In my personal quest to research the paranormal: I am seeking the truth, not attempting to perpetuate hoaxes!
Those that really believe implicitly cannot accept that it is possible to disprove their beliefs. On the other hand, those of us that are skeptical are researching the paranormal precisely to prove or disprove the authenticity of “activity”.
I’ve made a lot of people dislike me just by my pointing them in the direction of Snopes.com and Skeptics Boot to show these people that you really CAN’T believe the posts on the internet, no matter how real they may look or that a good-natured friend sent them in good faith. To this end I touch on the topic of why people hoax towards the end of this blog.
One particular regular dose of hoax is the hospital demon which I researched in 2014 and you can read my explanation on this earlier in my blog.
Metabunk.org is dedicated to the art and pastime of honest, polite, scientific debunking. It is primarily a discussion forum, however the focus is on providing concise useful resources, and attempting to avoid repetitive debate and arguments.
Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934 to December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences. He is credited as follows “he endures as our era’s greatest patron saint of reason and common sense, a master of the vital balance between skepticism and openness.
He produced the baloney detection kit:
in which Sagan reflects on the many types of deception to which we’re susceptible — from psychics to religious zealotry to paid product endorsements by scientists. It’s notoriously hard because hoaxes are shared across the Internet and, with the popularity of Facebook, there just seems no way to quash them when they’re found and “shared in good faith”.
To corroborate my comments regarding pictures and hoaxes (separately or together!) I today came across this very useful information:
Here’s an interesting site that, when you read it, you’ll see why I’ve included it here.
It’s Skeptic’s boot.
The link takes you to a page which is subtitled “Before it was news…. it was still bullshit”. That sums up a dreadful website called Beforeitsnews. This site is one of the main reasons why the same stories keep cropping up time and time again with easily led people having read about a story and going “Wow I have to let all my buddies know!”.
So I’ve told you I’m a skeptic. What IS a skeptic? Why do I think I am one? Here’s an article (which agrees with everything that I believe in regard to my researches about the paranormal) that attempts to explain this:-
What Is Skepticism? By Brian Dunning © 2014 Skeptoid.com
To quote Dr. Shermer: Skepticism is not a position; it’s a process.
The popular misconception is that skeptics, or critical thinkers, are people who disbelieve things. And indeed, the common usage of the word skeptical supports this: “He was skeptical of the numbers in the spreadsheet”, meaning he doubted their validity. To be skeptical, therefore, is to be negative about things and doubt or disbelieve them.
The true meaning of the word skepticism has nothing to do with doubt, disbelief, or negativity. Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It’s the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion.
It’s thus inaccurate to say “Skeptics don’t believe in ghosts.” Some do. Many skeptics are deeply religious, and are satisfied with the reasoning process that led them there. Skeptics apply critical thinking to different aspects of their lives in their own individual way. Everyone is a skeptic to some degree.
Skepticism is, or should be, an extraordinarily powerful and positive influence on the world. Skepticism is not simply about “debunking” as is commonly charged. Skepticism is about redirecting attention, influence, and funding away from worthless superstitions and toward projects and ideas that are evidenced to be beneficial to humanity and to the world.
The scientific method is central to skepticism. The scientific method requires evidence, preferably derived from validated testing. Anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies generally don’t meet the qualifications for scientific evidence, and thus won’t often be accepted by a responsible skeptic; which often explains why skeptics get such a bad rap for being negative or disbelieving people. They’re simply following the scientific method.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, particularly in claims that are far fetched or that violate physical laws. Skepticism is an essential, and meaningful, component of the search for truth.
The skeptic…..does not mean ‘he who doubts’ but ‘he who investgates or researches’ as opposed to ‘he who asserts and thinks that he has found.’ Miguel de Unamuno
Susan Jane Blackmore (born 29 July 1951) is an English freelance writer, lecturer, sceptic, and broadcaster on psychology and the paranormal, and is best known for her book The Meme Machine. She has written or contributed to over 40 books and 60 scholarly articles and is a contributor to The Guardian newspaper.
Ms Blackmore, in a New Scientist article in 2000, wrote:
It was just over thirty years ago that I had the dramatic out-of-body experience that convinced me of the reality of psychic phenomena and launched me on a crusade to show those closed-minded scientists that consciousness could reach beyond the body and that death was not the end. Just a few years of careful experiments changed all that. I found no psychic phenomena – only wishful thinking, self-deception, experimental error and, occasionally, fraud. I became a sceptic.
