Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ghost Hunting & TAPS (Joe Nickell & Ben Radford too)

This act of Guerrilla Skepticism was a lot of fun.  I was able to stretch out the blurbs to cover several Wikipedia sites.  Oddly enough even as popular as ghost hunting is I've had no idea there is a Wikipedia page devoted to Ghost Hunting?  Again by working backwards I found a couple articles in SI magazine from Ben Radford and Joe Nickell discussing TAPS and ghost hunting in general.

When I got to the ghost hunting page I found it was pretty general, nothing really positive or negative.  It discussed the equipment used and the popularity of ghost hunting.  Tame really.

I read the articles a few times through, took notes and worked out a couple blurbs and here is what I came up with...

Many ghost-hunting groups say they find evidence of something they can't explain through scientific or natural means, yet critics question ghost-hunting's methodology, particularly its use of instrumentation, as there is no scientifically-proven link between the existence of ghosts and cold spots or electromagnetic fields. According to skeptical investigator Joe Nickell, the typical ghost hunter is practicing pseudoscience.[15] Nickell says that ghost hunters often arm themselves with EMF meters, thermometers that can identify cold spots, and wireless microphones that eliminate background noise, pointing out the equipment being used to try to detect ghosts is not designed for the job. "The least likely explanation for any given reading is it is a ghost," maintains Nickell. Orbs of light that show up on photos, he says, are often particles of dust or moisture. "Voices" picked up by tape recorders can be radio signals or noise from the recorder and EMF detectors can be set off by faulty wiring or microwave towers.[4]

According to investigator Benjamin Radford most ghost hunting groups including The Atlantic Paranormal Society TAPS make many methodological mistakes. "After watching episodes of Ghost Hunters and other similar programs, it quickly becomes clear to anyone with a background in science that the methods used are both illogical and unscientific". Anyone can be a ghost investigator, "failing to consider alternative explanations for anomalous ... phenomena", considering emotions and feelings as "evidence of ghostly encounters". "Improper and unscientific investigation methods" for example "using unproven tools and equipment", "sampling errors", "ineffectively using recording devices" and "focusing on the history of the location...and not the phenomena". In his article for Skeptical Inquirer Magazine Radford concludes that ghost hunters should care about doing a truly scientific investigation "I believe that if ghosts exist, they are important and deserve to be taken seriously. Most of the efforts to investigate ghosts so far have been badly flawed and unscientific --- and, not surprisingly, fruitless."[16]

Because TAPS is clearly mentioned in Radfords article I went to the TAPS Wikipedia page and left the same blurb above.

On the Ghost Hunter show's Wikipedia page I was able to leave this blurb.

Ghost Hunters has attracted various critics and skeptics, such as Joe Nickell of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Skeptical Inquirer author Lynne Kelly,[6] James Randi, and Benjamin Radford. The Skeptical Analysis of the Paranormal Society (SAPS) was founded with the intent to recreate and debunk segments of the show.[7]
Because I had already written the blurb I spread it out a bit more.  On to the page for Jason Hawes I left this...
Investigator and author Benjamin Radford reviewing Hawes's book "Ghost Hunting" writes Hawes allots a grand total of four paragraphs (within 273 pages) to a chapter titled 'The Scientific Approach'. He doesn't have much to say about science or scientific methods, and in fact it's the shortest chapter in the book. Hawes is wrong in his belief that he and his T.A.P.S. crew are using good scientific investigative methods. After watching quickly becomes clear to anyone with a background in science that the methods used are both illogical and unscientific." [8]

To make this even better, yesterday at CFI West Ben Radford lectured on his Paranormal Investigations.  I was able to show these Wiki websites to him.  He seemed interested in what I've done so far.

It struck me during his lecture yesterday that we really have a lot to do.  Just in this one mans investigative career we need to get moving.  All the articles he has written as well as his books need to be looked over, mined over for blurbs, cited and then posted onto the Wiki sites.  If someone would like to take this task on for Ben Radford, Joe Nickell or any of the other investigators out there then AWESOME.  If you don't already have one of his books, then possibly going to CSI's website and searching for articles they have written would be the next great idea.

Don't think that what I've already done on these ghost hunting sites is all that remains to be done.  These pages need a good cleaning.  Eliminating "peacock words" and a general rewriting making the sites look less like they were written by fans would be a great help. You wouldn't need to look for articles and write blurbs and citations.  Just dust off the keyboard and get editing.

No comments:

Post a Comment