Five hard to swallow facts about Paranormal Research

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1 Audio, Video or Photos will NEVER serve as conclusive proof of “paranormal” phenomena 

Oh I know that statement is bound to launch a thousand debates (and a few more hate mails), but let’s be honest here… media is not only easily misunderstood, it’s easily manipulated. Everything that is submitted as evidence on media carries with it a silent requirement to “trust” the source (a.k.a. the person who submitted it) and therein lies the problem.  If you present me with an incredible video of a ghostly being traversing the stairs of some old home,  my acceptance of this as evidence now presents me with an obligation to believe you didn’t fake it, misinterpret it or misrepresent it. I have to believe you that the conditions were as you say they were when it was captured and that everything else you present me with in support of that video is ALSO legitimate (i.e. photos, meter readings, experiences etc.).

That’s a lot of trust… Slow down, we hardly know each other. 

It’s this unstable variable that prevents any media based evidence from being considered conclusive (or even in some cases suggestive). So what DOES constitute conclusive proof?  I’m glad you asked. There is only one factor that will ever conclusively prove the existence of any unusual phenomenon and that is “demonstrability”.  Yep, you need to be able to demonstrate or repeat it to a degree that it can be studied with some element of reliability under strict controls.

You see the scientific method suggests that a concept or idea is more credible when it can be repeated. Even if only through long and tedious means. Repetition and control are key. If it’s a phenomena (and not just an event), it will or can be repeated.

 2 No matter how “in control and grounded” you claim to be, your brain can and DOES continue to fool you… you are not immune.

Oh people say it all the time. “I’m not crazy.”, “I know what I saw”, “I wasn’t hallucinating”, “I wouldn’t lie about something like that.”, “She told me she was 18”. Well maybe not the last one, but the point is people are exceedingly hard to convince when it comes to doubting their own perceptions. We all want to believe that our senses are relatively infallible, that our brains are not easily fooled and that our rationalization skills are in great working order. But the truth is utterly disappointing.

For decades numerous scientists and researchers around the world have documented the astounding fallibility of our perceptive process. Television shows, games, carnival attractions and even art have been created that specifically take advantage of the holes in our cognitive faculties. We are ALL born suckers and there’s really nothing we can do about it other than understand that the condition exists and honestly consider these shortcomings in our analysis of unusual events.

3  Your shining credibility does not make your experience more believable.

Groucho Marx once said, “There’s one way to find out if a man is honest: ask him. If he says yes, then you know he is crooked.”  – That statement was  only funny because it’s true.

Everyone – you, me, your spouse, children, siblings, co-workers, best friends, teachers, employers and even your sweet old grandmother have told lies. By age four, 90% of children have grasped the concept of lying (Osmols 2011), and it just goes downhill from there. According to a 2002 study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, 60% of all adults can’t have a ten minute conversation without telling a lie at least once (UMASS 2002). and according to the study those folks who did lie actually told an average of 3 lies during their short discussion with the researchers.

I know you’re sitting there right now insisting that you would be part of the 40% that didn’t lie but that’s what the liars in the study thought, too. When they reviewed their own conversations, they were flabbergasted at how many lies they had actually told.

Unsurprisingly, we also sometimes lie about important aspects. According to one estimate, 40% of people lie on their resumes (Forbes 2006).  A shocking 90% of people looking for a date online lie in their profile. (Scientific American 2007)   So no matter how honest you believe you are, no matter how accurate your rendition of a paranormal event is (even if it truly happened to you), the majority of the world will never simply “accept” what you are claiming with complete certainty… They just won’t.

Any equipment that requires the “interpretation” of non-repeatable results is complete bullshit.

Yep , I went there….bullshit.  In fact pretty much all of the marketed devices used in “ghost hunting” today  require a personal interpretation of the results in order to determine the significance of their output.  (Yes I’m looking at you spirit box, Ovilus, Paranormal Puck, Vortex Dome, Para-Scope, V-Pod, Rem Pod, Ghost Ark, Dowsing Rods, Pendulums, Ouija Boards, KII Meters, Geo-Pods and yes…EMF Meters)

So what’s wrong with personal interpretation you say?  I will explain…

Scenario 1-  In a hospital, a doctor uses a heart monitor to determine if someone is having  heart trouble. He / She interprets the readings of the heart monitor to make or assist in a diagnosis.

Scenario 2 – In an old home a paranormal investigator uses a specialized device (choose any from the list above) to determine if the home is haunted. He/ She interprets the readout/response of the equipment to make a determination.

So what is the difference between Scenario 1 and 2? They seem relatively the same right? Well not really.

