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Articles Associated with Keyword: paranormal

Criticism > Sunday, 29 August 2010 05:42:02 EST

Doing Paranormal Investigations The Wrong Way Can Be Deadly!

Keywords: paranormal

Investigating the paranormal properly, as detailed in Ben Radford's book "Scientific Paranormal Investigation", is not only a good idea in terms of acquiring knowledge.  It can also prevent you from doing something so foolish that you get yourself killed.

In a tragic incident this past Friday, a man lost his life while searching for evidence of a "ghost train".  Out of a dozen or so companion ghost hunters, he was the only casualty.  But it could  have easily been worse.

According to urban legends, at the anniversary and place of this historic crash, it's possible to hear the sounds of the crash and catch a glimpse of what happened on that fateful day.

The problem is that the crash took place on a bridge, and the tracks are still subjected to heavy railroad traffic.  Our ragtag band of ghost enthusiasts made the very poor decision to walk out onto the bridge in order to try and catch a glimpse of this phenomenon.

Well, there was the sound of a train and people screaming in terror.... but it didn't come from any ghosts.

You can bet that none of these ghost hunters made the slightest effort to look at original sources or figure out exactly what they were looking for.  I'm betting they just figured that if they could get as close to the purported scene of the accident as possible, something might happen.

But they had no reason to expect that they'd have a better view of any phenomenon from on the bridge rather than safely next to it.  A proper scientific investigation would never involve venturing out onto the bridge when there was no information suggesting that it would do any good.

Hell, good science tries to manage risk and control as many variables as possible, so even if it did look like heading out onto the bridge was necessary it would be imperative to coordinate such efforts with the railroad authorities first. 

But these people weren't trying to conduct good scientific investigation.  They were just hoping for a ghost experience so that they could have a cheap thrill.  That attitude lead to a foolish decision, and the loss of one man's life.
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Analysis > Sunday, 1 August 2010 20:20:41 EST

More Tales From Nightmare Island!

Keywords: paranormal, historical, book

Back in February I read an old book of supposedly true tales of the Paranormal called Nightmare Island:

Nightmare Island

It provided me with some good blog material, such as the title story, and the story of the Ghost Cavalry.  It also provided me with an interesting story about a psychic detective that, in spite of having no details I could verify, was at least fun to talk about.

Many of the rest of the tales are even more nebulous than that, and don't have even as much substance to them to warrant a full blog post.  So I've decided to pick out a few of them to analyze here:
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Musings > Sunday, 18 April 2010 18:05:24 EST

Where's The Substance?

Keywords: paranormal, historical, book

I wanted this posting to be another analysis of a tale from Nightmare Island, similar to my last two (here, and here).  I'd set myself the task of researching the tale of Arthur Price Roberts, a "Psychic Detective" from the 30's.

The problem is that while those first two stories contained details that could be checked and easily researched, trying to find information about this psychic detective is like trying to grasp a cloud.  The effort has left me with more questions than answers.

But I think that questions are important, and this case illustrates the need for critical scrutiny, and how important it is to provide sources for the claims that you make, especially when the claims are extraordinary in nature.

And this story is pretty extraordinary.

The ESP Detective

It's  a strange thing. You'd think that for the most publicized and authenticated case of a psychic detective available, it would be easy to find..... well, publications or authentications.

But before we get into that, let's review the story of Mr. Roberts and what he is supposed to have accomplished:
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Analysis > Tuesday, 16 March 2010 20:01:55 EST

Another Tale From Nightmare Island: Ghost Cavalry

Keywords: paranormal, historical, book

Last month I wrote a blog post analyzing the title story from the book Nightmare Island:

Nightmare Island

Today I've picked out another "Real-Life Mystery" from the book, The Ghost Cavalry!

Ghost Cavalry

Sounds juicy!  And it's reported by a "highly trained observer" no less, so it must be credible, right??  Well, we'll see...
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Musings > Saturday, 6 March 2010 19:20:40 EST

Supernatural Dumbassery!

Keywords: paranormal

I think a lot about what science can tell us and how supernatural/paranormal claims work.  It's an interesting topic to think about.

Of course, it's a wide open field, so this post may be a little bit unfocused. But some aspects of the issue have been turning around in my mind, and I'm enough of a dumbass to put my contemplations out here for the world to see.

I watched a documentary a few years ago about a girl who supposedly had some form of pseudo X-Ray vision and could diagnose medical problems.  One thing I found very interesting was a soundbite by a skeptic who said that if she can actually perform this task, we'll have to re-write everything that we know about physics.

That seemed a little bit hyperbolic for my tastes.  Even if it were true that this girl could do something that nobody could explain, that doesn't mean that the explanation wouldn't fit into the science of what we currently know about the world.

I personally think it's a mistake to approach claims of the paranormal from a position of "I can't imagine how it could possibly work, therefore it must not work.".  Not only is argument from incredulity a logical fallacy, it's also one of the types of arguments used to justify nonsense.

"I can't imagine how it's possible for ancient humans to have built the pyramids, therefore they must not have." is the common argument for people who believe that aliens built the pyramids.


You can't believe that I could have faked such a convincing image,
therefore it must be genuine!

You don't have to credulously accept everything you're told in order to have an open mind.  I think it's best to adopt a balanced attitude where you're not simply dismissing these kinds of claims out of hand, but have specific criteria for what kind of evidence will convince you.
Full Story

Analysis > Friday, 26 February 2010 03:12:05 EST

Welcome To... NIGHTMARE ISLAND!!!

Keywords: paranormal, historical, book

I came across this interesting looking book recently:

Nightmare Island Book Cover

It's a book on paranormal phenomena written for a young audience.  It was written in 1993 by Jim Razzi, and contains a collection of stories of "unexplained" phenomena.  The book introduces itself as follows:

It sounds impossible, but everything in this book really happened.  The events you will read about here defy explanation.  You cannot come up with logical reasons for why they occurred.  You may not even believe they are true.  But they have all been reported by reliable witnesses.  In many cases, they have factual evidence to back them up.
   Believe it or not, strange things don't happen only in the imagination.  Real life is full of mysteries that no one has been able to solve.  But see for yourself....


I cannot come up with logical reasons for why they occurred??  That sounds like a challenge to me!  I wholeheartedly accept!

This book looks like it will provide some fun stories to analyze and research.  I'll start off with the title story, Nightmare Island:

Nightmare Island Story Picture
SYNOPSIS: Can a nightmare come true?  You might not think so.  But if Byron Somes were still alive, he would have to disagree with you.
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