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More "True Believer" Conversations

Ah yes. My site seems to get quite a bit of attention these days from the “True Believer” crowd.

This one, like the last one, argues greatly from ignorance. There was also a great amount of undue credit given to the TAPS gentlemen, the Ghost Hunters. The reference given was to a show where their sound-man was supposedly attacked by a ghost. I address these things in my response, but for now, let’s just get to the email.

I recently read your writings concerning the above. Needless to say, it did not surprise me that there are people who doubt in their existence (ghosts, that is) and deny anything paranormal is a possibility.

At any rate, my main dispute is in regards to what was said about the Ghost Hunters on TV which (part of your statement) was that “They have an agenda. To prove that ghosts do, in fact, exist.” Apparently, you have never watched the show Ghost Hunters on Sci-Fi. The reason I say you’ve never watched the show is because if you did you would know that on every single show the founders (Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson) make it very clear they are out to debunk their findings. As a matter of fact, they have walked away from several investigations with the conclusion of a place not being haunted or having paranormal activity. (However, as it has been stated several times by paranormal investigators, apparitions don’t manifest on queue). If you’re still in doubt, I dare to to disprove the episode of Ghost Hunters when the TAPS sound-man gets attacked and is knocked to the floor. This was at New Bedford Armory in Massachusetts. When the findings were revealed to those individuals who had requested TAPS to do the investigating were astonished, and the clients were also on the premises when it all happened. Keep in mind that the clients who asked TAPS to come was not a family just hearing or seeing things. These people at New Bedford Armory were actual soldiers. These men are trained to not be afraid of things and to have tactful thinking. After what happened that night, they don’t doubt any longer in the paranormal. So, for you to say that Ghost Hunters, i.e. TAPS, are out to prove ghosts exist is completely inaccurate and an untrue statement. Although, I will say that there are those people (such as Lorraine Warren) and paranormal researchers/groups (such as the Most Haunted group) do give ghost hunting a bad name. I will agree that the Most Haunted group is a disgrace and embarrassment to legitimate investigators.

I have witnessed things I cannot explain as well. I saw my great aunt’s apparition about a week after she passed away. My boyfriend at that time was standing right next to me and witnessed it as well. I know what I saw and I didn’t see her out of the corner of my eye nor was anything placed in my mind to “imagine” what I saw. My head was fully turned and my eyes were locked onto the figure. It was something I will never forget, nor have ever doubted. I wasn’t afraid … just a bit startled but also felt honored that she made herself known to me.

I suppose you’re someone who believes in angels and demons but not in ghosts. How can you believe in one thing but not the other? Yes, most spirits are benevolent apparitions. Others, well, aren’t so nice. Are some sightings just manifestations of one’s own imagination? Possibly. There are many other sitings, etc., though, that cannot be explained. This does not mean ghosts do not exist. It wouldn’t surprise me none-the-least if your next writing is about how Wiccans are Satanists and worship the devil.

I suggest you read a book and do some research about how ghosts can and do exist. The thing is, though, you’re going to believe what you want just as I’m going to believe — and I know ghosts exist. It’s just like believing in God — either you believe or you don’t.

Over and over and over again, I repeat myself. I suppose it doesn’t do much good. I have NEVER said that science “does not allow for paranormal activity.” Whenever I have brought up paranormal activity scientifically, I have always said that science requires evidence!!! If there is no evidence, then of course, science will not accept it.

The thing that really floored me was the last paragraph. Apparently I need to do a little more research because I don’t read books which, as she says, show that, “ghosts can and do exist.” I don’t read much Sci-Fi. I guess, according to her, I probably should start. There aren’t any peer-reviewed books which claim that ghosts exist.

In case you’re interested, here’s that stupid video of the “Ghost Hunters” episode referenced where that sound man is supposedly attacked. Like I said, no evidence that a ghost was present at all, whatsoever.

So here’s my response to her.

Hello and thanks for writing,

I understand that you take issue with some of the things that I’ve written. I’ve also noted that you, as well as many others, misinterpret what I’ve said about ghosts. I’ve always said that I will accept the possibility of the existence of ghosts provided that there is sufficient evidence. By that, I mean reasonable scientific evidence.

What is reasonable scientific evidence? Well, to start off with, an extraordinary claim such as the existence of ghosts requires extraordinary evidence. I will not believe anything that I see on television… at least nothing I see on that Ghost Hunters show. These guys are daytime Roto-Rooter dudes. They have absolutely NO scientific training whatsoever. They have no clue as to how to operate scientifically. Their sole agenda is to try to prove that ghosts exist.

