You’ve heard of iPod applications, but the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports on a wild new use of iPod technology: Ghost detection.
A volunteer for a restoration organization in Loveland, Colorado was working in an old grain building when he experienced what he “saw power surges” on his iPod. How do you see power surges on an iPod? That’s not explained in the Coloradoan’s article, but it is explained that the volunteer became convinced that these power surges were evidence of a ghost.
Why would someone conclude that a malfunction of an iPod is evidence of a ghost? There’s never been any scientific research that has established the mere existence of ghosts, much less any correlation between the presence of ghosts and erratic operation of iPods.
The Coloradoan’s writer Katie Looby didn’t mind those details. She was hungry for a ghost story. Writing about the next step in the development of that story, Looby wrote,
“After conducting research at the historic building, Third Eye Paranormal co-leader Karen Richards and other members of her group used equipment and scientific data to determine a little girl was killed by a family member at the historic Feed & Grain building, Richards said.”
How can scientific data used to “determine a little girl was killed by a family member” someplace long ago? Well, real scientists might use DNA found at a crime scene, from a known little girl victim and from a family member, to come up with such an idea. But, that’s not what the Third Eye Paranormal team did.
Third Eye Paranormal showed up, got a subjective emotional feeling about a story about a little girl ghost, (“Members of the group could sense the girl was hiding from somebody” – with what sense? Smell?), and then measured the air temperature with a thermometer. That’s their “scientific data”. They say the thermometer shows that a ghost was present.
It’s easy to use equipment to say that you’re measuring something, but it’s a lot more tricky to actually measure something. You can claim to be able to determine the presence of head lice with a thermometer, for instance, but that doesn’t mean you actually can do it. Sure, you’re using “data”, but that doesn’t mean you’re being scientific, running a thermometer over children’s heads in search of head lice.
Science isn’t found in an instrument, like a thermometer. It’s found in a process of careful reasoning. That process requires that, for a form of measurement to be considered seriously, it needs to be substantiated with strong statistical testing, not mere supposition.
The fun crew at Third Eye Paranormal may suppose that thermometers can measure the presence of a ghost, through the indirect manifestation of lowered temperature. However, there is no scientific research at all that has found a link between low temperatures and ghosts. Remember, there’s no scientific research that’s found any evidence of ghosts at all.
It’s not possible to have a standard procedure for measuring something that hasn’t even been proven to exist. It’s okay to make a hypothesis that there are dead people walking around causing cold drafts, but in order for that hypothesis to be treated as a serious scientific theory, it needs to be verifiable. The hypothesis that ghosts cause cold drafts isn’t verifiable because there’s no way, even if we suppose that ghosts are real, to tell if they’re present when the air is warmer or cooler.
The Third Eye Paranormal group didn’t catch any direct evidence of a ghost, after all. It only has a gimpy iPod and a chilly spot as data, and the two weren’t even associated in time and space.
I’m sensing that Katie Looby and the members of the Third Eye Paranormal group watched Ghostbusters cartoons far too often when they were kids. How am I getting that sense? I have scientific data. I measured my toes with a ruler.