In scenario 1 the doctor is measuring a tangible object – the human heart. It’s proper function has been well documented and how a healthy one should appear on a heart monitor is academic as is the comparison between the live readings and the expected readings used to help  indicate a problem. The interpretation the doctor makes is based on known and “demonstrated” information.

In scenario 2 the investigator is simply looking for any unusual reaction, especially one that ties into his / her expectations or the context of the location or perhaps even one that correlates with other experiences. This is done because he/she doesn’t know with any certainty what a paranormal experience “should” read. There is no documented historical data for a paranormal occurrence. So responsible comparisons cannot be made and interpretations are based entirely on subjective opinion. Hardly factual.

“Nobody has EVER linked EMF to actual localized paranormal occurrences in any reliable or predictable fashion….EVER.”

Question: So if that’s the case how can manufacturers of paranormal gadgetry even begin to design a device that works?

Answer: They can’t.

 (They are all bullshit in my opinion):

5 There has never been any credible, demonstrable research to even suggest the plausibility of life beyond death.

Sure there have been “sciency” people in history who have attempted to prove the existence of a soul, others who tried to establish communications with those who have passed and still others who have insisted they have been to the other side and back, but in spite of the numerous attempts and claims that flood the internet, we are not any closer to officially proving life after death than we were 5000 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, who wouldn’t love the idea of a second chance?  To see your departed loved ones again, to be free of the mortal bonds that plague our existence, to have learned from a lifetime of experience, free of illness, free of strife, free of pain. It sure is a comforting thought, but unfortunately, right now, it’s only that… a thought.  The fact is that the research conducted over the past two centuries in the hopes of proving “life after death” have chalked up a big fat zilch in terms of results. If it’s there, we haven’t proven it yet…  no one has.

So for those in search of human souls, ghosts and spirits… to officially claim that you have contacted the dear departed, you must first establish with complete certainty (not just with opinion) that life does go on beyond this mortal veil. That there are dis-incarnate “beings” there to contact. Do this and the rest will go down the scientific gullet like a candy coated gumdrop. Until then… well… you know.


So here we have it five hard to swallow facts about Paranormal Research. I’ll finish by saying that this in no way proclaims that unusual, undiscovered phenomena doesn’t exists. In fact, I’m inclined to believe it does, but once again that’s just my opinion, and you know what they say about those.

No one ever said it was going to be easy.

Resources:

http://www.emaxhealth.com/6705/when-children-lie-they-are-simply-reaching-developmental-milestone

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2002-06/uoma-urf061002.php

http://www.forbes.com/2006/05/20/resume-lies-work_cx_kdt_06work_0523lies.html

http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/C1597486-E7F2-99DF-310BFD76D5647B1D/

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47 thoughts on “Five hard to swallow facts about Paranormal Research

  1. Love it! The ones that used to make me crazy but now make me laugh is when they have video of these “plasma orbs”. I used to scream at the TV “I JUST A SPECK OF DUST, MORONS!!!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an investigator, I have been explaining these points to my peers for years. I am working on multiple experiments to prove that the paranormal investigation equipment that is being sold are nothing more than gimmicks with enough bells and whistles (and flashing lights to attract our attention in the dark) to make the consumer believe in the intrinsic value of their purchase.
    We need more of this in the hobby (and it is a hobby). More critical thinking and less believe whatever you watch on TV.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a simple concept that is unfortunately very difficult to convey with any great effectiveness. I look forward to reading about your experiments please keep me posted. I had conducted some of my own with a “Spirit Box” recently. Not to “test” the validity of the equipment ( I knew it didn’t work) but to demonstrate that it was not doing what so many believe. In the experiment I used software defined radio and recorded every broadcast channel simultaneously and at the same time recorded a “spirit box” session. I then replayed the recorded box session as though it were live to a group of listeners. The listeners adamantly believed they heard definite communication. I marked the areas they noted and then played the actual broadcast that made up the elements they heard, demonstrating that they were simply hearing pieces of actual broadcasts and interpreting them as a separate communication. Some were convinced, but not all. Those not supporting the demonstration admitted they made a mistake, but still insisted the device worked.

      I also wrote an article addressing equipment as well. If you are interested, you can read it here: https://thepierianelement.com/2015/12/11/paranormal-technology-failure-101/

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      1. I’m actually writing articles on this very topic! This is what I’ve been trying to say for years! It irritates me beyond belief to see these groups selling equipment and even certifying houses as haunted. I refuse to work with any group who does that. I’m currently working a blog/Facebook page that explains this here, although it I think it goes into more detail about the science aspect. I’m going to start posting blogs/videos that goes into explaining the equipment piece by piece and how they don’t really function in paranormal investigation. My goal is to take the ‘theories’ many investigators use and put them to the test.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Your project sounds excellent! Please send me links to the videos or blog you create, I would love to watch and share! We certainly share the same fustration. Thanks for the message!

