By Rick Hinton
When my friend Kenny Bittle (Facebook—I Am Kenny Bittle) speaks, I tend to listen. When it comes to the paranormal he has both feet on the ground and is not swayed by a good ghost story. He will listen, then begin dissecting. Most paranormal investigators are swayed by such stories: encounters by common folk of their experiences. It just had to have happened! Yet, they fail to go through the dissection process themselves. This leads to a one-sided conclusion: it happened, case closed! Kenny sees things differently and when he recommends a particular author on the subject, I’m all ears.
I’ve read a lot of books on the paranormal, probably more than is healthy. My new favorite guy is Benjamin Radford, a published author and writer for the Skeptical Inquirer. Kenny passed along an article from November/December of 2010 which, although now eight years old, still holds a lot of weight today. You see, things don’t change much in the paranormal community over the years. They never do! Here’s some excerpts:
“Just about every ghost hunting group calls itself ‘skeptical’ or ‘scientific.’ Ghost investigations can be deceptively tricky endeavors. Very ordinary events can be, and indeed have been, mistaken for extraordinary ones, and the main challenge for any ghost investigator is separating facts from a jumble of myths, mistakes and misunderstandings. It can be very easy to accidentally create or misinterpret evidence. It’s not always clear, and investigators must be careful to weed out the red herrings and focus on the verified information.”
I think that’s the problem and has been for quite some time. We don’t “weed” out, and most certainly when the adrenaline kicks in, we lose our focus on what’s real compared to what we’d like things to be!
“What follows is a short survey of the most common logical and methodological mistakes by the TAPS team (Ghost Hunters on paranormal television) and other groups that carry out ghost investigations.” No one’s ever claimed the dictations of television doesn’t influence. It does!
1 Assuming that no specialized knowledge or expertise is needed to effectively investigate ghosts.
“One of the most common assumptions among ghost investigators is that in the paranormal field there are no ‘experts.’ If there are no experts, then of course anyone can effectively investigate ghosts. Almost all ghost hunters are amateur, part-time hobbyists, and come from all walks of life.”
We, and the TAPS team on television, Benjamin notes, have “no background or training in science, investigation, forensics, or any other field that might help solve mysteries. Paranormal investigation requires no certificate; anyone can do it with no training, knowledge or expertise whatsoever. Effectively investigating claims and solving mysteries does require some experience and expertise –specifically in investigation, logic, critical thinking, psychology, science, forensics and other areas.” It would seem, you might want to be a little choosy about who comes to investigate your private home or business. Just saying!
Benjamin Radford’s only gotten started in his observations. There are a few more points…