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The Paranormal Blog

    Pages: << 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ... 311 >>

    06/23/13

      06:23:00 pm, by Matthew   , 2200 words  
    Categories: Paranormal - Rants

    So-Called Academics and the worry of Being Seen as a Moron

    "Things that are weird and seemingly beyond explanation are always initially, knee-jerk resolved in one of three ways.  People with a strong belief answer things with their own faith. Pseudo-science (in terms of so-called scepticism) answers questions with denials and rebukes.  Actual science answers questions with more questions and potential observations that will lead, hopefully, to actual answers." - Me

    Professor Applehead was always serious!


    Whenever I get an e-mail from a university or college student asking if I look after, own, administrate, or am responsible for an entry on a school's ghostly folklore, I can almost guess what's coming next.

    Doing a quick look through my e-mail archives, for (roughly) every five I receive, one is a "personal experience", one is a correction... and the last three? Well, they were sent because I AM WRONG!

    It's astounding, really.  I get an e-mail saying, "Are you the person that looks after the page on The University of Toronto?" and when I answer in the affirmative, I receive a lengthy essay about how the story of two stone masons and the related ghost is utter hogwash and their re-telling lessens the seriousness and damages reputation of the entire university to have such moronic stuff published.

    I then respond and point out that...

    #1: I am not claiming any experience at the site nor does the write-up suggest this.

    #2: It's been written about so often and by so many sources (some before I was born,) that it's well known folklore now.  Our removal would not help unless the writer is supplying a TARDIS in which we can go back in time and correct this egregious story.

    #3: If it was so terrible to the university, why did they allow people to name a nearby campus cafe after one of the stone masons in question?

    #4: We welcome rebuttals and will publish them provided you're willing to use (at least) your first name and last initial and you back up your rebuttal with facts.  Refute the stories data-for-data... and it's not merely based on opinions.

    It's rare I hear back from someone after saying this... because, as we all know, even TELLING a ghost story is WRONG and will lead to the eventual destruction of all anyone holds dear!

    It will let the terrorist win.


    "Why is that?", I hear you ask...

    Well, according to some pseudo-sceptics I've chatted with (pseudo-sceptic because scepticism means doubt, and these folks have NO doubt that anything they don't believe in is poppycock that needs no examination,) if one hears or is a party to a ghost story, one might start believing in ghosts, which don't exist, so therefore they'll start believing in EVERYTHING that also doesn't exist, and soon humanity will blubber down into a mass of seething ignorance because we will supplant science and observation with faith in just about anything and everything.

    Running to purchase the new iFaith!

    There's also little doubt that, as I wrote about fairly recently, playing a part in this is hipster chic which demands pseudo-intellectualism based on just knee-jerk denial of anything outside a half-evolved world view... and simply parroting what they think "smart people" are believing is easy... after all, being THAT cool leaves little time for actual learning and finding things out!  Far better to ape!

    The seed of auto-denial are sewn well in terms of this... with groups like CSI/CFI (formerly CSICOP) going out of their way to ensure that they pump their accredited members like mad into the academic spotlight... making sure to only highlight and go after the true dreck of anything they deem weird - to ensure that the "giggle factor" is maintained...

    "Oh, so you think you've experienced something weird? Well, LOOK AT THIS GUY!!!!!!"

    "...and now, here's our guy to tell you you're an idiot for even entertaining a thought...."

    "...so now you know, when it comes to the unknown, JUST SAY NO!"

    "...and don't forget to mock people who were stupid like you on the way out!"

    You can spot the drinkers of this dumb-assed Kool-Aid when the emit the immortal words, "SCIENCE SAYS"!

    Really?

    Science?  A method or model... not a person or a group... something that's supposed to be open to hypothesis... that's supposed to test and find evidence before making a proclamation...

    ...and this SPOKE? 

    Weirder still, it spoke and said anyone who puts half a thought into weird experiences is a moron?

    Wow!

    GASP! SHOCK!

    Anyway, this is all why I have no doubt that the fundamentalist "non-believers" from universities feel the burning desire to have any or all folklore (let alone anything else,) scrubbed from the earth.

    I foolishly got into it with this woman from an Ontario university who sent in a list she demanded be removed for the Ontarioghosts website.  Oh, her university was there, but she'd thoughtfully included EVERY story and reports we had published within about a two-hundred kilometer radius... although she was kind enough to quite literally spell out her reasons without prompting.

    We were reliably informed that Science SAYS ghosts don't exist.  We are promoting fairy tales and bad education.  We need to stop!

    So, I went with the usual (the four things numbered above,) but added this thought... which I will now reproduce here...

    It's long... but it made the point... I hope...


    "I might be confused, but isn't science, at it's essence, problem and mystery solving?  If something is said to happen and someone has a hypothesis to say it didn't, isn't there then a need to actually follow the scientific method and find the real answer... if we believe the experient was being honest... at least as to what they thought they experienced.

    Of course, you might assume all experients (all of them) are liars, which is fine, and you should be (with relative ease,) able to prove that these people have a history of being dishonest.  That takes research and we would welcome it, with evidence of course.

    So, once again, you have people who you have to ASSUME are honest (unless you have evidence otherwise,) who had (or are having) experiences.  Simple study of "what" they experienced, "where" they experienced it, and "how" the experience can be replicated naturally (without heavy set-up or overly complex mechanics... because, as an example, it's not likely an experient who said they experienced a radical drop in temperature trotted out a portable AC unit without anyone noticing,) should give you a repeatable scientific model to show us.

    A repeatable model would allow us to say (and show) that the experiences are not "ghostly" with evidence and we would be ecstatic to have that data!

    Sadly, the simple statements of "science says" and "don't exist" are in and of themselves, without evidence to substantiate the claims.

    This said, I do understand that there are some who feel that science works thusly...

    Experience or Observation -> No easily found natural or man-made source for experience or observation of similar -> Obviously it didn't happen and never existed.

    ...and there are some that feel...

    Experience or Observation -> No easily found natural or man-made source for experience or observation of similar -> Supernatural/Paranormal/Magical answer must be the answer.