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  3. I disagree & stand by Echovox to the fullest. You cannot debunk it – In fact I challenge you to try. I have over 500 hours communicating with the same two “spirits”. You are free to your opinion & the arcticle is just that, but you cannot dismiss, or discredit something unless testing it to its alleged potential. Any skeptics out there – try the Echovox – you have a damn good chance of erasing all doubt.

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  4. Guys don’t reply to Ian Wardell. This is a guy who is ALL over the web, been banned on countless skeptic blogs and websites for trolling claiming repeatedly over and over that the brain cannot produce consciousness and then so there must be magic involved, despite evidence to the contrary. He uses the typical ‘soul’ of the gaps argument. Anything unexplained by science is therefore evidence for the paranormal. Search “Ian Wardell” psychic or life after death and you will see how many blogs he has meddled for the last 6 years. It is not my agenda to throw around ad-homimem attacks but this guy just isn’t worth it. NO matter what is said or what he is given (even by neurologists such as Steven Novella) he stills goes on believing saying the same things.

    And there is his famous quote that he is laughed at all over the web:

    http://www.fstdt.com/QuoteComment.aspx?QID=9429&Page=2

    “Indeed it is clear to me that the existence of fraudulent psychics makes the existence of genuine psychics more likely”.

    You are looking at a true believer, no matter what he is given he will still go on believing. It is like trying to convince a creationist of the fact of evolution.

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  5. Faith! My faith in God is not an opinion, it is my religion! My religion and my God assures me there is life after death.
    My own daughter at age 3 told of sitting on Jesus’ knee, after she woke up from emergency surgery following a routine tonsillectomy. She said she sat on one knee and her one little brother and two little sisters sat on the other knee and she cried because she wanted to stay with Jesus. He told her her mommy needed her so she had to come back. She was mad at me for days because she had to come back because of me.
    She had no idea at age 3 I had lost 3 babies before I finally gave birth to her.
    Yes, their is life after death.

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  6. R.E point 5, clearly you haven’t done any research on the subject and you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    There is the research into Leonora Piper, Gladys Osborne, Eileen Garrett and the R101 case. Then there’s modern mediumship research. Such as that done at the Windbridge institute, the 2011 Kelly study, the Brazilian brain scanning of mediums whilst doing Psychography which revealed intriguing results and a real process.

    Then there’s veridical NDE’s and those where the person learnt information they didn’t previously know, saw people they didn’t know were dead etc.

    Then there’s the reincarnation research into children’s memories of Ian Stevenson and now Jim Tucker. Deathbed visions, people seeing lights and strange phenomenon at the time of a persons death, and things suggestive of survival because they challenge the mind = brain narrative such as terminal lucidity.

    There’s much more that we can discuss but to say there is NO evidence is untrue and misinforming your readers.

    Cheers!

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    1. I appreciate your comment Roberta however, unfortunately, it’s incorrect on many levels.

      First, to set the record straight, item number 5 does not state that there is “NO evidence” as you have suggested, It clearly states in the header that there is no “Credible, demonstrable research” which is true.

      Second, the research that you have cited (which is not credible to begin with) is NOT research conducted to identify the plausibility of life after death. The research pertaining to Leonora Piper, Gladys Osborne, Eileen Garrett and the R101 seance (which involved Eileen Garrett) are studies to identify psychic abilities in specific individuals and is NOT research to responsibly identify the the plausibility of life after death. Aside from that these cases are junk research.

      All three women were proven to be frauds. Piper was outed in a 75 page document by the physiologist Ivor Lloyd Tuckett who claimed her abilities were nothing more than “muscle reading, fishing or guessing”. Osborne ( a trance medium) was found to suffer from dissociative identity disorder and she was also found to be a fraud (by several people including Walter Mann). The tests Dr. Rhine conducted with Eileen Garrett were not repeatable and her results were found to be statistically consistent with guess work (also a fraud). In reference to the R101 seance, all I can say is Garrett was involved and to read the report by Archie Jarman. That was fraudulent too. Medium fraud in the 20th century was rampant.

      The Kelly & Arcangel study conducted in 2011 was ALSO about medium-ship and NOT about identifying the plausibility of life after death. That study was tremendously biased in it’s review and the method lacked a proper control. In fact the first experiment failed and the second allegedly produced positive results when they loosened some of the protocols – not good science.

      The Brazilian brain scanning sessions (once again NOT done to identify the plausibility of life after death) only showed that alleged mediums show brain activity consistent with meditation. It offered zero evidence that any of the ability demonstrated was authentic.

