Joined: 27 September 2006
History of Paranormal Research
Ghost hunting also known as paranormal research has been around since the beginning of time.
The belief in ghosts as souls of the departed is closely tied to the ancient concept of animism (In its most general sense, animism is simply the belief in souls. In this general sense, animism is present in nearly all religions.), which attributed souls to everything in nature, including human beings, animals, plants, rocks, etc. As the nineteenth-century anthropologist James Frazer explained in his classic work, The Golden Bough, souls were seen as the creature within that animated the body:
"As the savage commonly explains the processes of inanimate nature by supposing that they are produced by living beings working in or behind the phenomena, so he explains the phenomena of life itself. If an animal lives and moves, it can only be, he thinks, because there is a little animal inside which moves it. If a man lives and moves, it can only be because he has a little man or animal inside, who moves him. The animal inside the animal, the man inside the man, is the soul. And as the activity of an animal or man is explained by the presence of the soul, so the repose of sleep or death is explained by its absence; sleep or trance being the temporary, death being the permanent absence of the soul."
Although the human soul was sometimes symbolically or literally depicted in ancient cultures as a bird or other animal, it was widely held that the soul was an exact reproduction of the body in every feature, even down to clothing the person wore. This is depicted in artwork from various ancient cultures, including such works as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which shows deceased people in the afterlife appearing much as they did before death, including the style of dress.
Another widespread belief concerning ghosts is that they were composed of a misty, airy, or subtle material. Anthropologists speculate that this may also stem from early beliefs that ghosts were the person within the person, most noticeable in ancient cultures as a person's breath, which upon exhaling in colder climates appears visibly as a white mist. This belief may have also fostered the metaphorical meaning of "breath" in certain languages, such as the Latin spiritus and the Greek pneuma, which by analogy became extended to mean the soul. In the Bible, God is depicted as animating Adam with a breath.
Although the evidence for ghosts is largely anecdotal, the belief in ghosts throughout history has remained widespread and persistent.
In many historical accounts, ghosts were thought to be deceased persons looking for vengeance, or imprisoned on earth for bad things they did during life. Most cultures have ghost stories in their mythologies. Many stories from the Middle Ages and the Romantic era rely on the macabre and the fantastic, and ghosts are a major theme in literature from those eras.
Ghost stories date back to ancient times, and can be found in many different cultures. The Chinese philosopher, Mo Tzu (470-391 BC), is quoted as having said:
"The way to find out whether anything exists or not is to depend on the testimony of the ears and eyes of the multitude. If some have heard it or some have seen it then we have to say it exists. If no one has heard it and no one has seen it then we have to say it does not exist. So, then, why not go to some village or some district and inquire? If from antiquity to the present, and since the beginning of man, there are men who have seen the bodies of ghosts and spirits and heard their voices, how can we say that they do not exist? If none have heard them and none have seen them, then how can we say they do? But those who deny the existence of the spirits say: "Many in the world have heard and seen something of ghosts and spirits. Since they vary in testimony, who are to be accepted as really having heard and seen them?" Mo Tzu said: As we are to rely on what many have jointly seen and what many have jointly heard, the case of Tu Po is to be accepted."
(note: King Hsuan (827-783 BC) executed his minister, Tu Po, on false charges even after being warned that Tu Po's ghost would seek revenge. Three years later, according to historical chronicles, Tu Po's ghost shot and killed Hsuan with a bow and arrow before an assembly of feudal lords.)
One of the earliest known ghost "sightings" in the west took place in Athens, Greece. Pliny the Younger (c. 63 - 113 AD) described it in a letter to Licinius Sura: Athenodoros Cananites (c. 74 BC ' 7 AD), a Stoic philosopher, decided to rent a large, Athenian house, to investigate widespread rumors that it was haunted. Athenodoros staked out at the house that night, and, sure enough, a dishevelled, aged spectre, bound at feet and hands with rattling chains, eventually "appeared". The spirit then beckoned for Athenodoros to follow him; Athenodoros complied, but the ghost soon vanished. The philosopher marked the spot where the old man had disappeared, and, on the next day, advised the magistrates to dig there. The man's shackled bones were reportedly uncovered three years later. After a proper burial, the hauntings ceased.