    ...and personally, I find both of the above to be less study, fact, and evidentiary, and far more faith, philosophy, and opinion.

    We, and I speak for many of my colleagues, see it thusly...

    Experience or Observation -> No easily found natural or man-made source for experience or observation of similar -> Continue examination, questioning, and potential experimentation until a decent answer (with supporting evidence) is found as to the causation of the experience

    I think you may agree (or not) that the latter does sound like better science, provided the people searching for information are capable of neutrality in their work.

    Sadly, to date, the only scientific "solutions" to many experiences and observations that SEEM to defy normal explanation are very models of pseudo-science themselves in terms of practicality... things like mass hallucinations, environmental intoxicants, and even low frequency sound waves are often bandied about as coverall answers to explain all, rather than the individual "case of weird things happening".

    This is the equivalent of saying that since the vast majority of bookstores carry the "Twilight" series, all bookstores not only carry them, but it's their primary stock.

    Another idea might be that since people are murdered with axes, all murders are axe murders.

    One has to look at these things on a case-by-case basis before either dismissing them or accepting them on any level.

    I am aware that there are people, websites. books, and the like that report to be in similar studies as our own, but many of them fall into that second category... the one where everything that seems unexplainable must be supernatural simply because it is... but a simple examination of our notes and even our free coursebook might show you that is not our modus operandi.

    This said, there are "stories" and "reports" on our site presented as is... because either a person wrote their own account and we've allowed it to be published for the reader to make their own decision, or because it falls into another category of interest... which is very true of the Ontarioghosts website... and that is because they are in the realm of folklore.

    Whether people believe it or not, we do see a value in folklore... or at least, attempting to keep "old stories" alive.  This is for three important reasons.

    The first feeds into the discussion above... These are the previous reports, have there been any since?  If so, is there a non-paranormal reason for them? If so, what is that hypothesis and how would we test it?

    The second is that it genuinely can help people.  When some people have these experiences themselves, there can be a comfort in knowing that other's have too.  Having us as a conduit for that notion (who do not charge nor offer any commercial services,) may spare the person from considering going to more dubious methods of easing their worries... or just knowing that the "outcomes" of these things tend very much to be non-violent or life-threatening puts many people's minds at ease. 

    Again, if you look through our notes and I can even show you the dozens of e-mail I've sent out this year alone, we take the time to tell people that the only documented cases of a potential ghost harming someone to the point of needing professional medical attention in Western Europe, Britain, and North America in the last two-hundred years is... two.  We tell people this means your chances of winning over a million dollars in an average Ontario lottery twice is better than needing a doctor or worse because of a "ghost".  This said, you will note we also take the time to show that the number of hurt, killed, or otherwise seriously harmed people that suffered at the hands of exorcists is much, much higher... over a dozen in the last ten years we know about in North America alone.  We also mention the thousands left fiscally hurt by would-be psychics and house clearers... and now, the newest threat is from attention by thrill seekers, vandals, and other concerns that can affect safety and more likely, general property and re-sale values, when would-be fame-seeking ghost hunters come and videotape their efforts in someone's home and splash it up on YouTube to gain themselves some attention.

    The third reason is indeed, it's entertaining... but with a good dollop of educational potential on the side.  In a perfect world, everyone would be interested and fascinated with their local heritage, history, and culture... sadly, this is not the case without a lot of prompting... and that prompting can be made harder if the potential history buff was ruined thanks to someone who just droned on about dates and the like.  A little local lore is often an excellent way to get involved in the real story behind a site.

    Experience has taught me that most people like to look intelligent with as little effort put into it as possible... so when you tell them a "good story" and then take the time to explain why this story either could be wrong (what details make the story more likely fictional tale, such as the case of "The Lady and the Soldier" near Windsor or what might make the story actually true to a degree, like the "Headless/Handless" ghosts of Old Fort Erie,) it's a great way in to getting people involved and interested in The Real Story... and heck, sometimes that "real story" involved a mystery as to what's causing these stories, but I refer you to the earlier parts of this e-mail in order to remove that potential "reason" if desired.

    Editor's Note: Hmm! I feel another blog post coming on! Stay tuned!

    So, with all this in mind...

    Feel free to re-read the entries you wish to be removed... are they preaching absolute belief?  Are they "conversion" articles meant to lure people into some sort of cult?

    Do you want me to remove all these things because you have evidence they are bad or wrong...

    ...or do they simply rub your philosophical world views the wrong way?

    Right now, I am not likely going to remove the articles in question... but again, I am happy to add rebuttals to all the stories, reports, or experiences on an article-by-article basis provided you bring data and evidence to support a claim to the table."

     

    I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear, I've had no response. &amp;#58;&amp;#41;

    This Is The End My Friend

    05/16/13

    What are you doing skulking in that haunted basement?

    Scary BOO!


    First Question: Why do ghost hunters work at night?

    Joke Answer: Because they have day jobs. (Thank you Dr. Darryl Walsh...)

    Dumb Hollywood Answer: Because EVERYONE knows ghosts haunt only during the NIGHT because of ______!

    (Fill in the blank above with either lesser known mythology, absolute fiction, or some sort of statement involving "The Veil" between life and death...) BTW: The idea that ghosts haunt mostly at night is not true at all, according to the majority reports from witnesses/experients. No matter what you may think, these things do not have a global schedule and happen day and night.

    Real Answer (for some): Because the chances of human interference or traffic is less likely. At night, there's not as many people around certain places causing noises, voices, footsteps, moving things, etc.

    Looky Looky!


    Second Questions: What are they looking for?

    Joke Answer (we hope): A cable television contract.

    Reality-ish Paranormal TeeVee Style Answer: For PROOF! (...of the existence of ghosts... or a fanbase.)

    Real Answer (for some): Targeted data acquisition to potentially aid in firming up a hypothesis. (Layman's terms: Seeing if a thought or idea about what is being experienced or why it's experienced is valid OR testing some new technology and/or method to see if perhaps it is better for capturing known stuff... such as audio recordings and the like.)