      The research of Ian Stevenson was tremendously flawed. He often asked leading questions and used translators during his interview. Hardly well controlled. Jim Tucker (who took over for Stevenson) conducts his research more responsibly, but even he admits the memories of the children are “purported memories” which means we have no tangible evidence that they are true memories.

      Children lose the majority of their memory after the first few years of life, it’s known as childhood amnesia. The brain essentially over writes itself. Rational hypotheses used to explain these “reincarnation” claims suggest that at some point in their first few years of life these children were exposed to the information either through TV or discussions etc. and traces of this information survived the amnesia process. During the neuro-genesis process the brain does not store long term memories… Including memories of birth and certainly not death.

      And one final point: Yes I do LOTS of research on the subject. I have hundreds of published studies in my library which I have read in their entirety. I can say with confidence that there has never been any “credible, demonstrable” published research to show plausibility of life after death.

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      1. Your Piper comment is incredibly biased and is not based on the facts. One persons opinion doesn’t equal a fact. If you want a response to what you said about her read here:

        http://www.dailygrail.com/essays/2010/11/skeptical-skeptic

        Can you provide sources to back up that the R101 was guesswork and that Garrett/Osborne were frauds please?

        You didn’t mention Windbridge, probably wisely as it’s good research. How was the 2011 study flawed? Explain your view of why. And the Brazil study is suggestive of a genuine process. That’s why I brought up.

        Your view is Stevenson is biased and ignores the fact that he went to painstaking levels to rule out normal explanations and fraud. You need to explain why many of these children had memories that were very specific so somebodies life. Your ‘explanations’ suggest to me that you’re not that familiar with the research and are being deliberately misleading.

        May I ask why you left out NDE’s, deathbed visions, terminal lucidity and other things I brought up?

        Cheers for the reply by the way.

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      2. I’m starting to think you don’t actually read the items you comment on, either that or you have poor reading comprehension.

        My piper comment stated ” Piper was outed in a 75 page document by the physiologist Ivor Lloyd Tuckett who claimed her abilities were nothing more than “muscle reading, fishing or guessing”.” Do you understand what biased means? There wasn’t any opinion in that statement. It was a fact that simply states she was outed by Ivor Tuckett… read about it here: http://www.unz.org/Pub/TuckettIvor-1911.

        Read about Osborne’s fraud here: Walter Mann. (1919). The Follies and Frauds of Spiritualism. London: Watts & Co. pp. 187-188

        Garrett’s fraud can be read about here: Melvin Harris. (2003). Investigating the Unexplained: Psychic Detectives, the Amityville Horror-mongers, Jack the Ripper, and Other Mysteries of the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. pp. 171-182

        The research done at the The Windbridge Institute is pure pseudo science conducted by a biased researcher with abhorrent controls. Julie Beischel conducts tests on the telephone and claims that that is an acceptable control to eliminate cold readings. Absurd.

        I believe I did explain how these children claim these memories but once again you didn’t read.

        REGARDLESS… this all has ZERO relevance to the article on which you are commenting. You are trying to use mediumistic research (which has not been successfully peer reviewed) to support the concept of life after death and that’s like trying to use the concept of aliens to prove the existence of Bigfoot.

        Stop littering this comment section with irrelevant points that have very little scientific significance.

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      3. Michael – Your point ignores all the researchers who thought Piper was genuine. One source on this matter is misguided or intentionally misleading.

        I’ll check out those sources thanks!

        And your point about the Windbridge is false. The sitter and medium have no contact, so cold reading is eliminated as an explanation. The researcher who transcribes the reading is also blind to who the sitter is. And calling is Pseudoscience doesn’t mean it is.

        I think we’ll leave it there – thanks for your time!

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  7. How much of an armchair skeptik are you ?. What crediible research have you done ?.

    Over some 40 years of research into afterlife phenomena, (some 25 with physical mediums alone) has allowed me to witeness materialisation, direct voice, and clear precise occasions ( with multiple witnesses ) to show the reality of reunions of individuals with loved ones and those past on.

    Of course you can say it was all delusion tricks etc , but you were not there.( oh, and test conditions were imposed in the vast majority of these events by experienced people ) You can raise all sorts of alternative explanations, but ultimately need to look at what is the most logical and credible in those circumstances…survival.

    Fine, be critical but how much of this have you witnessed for yourself. How many physical seances have you attended ?….

    Don’t talk from your armchair, do the footwork, get into the field. If you have done this, witnessed it and can make clear claims, then fine I will listen to you….