Many Eastern religious traditions also subscribe to the concept of ghosts. The Hindu Garuda Purana has detailed information about ghosts.
The Hebrew Torah and the Bible contain few references to ghosts, associating spiritism with forbidden occult activities. Deuteronomy 18:11. The most notable reference is in the Second Book of Samuel, in which a disguised King Saul has the Witch of Endor summon the spirit of Samuel. In the New Testament, Jesus has to persuade the Disciples that he is not ghost following the resurrection, Matthew 24. In a similar vein, Jesus' followers at first believe him to be a ghost when they see him walking on water.
The Child ballad Sweet William's Ghost recounts the story of a ghost returning to beg a woman to free him from his promise to marry her, as he can not, being dead; her refusal would mean his damnation. This reflects a popular British belief that the dead would haunt their lovers if they took up with a new love without some formal release.
The Unquiet Grave expresses a belief even more widespread, found in various location over Europe: ghosts can stem from the excessive grief of the living, whose mourning interfers with the dead's peaceful rest.
A great scientist who believed in life after death was Thomas Edison (1847-1931). Edison was a genius ahead of his time. He invented the light bulb, phonograph, typewriter, electric motor, stock ticker, and 1,093 other patented inventions. One of his inventions that he worked on at the end of his career was a secret project, a machine that would let the living see and communicate with the dead.
Edison believed that the "soul" was made up of what he called "life units". These microscopic particles or life units could rearrange into any form. They retained full memory, personality and were indestructible. Edison's machine would detect these life units in the environment and allow living individuals to communicate with the dead. He put many years of hard work into his new creation, but sadly, he died before it was finished. Some people thought Edison was crazy. Others thought that he was onto something bigger than any of his other inventions. They believed that if he had a little more time, we might all today be living in a very different world.
Attempts to apply modern scientific or investigative standards to the study of apparitional experiences began with the work of Edmund Gurney, Frederick William Henry Myers and Frank Podmore (1886), who were leading figures in the early years of the Society for Psychical Research. Their motive, as with most of the early work of the Society, was to provide evidence for human survival after death. For this reason they had a particular interest in what are known as 'crisis cases'. These are cases in which a person has a quasi-perceptual experience of someone at a distance at the time of that person's death or other crisis. If the temporal coincidence of the crisis and the distant apparitional experience cannot be explained by any conventional means, then the presumption is made that some as yet unknown form of communication, such as telepathy (a term coined by Myers), has taken place.
While the extent to which the work of Gurney and his colleagues succeeded in providing evidence for either telepathy or survival of death is still controversial, the large collection of firsthand written accounts which resulted from their painstaking methods still constitutes a body of valuable data concerning the phenomenology of hallucinations in the sane.
A notable later discussion of apparitional experiences was that of G.N.M. Tyrrell (1943), also a leading member of the Society for Psychical Research of his day. Tyrrell accepted the hallucinatory character of the experience, pointing out that it is virtually unknown for firsthand accounts to claim that apparitional figures leave any of the normal physical effects, such as footprints in snow, that one would expect of a real person. However, Tyrrell develops the idea that the apparition may be a way for the unconscious part of the mind to bring to consciousness information that has been paranormally acquired ' in crisis cases, for example. He introduces an evocative metaphor of a mental 'stage-carpenter', behind the scenes in the unconscious part of the mind, and constructing the quasi-perceptual experience that eventually appears on the stage of consciousness, so that it embodies paranormal information in a symbolic way, a person drowning at a distance appearing soaked in water, for example.
The study and discussion of apparitions took a different turn in the 1970s, with the work of Celia Green and Charles McCreery (1975). They were not primarily interested in the question of whether apparitions could shed any light on the existence or otherwise of telepathy, or in the survival question; instead they were concerned to analyse a large number of cases with a view to providing a taxonomy of the different types of experience, viewed simply as a type of anomalous perceptual experience or hallucination.
One of the points that was highlighted by their work was point (2) listed above, namely that 'real-life' accounts of apparitional experiences differ markedly from the traditional or literary ghost story. These are some of the more notable differences, at least as indicated by their own collection of 1800 firsthand accounts:
Subjects of apparitional experiences are by no means always frightened by the experience; indeed they may find them soothing or reassuring at times of crisis or ongoing stress in their lives.
