Ghost hunters, skeptics and scientific researchers should always approach controversial claims cautiously and allow for an unbiased examination of evidence. Objectiveness is a wonderful concept but can it actually be practiced? No matter how impartial individuals claim to be, most adults have already made up their minds in advance. Presupposing means to believe something in advance and it arises from a collective of emotional, religious, political, educational and cultural beliefs.
Presupposing and assuming influence every aspect of evidence collection. The fairness of objective studies can be destroyed by preconceived ideologies. Most individuals are completely unaware of this psychological force. The challenge for ghost hunters and skeptics is to be aware of this problem and strive to make a sincere attempt to overcome preconceived notions. Human mindset has to be a serious concern. Ghost hunters who are truly searching for extraordinary evidence to support extraordinary claims must admit that predetermined mindsets can slant the neutrality of a ghost hunt.
The method is simple: tell a person what they want to hear and they will believe it without question. This predictable process is a problem for both ghost hunters and skeptics. There is a tendency for people only to challenge statements that they do not believe. The majority will not dispute a statement that fits into their own ideological perspective. The concept is simple: tell a person who believes in ghosts that there are ghosts haunting an old house and that person is likely to believe the story without asking questions. Tell a skeptic who does not believe in ghosts that a new study confirms a majority of ghost hunter’s fake evidence and that skeptic is likely to believe the story without question. Both examples demonstrate a series of problems. This stubborn attitude often becomes a brick wall blocking critical thinking. If a person’s mind is already made up on an issue and no amount of facts will change their predetermined conclusions, then there is little hope of careful and unbiased investigations.
There are important skill sets that ghost hunters should focus on improving. If a ghost hunter enhances these important characteristics, there will be less of a chance of presupposing. These characteristics exemplify a skillful ghost hunter:
- Truth Seeker: An honest person who wants to find out what is really going on.
- Question Asker: Someone who can formulate critical questions that need answered.
- Open Minded: Open to alternative suggestions including opinions opposite of their own.
- Free of Ideology: Being able to put aside personal and religious beliefs.
- Enthusiastic: Adventurous, inspired and motivated to push for the best results.
- Professional: Strives for high standards in knowledge, competence and ethics.
The following is a short list of negative characters that ghost hunters will encounter.
Fanatical Over-Believer: With misguided ideals, the over believer has unquestionable beliefs about ghosts. They know everything about ghosts and how to deal with them. Fanatics are confrontational and counterproductive. Ghost hunters will encounter people who want them to validate their blurry photographs. The problem is that the witnesses have become emotionally attached to the images. They are blinded by emotions and refuse to accept explanations other than the paranormal.
Religious Zealots and Atheists: These two sides are fundamentally different with one big similarity – both sides are completely unreasonable. Both sides seem to be making the same assumption that ghosts have something to do with religion. The religious zealot believes that ghosts are controllable by strong religious faith and atheists believe that ghosts have something to do with God so they have to be argued against. Both sides are more focused on touting their own agendas rather than diligent investigation. Many religious people abandon paranormal beliefs and many skeptics abandon both religious and paranormal beliefs. There is a misconception that paranormal beliefs are superstitious, magical or religious. This does not mean that a religious person or an atheist cannot be a respected ghost hunter because they can and there are religious/atheist ghost hunters. However, to genuinely approach any mystery, a ghost hunter must not allow their personal and religious beliefs to infect the investigation.
Pseudoskeptics or Scoffers: Pseudoskeptics are strongly biased individuals with a dishonest agenda. They are seeking to support a personal ideology through propaganda, misinformation and lies. They attempt to shut down all discussion by making inflated claims such as, “science has better things to do than to waste time researching false claims and hoaxes.” The reality is that the main function of science is to examine extraordinary claims properly. A pseudoskeptic does not have the intention of finding the best evidence for anomalous claims. Instead, they refuse to acknowledge the evidence and simply argue against the claims. Pseudoskeptics will mock others as a way of avoiding constructive debate on the subject. They will not discuss the evidence, but instead focus their attention on the craziest subject and imply that anyone who experiences the paranormal is simply a person who is desperate to believe in the paranormal. Pseudoskeptics state opinions as facts with the hope that no one will know the difference. They make claims, even with no supporting evidence, that ghosts are mistakes, hallucinations or hoaxes.