” doesn’t mean anything. I could say I saw a robot from the future hovering outside my window. Would you believe me?

  52. IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE

    UmTutSut:

    I said in my last post: “(Don’t ask me to cite anything particular without research).” The “core of unexplainables” is based on my general memory from the last couple decades.

    How convenient!

  53. Buzz Parsec

    I call projection. Damon claims that (scientists, skeptics, Phil? He says “you”, but the antecedent is vague.) is/are too afraid to come out from behind their telescope. Since none of these people are actually afraid of nonexistent phenomena, it is Damon who must be afraid.

    Why do delusional people often project their own motivations and fears onto their opponents? Is it because they lack the imagination to think of other possible motives and fears?

    Damon also accuses the vaguely defined “you” of lacking imagination. He is the one lacking imagination. He thinks that just because he can’t think of a real physical or psychological explanation for some anomaly, there must not be one, and therefore it’s a ghost. Just like the fundamentalist “God did it” explanation for everything the don’t understand or fear.

  54. UmTutSut

    PayasYouStargaze said: “‘Show us the evidence. Show us the “core of unexplainables’”.

    Well, I just might if I thought there were the slightest probability that, no matter what I presented, most people who post here wouldn’t shake their heads and cluck that it was totally unconvicing and could obviously be explained by the EMF effects from a passing Oldsmobile stimulating part of the optic nerve.

    Look, I’ve been on here long enough to know that trying to suggest paranormal phenomena *exist*, much less that they’re worthy of scientific study, is a losing proposition here. Hence the statement about reluctance in my original post. I’ll just go back to my conversation with Anna Nicole Smith’s ghost….

  55. Electro

    To paraphrase BA

    Everything that happens in the universe is by definition, “natural”.

    @44

    Dont be so quick to dismiss the audience you have here. I think the BAblogees have been remarkably restrained in this thread, and have offered well meaning suggestions as to the only possible means of advancing research in any field.

    You might be behind the eight ball to start with, due to the millions who have come before making extraordinary claims, this requires extraordinary evidence.
    This evidence must also reproducible or we learn nothing.

    I also notice in your responses that you seem reluctant to include the vast numbers of people who have been shown to LIE about this stuff.

    I would bet that the BS peddlars who make ghost hunting TV shows know better than anyone that it is complete bunk.

    Do you believe Richard Hoagland and his opinions on …..well anything really….?
    He sells a type of fiction that requires him to appear to seriously believe his own malarkey, otherwise its just bad science fiction.

  56. Peter Eldergill

    Hmmm…2 days later and “Damon” hasn’t put forth another post..hmmm

  57. abadidea

    Damon is either a very quick-on-the-draw master poe or in desperate need of a counselor to talk it out with.

    I used to believe in ghosts. I even believed I had encountered ghosts. I was young, I was religious.

    You know what happened to me? a 4 AM session at the controls of an NRAO radio telescope. That experience completely changed my life. I went into that control room a young earth creationist with questions and left a newly minted atheist finally at peace with the world. The part relevant to ghosts, however, would be… those silly little detectors could be picking up *anything*, including a vast array of completely non-manmade phenomena. I took my grandfather’s handheld IC AM/FM receiver, tucked the antenna all the way in, and made recordings of all sorts of crazy bizarre electromagnetic signals… including many that I could not identify the source of. I will never, ever accept “ghosts” as a plausible explanation again.

  58. PayasYouStargaze

    I suspect Damon was a good Poe. Quite entertaining actually because he hit all the right buttons.

    @44 UmTutSut

    Many of us have said that we’d love to see evidence. Knowing that there could be some life after death or indeed an ability comunicate or interact with “non-physical” or beings or whatever would be an amazing because it would open up many new avenues of scientific investigation. Sadly as yet, no evidence exists that such a thing is possible.

    But you are unwilling to provide any evidence at all. By hiding it you give us no reason to believe in it. Stop talking about Oldsmobiles too, as I’m sure you know full well that most sceptics will not use that particular explanation for most of your examples.

    One simple set of questions for you. I said I saw a robot from the future outside my window. It was shiny and spoke to me in a robotic voice. It wanted to know where it could find C3PO, because it thought he was a real robot too. Do you believe my story? If so, why? If not, why not?

  59. UmTutSut

    PayasYouStargaze wrote: “But you are unwilling to provide any evidence at all. By hiding it you give us no reason to believe in it.”

    No, it’s simply that my experience based on several years of commenting on paranormal threads here strongly suggests that no amount of available evidence would satisfy the majority of posters. IMO, many people here have a Catch-22 mentality toward *possible* paranormal phenomena, i.e., it’s so unlikely any event can’t be dismissed by prosaic explanations that such phenomena aren’t worth scientific investigation…but the only way to determine if phenomena *are* outside our current physical knowledge is to investigate them.

    I’m not a full-time UFO or paranormal investigator, so I don’t have the time (yet) to really do the research that might change people’s minds on this blog. I posted to make people think, not to *prove* anything. I try to make it a conversation between friends.

