Paranormal Investigators in the Media
Posted: 30 October 2008 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]
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It’s that time of the year again… Halloween; and The Des Moines Register just did a large two page spread on Iowa’s second paranormal investigative team “Researching Iowa’s Paranormal” (R.I.P.).  Cute.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20081030/LIFE/810300354

DM Register:
The investigators - who shun references to ghost busters and red rum - are asked if this is a spiritual endeavor. Indeed, Jim Schwan of Fort Atkinson said he’s become more spiritual since joining the group. Johannsen said she grew up Catholic, believes in spirits and wants to know why they are here.

I always wonder how seriously the audience takes this kind of media attention.  So far, the only critical counter to this reporting has been the paranormal investigator’s poor grammar in quotes.  I was wondering if CFI had any formal press releases to send to the Des Moines register.  I’d rather see a short write up or response from a respectable and formal source like CFI, than a simple letter to the editor.  Maybe Joe Nickell or Ben Radford have said something on this?

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“It is the tension between creativity and skepticism that has produced the stunning and unexpected findings of science.” ~ Carl Sagan

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Posted: 30 October 2008 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Also a silly report in today’s NYTimes (which I’d intended to post earlier and then forgot) about cleaning ghosts out of your house. About the only redeeming features of the article are that it was done relatively tongue-in-cheek, and included forthright commentary from Joe Nickell.

Supernatural Cleaning Methods

By JOYCE WADLER
Published: October 29, 2008

THE chill of autumn has arrived, and it’s time to make your home cozy and snug. Replace those broken shingles, seal the window frames, start the water boiling and throw in some scented nutmegy things, or a rabbit if you’ve been disappointed in love.

But what to do about that ghost that has been making such a racket, scaring the guests and making it impossible to sleep?

<snip>

Joe Nickell, the ghost hunter for the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, has a doctorate in English literature from the University of Kentucky and was once a professional magician. He has, he says, been investigating stories of ghosts for decades.

Ever catch one?

“I have not.”

One common reason that people believe they see ghosts is that they are experiencing lifelike dreams, Mr. Nickell said. This is why such visions often occur at bedtime. Also, many people enjoy the notion of being haunted.

“Unfortunately, most people are looking to have their beliefs confirmed, so they bring in ghost hunter types who believe they can get an electromagnetic field meter from RadioShack,” he said. “They go into a place and the meter starts going off, whereupon they think they are detecting a ghost. First of all, there is no evidence ghosts exist. Second, there is no evidence that if ghosts exist, they are electromagnetic. These people have no knowledge of microwave towers or faulty wiring in the house or other sources of electromagnetism. It’s just too silly for words and it oughtn’t be featured on major television shows. It’s an embarrassment.” ...

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Posted: 30 October 2008 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I know someone whose husband is featured on one of those SciFi channel shows, and having a lot of fun doing it. He is a PhD electrical engineer who designs and sells specialized detection equipment for the military and private industry.

I guess someone from the show bought a specialized piece of equipment from him. They really liked him, and invited him to be on the show as an “equipment expert.” So in between military projects, he got to design and bring some super-sensitive equipment on a few episodes of the show.

His wife told me a while ago that although he did not believe in ghosts, he thought it would be fun to go on TV and use his specialized equipment. It seems to have gone over well, as he has now been invited to participate on another similarly themed TV series, and apparently there is high demand for purchasing his equipment throughout the “paranormal community” now. Business is booming!

Strange, because now when I read his more recent interviews online, it seems he’s giving the paranormal much more credibility than he did when he first joined the show and was a confirmed skeptic. I wonder if his experiences on the show have made him believe? Or has the sudden increase in business from ghost hunters and UFO enthusiasts across the world ordering his products made him believe?  wink

I’ve watched a few of the shows, I think they’re silly and goofy and sometimes fun for a laugh. Most everything is easily explainable. And the amazing detection equipment - it truly is amazingly sensitive - I think it’s SO sensitive it can set off alarms if someone turns on a light bulb in the next room. With all the camera crew and filming and sound equipment all around, it’s no wonder those meters go off throughout the show.

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 31 October 2008 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Of course, being Halloween, there was another shamelessly pro-ghost article out today.

CNN.com - When Ghosts Attack

It seems to give a LOT of credibility to the ghost show! Not a single quote from a skeptic or rational person throughout the piece. It is Halloween, but come on, CNN! You can’t quote one expert saying how our minds play tricks on us?

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 31 October 2008 07:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I was quite happy with the spate of S-F programs on television in years past, however, I’m disgusted that they’ve been supplanted by a plethora of stupid ghost and metaphysical programs. 

Occam

[See, when I’m so annoyed that I want to use quite a bit of profanity, I end up using a few odd words to take the edge off.  LOL ]

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Posted: 31 October 2008 08:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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But Occam, the trick is to have fun with them. Make some popcorn and yell at the TV every time they miss an obvious logical explanation for a ghost! Of course, you’ll be doing a LOT of yelling…

“It was the cameraman’s elbow, you dingbat!”

“That was a rat scurrying by in the basement, silly!”

“The wind blew the curtains when that other guy opened the door! Geez!”

“That voice on tape is the sound technician, he’s in the hallway. Duh!”

On the few episodes I’ve seen (mostly just to watch my acquaintance’s husband on TV for fun) I took to throwing a piece of popcorn at the TV every time they missed something silly, much to my dog’s delight. By the end of the first show, my dog was quite full.

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 01 November 2008 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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That’s fine for the “reality” ones, but those that use fancy computerized imagery that looks quite real are the ones that can convince children and uneducated people - they are the ones that really irritate me.

Occam

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Posted: 01 November 2008 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I work with a lot of very religious people, some of other non-christian religions. I find it interesting that they go out of the way not to celebrate Easter and Christmas, but have no problems with the religious history of Halloween! I suspect they don’t know, and I was not about to enlighten them…..

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Posted: 01 November 2008 05:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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asanta - 01 November 2008 03:24 PM

I work with a lot of very religious people, some of other non-christian religions. I find it interesting that they go out of the way not to celebrate Easter and Christmas, but have no problems with the religious history of Halloween! I suspect they don’t know, and I was not about to enlighten them…..

How do you mean? Really all of these celebrations were originally pagan, although Halloween is perhaps the least clearly associated with Christianity.

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Posted: 01 November 2008 06:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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dougsmith - 01 November 2008 05:50 PM
asanta - 01 November 2008 03:24 PM

I work with a lot of very religious people, some of other non-christian religions. I find it interesting that they go out of the way not to celebrate Easter and Christmas, but have no problems with the religious history of Halloween! I suspect they don’t know, and I was not about to enlighten them…..

How do you mean? Really all of these celebrations were originally pagan, although Halloween is perhaps the least clearly associated with Christianity.

Oh yes, I know what they originally meant, but I refer to the co-op of the church of halloween (originally Celtic Samhain and later the Roman festivals of Feralia and Pomona)as the eve of All Saints Day and then All Souls Day. Easter and Christmas had simailar ‘pagan’ roots (which is an interesting word for me to use, since I don’t believe in any of these ‘gods’, poly or monotheistic).

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Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

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