    Until then, until you have doine the research and groundwork for yourself don’t just rely on other theories and what you have read ( if you must read try reading the Scole Report for starters. I personaly knew two of the eminent professors involved in that study )…Best of luck with your reaearch. Hope these tips help.

    Dr L

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    1. Good science defaults to a null hypothesis and until you can DEMONSTRATE your experiences they are simply the fish that got away no matter how significant you may find them to be personally.

      I have been actively researching this subject for more than 11 years and hardly from an armchair. Over the past decade I have researched in the field with dozens of self-proclaimed mediums, exorcists, demonologists, witches, empaths, clairvoyants and psychics. They all claim to be “experts” just like you and have yet to produce a single shred of demonstrable, credible evidence beyond personal experience.

      I have been to the séances, I’ve read the research, I have seen the exorcisms… thousands have been performed (I’ve seen more than two dozen myself) and yet none produce anything useful beyond supposition… they are junk research for people who like to fool themselves and others. The “Scole experiment” was a scientific abomination. It lacked any significant controls. The investigators imposed no restrictions on the mediums and agreed to all the restrictions imposed by the mediums. It was an absurd, highly biased experiment.

      I have and still do investigate purported haunted locations (From Maine to Pennsylvania) and I HAVE seen things that I cannot explain and that’s what keeps me in the research game. But I am not about to leap over huge gaps in a logical thought process to arrive at an unfounded conclusion that these things are automatically signs of life after death or “spirits” simply because I can’t explain them.
      I am a responsible researcher. I don’t scare innocent families by telling them they have a demon in their basement or offer a placebo cure for those suffering from mental disorders by telling them I can “Clear” their home.

      I have written and produced documentaries (one was award winning), created hundreds of different pieces of environmental testing equipment for research purposes, developed new research techniques, read and collected hundreds of published research papers including publishing some of my own. (example below) My work has been featured in more than a dozen books and I lead a fantastic research team that over the years has consisted of psychiatrists, bio-chemists, geologists, engineers, physicists and more. We don’t publish personal experiences. If we can’t verify our results through peer review the experience stays personal …just as it should.

      The bottom line is nobody cares who you know, nobody cares about what you have seen. Why should anyone simply believe you? 40 years of stories about what you have seen and who you know add up to absolutely nothing in terms of tangible evidence. I hear stories about what people have seen all the time, those are only reasons to investigate, not significant evidence.

      http://www.academia.edu/11547676/Linguistic_Comprehension_of_Electronic_Voice_Phenomena_An_Experiment_in_Auditory_Perception_Accuracy

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  8. Such a shame that you obvioulsy have undersood little of what you have seen , read or experienced. I suggest that you look at research protocols, particularly non parametric and qualitative approaches. I also suggest that you have totaly failed to either examine or evaluate the detailed and tested Scole experiements to any useful degree. Again, where is your reserach ?

    Dr L

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    1. Actually, I consider myself fortunate that I wasn’t effectively duped by some brilliant yet fraudulent narcissists.

      Honestly, I find it surprising and a bit disturbing that you could complete a PhD program (especially one in sociology) without realizing that the research design for examining the viability of mediumistic phenomena should never be strictly qualitative.

      The proper approach should utilize a mixed methodology or a quantitative approach at best. Such research requires controls which are not part of a qualitative design. The controls should be determined and enforced by the researchers, not the medium subjects as we have seen in the Scole experiments.

      I have read and examined the Scole research (several times unfortunately) and I find it to be a laughable attempt to paint a scientific face on what is the research equivalent of a pigs backside. For any researcher to relinquish complete control of their experiment to the whimsy of their subjects and then claim to publish a significant, unbiased study is abhorrent.

      I “believe” (or at least I hope) that your dedication and persistence in coming to defense of what is arguably the worst research conducted in the last century is due to your personal ties with one of the researchers. I would hate to think that yet another PhD has been wasted on playing kowtow to a large selection of circus performers who refuse to submit to properly controlled testing.

      A sample of my research was linked in the last comment. If you require more, do your own research, I think it will do you good.

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  9. Mixed methodologies are indeed a standard approach in many sociological studies, but the main criteron which determine this is the research question, and phenomena under invetigation. I never said it shoukld all be qualitative

    There is a very limited scoipe for laboratory quantative investigation ( heard of the sheep and goat effect ? ). The phenomena in question and under investigation mainly requires qualitative analysis (as do the majority of anthropological phenomena). That is why I suggest you get out into the ‘real’ world. You may however wish to examine Gart Shwatz’s studies on mediumship which no doubt fails to meet any of your criterior.

    To dismiss such appraoches as irrelevant illulstrates a profound ignorance of research methodology.