    Empty! AGAIN!


    Third Question: Looking at the first and second question, honestly, how successful has anyone been at firming up things in terms of evidence and/or hard data about ghosts?

    Only Real Answer (sorry): Not at all.

    No matter what anyone says or anyone has, the sad and absolute truth of things is the ONLY absolutely substantiated thing that no one SHOULD argue with in terms of evidence of things ghostly is that witnesses (experients) say and/or feel they've experienced things "ghostly".

    That's it.

    There's no PERFECT recording, video, or photograph... and no consensus amongst academia on what causes these experiences.

    There ARE the occasional intriguing photos, videos, or recordings... but to date, "intriguing" is about the best you'll get from all avenues.

    So, WHY investigate haunted locations really... I mean, if all reports more-or-less seem to be the same, why go "on site" when it's really only (maybe) statistical data being collected?

    Moving away from those who are looking to 'battle demons' and psychics who are trying to communicate or clear things and concentrating on just generic investigators, there's honestly only two potential answers...

    Wheee~!


    The first is easy... The thrill.

    Okay, put down those rotten tomatoes you were planning on launching at me, because although YES, I would include those numskulls that equate investigating a haunted site with paying for a ticket to a "dark ride" at an amusement park AND I can include in this those people that desperately want to live-out a Hollywood dream they've seen in the movies or on tele (cosplayers,) this isn't everyone... probably only about two-thirds of this group is made up of those nitwits. The other thrill is either the thrill of FINALLY experiencing something "first hand" for some people and the thrill of potential success at data collection... or "recording stuff".

    You might think that latter group lumped into the "thrill" people I mentioned above, those looking for a first-hand experience, is weird or odd because hasn't EVERYONE in this field had an experience... but to be honest, you'd be wrong. A significant amount of people looking into these things qualify as being "intrigued" or having an interest without having an experience of their own. They've likely had people they know and trust also relate experiences, but have yet to have their own... so they want this... and they head to investigations on the hope it will happen.

    The former group, those hoping for the thrill of getting something on tape/film/DSP/whatever... well, to be confusing, they themselves break into three groups...

    Those that have had success in the past (and are desperate to repeat it for validation of their own work)... so those that once snapped a photo of "something" and are now trying to replicate that to prove it's a good method or even to prove to doubters their initial success was legitimate.

    Those that are building on success... so they've already had multiple hits and are now collecting more with the only purpose really of getting more of the same.

    Those that are trying out new things... usually to become one of the two types above. (You COULD toss in gadget fans here, people desperate for an excuse to work with gadgets and toys, but again, they are working with their new things to become like the above two.)

    Werkerz of the books, UNITE!


    The second main reason to investigate is... To look into these things and genuinely work.

    This grouping also has two subsets...

    The first are those that are working towards a pet hypothesis or the like... to the exclusion of all else... and therefore throwing everything at a proverbial wall to see what sticks, but ignoring potential "evidence to the contrary" of their favoured thoughts.

    An example of this is an orb-photo person we are acquainted with. This person was doggedly trying to show that a certain type of orb would only appear at haunted places near himself... thus proving without a shadow of a doubt in his head that this orb was some sort of spirit guide or the like helping him with his efforts.

    We, of course, suggested trying to prove that the orb was not an airborne particle illuminated by the flash of the camera while drifting near the lens by trying a stereo camera... which would be the best way to get people like us to invest in the idea of orbs in photos being more than known/natural in causation.

    He bought thousands of dollars in camera equipment, including high-end D/SLR units with filters and flashes and continued to report that in certain lights and settings, the orb that was his guide or guardian was with him!

    We, of course, suggested trying to prove that the orb was not an airborne particle illuminated by the flash of the camera while drifting near the lens by trying a stereo camera... which would be the best way to get people like us to invest in the idea of orbs in photos being more than known/natural in causation.

    He then set up a series of experiments where he'd ask the orb to appear at haunted locations and snap dozens of images which seemed to substantiate the orb would listen to him about six out of ten times when he'd command it... OBVIOUSLY showing it was intelligent and following him.

    We, of course, suggested trying to prove that the orb was not an airborne particle illuminated by the flash of the camera while drifting near the lens by trying a stereo camera... which would be the best way to get people like us to invest in the idea of orbs in photos being more than known/natural in causation.

    Finally, he relented... and instead, went to a cemetery! He snapped DOZENS of images using a mobile phone, his D/SLR, his point-and-shoot, and several other single-lens rigs and again, the orb was THERE! We needed to re-think our stance, obviously!

    We, of course, as always, with reason, suggested trying to prove that the orb was not an airborne particle illuminated by the flash of the camera while drifting near the lens by trying a stereo camera... which would be the best way to get people like us to invest in the idea of orbs in photos being more than known/natural in causation.

    He, of course, got fed up with our non-belief and more-or-less wandered off... unhappy with us in the extreme.

    Truth is, and he HAD mentioned this to us via e-mail, he knew his work would not stand up to the stereo camera "test"... so knowing it would negate his efforts, he just wouldn't look into it. Ignorance is bliss, apparently... save he was promoting his work as "genuine fact" and "evidence"... and I would argue it was half-baked at best... even less-baked as the ultimate test was at hand, he had the resources to do the test, and he chose to ignore it for fear of being wrong and not-so-special.

    We also have had similar situations with many things... like people that insist that poltergeist-like activity MUST be caused by the spirits of the dead only so looking into who's "living" in a site where things are happening is irrelevant... or people that believe you must have a medium present for anything to happen, and refuse to do homework to find out if the experient's statement holds sway and always have a medium "on hand" during their work (no controls)... I could go on and on discussing these people who simply re-invent the wheel without asking the ACTUAL important question... not of the "spirit" or "ghost"... but of the universe in general...

     

    Addendum/Note: I actually wrote this piece a few days back, and since then, this other bit of evidence of the "not if it doesn't fit MY model" style of thinking was published via the Society for Psychical Research on their Facebook page...

