A Discredit to its Own
The Scientific Disconnect in Paranormal Investigation
From time immemorial, the concept of a soul, of spirits, demons, and an afterlife has long fascinated humankind. Throughout the advancement of humankind, from nomadic tribes, to the first villages, towns, and cities, people sought spiritual direction from holy leaders, regardless the origin of the faith or religion itself. Our ancient ancestors took their spiritual devotion seriously, from embracing the worship of entire polytheistic pantheons, to monotheism.
It is speculation whether any form of spirituality existed prior to the upper Neolithic period, however it is noted that during the upper Neolithic, early humans did begin performing funerary rites, and strong evidence suggests early spiritual practices, rudimentary religions built around the worship of bears.
The contemporary world we live in now has not strayed too far from the path of spirituality as it may seem, given that eighty-five percent of people on a global scale has a practicing faith, or religious affiliation. Faith and religion are [for those practicing whichever faith they are affiliated] the foundation of how they live their lives, proceed and progress through life, and a roadmap to whatever their faith or religion calls salvation.
Beyond faith and religion, or perhaps somewhat inline with it, is the belief in an afterlife, and AEs [afterlife entities] (inclusive to spirits, ghosts, demons, and other immaterial supernatural entities). There is no definitive number for how many believe in AEs on a global scale. In Taiwan, ninety percent of its population reports they have experienced directly, or indirectly, having seen AEs.
In western nations, the numbers fluctuate at times, but a 2014 YouGov poll illustrated a UK belief in ghosts at one in four (or roughly thirty-nine-percent); a 2016 poll taken in the UK show that British people in 2016 were likelier to believe in AEs than a divine creator, while a 2018 poll of two-thousand people put belief in AEs at roughly forty-percent, and finally, to demonstrate the fluctuation of believe in AEs, the conclusion of a thirty to fifty percent of the population believing in ghosts.
Here, in the United States, there is less fluctuation among those who believe in AEs, regardless of faith, religion, or lack of either. According to a 2009 article by business insider, a pew poll revealed that the number of Americans who believe in ghosts double between 1996 - 2009, from nine to eighteen percent in thirteen years. Whether this is tied to paranormal entertainment shows such as T.A.P.S. (first aired 06 OCTOBER 2004), or shows like it is not entirely known, but since 2009 a 2020 YouGov poll of 17,000 Americans revealed that about half of Americans. The most current numbers from statista suggest that thirty-two-percent of men in the United States, and forty-one-percent of women in the United States believe in AEs.
...but if belief alone were enough, there would be no need for investigation. If belief alone were enough, there would be no checks, balances and protection from those who prey on believers.
Breaking down belief is not about breaking belief. Ghosts exist. Ghosts don't exist. There are demons. There are no demons. Hauntings are a legitimate phenomena... or are they?
Regardless what we as individuals believe individually or through our chosen faith, or religion, when it comes to providing data on alleged afterlife activity and alleged afterlife entities, we find that belief alone simply is not enough short of self edification.
Were proof of the paranormal, the preternatural, the supernatural absolute, it would cease to be these things, and become normal and natural.
There is no conspiracy to keep studies of the afterlife subdued, no war declared by "Big Science" (no one calls it that) to keep paranormal activity of any kind out of the books.
Spiritualism as a popular practice took root in the United States around the 1840s, and by 1880 there were already con-artists spoofing seances to prey on those who suffered loss, taking money and producing bogus results, which injured the spiritualism movement. Even so, it lasted into the 1920s in spite of opponents of spiritualism - psychic-mediums specifically - and the largest opponent was none other than famed magician, Harry Houdini.
Though the fiery zeal of spiritualism dimmed to embers, the glow never truly went dark; spiritualism maintained a fringe fascination, and continued drawing interest.
The late twentieth century into the present twenty-first century appear to have embraced facets of spiritualism, as interest in afterlife entities, alleged hauntings and rose substantially but especially after the the 06 OCTOBER 2004 debut of (Ghost Hunters) T.A.P.S on SyFy. Since then, there are at least eight popular ghost hunting "reality" shows airing (Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State, Ghost Brothers, Haunted Towns, Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural, Kindred Spirits and Scariest Places on Earth).
There are several more ghost hunting reality shows, capitalizing on the fame of the more popular shows, and use gimmicky mulligans to drawn an audience. As a result of the popularity (and sometimes success) of these shows, a sizeable number of people have capitalized on this, attempting to mimic these successful formulas using social media platforms as their springboard toward recognition.
This rise in creating the "next" great ghost hunting show has led to oversaturation on media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine and TikTok.
The format of these videos often follows the televised formulas. Someone behind a camera narrating what they're doing (whether alone or with a team), jumping at their own shadows and frequenting the questions, "What was that?", "Did you hear that?" and "Did you see that?".