Since discovering the information about Ms Blackmore she and I would appear to be on the same wavelength. She has been in the fortunate position to carry out research and experiments that are beyond my means and I hope she continues to do so for many years to come.
I describe myself as a sceptic because, whilst I would not say “I do not believe in the paranormal”, my past experiences of the paranormal took place many years ago when I was a teenager and my analytical skill and understanding of what took place was limited. I’ve had a couple of experiences in later life that I would class as having been paranormal events but these were at emotional times in my life when I was unable to recognise, let alone document, what I had experienced until I thought about it much later. I have yet to put myself “in the line of fire” to experience the possibility of paranormal activity, in order to rationalise and judge in the light of the knowledge I now have.
A quote I particularly like from Charles Bukowski “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
Edit 8th January 2016
The Pieran Element posted yesterday an article which I deem relevant and I urge you to take the time to read it:
Edit 9th February 2016
Came across two separate youtube links where fraud psychics were exposed. Whilst I have no doubt there are people who can convey messages from those have passed away, most of the real psychics do it because they have the gift and genuinely want to help, often it’s the person sending the message from the other side coercing them to be their go between! It upsets me that so many people pose as psychics when all they’re doing is cold reading. Derren Brown exposed a psychic in a TV programme he did on this topic a couple of years ago. He admitted that he has no psychic ability yet was able to cold read a client and pass on a convincing “message” just by old reading. Have a look at the links.
Why Do People Hoax…? (Courtesy of Scott Sanders from Real World of the Paranormal)
When it comes to all things “ghostly” it’s just not possible to prove, beyond all doubt, that they don’t exist. That being said, there are still many reasons to be sceptical of such claims.
The media love a good ghost story, but seem less inclined to publish a story that debunks the original claim (well, by that point “important” things may have happened to Kim Kardashian’s arse…er, if you know what I mean?). Many claimants are sincere but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are accurate and correct, and just because someone can’t think of a rational explanation doesn’t mean that there isn’t one.
It’s not unusual for human perception to become an altered state; just take for example the symptoms associated with sleep paralysis or audio/visual pareidolia. But where does the manipulative hoaxer come in to the picture?
With a good many hoaxes there’s the issue of anonymity. Many who perpetrate hoaxes are never exposed, and as such it’s unlikely that saving face or avoiding blame have any real impact on their actions. Also, there’s a reward in it functioning as an ego-boost, and that the people involved are trying to bolster their own self-esteem by duping individuals, or the public at large, so as to feel superior to those who aren’t capable of seeing the truth. It seems more than a lie in that it’s an insensitive manipulation of people’s beliefs and emotions. But why do they hoax? For the simple reason that they can! Sad and bad… but true.
Many people are ready, willing and able to believe that there is more to this world than meets the eye and, perhaps, quite rightly so. However, the non-skeptical believer will accept, or will actively seek out, information that supports their desire to be mystified. Those who wish to believe and who disregard other, rational, explanations will continue to do so, and those who seek to exploit that belief will continue with their hoaxes.
The BBC posted this link entitled “How the internet lied to you in 2015” and it makes for interesting reading
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” ― Mark Twain.
I’d like to introduce, although I doubt he needs much introduction, Dr Richard Wiseman who, in his blog describes himself as a psychologist, author and speaker https://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/. This description is modest indeed since I have found him to be a proponent of debunking hoaxes in both a clever but light-hearted (and non-offensive) way.
His blog advises that he began his working life as a professional magician and currently holds Britain’s only Professorship in the Public Understanding of Psychology (University of Hertfordshire). He researches the psychology of luck, change, perception and deception, and his work has been published in leading academic journals. If you haven’t read his books, I strongly urge you to do so. He also posts wonderful videos that will astound you because he not only shows you the magic but how artfully the magic is created – more the point, how easily you were fooled by it!
I know this assertion sounds somewhat crass however, there are a goodly number of individuals who, in spite of reasoned and scientific rationale to explain a video/photo by way of “evidence”, doggeedly maintain that sceptics are non believers and hence will always try to denounce anything that is posted.
Believe me, I would like nothing more than for you to absolutely and positively prove the existence of the afterlife, of paranormal phenomena in any of its’ manifestations. However, from a scientific point of view, outright proof has to show that your results are consistent and repeatable and, unfortunately, the paranormal just doesn’t work like that.
Finally, Chad Steeler’s Ghost Flames Blog gives some excellent advice on “How to check for a scammer” !