    History Bites

    Here's the link referenced (click here)... and yes, I was one of the three who clicked "Like!" on the Otherworld North East Research Society's comment... because it's accurate...

    Now, I wrote a wee article about this SORT of thing a long time ago (click here) and the thoughts are nothing new, but I added it to this blog post due to the fact that the cited article (on "ghostsnghouls",) is a case of where obviously for these people, if the history ain't there, it's bogus... and therefore, so is the witness... so for them, why look into anything with no good nasty history? Obviously, it wouldn't suit their ideas and may involved {GASP!} asking MORE QUESTIONS about what's experienced! How awful!

     So, everything for some folks must fit their own lovely niche sans inquisition... and the question that remains?

    The WHY! again...

    WHY?

    ..and this doesn't mean, "Why aren't I recording more spooktacular EVPs?" (voices seemingly recorded without a human agent doing the speaking,)?", but WHY are these voices happening in the first place? (...and asking that question while removing any pet beliefs that the 'investigator' feels they need to defend.)

    ...or to use the above examples...

    Why are you always seeing orbs in photos? Really, without prejudice or favoured belief, why is this happening?

    Why do you think poltergeists must be dead people? Is there no other possibilities? Is there other existing/historical work that may show something different?

    Why is a medium necessary... or is a medium necessary really? If they are, what about all those experients who don't claim nor seem to be mediums? Are they just "lucky"?

    (Addition) Why does some historical event have to be attached to an experience? Is this the only reason ghosts haunt? Must experiences be site/event-specific?

    This WHY is the second sub-set...

    You see, doing the actual work doesn't mean simply showing "more of the same" by hitting darkened rooms at night with a digital audio recorder, but figuring out the WHAT and the WHY. (Welcome to the RESEARCH bit of this study!) Look into past reports, READ BOOKS, find out similar things that you're looking into and look for patterns... or potentially see if someone's already done the work before and maybe you can build on it.

    I have no doubt that asking the question, "If the only thing we know for sure is that people feel they experience these things, and anything else on site for the most part if re-inventing the wheel, why investigate?" is sticky... and it's an unhappy-for-ghost-hunters question!

    Look what I JUST invented!

    ...but a good one, none-the-less.

    The answer to anyone legitimately studying these things is there is no reason to go on-site UNLESS there's something specific to test or look for... and the key word is "specific".

    If we already know we can record "voices", then if we don't ask the what/why, all you're doing is... recording voices at an investigation... which really isn't all that helpful to the study or understanding of things. So specifically, what do we look for and why?

    If we wonder, as many of us have, why there is that nasty lack of video (or still photographed) evidence of either apparitions and/or poltergeist activity, why is that and if we have a decent working hypothesis, then how do we test that?

    ...and this does not mean simply, "I'm gonna buy THIS toy and try it!"... no, to be of any help to the greater understanding of these experiences, you NEED to justify why that new camera is different. Justify why you feel it may offer more. Research if the hypothesis has any validity. Get feedback from others, THEN test with the new thing... and be prepared to say it's a bust... or be prepared for proper peer review to "have at it" with any data you bring forward. (This latter bit WILL help strengthen your efforts.)

    That's a justifiable investigation.

    That kind of work is laudable... and good.. and can help... and is really necessary in legitimate studies...

    ...unless you're really just cosplaying or thrill seeking. Then it's too much effort and taking time from you being able to run about some abandoned tunnel with a flashlight and a video camera saying, "What the hell was that?" a lot for YouTube.

    WHAT THE HELL... is this?


    I guess to knuckle down here...

    I look around and see a metric tonne of "ghost hunters" just flying off to the local haunted {whatever} to do the same-old same-old hoping to... well... seemingly get the same stuff other people have said they get... potentially re-get what they themselves have gotten!

    There's no answers, no real new data, no hypothesis to question... no help to actual experients looking for information.

    Usually, just some dopey ghost hunters getting freaked out and using "scientific instruments" to accomplish nothing... but having a heck of a spooky time being all ghost-huntery and all.

    No help... and what's weird is, for me and POTENTIALLY for others, what DOES help is often not found in dark closets of haunted buildings... in one case, Skype got me thinking...

    The last PSICAN meeting (via Skype, hence the connection,) I was in gave me more thought and inspiration than the thousands of hours of would-be ghost hunters "investigation notes" and "evidence" (again, little or nothing new... or prove-able...) with ONE thought from one of our team who's currently overseas chatting with one of our BC folks...

    I can't go into details about what the two team members were talking about that prompted this thought as they're working on a semi-paper about it... but I can tell you the thought he got me thinkin' by discussing the work they're doing...

    I'm fortunate (personally) that I've been both privileged in my younger years (I admit to being suburban upper-middle class,) to literally starving as a young adult. In other words, I've know and know wealthy people "of standing" as well as folks scratching hard just to get by...

    Since my early teens, I've been interested in ghosts. (As a pre-teen, I was FAR more interested in ufology, for the record, but still...) and have talked to many people on the subject since then... spanning my happy upbringing to the relatively not-so-happy young adulthood... well, fiscally speaking, of course.

    When banging about thoughts in terms of "socio-economic" in my head in the meeting...  and thinking of who, in my past, told me stories... I came to realise... (and what you're about to read is a generalisation based on my memories only...)

    Not the classless society we were promised... damnit.

    Very wealthy people I knew/know tend to believe in ghosts. In some cases, the "family ghost" is a bragging point, but most simply, they like the folklore (and potentially talking up their own experience,) with things ghostly. They share almost with a tongue-in-cheek but still with an air of the serious and a legitimate belief in those experiences to a larger degree.

    Middle-class (firmly) people tend not to believe in ghosts. They tend to be entirely dismissive and are usually the first to claim that belief in these things is silly.

    Working class (and those stuggling)... believe in ghosts. They usually have experiences and will share gladly without reservation.

    REMEMBER: I admit a generalisation here!

    On this thought, I hit a handful of books... and these thoughts SEEM, on the prima facie, to be born out.