Let’s put it this way. If their goal wasn’t to prove that ghosts exist, why is their show called “Ghost Hunters?” Why not call their show “Anomaly Explainers?” Why? Because they want people to believe they really are catching ghosts on camera… and they’re not.

Just to give you an example of how completely unscientific these guys are, here’s a video from their show…

If you can’t see that, here’s the link to the video.

This is a video of a chair supposedly “moving by itself.” Apparently they didn’t do a whole lot of “debunking” because if, before the chair moves, you put your mouse pointer on the edge of the chair, you’ll find that the chair doesn’t actually move at all. The only thing that changes is where that light is pointing. You can see that someone is clearly messing with it. Does that look like they are trying to “debunk” anything? I’ve never even been on a “ghost hunt” before and I can see this is total garbage.

What these guys do, as do any tricksters and hucksters, is to they take very small details of the story and claim that it’s evidence against there being a haunting. Then, donning this scientific facade, they proceed with the rest of the show where they marvel and awe over things which have purely natural and scientific explanations. They perform what is called “Anomaly Hunting.” Anomaly hunting is where they search and search until they find something they “can’t explain.” And what that means is, they don’t even bother to try to explain it. They just say it’s a ghost.

I’ve seen the episode of Ghost Hunters that you mentioned in your email. There is absolutely nothing in the video that suggests there is a ghost present. You see a camera flailing around wildly for a second and then there is a guy laying on the floor. He says that something “went through him.” I hope you aren’t just going to take this guy’s word for it?

I’ll say what I’ve said countless times before. You wouldn’t take this kind of evidence from a pharmaceutical company, would you? “We’re not going to show you any proof that this medicine works, or even that it won’t kill you, but just take our word for it. We wouldn’t lie.”

What I ask of you is, if ghosts are so real and so obviously present in this world, why is the entire concept rejected by the whole of the academic scientific community? Why is it that you can’t go to Harvard and get a Ph.D. in “Paranormal Research?” Why is it that any educational program designed to research paranormal activity ends up shut down and out of funding? I’ll tell you why. It’s because it’s all nonsense. No respectable scientists is going to waste their time going on “Ghost Hunts.” It’s all fake.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B – Wow, a whole TWO places in the USA to get a “Paranormal Degree.” *As a side note, not included in this email, every college in America offers some sort of Science program, as opposed to these TWO places that offer “Paranormal Degrees.”

As far as you witnessing things you cannot explain (as you say, “I have witnessed things I cannot explain as well.”), that’s all it is. Something you cannot explain. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a ghost. Can you explain Multi-Dimensional Derivative Calculus? No? That must mean it’s a ghost. Can you explain what a Higgs Boson particle is? No? It must be a ghost then. Are quantum computers ghosts because you can’t explain them?

As far as attacking me by saying that I probably believe in “angels and demons but not ghosts,” I place them all on the same level. Ancient mythologies. From this argument, you proceed with, “How can you believe in one thing but not the other?” You’ve not even been made aware of my opinion on such beings… or at least not spent enough time reading about my opinion.

And again you say, “There are many other sitings, etc., though, that cannot be explained. This does not mean ghosts do not exist.” It also does not mean ghosts DO exist. Again, just because something is unexplained, doesn’t mean that it’s automatically paranormal. Can you explain what the Bernoulli Effect is? No? That must mean it’s a paranormal phenomenon.

Concerning your statement that, “It wouldn’t surprise me none-the-least if your next writing is about how Wiccans are Satanists and worship the devil,” I feel that there is no difference between ghosts, spirits, devils or what have you. It is all nonsense. There’s no scientific evidence for any of the above… nor magic spells. Might as well be worshiping woodchucks. They are real.

As far as your recommendation for me to read a book, what would you recommend? I have requirements for my reading. It must be peer-reviewed… meaning that many scientists have read it prior to being published – insuring that it has been vetted of all ridiculous, unscientific material. If you can find even ONE peer-reviewed scientific book which claims that ghosts are real, I’d be more than happy to read it with an open mind.

I will just conclude with a response to your last few statements. “The thing is, though, you’re going to believe what you want just as I’m going to believe — and I know ghosts exist.” You are incorrect in your assumption. I’m not just going to “believe what I want.” I’m going to accept whatever the evidence points to. If there is a consensus among the scientific community that ghosts do, in fact, exist, then guess what? I will “believe in ghosts.”

It’s just like believing in God — either you believe or you don’t.” I don’t suppose it is much like this. I accept where the evidence points. You, on the other hand, will believe in ghosts no matter what.
Why wouldn’t I want ghosts to exist? That would be amazing! Strange beings floating around, defying every law of physics known to mankind. That would be awesome. It’s just too bad that it isn’t real. I can’t make myself believe in something that there is absolutely no evidence for. I would be lying to myself.