    To also dismiss the crediibility of the professors and their approach to Scole again shows a profound ignorance., and again your assertions are incorrect. Have you been to Scole by the way and seen where the experimentatiuon took place…No, I doubt it, neither have you interviewed the main experimenters ?

    Unfortunately both professors Fontana and Ellison are no longer with us to defend themselves. David Fontana was a world class Transpersonal Psychologist and past president of the SPR. With over 200 books to his credit he was a superb researcher and investigator. I knew him as a credible and highly respected academic.

    Unfortunateluy such debates as this achieve nothing. I wish you well in your investigations however flawed they may be

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    1. There were no significant controls set in place by the researchers. That defines the research as having a qualitative design and the only criteria (not “criterior”) I need to see. Without controls the result is supposition and no better than an opinion. The proposed methodology kills the validity of the research before it even begins.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. “Fontana was a world class Transpersonal Psychologist and past president of the SPR. With over 200 books to his credit he was a superb researcher and investigator. I knew him as a credible and highly respected academic.”

      This is just an appeal to authority. Just because one respected academic may have believed in ghosts does not mean ghosts are real. I have encountered you before on the internet Malcolm on other blogs (I know you are associated with spiritualist churches), and nothing a skeptic will tell you will ever take you away from those beliefs.

      But look in the (Skeptical Inqurier, Volume 53, 1995). Dr. Joe Nickell has information about Fontana. He was rather credulous believing the Enfield poltergeist was genuine based on an alleged ‘haunted’ tape recorder. It turned out the tape recorder was simply suffering from a malfunction, yet Fontana claimed it was haunted. I also read Fontana’s book on the afterlife a few years ago. He claims the fraudulent materialization medium Helen Duncan was genuine. Actually just run an internet search on her name, she was caught with cheesecloth numerous times. He also claimed Gladys Osbourn Leonard was the ‘best’ medium of all time and never caught in fraud. Read Michael J. Baker’s response to Roberta. We know she was fraudulent. Fontana says Daniel Dunglas Home was never caught in fraud (this claim is not true either).

      Lastly you say the Scole experiments are valid. Alan Gauld (a believer in psychic phenomena) visited the Scole experiment and found the controls were lacking and easily open to fraud. So even a believer is not convinced. These séances that took place in a dark room at the back of Robin Hoy’s house are not evidence for anything and never repeated. No offense but it is always the same debunked fraudulent mediums from years ago from believers such as yourself, Leonora Piper, Eusapia Palladino, Eileen J. Garrett, etc. It gets boring seeing this stuff trotted out all over the internet, when all these cases have been discredited in the sceptical literature for years. There is not a shred of empirical evidence for an afterlife. I wish there was but there is not. And yes I agree big debates do not achieve anything because every time skeptics give believers information that discredits their beliefs they ignore it, just like Roberta did. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The thing is, you guys, Skeptics as you call yourselves, ignore evidence that doesn’t fit your beliefs and cherry pick facts as well. Some of the claims Michael made about Leonara Piper for example meant ignoring large amounts of information and original research about her and only listening to Skeptical literature. You’re doing the same now, making big claims about various mediums and only looking at it from one side.

        We all have our beliefs and choose evidence that fits in with those beliefs – it’s a very human thing to do. It’s bad to pretend to be completely objective despite not being so – none of us are perfect!

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      2. I never once called myself a skeptic, those are your words. I am a rationalist. I HAVE looked at both sides, I have read witness testimonials, I have read literature supporting the claims (I would not have been able to comment in good concience if not) and then, through a rational thought process, I arrived at the only logical conclusion I could come to based on the evidence presented (by both sides). I would love for all of them to be legitimate and the stories to be true, but they are not. The fact is we live in a world where frauds can and do exist and they have no shortage of followers.

        Roberta you felt it necessary to not only start right out with insulting comments, but to fund your argument with completely unrelated research for the sole purpose of instigating a drama filled dispute. When I rebutted your post you immediately went to a Skeptiko forum to ask people for research sources that you could use to argue with me, or as you put it ” Got any sources I can use? I want to take these so called ‘skeptics’ on haha.”. You couldn’t even be bothered to read and research for yourself (pretty sad). It is you who are biased and failing to research with an open mind. It seems you want to believe so badly you are discounting factual information. I recommend you read my article “The logic paradox: Hostages of Belief”.

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      3. One comment Michael made that makes me skeptical of any of his claims is that the research at the Windbridge institute involved doing readings over the telephone (which obliviously wouldn’t eliminate cold reading).