    When wealthy and established folks reported things or spoke to an author of a book, they SEEM to be forthcoming and use their names without issue... and appear to be rather forthcoming.

    When middle-class folks are interviewed, you find more pseudonyms and many "not real" type comments... and usually more "fear" than the other two groups.

    When working class (and struggling) folks offer up information, again, real names are more often used and details forthcoming.

    The only thing I noticed is you seem to get more conventionally spiritual/religious overtones with the working class, and more historical and "fact-based" things from the upper class... with a touch of occasional "new age-i-ness" chucked in here and there. (In several reports I read from people that seem to qualify as well off I found terms more often associated with "new age" movements used as descriptors... like "energies", "alignments", and "spiritual" - in terms of a "spirit world" as opposed to conventional religions. This would NOT be the majority, but a notable minority...)

    This situation of a "class structured belief", if borne out, could be an educational one... as although there are sceptical organisations and groups that love to try and show the contrary, it seems there's a chance that people with a higher education have a stronger belied in the possibility of ghosts. I don't think I need to link to studies that suggest people who are highly spiritual might also be more inclined in their belief in the paranormal... and it's a safe bet that those trying to claw up levels to surpass the Joneses and work insanely hard with little time for furthering education and hate people on teevee calling them morons might espouse different views...

    NOW, the above is about as scientific as assuming that I have absolute proof that my cat sees demonic mice that need to be killed when she spots a laser-pointer light on the floor based on the way she pounces on it ferociously...

    Mrow! Get that demon!

    ...but think about this...

    Whether you agree or disagree with my hypothetical views above... how much could we learn about witnesses if a proper study on this was done?

    This is NOT to say all working class/middle class/upper class witnesses are alike, BUT it is saying there could be a statistical similarity between them... and allow you, the investigator, to tailor your questions and responses.

    Of course, as a GOOD investigator/researcher, you've left all biases behind anyway, right...? but how useful would even having a 70% chance of being "correct" in terms of discussing things with a witness prior to ANYTHING happening (the initial report) first? To have an idea of how much emphasis or description you might get right away... an idea of where you may need to gently push (or not) to get a little more data on what was experienced?

    This thought has done more to make the mechanics of my crania grind away then thousands of hours of poor quality sound recordings that are tweaked to "make" me hear the ghost OBVIOUSLY communicating with the living by answering the question, "Are you there?" with the words, "Philly cheesesteak, no onions."

    Mmmm... Hungry!

    ...and even "Philly cheesesteak, no onions" could be "Guacamole Lou Ferrigno" or "Purple Monkey Dishwasher"... or it could be just random static... but to the EVP recorder, IT'S PROOFS I TELLS YA! ...and obviously it's evidence of communication! They asked if the ghost was THERE and in the response THEY heard, a PLACE NAME WAS UTTERED! Wheee~!

    Again, "Why?"

    ...just 'cuz it fits a preferred hypothesis.

    ...but I digress..

    Investigations might be useful... but only if it can be justified in my (and many others) opinion. (See this link - click here - for what might be the ultimate goal in an investigation,)

    The ultimate answers to why things are experienced are not likely to be found via a group of "What The Hell Was That?" ghost hunters rummaging around a dark place...

    ...but the decision, really, is yours.

    Thrills, fame, and/or a personal experience...

    ...or truly looking into the unknown with an eye to finding out something more.

    There's no shame really in the former... but then please, be honest about it so we know what to look for within your efforts.

    This Is The End My Friend

      08:27:00 am, by Admin   , 1758 words  
    Categories: Paranormal - Rants, Pop Culture & The Paranormal

    Okay, the good news is that I believe Sylvia Browne is bad... but you're not helping things, Mr. Randi...

    Me - Learning

    I remember when I was learning about my trade, computers, and my instructor would come up beside me, put his hand on my shoulder, lean in to the board or system I was working on, and say...

    "Boy, are you stupid. You are an absolute twit. You don't know what you're doing, you won't accept how things are actually done, you don't listen, and you will always suck at this."

    Then he'd walk away, talking only to other instructors loudly about how I'm a moron.

    I learned so much!  I mean, wouldn't you?

    Okay, that's not how it happened, and to be honest, I've been in my career field since the late 1980's, (IBM DOS 2.1, REPRESENT!) but apparently, this sort of discourse is EXACTLY how one teaches a vulnerable person to think twice before contacting a psychic when they're desperate for help, as a recent situation and interview has proven.

    Before getting into this, let me go to another place... I promise we'll return to this in a bit.

    Police


    This past week, three women who were abducted at various ages were found alive and (as) well (as can be expected) after years of confinement and abuse in Cleveland, Ohio.  Click here for a link to the Wiki page on this horrible situation. This case takes a bad turn to the "psychical" with the fact that one of the mothers, Louwana Miller (mother of Amanda Berry,) after exercising a tireless campaign after her daughters disappearance for literally years trying to find her (and "knowing" she was still alive, finally found and received information from renowned psychic, Sylvia Browne.

    It should be pointed out that although MANY people put a large amount of stock into Ms. Browne's abilities, her track record is actually very spotty... including everying from giving false hope to families of trapped miners at the Sago Mine disaster, to telling other parents of their  dead and/or living missing children and being horribly wrong. It might also allow pause to any followers/readers/clients of Ms. Browne to know she has at least two companies incorporated for her "businesses"... and a church set up devoted to herself. Again, please feel free to look this up.

    As you can guess, Ms. Browne made a boo-boo again, and told Ms. Miller that her daughter, Amanda Berry, was indeed dead. According to Regina Brett, a Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist on the CBC radio program, "Day 6", Browne was Ms. Miller's last hope... and she died of a broken heart over the news her daughter was dead.

    Radio


    According to another interview with yet another person related to the situation (news item in the CBC again)...

    Cleveland councilwoman Dona Brady said she had spent many hours with Miller, who never gave up hope that her daughter was alive.

    "She literally died of a broken heart," Brady told The Associated Press.


    Ms. Miller passed away of heart failure in 2006 in her mid-forties.