Spontaneous apparitional experiences tend to happen in humdrum or everyday surroundings, and under conditions of low central nervous system arousal, most often in the subject's own home - while doing housework, for example. By contrast, subjects who visit reputedly haunted locations in hopes of 'seeing a ghost' are more often than not disappointed.
Apparitions tend to be reported as appearing solid and not transparent; indeed they may be so realistic in a variety of ways as to deceive the percipient as to their hallucinatory nature; in some cases the subject only achieves insight after the experience has ended.
It is unusual for an apparitional figure to engage in any verbal interaction with the percipient; this is consistent with the finding that the majority of such experiences only involve one sense (most commonly the visual).
Paranormal Research Approaches
Approaching paranormal phenomena from a research perspective is often difficult because even when the phenomena are seen as real they may be difficult to explain using existing rules or theory. By definition, paranormal phenomena exist outside of conventional norms. Skeptics contend that they don't exist at all. Despite this challenge, studies on the paranormal are periodically conducted by researchers from various disciplines. Some researchers study just the beliefs in paranormal phenomena regardless of whether the phenomena actually exist.
This section deals with various approaches to the paranormal including those scientific, pseudoscientific, and unscientific.
An ANECDOTAL APPROACH to the paranormal involves the collection of anecdotal evidence consisting of informal accounts. Anecdotal evidence, lacking the rigour of empirical evidence, is not amenable to scientific investigation. The anecdotal approach is not a scientific approach to the paranormal because it leaves verification dependent on the credibility of the party presenting the evidence. It is also subject to such logical fallacies as cognitive bias, inductive reasoning, lack of falsifiability, and other fallacies that may prevent the anecdote from having meaningful information to impart. Nevertheless, it is a common approach to paranormal phenomena.
Charles Fort (1874 ' 1932) is perhaps the best known collector of paranormal anecdotes. Fort is said to have compiled as many as 40,000 notes on unexplained phenomena, though there were no doubt many more than these. These notes came from what he called "the orthodox conventionality of Science", which were odd events originally reported in magazines, respected newspapers such as The Times and respected mainstream scientific journals such as Scientific American, Nature and Science. From these researches Fort wrote seven books, though only four survive. These are: The Book of the Damned (1919), New Lands (1923), Lo! (1931) and Wild Talents (1932); one book was written between New Lands and Lo! but it was abandoned and absorbed into Lo!.
Reported events that he collected include teleportation (a term Fort is generally credited with coining); poltergeist events, falls of frogs, fishes, inorganic materials of an amazing range; crop circles; unaccountable noises and explosions; spontaneous fires; levitation; ball lightning (a term explicitly used by Fort); unidentified flying objects; mysterious appearances and disappearances; giant wheels of light in the oceans; and animals found outside their normal ranges (see phantom cat). He offered many reports of OOPArts, abbreviation for "out of place" artifacts: strange items found in unlikely locations. He also is perhaps the first person to explain strange human appearances and disappearances by the hypothesis of alien abduction, and was an early proponent of the extraterrestrial hypothesis.
Fort is considered by many as the father of modern paranormalism, which is the study of paranormal phenomena.
The magazine Fortean Times continues Charles Forte's approach, regularly reporting anecdotal accounts of anomalous phenomena.
EXPERIMENTAL INVESTIGATION APPROACH of the paranormal is largely conducted in the multidisciplinary field of parapsychology. Although parapsychology has its roots in earlier research, it began using the experimental approach in the 1930s under the direction of J. B. Rhine (1895 ' 1980). Rhine popularized the now famous methodology of using card-guessing and dice-rolling experiments in a laboratory in the hopes of finding a statistical validation of extra-sensory perception.
In 1957, the Parapsychological Association was formed as the preeminent society for parapsychologists. In 1969, they became affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That affiliation, along with a general openness to psychic and occult phenomena in the 1970s, led to a decade of increased parapsychological research. During this time, other notable organizations were also formed, including the Academy of Parapsychology and Medicine (1970), the Institute of Parascience (1971), the Academy of Religion and Psychical Research, the Institute for Noetic Sciences (1973), and the International Kirlian Research Association (1975). Each of these groups performed experiments on paranormal subjects to varying degrees. Parapsychological work was also conducted at the Stanford Research Institute during this time.