        If Michael had read the paper, and heard Julie speak about it, he’d know that she acts as a proxy sitter in place of the person the reading is for over the telephone to the medium, and that she is blinded to who the reading is for, to prevent her from inadvertently steering the medium in the right direction. The medium doesn’t know who the reading is for or about, and the person when scoring the readings individually, as a whole reading, and when choosing which reading is for them is blind to which is actually theirs and which is the control – this is all to prevent the bias of the person receiving the reading (if you get a reading you will interpret it as more accurate then it actually is as you want it to be your discarnate friend or relative talking to you). If you want to check this either listen to her Skeptiko interview or the read the quintuple blind research paper from last year)

        So if Michael can make such an easy error over this research, which seems to show his biases on this subject – why should I believe him on the areas I don’t know as much about?

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      4. Julie beischel’s study is worthless scientifically. It had a ridiculously small sample size, it lacked a control group, had no randomization or proper scientific blinding. She and her cohorts forced the subjects to pick one of the two answers, which alone gives a 50-50 chance also nothing was reported on the accuracy of the mediums readings, how specific their readings were and how well they matched with the subjects descriptions on specific items. Her work is useless.

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      5. Michael – Again, you use one source on various subjects and claim the matter is concluded and that you’ve ‘rebutted’ my post. If you were being intellectually honest – you’d mention the numerous researchers who thought Piper was genuine. Instead of the one that didn’t.

        I also would like to apologise if I came across as insulting you – not my intention. The Skeptiko thing was silly – but many people are more knowledgable on the subject then me.

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      6. If someone was found out to be a con artist, the positive testimony of the people they fooled cannot be used as a character reference. In the end, she was found to be a fraud which means everybody prior to that was fooled and their opinions of her genuine ability are useless. Don’t be a sucker.

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      7. Michael – Just because you think some work could be improved doesn’t means it’s ‘scientifically useless’. Again, you’re being intellectually dishonest and you haven’t apologising for misrepresenting her work earlier on.

        Why does not having a control group make it ‘useless’? They have control readings, and multiple levels of blinding. The important thing was were the target readings more accurate then the control ones and did people pick the target readings more often then the control ones? The answer to that question is yes.

        In terms of the accuracy and specificity of the readings I agree with you it would be better to see that. I however think it is extremely false to claim the work is useless and you shouldn’t make such claims – it damages your credibility on this subject. If you ache to certain conclusions on this general subject fine – but don’t claim it’s because you’re super rational and present one side of the argument (as you have done so far) and then say you won.

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      8. Research into these matters ARE useless without proper controls… people were not chosen at random and the statisticians were not blinded as well. I didn’t misrepresent anything and so apologize for nothing. As someone who has properly evaluated her work, I stand by everything I’ve said here. Again I never said I was super rational, I also never said “I won”….those were YOUR words. I am seeing a pattern here… I seems you hear only what you want to hear and are injecting your beliefs and opinions into your comprehension of information.

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  10. By the way, I am not a Spiritualist, nor do I frequent Spiritualist churches; so how is it presumed I support the Spiritualists ?. I look at the overwhelming facts. .

    I have worked with mediums, but to be honest much of what passes as Spiritualist phenomena is garbage. Roberta is quite correct, you cherry pick the evidence.

    Take a look at the the Annie Najil tapes…Is the husband deluded or just lying ?. perhaps you can give a more credible explanation when you have studied them ?

    Some years ago I met a particular hardline skeptic and asked him what he would do if his dead mother materialised at a seance and talked to him about intimate and private matters only the two of them knew about in the family…

    His reposonse ?. ‘I still would not believe it’ he said’. When you are up against such thinking there is just nowhere else to go !

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    1. Ovewhelming facts? The “fact” is the Scole researchers were not in control of thier own experiment and that leaves any conclusion to be based purely on supposition. The viability of a concept supporting the existence of strange and undiscovered phenomena can not be researched qualitatively. The Scole Experiments did just that and you support thier methodology.

      The Scole research paper contains a type 1 error (as does your interpretation), it rejects a null hypothesis when in fact a null hypothesis is correct. I dont understand how you can be OK with a lack of controls and still say you are not biased toward supporting the mediums position.

      Wiseman provided secure envelopes for the film rolls to the experimenters (an actual attempt at control) but the film always failed to be exposed. There has been ZERO successful attempts at replicating the results under controlled conditions by any independent researchers…science lives and breathes by demonstrability. As I said before the Scole experiments are useless garbage perpetrated by fraudulent, narcissistic performers.

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    2. Malcolm let’s not play games, you post on the Skeptiko forum as does Roberta and we can all see your posts supportive of spiritualism, you defend various fraudulent physical mediums as genuine such as Colin Fry over there.

      You have also written an article entitled “The Theory and Practice of Spiritualism” in the Vol.7. Issue 112. May/June 2000 for the Journal of the Noah’s Ark Society. A spiritualist journal that is dedicated to physical mediumship.