    Now, seriously, did Sylvia Browne contribute to this woman's death? That's up to the reader... but in my estimation, she didn't help... and SHOULD shoulder some of the responsibility. (I do hope some forward-thinking lawyer is working on a lawsuit for all Sylvia Browne's clients who could be seen as Sylvia Browne's victims.)

    You may remember this blog post (click here) I did a while back... and got a LOT of nasty e-mails and messages about... but now is it understood?

    Bad Psychics


    Do I believe all psychics are like Sylvia Browne? No, of course not... but why aren't the non-predatory folks standing up in unison to disavow this sort of behaviour? It won't be long before the "stink" of Sylvia's bad guess and its consequences ripple down to everyone through the so-called sceptical organisations...

    ...speaking of which, also on the program "Day 6" was James "The Amazing" Randi... former magician, full time auto-denier... but in THIS case (and a few others,) we should have found common ground. I (like many others in my field,) have always had an issue with Sylvia Browne's work, but this is one of the times where her bad "readings" had seemingly physical ramifications... (This is why almost no psychic will discuss health issues with a client... fear of being wrong with a physical result.)

    Randi was asked about why people turn to psychics like Browne despite this sort of news. Randi's answer?

    "Because there are a lot of naive folks out there, Brent (Bambury - host of the show). People who just don't listen to what's being told to them. They don't listen to the newscasts, and there'll be a lot of people who, tomorrow, won't know that Sylvia Browne created such a great gaff as making a mistake with Amanda Berry, for example."

    <-- Snip! -->

    "People out there won't listen to criticism like this. They just will not listen. They are determined to be fooled. They are determined to be scammed and that's why they're scammed."

    no hope for these people who NEED to be scammed and are incapable of listening.

    Randi also spent a reasonable part of the interview addressing Sylvia Browne on the radio show as if she would answer in real time... or might be listening to the CBC (or NPR as the show is also on that network.)

    Remember my computer lesson at the beginning? How much would I have learned?

    How much is Randi hoping to teach by belittling a potential Browne client or even someone considering buying one of her books?

    Wag of the Finger


    Oddly enough, MANY other sceptics have realised that the tested, tried, and "Whoops!" method of wagging the shaming finger at people, telling them their idiots, calling them names, and basically bullying them with the idea that their belief PROVES they're beyond help has not been all that successful in helping curb the amount of bad decisions (like believing a Sylvia Browne "reading,) and help getting people to investigate and maybe find out that there's better courses of action... or at the very least, take certain things with a grain of salt... or at least, not so much to heart.

    Nope, in telling people they "don't" listen and "don't" pay attention (and little else,) then you make things adversarial and shut down any possibility of discourse and, oh, I don't know, teaching and Learning?

    Granted, I shouldn't be too harsh on Randi, who continues to preach to a choir. He has his educational organisation (yeah, I know, well, it's still called an "educational" organisation... regardless...) to fundraise for and appearances to make to as much of an audience as possible... and taking time to actually educate those that need the help is not nearly as exciting or press-inducing as calling out Sylvia Browne personally by having a once-sided "conversation" on a CBC radio program with her. People will always spend money on things they already believe and have faith in and the lure of being able to say how "smart" you are by backing that same horse is a tempting one...

    ...but again, I'm pretty damned sure that no JREF folks nor CSI/CFI (formerly CSICOP) folks need help being told to be sceptical of things like Sylvia Browne's predictions... and these people, the Randi choir, are the ones who funds JREF...

    I mean, Randi's organisation COULD help pay for some lawyers (they have the money and resources) and a law suit to help those hurt by Sylvia Browne and put a dent in her wealth... but one wonders if that would be good for their business... Hmm...

    ...ANYWAY...

    So, who DOES it fall to? Who should go out and maybe say to people, "Be Careful" without insulting them or making it a combatative situation?

    Who can actually educate?

    If I may have my (possibly) one sided conversation with Mr. Randi here on this post now... (Hey, I can adopt certain methods!)

    Sorry, Randi, but this sort of bluster won't work.

    Bluster!

     

    I HATE making you the "bad guy" in this post, as Sylvia Browne is a bigger issue in my eyes, but STOP being a finger-wagger and seemingly picking a fight and START reaching out and actually HELPING people.

    I've often cited being a very young man watching The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and seeing you demonstrating "psychic surgery" when I was (oddly enough,) far more cynical about things "weird" then I am now... it was and odd focal point in my life to NOT just question things, but demonstrate them for all... because although the demonstration was amusing, it made the point without making those watching it feel like dinks.

    Telling an audience that they don't listen and not telling them MORE about WHY they SHOULD listen, and ignoring that some people ARE hurting and need a soft touch helps no one... save the Sylvia Brownes of the world who now have "friends in the foxhole" of your battle... and you look only like a bully.   You make it easy for more "touchy-feely" types to leap onto the "Love and Light" Browne Bandwagon.

    You, yourself talking to Bambury on "Day 6" made the excellent point, these people are hurting... perhaps as opposed to dismissing them and hammering at them, you reach out gently and offer help?

    ...or, you can just keep on keepin' on.

    You're not helping, Randi... except for your followers who get to be good sycophants with little substance... and help polarise and energise the "Love and Light" crowd against the easy target of the bully.

    Glad you got some media from this woman's suffering and this case.

     This is NOT the end this time...

    I should note: From the magazine "Saucer Smear" from the late Jim Moseley (of whom I was a fan,) these words about James Randi...

    On the evening of June 5th, we watched James ("The Amusing") Randi on the Larry King Live TV program. Randi was pitted against a psychic lady named Rosemary Altea, who was there to push her book, called "You Own the Power". Randi was there to push his famous million dollar offer for proof of psychic abilities.

    To us, the program was a draw. Rosemary failed to come up with anything spectacular in her "cold readings" for phone-in fans. Randi, on the other hand, failed to convince Rosemary or Larry King that his million dollar offer is legitimate. Said Rosemary, "Behind every door is another door".

    We have always felt that one could levitate right through the wall of Randi's house while reciting tomorrow's stock market report, and the Amazing One would not be amused or impressed!