Whether they legitimately believe they are experiencing something, or they are just filling dead air (no pun intended) to keep the video compelling, by the time their video hits whatever media platform they prefer, there's filters and film-scratch, creepy ambient sounds and tense, ominous tonal melodies to create atmosphere and tension to what is otherwise a very mundane situation.
In following shows such as T.A.P.S. (Ghost Hunters), and Ghost Lab, a lot of self styled paranormal investigators believe they are taking a scientific approach to the spirituality conundrum, that is, that often faith and science do not well intersect. To date, there is no factual scientific proof of an afterlife or afterlife entities.
These facts do not prevent people from attempting to embed science into their investigations, whether on television or social media; abandoning occult practices, practitioners or instruments (psychic-mediums, seances, ouija boards, automatic writing, Ouija boards, pendulums and dowsing / divining rods) in favor of contemporary technical instruments such as Gauss Meters (EMF gauges, K2 Meters), digital audio and video (including infrared and thermal cameras), white noise machines (such as the sound of static, or ghost boxes) thermometers, barometric gauges, and whatever other functioning technology lends credibility to what they are attempting.
To be clear, this is a clumsy attempt to disguise the fact that no one - not one single person - actually knows what they are doing, or what the instruments data actually mean, because these instruments were not created for the purpose of detecting afterlife entities or solving an alleged haunting.
There are no afterlife experts; no paranormal specialists; there is no one who understands the supernatural, and no one who can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any of the data they collect proves anything other than they're utilizing instruments they likely do not understand and recording information that they interpret to be a legitimate haunting or AE.
This is the disconnect once again between science and faith. Paranormal investigation is not a science; there is no hard evidence backing any of the claims, traditions or practices, and those who insist there is are merely speculating based entirely off personal experience, anecdotal evidence (which is not evidence at all), pictures of backscatter ( dust / moisture particles they call "ghost orbs"), choppy pixilated images, and questionable EVP or video evidence. Most of these investigators will defend, and proverbially fight and die on their hill defending their "evidence".
The problem is neither science, nor is it paranormal investigation. The problem is trying to pass off paranormal investigation as a factually provable science, when it is in fact a pseudoscience. Pseudoscience is as defined by Merriam-Webster's diction as a system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific.
A system of theories (the practice of paranormal investigation) assumptions (the beliefs included in paranormal investigation) and methods (the current use of contemporary instruments) erroneously regarded as scientific.
To be clear, and in no uncertain terms, the only thing contemporary paranormal investigators are doing now are modern day seances performed through the use of modern technological tools and instruments. There is no science behind it, because science requires steps,. In real science, the steps cannot be skipped, incomplete, or ignored.
The first step of scientific method is asking a question. You then perform research and establish your hypothesis. You test a hypothesis by performing an experiment and you make an observation of that experiment; analyze the results of your experiment and draw a conclusion. You then present the findings.
Paranormal Investigation cannot perform these steps, because the steps cannot be repeated with the same results even ten percent of the time, no less one-hundred percent.
The problem is that popular paranormal investigation, especially on reality television, and its clones, and its cloned clones, attempts to pass itself off as legitimate science, using technology and flowery language to bedazzle the audience... but this is not true investigation. The results are always the same: inconclusive. The results are inconclusive because the methods used were not designed for paranormal investigation. What we observe is Paranormal Entertainment, and its successors and proverbial step-children are mirrors of paranormal entertainment.
The reality is there are no amateur paranormal investigators, and there are no expert paranormal investigators because no one knows what they are doing. This includes the P.R.D.S.
When a paranormal investigation group has to state that "the theory behind this is...", prior to using a tool, or performing an investigation, it is a repetition of something someone else said, based off of something someone else said that was obtained in a long traditions of things people said that dates back to the American spiritualism movement, a movement which had no canonical texts about its practices; no canonical foundation for its practices and no canonical data to present, it becomes a matter of one case of anecdotal evidence after another, relying entirely on a person to suspend any disbelief and trust entirely the person performing the séance, the reading, the investigation - whatever it may be - and provide some degree of personal satisfaction, and edification while offering nothing to, and advancing nothing of, the field of paranormal investigation.
This, and the frequency of misaligned paranormal societies arguing over whose results are fact and whose are fiction, has only further denigrated whatever legitimacy and credibility the paranormal field had remaining - if any - short of making an amusing novelty of the practice itself.
Ultimately, there are no experts, not authorities, no masters of paranormal investigation' this is not a bane for the practice in this field, but a boon. If there are no experts, no authorities, no one who truly knows what is going on, it means those who are willing to admit it, and willing to start over, are the likeliest to find answers and advance this field of study and practice.
Perhaps in abandoning these traditions, these practices handed down from one generation to the next, based on dogma created by magicians and mesmerists, then with a clean slate, paranormal investigators will be able to ask new questions, and attempt to answer them using legitimate method. Pride will have no place, and the willingness to accept failure will be a requirement, giving paranormal investigators the opportunity to explore alleged hauntings and afterlife entities as though it were their first time.
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