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Q: Evidence of the paranormal ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: Evidence of the paranormal
Category: Science
Asked by: jcharles-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 11 Nov 2006 12:20 PST
Expires: 11 Dec 2006 12:20 PST
Question ID: 781909
My girlfriend and I are having an argument over the paranormal. My
argument is that there has been enough anecdotal evidence to at least
warrant further scientific investigation. Her argument is that since
it's the least likely of all possibilities, that there's no point in
investigating it at all. 

What is the best evidence for the paranormal (ghosts, psychics, etc)
that has been recorded to date? This would include anything done in a
laboratory setting that can't be explained away, video that has been
studied by experts and leaves questions, etc. It doesn't have to be
*proof* that it's paranormal, but it needs to be the best evidence that
currently exists.

Request for Question Clarification by sublime1-ga on 11 Nov 2006 13:52 PST

Most researchers shy away from a question that asks for the "best"
of anything, since that's ultimately a subjective evaluation based
on opinion, while researchers are more comfortable with documented

That aside, there's currently a series running on the SciFi channel
in the US that has repeatedly caught phenomena on audio or video
which simply cannot be explained or reproduced by way of faking.

The show is called Ghost Hunters, and is a documentary of a small
group of paranormal investigators who call themselves TAPS, for
The Atlantic Paranormal Society:

They visit sites by request of the owners, and set out to either
debunk the phenomena described by the owners and residents, by
detecting natural phenomena which might have been misinterpreted,
or to confirm the unexplainable phemonena by capturing them on
audio or video.

The team leaders are skeptical by nature, and very grounded people
who work as plumbers by day, and they have no problem with frequently
debunking the claimed phenomena by finding natural causes.

However, sometimes they catch some astonishing activity on video
and audio which leaves them with open jaws, scratching their heads.

One such video captured the sudden movement of a chair in an attic
where one team member had been sitting for some time. The movement
was timestamped at a time after the team member left the room and
could verify that no one else had entered through the only possible
entry. There was no wind, and the floor was level. The chair moved
twice, quite visibly, with no possible normal explanation.

Another video catches the opening and closing of a closet door
while a team member is laying on the bed in the room.

Another video catches the movement of a table at which a team
member is actually sitting.

Another video captures the sound of the shattering of a glass
which is sitting on a bedside table while the team member is
laying on the bed.

One of the most astonishing and frightening videos clearly
captures an investigator who is carrying a heavy pack of
some kind (perhaps a video camera) slung in front of his 
body. The camera is lifted up and into the mans face with
no manipulation by any person present. The man loses his
balance and falls down, and is clearly traumatized by the

Then there are numerous audio recordings which capture what's
called EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomena - so named because
the recorded audio is not audible to people holding the 
recording devices at the time it was recorded. There are 
several examples that have occurred over the course of the
show, but two stand out in memory.

One occurred when two investigators were having a conversation
in normal voices. On the recording, a young girl's voice is
clearly heard to overlap their dialog, yet they themselves
heard nothing at the time of the recording.

On another, in an old west saloon, music can be heard in the
background of the recording of another conversation which sounds
like an old honky tonk piano. The investigators heard nothing at
the time it was being recorded.

I recommend that you and your girlfriend watch several episodes
and decide for yourself. They are available in iTunes.

Here is TAPS official website:

You can watch some of the videos on this page:

The one titled, 'Door Closes by Itself' is pretty spooky, but
you have to trust the people on this team to feel certain, as
I do, that they are positive there was no way for any of their
team to have been inside the room closing the door.

A link on that page from another site called GhostStudy show
an apparition moving in a parking garage and then disappearing:

As I noted, I'm not convinced that this show necessarily represents
the "best" of all available proof, but it's certainly up there at 
the top. Nevertheless, I'll await your approval before presuming to
post my response as a formal answer.

Let me know what you think...

Subject: Re: Evidence of the paranormal
Answered By: hedgie-ga on 11 Nov 2006 21:49 PST
Sorry  jcharles

Your girlfriend is right, as demonstrated below:

Evidence comes from the 
semantic analysis of the words 'paranormal' and 'evidence':

There are three millions pages on the web which mention 'paranormal'
(whole websites with many claims
however the definition of the word 'paranormal'

the adjective paranormal has 2 meanings:

Meaning #1: seemingly outside normal sensory channels
  Synonym: extrasensory

Meaning #2: not in accordance with scientific laws
  Antonym: normal (meaning #2)


has problems:

#1) There are many things which  are  'not accordance with known laws',
for example the 'Pioneer Anomaly'.
 Those are being investigated by scientists. Without such phenomena,
science would come to stop. They are not understood, but not

#2) There are many things which are 'extra-sensory'  - e.g.
radio-waves; they can be detected by instruments, but not by human
senses. They are 'invisible'
but not paranormal.

