Investigation Guidelines

 These are some guidelines we follow regarding the scientific approach to Paranormal Investigation. Also added are some definitions. These should help some in handling their investigations. But like everything else, take it with a grain of salt and follow what works for you. Just because these are main stream guidelines doesn't mean they will work for all of you.

   

The following statements were taken from a very famous main stream scientist's approach to the subject. (for testing arguments and detecting fallacious or fraudulent arguments) I have adapted (but DID NOT change the meaning ) some of the definitions to apply to the Paranormal Community (in simple layman's terms). However, I have left out the ones that did not apply. The principles of the ones I did use can to apply to the scientific approach of just about anything:

     

1)   Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the facts.  You need more than just yourself to come up with the exact same evidence.

 

2)   Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view. All people from the paranormal community regardless of their opinions.

 

3)   Arguments from authority may carry little weight. (in science there are no "authorities". Only the knowledgeable). The Paranormal Investigator has taken a "Belief" a "Blind Faith" (in ghosts) and is trying to prove it scientifically. As we all know, there are no Paranormal Experts. Just explorers like in any other science that is unproven. If someone is telling you they are an expert, then they are trying to sell you something. Most likely themselves.  This may offend some but, it is true.

 

4)   Spin more than one hypothesis - don't simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy. I am the only one I know (well, at least I haven't found anyone yet) that goes back to the same exact spot over and over and takes the same photos, recordings etc. I do my best to wait for or recreate the same conditions and then do it all again. Getting something once is nice but will never prove anything. 

Example:  I have seen an investigation based on noises. Loose pipes, creaky floor boards, etc. were found and they just automatically attributed everything to the things they found and left it at that. End of story. That doesn't tell me or anyone anything.

 

5)   Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it's yours. Too many do this and it is easy to do!  I myself have fallen into this trap from time to time.

 

6)   If there is a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work. Just because one or two people disagree with you or the evidence, that does not make it so. BUT, If everyone disagrees, then it's time to take a hard look at what you have.

 

7)   This is called - ( "Occam's razor")  - if there are two hypothesis that explain the data equally well, then choose the simpler. The simpler version, will explain it to more people. Remember, simpler is better...  I am sure we have all seen the people who try to come across as educated and knowledgeable by getting overly involved in explaining things and using the big words and phrases. (most of which, they got from somewhere) They very well may be smart but, they lose a big audience by doing that. Not necessarily because people don't know what is being said but maybe they just don't want to take the time to sift thru all the data.

 

8)   Ask whether the hypothesis can, (at least in principle), be falsified (shown to be false by some unambiguous test). In other words, is it testable? Can others duplicate what you did and get the same result? Not are they getting the same result. BUT   Can they duplicate the result!

 

9)   Conduct control experiments - especially "double blind" experiments where the person  taking photos, recordings, etc., is not aware of the circumstances surrounding the place being investigated. ( i.e. - one of your investigators should be left in the dark about the specifics of an investigation.) This is a good idea on some investigations.

 

10)  Check for confounding factors. Look for things that have nothing to do with an investigation but would hamper one. (each investigation may be different)

                                                                                                                                                              
11)  Attacking the arguer and not the argument. 9 times out of 10 this is what you see.  If someone is attacking you personally, instead of your theory, statements, questions or findings then they are just what they seem and should be disregarded.

 

12)  Argument from "authority". Remember there are no authorities. If someone says they are, stay clear of them.

 

13)  Argument from adverse consequences (putting pressure on the decision maker by pointing out consequences of an "unfavorable" decision).

 

DEFINITIONS:

 

1)   Appeal to ignorance (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence).    MY FAVORITE!!!

 

2)   Special pleading ( someone typically referring to god's will to explain everything). Refer to my story in the religious category.

 

3)   Begging the question (assuming an answer from the way the question is phrased).

 

4)   Observational selection (counting the hits and forgetting the misses). Bad practice! Be careful.

 

5)   Statistics of small numbers (such as drawing conclusions from inadequate samples).

 

6)   Misunderstanding the nature of statistics (Like when President Eisenhower expressed astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully half of all Americans have below average intelligence! ) Does this surprise you? This was a real test! Just had to add this one.

 

7)   Inconsistency in your findings. ( e.g. things ignored because they are not "proved" ).

 

8)   "It does not follow" - If the logic falls down, check it again. I find using the logical approach first, helps identify or eliminate a lot and make things go more smoothly.

 

9)   "It happened after I did this, so it must have been caused by" - BEWARE The confusion of cause and effect. Also remember my Cause and Effect OR Cause and Allow theory.

 

10)  Ignore the Meaningless questions and move on.

 

11)  Excluding the middle - considering only the two extremes in a range of possibilities is a big mistake.  ( i.e. - It does or doesn't. It's Black & white. ) You must at least look and consider the gray areas in this field.

Remember my old saying...


When you exclude the impossible...

Whatever remains
No matter how improbable
Must be the truth!
BUT...
If nothing remains.
Then maybe the impossible
Becomes possible?

 

12)  Caricaturing (or stereotyping) - Beware the people taking a position to make it easier for them to attack. That is their agenda.

 

13)  Suppressed evidence or half-truths. ( unfortunately you will see this a lot if you look hard. There are a lot of people who jump on the bandwagon jut to get noticed)

  
14)    DEBUNK - Definition: To expose and disprove, false or exaggerated claims.

So, if you are trying or starting out to debunk something, then you believe it to be false from the start. Doesn't that make you a Skeptic? I am not a big fan of the word. It has been made popular by TV shows. I find going into an investigation believing that whoever reported it believes it to be true. I then approach it as being true.

If it is not true then the facts of the investigation will bring that out.

If I went into an investigation believing it wasn't true to begin with, then I would be satisfied with the first thing that appeared to be like what was reported.

If the investigation reveals little or nothing, that only means not enough investigating was done. There are only 2 ways an investigation can go. True or False.  If people are reporting things happening, then things are happening (true) or it's a fabricated story (false).  If it is a phony story then that will become evident during the intitial interview if done correctly. If it is a true story, all that remains is, what is the cause? Remember, there doesn't have to be a ghost for the story to be true. The story is true if there is something happening. It's up to you to figure out what. Remember my saying... The absence of evidence IS NOT evidence of absence. Just because you didn't find anything the first time, doesn't mean that nothing exsists.

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