      You are also well known for visiting skeptic blogs calling them narrow-minded, one of which a friend of mine owns. You have defended the fraudulent medium Colin Fry, despite the fact he was caught red-handed holding a trumpet in a séance. You also commented on the Jon Donnis skeptic blog badpsychics on the “Colin Fry Dead” article, claiming you have attended “over 100 séances”. Here got into a long dispute with Donnis, (I know Donnis).

      After he rebutted many of your points in debate you left and called him close-minded. You say people here ‘cherry pick’ the evidence, but you are guilty of this yourself. You frequently name-drop various old mediums in your posts on the internet, like you did to Donnis. But you never mention their fraud. Alec Harris, Carlos Mirabelli, Helen Duncan, Eusapia Palladino, and all the other physical mediums you mention all over the net were exposed, do you just ignore these exposures?

      Look closely at pictures of ‘ectoplasm’ or ‘materialization’ it is just cheesecloth or gauze. This stuff is considered bogus by even most parapsychologists, so I am surprised you are defending it. It is an embarrassment (See Simeon Edmunds book Spiritualism: A Critical Survey, 1966) for a long list of physical mediums caught in fraud. Think about spirit photography, who defends that anymore? Mediumship has been through many fads. Have you heard of William Roy? He is possibly the most notorious medium in the history of spiritualism, but admitted to how he faked all his phenomena. I see that you rarely ever mention anything negative for mediumship.

      At a minimum by default you would have to accept these exposures and defend the silly position of ‘mixed-mediumship’ that believers have been pushed into accepting. This weakens your case of evidence. If a medium was caught cheating, do you really believe they have genuine paranormal powers? The position is illogical and is no friend of Occam’s razor.

      As for not visiting spiritualist churches, this is quite a dishonest statement. A Google check for “Dr Malcolm Lewis” Spiritualism, reveals the spiritualist churches you have been associated with including giving lectures for the Norwich Spiritualist Church. I understand you may want to distant yourself from the religion of spiritualism, but you are very much in that camp by defending all this old fraudulent mediums.

      On the skeptiko forum you even wrote you and your wife believe you may have had an encounter with an angel. I am really happy for you that you believe in magical things. And it is great that it might give you comfort about your life. But at the end of the day you are anti-science and you deny reality. You are entitled to believe in superstition, anyone is. But it is ignorant to keep pretending science is on your side.

      There is a big pattern that I see from your internet posts tracing back to 2011, as Michael J. Baker and Jon Donnis also pointed out – you seem to ignore what you don’t want to see. So I will not be further responding. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Well Malcom it certainly looks like Billy has your number. I found many of the items he mentioned quite easily with a simple search. You know I have zero problem with people posting here who represent a spiritual side. In fact the library on this site has many spiritualist papers. I don’t agree with their approach and findings of course but they are here without any biased dialogue… only their abstract statements represent them. I do this because I believe everyone should see both sides and have all of the information from which to form a decision. However, I also encourage a rational thought process and strict use of the scientific method which incidentally discredits the aforementioned papers. But that’s just how it goes.

      One thing I can not stand for however, are people who try to represent belief and opinion as scientifically relevant in non-qualitative research. That is not how science works and for someone with a PhD in sociology you should be ashamed of yourself for misrepresenting science that way. You are part of the problem with this research and are either a tremendous liar or delusional, or perhaps a combination of both. Regardless, you’re not welcome here any longer. This site and forum is for people who want to have rational intelligent discussion and provide useful information that encourages research and thinking. Its not a place for people who erroneously advocate for the credibility of known frauds and faulty science such as you and Roberta.

      Please don’t post here again. It will not be allowed.

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    4. “By the way, I am not a Spiritualist, nor do I frequent Spiritualist churches; so how is it presumed I support the Spiritualists ?. I look at the overwhelming facts. .

      I have worked with mediums, but to be honest much of what passes as Spiritualist phenomena is garbage. Roberta is quite correct, you cherry pick the evidence.”

      You deny you support the spiritualists yet we find this :

      https://thepierianelement.com/malcom/

      and this:

      https://thepierianelement.com/malcom-2/

      Clearly you are a liar.

      In 2011 you boasted of having 30 years of research experience specifically with physical mediums, yet in 2016, in this forum, you claim to have 25 years experience:

      https://thepierianelement.com/malcom-3/
      https://thepierianelement.com/malcom-4/

      How can you expect anyone to trust you? You post with a doctor’s title, claiming to be an expert. I suggest you read my article:

      https://thepierianelement.com/2015/12/01/a-paranormal-expert-karma-may-run-over-your-dogma/

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