With the increase in parapsychological investigation, there came an increase in opposition to both the findings of parapsychologists and the granting of any formal recognition of the field. Criticisms of the field were focused in the founding of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (1976), now called the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and its periodical, Skeptical Inquirer.
As astronomer Carl Sagan put it, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", and experimental research into the paranormal continues today, though it has waned considerably since the 1970s. One such experiment is called the Ganzfeld Experiment. The purpose of the Ganzfeld Experiment, like other parapsychological experiments, is to test for statistical anomalies that might suggest the existence of psi, a process indicating psychic phenomena. In the Ganzfeld Experiment, a subject (receiver) is asked to access through psychic means some target. The target is typically a picture or video clip selected randomly from a large pool, which is then viewed in a remote location by another subject (sender). Ganzfeld experiments use audio and visual sensory deprivation to remove any kind of external stimulus that may interfere with the testing or corrupt the test by providing cues to correct targets. A 'hit' refers to a correctly identified target. The expected hit ratio of such a trial is 1 in 4, or 25%. Deviations from this expected ratio might be seen as evidence for psi, although such conclusions are often disputed. To date there have been no experimental results that have gained wide acceptance in the scientific community as valid evidence of paranormal phenomena.
The DEBUNKING APPROACH is a response to claims of paranormal phenomena, and consists of finding a "normal" explanation instead of a paranormal one to account for the claims. The basis for this approach is Occam's razor, which suggests that the simplest solution is the best one. Since standard scientific models generally predict what can be expected in the natural world, the debunking approach presumes that what appears to be paranormal is necessarily a misinterpretation of natural phenomena, rather than an actual anomalous phenomenon. In contrast to the skeptical position, which requires claims to be proven, the debunking approach actively seeks to disprove the claims.
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, formerly the Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is an organisation that aims to publicise the skeptical approach. It carries out investigations aimed at debunking paranormal reports, and publishes its results in its journal the Skeptical Inquirer.
Former stage magician, James Randi, is a well-known debunker of paranormal claims and a prominent member of CSICOP. As a skeptic with a background in illusion, Randi feels that the simplest explanation for those claiming paranormal abilities is trickery, illustrated by demonstrating that the spoon bending abilities of psychic Uri Geller can easily be duplicated by trained magicians. He is also the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation and its famous million dollar challenge offering a prize of US $1,000,000 to anyone who can demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event, under test conditions agreed to by both parties.
An alternative to debunking is found in the field of anomalistics. Anomalistics differs from debunking in that debunking works on the premise that something is either a misidentified instance of something known to science, or that it is a hoax, while anomalistics works on the premise that something may be either of the above, or something that can be rationalized using an as yet unexplored avenue of science.
PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION APPROACH suggests that by immersing oneself in the subject being studied, a researcher is presumed to gain understanding of the subject. In paranormal research, a participant-observer study might consist of a researcher visiting a place where alleged paranormal activity is said to occur and recording observations while there.
[VTPR NOTES: All of the above noted approaches are used in wide range among all types of research and investigative groups. VTPR's personal stance is that there is not ONE single approach but an all encompassing approach that needs to be taken. It is important for a group to have specific protocols it follows for gathering data from investigations. This protocol must be maintained throughtout ALL investigations to allow the proper collection of data. It is also important to debunk, many people don't like to hear that word, but it is invaluable. In order to properly and honestly seek answers in this field of study a group must be able to discern from False Postive data and truly paranormal data collected. We also feel that participant observation is important to this field as well, we feel it is not possible to decide wether a place has paranormal phenomena occuring or not unless it has been properly investigated.]
Enjoy all. This is all what i have of paranormal. THanks to above site anyways which i have shared here.
Joined: 27 September 2006
Paranormal activity, and paranormal phenomena are part of paranormal investigations which have taken place through history. The World of Ghosts affects us all. Discover some of the past today ...
Joined: 25 November 2007
woo... its really long.. well, i will read it some day, thanks for the info!!
Joined: 03 July 2008
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