Another person fallen victim to the false logic of these “Ghost Hunter” shows. As long as there is a small amount of token skepticism, everything else is taken as truth. “See, everything they say is the truth because they were skeptical about one thing.” Nonsense. Just look at that stupid video with the chair that “moves.”

Then there was the whole attack, talking about how I probably believe in “angels and demons but not ghosts,” and how she says, “It wouldn’t surprise me none-the-least if your next writing is about how Wiccans are Satanists and worship the devil.” What kind of logic is this? More like an ad hominem attack.

I think I did a good job of covering everything. Anyway, she writes back…

Your points and opinions have been taken into consideration. However, until the day that you actually experience what I have (since my childhood), then and only then will you change your mind about the existence of ghosts and that paranormal activity does occur in this world, irregardless if it can be “scientifically” proven or not. Although, you probably will never have an experience because when people are closed-minded and choose to ignore/discount the possibilities, it usually takes a major upset in one’s life to open that door after reaching a certain age. It’s a proven fact that adults are more quick to dismiss things than children are. As for the scientific stance (and those I’ve spoken with who have majored in that field) on paranormal research have explained to me the reason why most scientists don’t believe in ghosts or paranormal activity is because of the inability to scientifically explain it. They also went on to say not all scientists don’t discount the possibility of unexplainable occurrences, i.e. the existence of ghosts or other paranormal activities. Some times things just aren’t meant to be explained. They just are …. what they are.

Another person stuck in the mindset that somehow there are other ways to know things; other ways than through science. Science, as I’ve also said many times before, the only way we can know anything. But, I’ll address this in my final (so far) email response.

Hello again,

I guess the most important part of what I’d been trying to relate to you, the part that you’ve seemed to miss, is that I don’t totally discount the possibility of paranormal phenomenon. If there is evidence for it, then I’m more than happy to accept it.

For you to say that I’ll never experience anything paranormal because I’m “closed minded” is basically saying that ghosts only exist if you “let them.” That somehow the existence of ghosts is subjective – dependent upon whether or not you believe in them. If ghosts were real, I would see them whether I wanted to or not. It’s not like I can prevent them from existing just by not believing in them. You couldn’t say computers aren’t real just because I don’t “believe in them.” They’re still real, regardless of how “closed minded” I might be. Thankfully, facts don’t require someone to believe in them in order for them to be true. If the existence of ghosts was a fact, I would not be able to deny it just because I didn’t want them to be real.

It’s a proven fact that adults are more quick to dismiss things than children are.” Children also accept things and believe them because they are also very “fantasy prone.” Their reality testing abilities aren’t up to standard as compared with adults. Children are not as rigorous about proof as adults are. They accept things they are told without proof, believing things told to them by authority figures. It’s part of our evolutionary history. If children didn’t listen when told not to go near the lion’s den, they’d be killed. Only when they get older do they engage in reality testing. This seems like you’re cherry-picking your evidence. Children believe in a lot of things. Things that adults know better than to believe in (Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, etc). Do you really want to base your proof of ghosts on the opinion of children?

You also say “scientifically” as if it’s no different from any other way of proving something. That there are other ways of proving things? Science is the only way we, as human beings, can know anything. Science isn’t a religion or a dogma… it’s a methodology. It’s the only way we can find things out. Anything outside the realm of science is, basically, outside the realm of human experience. It would be foolish to think that our mere human senses are capable of perceiving phenomenon that our advanced technological devices can’t. If something interacts with our senses, then it is obviously “scientifically” detectable. It logically follows that if scientific instrumentation cannot detect these ghosts, then how much less would our mere senses be able to detect them.

As far as your last comment, that “Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be explained,” I very much disagree. That is a very big leap to make. To make an assumption that things not “meant to be explained?” Besides being human nature to seek out the explanation for everything in the world around us, it would seem that to say some things are not meant to be explained is almost an effort to keep the real explanation of things hidden. Possibly that you might not like the results of knowing the real explanations for certain things?
To conclude, I’d just like to reiterate the fact that I do not say that paranormal phenomenon is impossible. If there arises some type of evidence for it, then, as I said before, I’d be more than happy to change my stance. Until that time, I concede to the current state of the evidence, which is no evidence.

And so, thus concludes (so far) another conversation with a True Believer. A lot of what I deal with are logical problems. There are countless examples here, as well as in my previous conversation.