  So, what does paranormal really mean?
  It refers to a claims, for which there is not sufficient evidence, 
  evidence which would justify a scientific investigation.

Therefore,  by definition, there is NO EVIDENCE for paranormal phenomena.
There are only claims, and there are ghost-hunters, who are willing to
investigate phenomena for which there are just claims. When it happens
they confirm the effect, they turn the claim into evidence. Then the
phanomenon is no longer paranormal.

Logically then, your question can be  transcribed as:

What is the 'best' element of an empty set?

Empty set is a serious mathematical concept:

which however has curious propertiest:

 Every element of the empty set is 'best', but also
 Every element of the empty set is 'worst'

 This is not contradictory, since empty set has no elements.

  This is closest you can get to  set-theoretic intersection (common ground)

between science and paranormal phenomena: It is an empty set.

Hedgie  (and please convey my congratulation to your girlfriend)

Request for Answer Clarification by jcharles-ga on 14 Nov 2006 18:23 PST
Actually, it was watching some episodes of Ghost Hunters that started
the entire argument in the first place.

What I'm looking for is any studies that have been done by people with
a scientific bent where they can't easily explain what they find. A
good example was cited in the recent book "Spooks" by Mary Roach where
she mentions some studies done by doctors into NDEs (Near Death
Experiences) in which the results have been interesting enough to
warrant further investigation. I'm trying to find details on these
types of things,

The problem with Ghost Hunters is that they haven't the slightest idea
how to conduct a sicentific study, so while they catch some
interesting stuff on video, they generally don't try very hard to
recreate it (with the closing door, they would need to at least be
investigating air currents to see whether that could cause the door to

Clarification of Answer by hedgie-ga on 14 Nov 2006 23:31 PST

    I understand your question, and still maintain that my answer is correct.
    Nevertheless, partly to convince you, partly to provide
information you are interested in, I will elaborate:

 There was number of scientific studies into phenomena usually classified as
 paranormal, not just by people 'with scientific bend' but by scientists,
 some of them funded by governments, including US government, such as

Remote viewing studies at SRI

 Names of these scientists who do apply scientific method
 can be used as 'search terms' (entered into search engine) for more info
Stanislav Grof

Particularly his book
Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy
(Suny Series, Transpersonal & Humanistic Psychology) (Paperback)

Beverly Rubik

Center for Frontier Sciences
Their newsletter

 J. B. Rhine
Reach of the Mind (Paperback)

Rhine Center

The point I made in my original answer is that science has no preconceived
limit on what should be studied. The phenomenon does not have to be
reproducible in the lab, or at all (universe started only once, if it did)
and psychology ( which studies near death experiences, and recollection of
former lifes, out-of-body experiences .., reproducible under effect of
halucinogens) are a legitimate field of study.

The recent 'sensation' with cold fusion is an example:

It looked unlikely, but hypothesis was tested, and not confirmed. 
For this reason further study was dropped, for the time being, by physicists.

If you enter that term into SE, you will see it is still going strong,
in media, on the Internet .. as 'alternative science' 

Is it now in the realm of paranormal?
I would say yes. The realm of paranormal is characterized by sloppy methods,
or no evidence. If it is 'real' and investigated properly, it is a normal
topic of science. 

Science, physics, is not closed or complete. There are lot of studies
and speculations about QM and  consciousness

The consciousness is not paranormal, for most normal people it is a
normal state. But it is also true that lot of writing about that is
done by people who use terms from science of QM, who have no idea what
they mean. In media, that's normal thing. Those reports (not studies)
can be classified as dealing with paranormal.

Subject: Re: Evidence of the paranormal
From: probonopublico-ga on 11 Nov 2006 20:49 PST
Your girlfriend's absolutely right!

Believe me: I've been looking for a good fairy all my life and, if
there was a some such, I'm sure that she would have popped round by
Subject: Re: Evidence of the paranormal
From: probonopublico-ga on 11 Nov 2006 23:48 PST
This reminds me ...

I was in a book shop one day that was empty except for me and a young
assistant who was serving me ...

Then a book suddenly fell off a shelf at the opposite end of the shop.

I asked the assistant, 'Have you got poltergeists?'

She replied, 'No but we do have a book on black magic.'
Subject: Re: Evidence of the paranormal
From: mikewa-ga on 12 Nov 2006 06:51 PST
Any time someone claims events 'cannot be faked or explained by normal
means', I ask how they can know this? James randi and others have
repeatedly shown that a good magician can reproduce psychic phenomena:
most people are simply not trsined to look for the kind of deception
and misdirection used to produce the effects

As for Ghost Hunters, se

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