    “Stop talking about Oldsmobiles too….”

    Um, such mentions are meant to be humorous metaphors for the explanations skeptics *do* use. Chill. (I usually use “Volkswagens.”)

    “Do you believe my story? If so, why? If not, why not?”

    Not without investgation. What’s your credibility as a witness? Did anyone else see the same thing? Is there any physical evidence to suggest said robot was there? And a couple hundred other questions. That’s my point; even the most outrageous claims should undergo progressive levels of investigation depending on the findings.

    Last word from me: I’m far more skeptical than you give me credit for. I don’t give credibility to “orbs” or smears of light on photos. EVPs? Meh. (I can’t understand why digital recorders pick those up but the TV camera [digital?] audio doesn’t.) I’ve never actually seen a UFO or a “ghost.” The only thing that haunts me is my monthly alimony payment.

  60. PayasYouStargaze

    @49 UmTutSut

    Thank you for answering my question. You have given exactly the right reasons as to why you shoudn’t believe my story. Now you only have to apply that to the “real” ghost stories.

  61. Michel

    @UmTutDut
    “No, it’s simply that my experience…”
    uhhuh

  62. Per

    Oh

    I thought the joke was about the evidence for Bin Laden’s death…..

  63. Aubri

    @49 UmTutSut
    “IMO, many people here have a Catch-22 mentality toward *possible* paranormal phenomena, i.e., it’s so unlikely any event can’t be dismissed by prosaic explanations that such phenomena aren’t worth scientific investigation…but the only way to determine if phenomena *are* outside our current physical knowledge is to investigate them.”

    So, basically, you have performed many experiments of presenting your evidence to people in this group and recieved a negative result each time. So you now assume the same result without performing the experiment because you have no reason to think the result will change, barring extraordinary evidence indicating that someone is willing to believe you.

    Guess what? That’s the same logic we’re operating on!

  64. PayasYouStargaze

    @HvP
    What about the energy in a “dead” train?

    Well, it continues to burn ghost-coal to heat the ghost-water, which is converted to ghost-steam, which powers the ghost-engine.

    I wonder… Does burning ghost-coal create ghost-greenhouse gases? Does that have any effect on corporeal beings? Where does one get ghost-fossil fuels? Do they come from dead ghost-dinosaurs? Could there still be “living” ghost-dinosaurs around? Can ghost-people get ghost-cancer from the hole in the ghost-ozone layer?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

    Coming this Fall to a channel near you… “Ghost, Hunters”. Follow along as we follow a team from both sides of the grave as they search for the answers. Sponsored by the publishers of “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”.

  65. MNP

    I love ghost hunting shows, they’re pretty entertaining watching people freak out. My favorite episodes however are the ones where they explore places and then determine rational explanations. Like one of the early TAPS episodes where they found a big EM disturbance, traced it to an electrical panel and then explained that was probably why the owner felt anxious and like they were being watched when in the room.

    Myself, I have no idea if ghosts are real or not but I think actual ghost hunting can be a fun group activity providing you don’t do something dumb like trespass or run around in structurally unsound buildings.

  66. Electro

    @55

    If you enjoy the entertainment value, more power to you.

    However, that electrical panel you refer to does not even approach the standards of a rational explanation.

    Feeling anxious and sensing you are being watched are well documented neuroses and have squat to do with electrical panels or EM disturbances.
    (unless the participants knew or suspected the panel had a dangerous fault. Then they might have reason to be nervous being in the same room with it.)

  67. Buzz Parsec

    @MNP: or try to cross an active railroad bridge in pursuit of a ghost train. :-(

    @HvP: Short answer: Where do people get their energy? From eating food. Where does their energy go when they die? The little wormies go “Nom Nom Nom.”

  68. Alan D

    Kids have more sense than adults. They see a Harry Potter movie for the first time, pick up a stick, and try casting a few spells. After a couple of tries, they give it up because nothing happens. Yet enough people continue watching “Ghost Busters” that it it gets renewed.

  69. mike burkhart

    The only ghostbusters I want to see are :Ray ,Peter,Egon and Wiston . I know Phil hates the movie Ghostbusters but I love it ,it was funny (I hate the Sequel) and I like the video games . I also like the movie Ghost Story and the orginal The Fog . Before any one think I am nuts I will say the only place I expect to find ghosts is in movies, TV and video games and the only time I have Ghosts in my house is the ones I put up for Halloween and they leave the day after. Besides I’m sure we all told Ghost Stories as kids aruound the campfire or as kids thought the spooky looking house on the block was haunted.

  70. The human mind, to deal with a world that was constantly bombarding it with new situations and environments, developed a capacity to understand and imagine truths about the world that extended beyond the visible and the immediate. So, by our nature, we are capable of imagining both fictional and real worlds around us that could never actually occur.

    And really, this is what we started out with as kids, and as a culture.

    So, some people see ghosts, hear the dead, etc. What we’re really seeing is the odd side affect of the very adaptive human brain.

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