Chapter 05: Science and Ghost Hunting

Science and Ghost Hunting

Ghost hunters are dependent on a variety of processes to observe and understand the phenomena of ghosts. Ghost hunters must be able to recognize the importance of logic and knowledge when making assumptions based on observations.

There are several sources of science development.

Experimental Science: This is science that follows the scientific method. It has a testable hypothesis. This is an extremely simple example, but combine part A and part B a million different times and the result will always be C. Experimental science is a repeatable procedure done in order to discover or demonstrate fact or general truth.

Science is not limited to experimental forms of science. Only fractions of science fit into the experimental science category. There are other branches of science to examine.

Theoretical Science: Theoretical science is an application of logic and reason that attempts to predict new scientific laws or deduce simple laws that describe known or unknown phenomena. Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is an example of Theoretical Science. It has no repeatable experiment but it is still a valid scientific theory.

Observational Science: An observational science is a science where it is not possible to construct controlled experiments. Observations of previously unobserved phenomena can be used to suggest new hypotheses and test existing ones. Based on observations and guided by reason, ghost hunters can use observational science techniques when it is not possible to reproduce the effects of ghosts or haunted houses in a controlled laboratory environment. Being able to base explanations on observations is a fundamental skill necessary for adept ghost hunters. Observations help construct a model for examining ghosts and explanations for understanding unknown phenomena.

Fringe Science: Fringe science is scientific inquiry that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories and is classified in the “fringes” of a credible mainstream academic discipline. Parapsychology would be considered a fringe science.

Anomalistics: Anomalistics is the study of phenomena that appear to be at odds with current scientific understanding. It uses scientific methods to evaluate anomalies (phenomena that fall outside of current understanding) with the aim of finding a rational explanation. The term was coined in 1973 by Drew University anthropologist Roger W. Wescott, who defined it as being “the serious and systematic study of all phenomena that fail to fit the picture of reality provided for us by common sense or by the established sciences.” Anomalistics is the politically correct term for the study of bizarre claims. The study of anomalistic subjects requires skeptical inquiry, but skepticism in this case means doubt rather than denial.

According to Marcello Truzzi, Professor of Sociology at Eastern Michigan University, anomalistics works on the principles that “unexplained phenomena exist,” but that most can be explained through the application of scientific scrutiny. Further, that something remains plausible until it has been conclusively proven not only implausible, but actually impossible, something that science does not do. Truzzi also writes, “while recognizing that a legitimate anomaly may constitute a crisis for conventional theories in science, anomalistics also sees them as an opportunity for progressive change in science. Thus, anomalies are viewed not as nuisances but as welcome discoveries that may lead to the expansion of our scientific understanding.”

NEXT Chapter 04: Critical Thinking in Ghost Hunting