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Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Paranormal" Research

Oy, this is going to be painful.
As I've said before, I was raised around the supernatural. My family actively pursued and recorded experiences in the extra-normal going back to my Scottish Great-Grandmother. My parents, in particular my Mom, followed this with a religious zeal. Many of her cohorts were in earnest pursuit of something beyond our senses, and some got there. But I can't count the number of frauds and nuts involved in the field, some of whom my family would take to their bosom. We're talking the 60s here, when I became an unwilling witness. There was a big taboo on the supernatural back then, when having family who went to seances was cause for ostracising, when there was little in the way of scientific investigation techniques and anyone with an interest in such things was to be ridiculed.

By my view, I'd say there still is little in the way of scientific investigation. It seems to me that the vast amount of those who call themselves researchers aren't. These days the popular common methods used are little more than a few handheld gewgaws and a lot of "feelings", not much different than the days of mediums and batteries. You'd think by now, almost 50 years later, there'd be instruments developed for the particular phenomena, but no. The whole field is still in infancy. It's been decades since I set foot in the ASPR and I hope they've continued to develop and research the good work of Dr. Karlis Osis but you'd never know it by what's used in practice now.

So why is there no development of good instruments to measure and record observed phenomena? Why is there nothing beyond crude and unreliable EMF meters and such? Why is nobody locking down and seriously working in notably haunted places to develop equipment that would prove these things exist? The whole field has been bass-ackwards for over a century now. Sorry, but human feelings are unreliable and mediums aren't always honest- or sane.
There needs to be real research, in situ, so that instruments can develop and be tested.

And until that happens, and reliable verifiable equipment and results can be used and measured, there will be those who have no experience of the supernatural who can continue to poopoo the whole deal, like flatearthers. They haven't seen it so it doesn't exist. Kind of disfunctional all the way round. I know these things exist. But I have no instruments to prove it and no brains nor education enough to discover the means. It's quite frustrating.

My hope is that somewhere, someone is working on this...


The Elephant's Child said...

And so say all of us. Well both of us at least. I have reservations, but I cannot dismiss the paranormal either because I just don't know. And If I dismissed everything I didn't understand as fraudulent there would be no electronics for starters, no aeroplanes, no .......

Austan said...

EC- Exactly. I don't know how about a lot of things but they exist. I can't reproduce lightning but I've seen it many times. I don't know how people get ideas and write a bestseller, or get a tune in their heads from nowhere that becomes a symphony, but they do. Saying something doesn't exist because you've never experienced it means nothing. I've never seen Europe, so it doesn't exist? Bah.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

I will never say I disbelieve anything (except maybe politicians). I've had too many strange experiences to poo poo any of it.

Austan said...

Same here, Lawless.

Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

After serious scientific examination throughout the 60s, 70s 80s and 90s, nothing was ever shown to be "supernatural"
It doesn't exist.

We're Born
We Live
We Die

Austan said...

TSB- "serious scientific examination "? What examination? With what instruments? Measuring exactly what? With what comparisons? Have you followed what the Roll sorts of places and SPRs have done? Do you know what doesn't exist? No, you just believe.

Austan said...

And for anyone wanting to see some unscientific but earnest stuff, here:

Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

No, I certainly don't believe in anything, unless it can be proven.
I don't believe in God, because nobody has shown me a repeatable, verifyable proof.

Same for ghosts, spirits, vampires and the rest of the supernatural mythos.

Austan said...

Oh, so you rely on others to do the research.
Quaint that you lump " ghosts, spirits, vampires and the rest of the supernatural mythos." into one category.

Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

Everyone's entitled to their own beliefs, and I've never, repeat never seen/heard anything I couldn't explain through application of basic physics or chemistry.

I don't have time to do any research myself, mainly because as I've said, I've never observed anything which could excite my interest.

The best book on the topic is "The attack of the unsinkable rubber ducks" by Christopher Brookmyre. It's a novel, but it does go into some detail about various 'suopernatural" phenomenon.

Yes, you're right, I did lump them all together, because I believe they all lie in the same category of "Don't exist"

I've slept in supposedly haunted castles in Scotland, attended sceances and ouja board groups.

There was one time in Edinburgh when I thought I saw a nebulous figure walking out of a wall in the Old Town, but as I was 98% drunk, and the nebulous figure proceeded to mug me, I guess I can be pretty sure it wasn't a ghost.

Austan said...

Yes, everyone's entitled to their beliefs. I wish we were advanced enough to have knowledge instead of belief.

I'll reiterate. Just because you haven't seen it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. My brother can't see red or green but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Another brother's widow was born without eyes. I try to describe color to her. This is what I feel in this convo.

Austan said...

p.s. You've never answered my original questions about your citing, "serious scientific examination throughout the 60s, 70s 80s and 90s,('where', for grammar's sake) nothing was ever shown to be "supernatural", TSB.

Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

My Dear Austan, you are quite correct, I cannot cite any of the research projects, because I never heard of any success.
My fields are computing, microbiology and biochemistry with a side in military history.

There never was anything published in my fields referring to any supernatural occurences.
I know that if any serious researcher, using accredited and peer-reviewed techniques had found any "unknown force" or anything unusual, then it would have hit the scientific headlines.

Austan said...

Oh but darling TSB, then you need only have said so. Merely google ASPR, BSPR, Tanous, Osis, or Rhine, or Roll...there is, actually, a lot of research proving the extra-normal. I'm more onto sources and purposes of that sort of thing, myself. Why and wherefore. Why aren't we solving these things instead of acting like 17th century superstitious nimrods who are either afraid of it or deny its existence, or both? This is why I call for research and development. Matter does not cease to exist, it transforms.

SarcasticTestGuy said...

My two cents, as a cynic, an open-minded skeptic, and an engineer, is that we don't have decent instrumentation for a few reasons:
1) Engineers would have to invent those instruments, and engineers are notoriously difficult to convince of anything, especially without concrete data, which does not exist;
2) Many sources of these phenomena are feeling based, and we engineers aren't very good with feelings
3) Many sources, to one of your points, are not only unreliable, but are dishonest, and that pushes science away
4) The paranormal does not seem to react to electrons (and therefore electronics) or the chemistry of photography, hence, engineers don't have a clue about how to proceed
5) Experiences are, at best, unreliable, and the scientific method relies rather heavily on cause-and-effect...if we can't reliably provoke a response, we won't be able to verify the operation of a device

These are just the first few, and more occur to me, but I'd fill up your whole commentary!

The one thing that I think I know: I don't know. I'm confident, however, that there is more going on around here than can be seen or felt by an earthie like me.

Austan said...

STG- I guess we'll just have to wait for the innovation. If I had the bucks I know the building I'd pick to install engineers and scientists until it was done...