    One day, I may share the... um... innebriated anniversary message for Mr. Moseley (which also was my last "personal" drinking moment for health reasons,) but not today!

    This Is The End My Friend

    05/05/13

      11:46:00 am, by Admin   , 1992 words  
    Categories: Paranormal - Rants, How We Do The Things We Do

    Self-Indulgent Whine with a Message

    Mr Whiny Bum


    "Okay!", I say to myself, "I have my idea, my books and notes in place, and I'm ready to sit down and write a wonderful..."

    ...and then, I hear the dreaded notification sound... sometimes even the phone rings... and I prepare, even before reading the message or speaking, the obligatory apology.

    "I'm sorry this happened..."
    "I'm sorry you didn't agree with..."
    "I'm sorry you feel..."
    "I'm sorry for..."

    I'm sorry... I'm so so sorry...


    Over the last year, an astonishing amount of my time has been used apologising... and some among you might way, "My gosh! You mean your team/site/Facebook/whatever is really THAT bad???"

    Oddly enough, no.

    The vast majority of my apologies are for the behaviour and actions of people who are not a part of PSICAN or Torontoghosts or Ontarioghosts or any of 'em. The majority* of the apologies are for...

    - Comments made on message board/Facebook groups by people NOT on our teams (of whom I have no say or any form of sway with.)

    - Comments made by people who are not members of/part of PSICAN or any of the PSICAN groups that have been made on other sites/boards about PSICAN that others take as gospel.

    ...and the most common* RIGHT now...

    - Comments from everyone from site managers to government officials to even private home owners about 'ghost groups' (not us, but other folks,) who are contacting them to do whatever for whatever reason... and "we" get blamed for their actions.


    Which, so far just today, has been the last two "apologies" I've made... and yes, that's only today.

    No Ghost Boobs Allowed!


    "WHAT!?!", you may cry, "How are YOU to blame for THEM!?!"

    Two things you need to acknowledge...

    First is that many of the people at many historic sites and known "haunted" businesses have dealt with me specifically... sometimes Sue... so we're the contact.

    Second is that to them, "ghost people" are OBVIOUSLY "ghost people" and as such, are all the same.

    Need an example?  Probably about 10% (maybe?) know who Stephen LeBlanc, Shawn Evans, and John Taveras are... most (including you) probably don't. Well, they're professional lacrosse players! Solved!

    Lacrosse! Canada's National Sport! (Really! Look it up!)


    Really? What league do they play in? What teams? What cities???

    To a hard-core (or even very interested,) lacrosse fan, you're lack of knowledge is disturbing!

    WORSE YET, if you said, "Well, I think I saw John Taveras play for the Toronto Rock on television once..." OUTRAGE from a Buffalo fan would be immediate!

    Lacrosse is one example... I could use...

    - Doctor Who villains
    - Star Trek starship names
    - Dark Shadows actors/actresses
    - Punk music stars of the 70's and 80's

    ...or a plethora of things here.

    There are fans, casual fans, and people obsessed with these things.  Same is true for things ghostly.

    TYPE A (the most commonly found) people not-so interested (which sorry, is the bulk of the people you see walking the streets or driving to work,) and they might know a horror movie or a ghost story... they probably couldn't even tell you who stars in the movie!  They know the Ghostbusters and thought it was hilarious.

    TYPE B (found in quantity, but not the majority) people SLIGHTLY interested might know there's television shows... and friends that have stories or an interest... but that's about it.

    TYPE C (a minority to be certain) people know several stories, reports, have opinions on things, know the various television programs, and MIGHT know the names of the people involved with them... this is nowhere near a majority of the people "in the world".

    TYPE D (a smaller minority) people understand the television programs are nonsense and entertainment, that's there's "X" group and "Y" group online working locally, might contribute to a Facebook wall or the like. They might have visited a place known to be "haunted" and checked it out themselves, and may have their own reports and stories to share.

    TYPE E (rare in the extreme) people deeply involved in the study know that the television and movie stuff is utter rubbish and overall hurts the study by tainting witnesses and experients, are familiar with the Society for Psychical Research, maybe the Rhine Institute, maybe the Parapsychological Association, and own many books on the subject.  They understand the actual difference between parapsychology and "ghost hunting" and are willing to at least glance at academic papers and the like for more and better information.  They would MUCH rather spend time listening to Dean Radin, Rupert Sheldrake, and/or Loyd Auerbach then any "celebrity".

    Anyone above and beyond TYPE E is really rare... and usually embedded within one of the bigger, better known groups mentioned in some fashion.

    If you doubt the above "types", DO NOT quiz your friends or the people you know... quiz people at a mall... or on the street.  In Toronto, for example, last night, had there been a news story on the ABSOLUTE proof of the survival of consciences after bodily death, probably 70% of people would talk about it at work or school on Monday briefly.  A far greater number last night and even Monday would be discussing the Toronto Maple Leafs' win over Boston in the playoffs as well as maybe the proof news story but potentially without giving any thought or discussions time to survival.

    NOW, understand... the vast majority of people working for or running a museum, historic site, or a business... and the MAJORITY of home owners fall into the TYPE A and TYPE B categories above...

    Ergo: Like the lacrosse players, ghost people are ghost people... we're all the same... so you Google the first one you find and THAT'S who's responsible!

    Uh-oh... here comes the complaint!

    "Dear Sir, because of this e-mail I received,
    YOU SUCK and are never welcome here!"


    For the people we know, it's STILL similar... "I heard from this guy on your team..." and then the name is NOT a guy on our team and then we note the "guy" in question never claimed to be a "guy on our team" and yet, they came to us.

    Right now, there's a load of "guys" (and "gals",) who feel that certain people should be FLINGING open their doors for them, welcoming the ghost hunters with EAGRE abandon as it's PUBLICITY!

    Welcome, dickheads!

    No.

    They don't.

