Tuesday, July 17, 2012

So, you want to be a paranormal investigator?

This isn't a story, but it is relevant to this site in that I am routinely contacted by people who wish to conduct investigations at the locations described on this website.

I make no claim about being a paranormal researcher, but I have been trained as a scientist, and as such have learned how to think my way through an area of research, from initial data gathering to final interpretation, and I have seen that the vast, overwhelming majority of people going by the title "paranormal researcher" are not really doing research at all.  Their methods are sloppy, their data is shoddy, and their conclusions therefore are not very well founded.  There is a tendency to rely on tools without a clear explanation of their purpose, a failure to compensate for biases or ambiguities in data, and a general unwillingness to do the necessary background research.

But, it doesn't have to be this way.  While I am unpersuaded by most of what is given as evidence for ghosts, I am open to having my mind changed if someone can generate good evidence.  To that end, I have begun thinking through the ways in which a paranormal investigation should be conducted (based on the types of claims typically made and the types of hypotheses generally tested), and am putting the entries up on my other blog (as I think that the readership there would enjoy them).

The first part, which covers problems with data collection, posted a little while back, and it is available here.

The second part covers the pros and (mostly) cons of much of the measurement equipment that is carried into the field by investigators.  It is here.

The third part will get into issues of developing a field of study and how to go about doing so.  It is posted here.

Subsequent posts may be developed, and I will update this page when they do.