So, if you’ve got some logical fallacies you want to throw my way, or if you’ve got some convoluted reasoning that I haven’t yet considered, godkillzyou@gmail.com is the address to send them to!

Read a peer-reviewed book.

  1. ichabod
    Sunday March 8, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    The only thing I can say to the above is that you are correct in making the observations because of the flaws you have discovered.

    However there are some things in history, since 1900, that would leave one wondering as it were.

    I remember reading a story one time about a allied soldier in Italy whose intimate knowledge of the town they were attacking not only helped them win but saved the lives of his comrades. The funny part about this story is that the man was never there before and had no knowledge of the town, this being the first journey across the Atlantic.

    There are some anecdotal stories that defy explanation by any scientific method, but in seeing the people who have confirmed these things and looking at the diverse backgrounds of these people one has to conclude they were all fooled, liars or the event occurred as they remember it.

    • Sunday March 8, 2009 at 4:37 PM

      I understand what you’re saying. But, at the same time, can you understand where I’m coming from when I say that I put no stock in anecdotes (stories)? Are we to take the written word of people who lived a hundred years ago as evidence of a claim?

      We don’t use that standard for anything else in this world. It all boils down to a standard of proof.

      A lot of times I feel that people lower their standards of proof when the claim is something that they hope is true. And, honestly, I think that is intellectually dishonest. To let some bad evidence slide through because it aligns with our worldview.

      While stories are very interesting, and can lead to some intriguing questions, they do not offer proof of anything. Only a direction for investigation to be conducted.

  2. ichabod
    Monday March 9, 2009 at 12:40 AM

    Hi GodKillzYou;

    I have to give you credit, you put up a very solid rebuttal, one that is difficult to counter and yes, hope will often lead to a misguided conclusion.

    However as logical as your argument is, this world is not always a logical place.

    The one thing I have discovered is there are no absolutes in this world. There are always exceptions to everything and even though they may not be apparent, it is because they aren’t known.

    The old adage “What goes up must come down” no longer holds true, especially if an object or man escapes the gravitational pull of earth into space.

    This was unknown a few centuries ago and science at that time would have proved the adage correct, now we can prove different.

    It is the same of science today which may be proved archaic a century from now and thus the possibility of some of these paranormal events may be proved to be true, not? :)

    • Monday March 9, 2009 at 3:29 AM

      Hello again,
      First, I’d just like to say I appreciate the dialogue.

      Now, I’d like to address your statement…

      However as logical as your argument is, this world is not always a logical place.

      Logic, as a branch of philosophy, is only concerned with how we arrive at conclusions. It does not deal with the truth-value of claims. Given 2 propositions, logic merely deals with the conclusion one reaches using those 2 propositions. Is it a “logical” conclusion? Is it legitimate to conclude X when considering propositions A & B?

      Now, if you’re saying that the world is not a place governed by specific laws, or that we don’t understand those law sufficiently, I would have to largely disagree.

      The old adage “What goes up must come down” no longer holds true, especially if an object or man escapes the gravitational pull of earth into space.

      This is correct. But, I think your extrapolation goes a little too far. What goes up still does always come down on the Earth – where gravity takes hold, and which, we’ve known for a long time. We haven’t “proven different.” We’ve only refined the knowledge we had. Gravity wasn’t “proven wrong.”

      This is similar to what happened to Newton’s mechanics when Einstein came about. Newton’s mechanics weren’t “proven wrong.” We can still get to the moon with Newtonian mechanics. Einstein only refined and expanded on Newton’s Laws.

      So, to say that our scientific knowledge would possibly some day be proven to be “archaic” is hardly plausible. I think you are stepping into “argument from ignorance” territory. Since we don’t know everything, we must know nothing. Or, more specifically to our issue at hand, because some things in this world aren’t explained, they are therefore “supernatural” in nature.

      Again, most scientific Theories (capital T, e.g. Gravity, Thermodynamics, Evolution, etc.) aren’t “proven wrong.” They are merely improved upon over time. It would take mountains of evidence to overturn established Theory. More specifically, there would need to be more evidence against it than for it.

      It is the same of science today which may be proved archaic a century from now and thus the possibility of some of these paranormal events may be proved to be true, not?

      This would be quite similar to the argument from antiquity. Truth value is not dependent upon age. The “ancient Chinese” didn’t know more about medicine than we do today. “Ancient cures” aren’t more advanced than today’s medicine. If something is true, it doesn’t “become untrue” after a certain period of time. I would say, with a great deal of certainty, that Gravitational Theory will be just as true 1,000 years from now as it is today.

      We still use fire, and that was invented by cavemen tens of thousands of years ago.

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