    Most of the historic sites are funded as "educational" sites and since TYPE A - C above (the vast majority of the population) don't care about ghostly things save mid-October through Halloween, it's of little or no use to promote these things.  Most of the above are funded by the government or through historical boards... they don't need ghost people... it's a privilege to get to work with them, not a right, and often, it helps the sites very little.  In fact, the sceptical organisations which are firmly entrenched in many academic groups, will hurt their funding if they go heavy on the "woo-woo" tourism... worse yet, if they have ONE board member who questions the validity or safety of being known as a "haunted site", you're done.

    Most private businesses also do not have a large stock in "ghostly" stuff... they make their way with their business.

    Home owners, as a rule, are often worried about the stigmatism associated with being known as "The Haunted House"... which includes everything from fears of vandalism from thrill seekers to simply decreased property values from perspective buyers "put off" by buying a haunted house. (Again, if you're in that minority that doesn't think this is a problem, ASK A REALTOR/ESTATE AGENT.)

    So, again, these people are approached by idiots, they Google up the names of the local ghost people and often complain to THAT source, because, after all, John Taveras is an awesome lacrosse player for the Philadelphia Roughnecks, Darth Vader was terrifying in Doctor Who, and I loved Robert Pattinson in Dark Shadows! (Lacrosse is lacrosse, sci-fi villains are sci-fi villains, and vampire fiction is vampire fiction, right?)

    For the record, I've even wrote THIS (click here) post to try and help those people mucking up certain sites... but it's only useful for those who can read.

    So, welcome to my day... and where this gets self-indulgent... and whiny...

    For the last three months, EVERY time I settle in to write about something, I have to put out a fire, apologise, play politics, sooth nerves, write explanations, and source "bad guys" with an explanation like the above...

    ...and then, exhausted, I put away the books, notes, and the like and go to bed... or watch something entertaining (NOT A GHOST SHOW) on television. (For the record, I've *never* once sat through a complete episode of ANY of the popular reality-ish ghost hunter television programs.  What little I've seen makes my blood pressure rise too much.)

    So, a lack of productivity based on holding hands and talking people down... and, as demonstrated above, sometimes to the benefit of all. (A large part is, as stated, trying to re-open the doors which jackasses have had slammed shut.)

    Not a DAY goes by where Sue and myself wish we could just "walk away" and do our own thing privately...

    Why don't we?

    We've explained this...

    We don't want fame. Sycophants DO NOT help us. We are experients ourselves. We want answers. We don't work on blind faith. We need HELP.

    Not "help" to be "successful and famous", but help to look into what we experienced, and as time HAS shown, what many of you have experienced as well... so we need input.  Ideas and thoughts... experiments and other sources... we even try to understand that since these CAN be spritual, philosophical, and faith-based studies, everyone who tries to help or work with us may differ and not even get along on those levels, but we need the input and try to instill a tolerance within and without our work to help... to do all this, we need to...

    ...oh, hang on... just got a message... let me answer it...

    "Yes, I'm sorry. No, I'm sure they didn't mean it. No, I cannot do anything about it, but I do apologise for whatever it was."

    Sorry, where was I?  Oh right!  Something about my work... um... yeah.

    Go Leafs Go!

    The Toronto Maple Leafs!

    This is NOT the end this time...


    Addenda:Yes,I'm aware of the irony that I wrote THIS but didn't have time for THAT... but I'm a clever fellow... NEXT time I have that apology to send, I will include the link to this post and VOILA! Cuts down the response time! One rant for dozens of e-mail response! Woot!

    This Is The End My Friend

    * - These are the most common, but yes, we do get rare (grand total of five since 2009) "complaints" about our own team as well sometimes... the most prevalent complaints are those about our Facebook group and the like... and usually about "mean spirited" comments. To answer this one quickly, PSICAN is not and will not be censors or "thought police".  We (PSICAN, not Sue and Matthew, but the organisation,) don't have any PSICAN specific views OTHER than when someone on our team presents something for or to PSICAN, it's done in a neutral way where evidence and data are presented to back up any claims or ideas... and hypothesis and opinion are kept separate... so you know when you're looking through our work on the website, it meets certain criteria.  We do not "police" our members nor is there a "hive mind" for beliefs, faith, or the like... only in terms of official data presentation.  We (as a group) TRY to be respectful, but reserve the right of opinion and will ask questions and potentially put forward contradictory views... these are welcome and doubly-so when evidence is shown. If you feel slighted or hurt by someone on our team, PLEASE read through our Rules of Governance and Code of Presentation (click here) and let us know where the member has broken a rule.  If they have not, then it's up to individuals to work out problems amongst each other and again, we will not police people for thoughts and opinions unless they break any posted rules. PLEASE understand that "social media" should be considered different from our website and documents therein as well.

    04/18/13

      11:29:00 am, by Sue   , 117 words  
    Categories: Site Updates

    Site Updates April 18th 2013



    We love to hear your personal experiences with ghosts, and hauntings in the province of Ontario so please do keep sending them in. Your privacy will be protected, and witness comfort is our primary concern. You may email us directly at submissions AT torontoghosts.org or submissions AT ontarioghosts.org

    One King Street West Toronto - (updated)

    Lovesick Lake Park - (new)

    Lake Muskoka - Private Cottage  (new)

     Georgian Bay - Hope Island (updated)

    Private Home - East York (new)

    High Park Toronto - The Man In Black (updated)

     Fergus B&B (new)

    Parry Sound - Blackstone Harbour (updated)

    Frog and Firkin North York (updated)

    Private Apartment - Jarvis Street (new)

    The Former O'Keefe Centre (updated)

    The Former Police HQ on Jarvis  (updated)

    St Marks - Niagara-On-The-Lake (new)

     

    Enjoy!

    << 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ... 311 >>

    The entries found on this blog are based on the thoughts and discussion of Matthew Didier and Sue Demeter-St.Clair...two paranormal investigators/researchers based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada who just also happen to be a couple.

    We are founding members of The Ghosts and Hauntings Research Societies, PSICAN, and Pararesearchers of Ontario and are members and supporters of The Society of Psychical Research, and the Institute of Noetic Sciences

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