5th Street North
Recheck 2-23-07 &
Recheck 6-9-07 &
Recheck 5-4-08 &
As we roll into another New Year, it's always interesting to look back at some of the longer-running SPIRITS investigations. This is one of them. Not only do we get to look back at the investigations, we also get to see ourselves move through the years and the equipment get more advanced. Yet, what we hope for is that the results are repeated from one year to the next. This is one of those cases where members may change and the years advance, but the results appear to be nearly the same. With any luck, we hope to repeat our visit to this site in 2010 just to keep things consistent.
And in paranormal investigation, consistency is important. It is always amusing to hear the arguements of skeptics, who note the lack of laboratory consistency with investigations. Over the Hallowe'en period, I was interviewed for a potential show for WMNF. The person who did the interview was a skeptic, to be certain. He had observed many of the television shows and his conclusion was that the shows did not present valid scientific evidence. His questions to me, then, were based on this idea.
One of the questions asked, of course, was why can't we prove ghosts with the natural sciences? I believe that this is what the Amazing Randi is waiting for in order to award his million dollar prize. My answer was this: ghost investigation has too many variables. Ghosts are individuals, investigators are individuals, properties are unique. Laboratory settings simply will not produce a true ghost unless the ghost agrees to come in, and so far that has not happened. Otherwise, the laboratory can be used to discredit spectral phenomena, as I recall seeing on several science shows. Low frequency soundwaves, caffeine consumption, and high EMF can create subjective responses to ghosts as well -- and those results can be "proven" via constant testing of blood chemistry or biological testing of various sorts. Yet, what team has the money, medical skill, or laboratory to do that?
He tried to ask the question again. I looked at him for a moment and, remembering his interest in philosophy, pointed out the following: which science should it be to prove a ghost? Quantum physics appears to most match the spectral science scale, but it is very theoretical. I have studied it somewhat through the lens of metaphysical philosophy, and the ideas within are simply astounding. Should it be chemistry, then, that proves a ghost? Biology? (Though I do note that an article on neuroscience was published in the New York Times as stating that several scientists detected a unique energy in the human body that they could not quantify; perhaps this is as close to citing a "soul" as they will come at present). I reminded him that, as with philosophy, the truth to reality shifts whenever a new look is applied. Even the sciences, into which we place our utmost faith to reveal the truth of reality, are mere lenses through which we observe the world around us.
Thus, the only thing that we can is to quantify the role of the team and the researcher. I explained the mixed methods ideology of mixing qualitative and quantitative research. The SPIRITS aims more toward the qualitative, which cites the researcher as the instrument against which the results are measured. I noted that we do a form of social constructionism, in which experience creates perceived reality. I even noted our attempts to have a controlled investigation through standard protocol, as that is one of the few things that we can control.
I'm sorry to say that I do not believe the segment made it to the airwaves. He also did not answer my inquiry emails after that. I must have been a disappointing guest or perhaps that was not the answer he was seeking.
But, in the end each ghost investigator, it seems, must explain experience from his or her own standpoint. And we must look for constantly repeatable investigations against which to measure the value of our techniques. This is what I attempted to do.
It is something to contemplate as we move into a new year and new investigations, at any rate.....