Most people react to flat-earthers by labeling them as stupid or scientifically illiterate. A moderate effort to examine what they say will reveal that is not so. On the contrary, those who embrace conspiratorial beliefs seem to be bored with the conventional. Their active, creative brains spin more intriguing, complicated, and colorful trappings around mundane…… Continue reading Flat-earthers as scientifical Americans: One message from ‘Behind the Curve’
Category: Sham Inquiry
Legitimizing ghost research: Scientism, sensitives, and cultural authority
As I wrote yesterday, sociologists and ethnographers are paying greater attention to paranormal communities. I commented on Bader’s analysis of Bigfoot seeking groups and their mix of naturalistic and paranormalist views among participants. Perhaps separation rather than mix may be more apt. The observation of different camps within a paranormal field is not new but…… Continue reading Legitimizing ghost research: Scientism, sensitives, and cultural authority
Errors in investigating: What you see is all there is
I received a personal message from a paranormal investigator who thought it was a shame I didn’t believe in the validity of spirit communication. He pointed me to a video he made that he said was the clearest responses he’s ever received in an EVP recording. I’m always looking to either be impressed or spot…… Continue reading Errors in investigating: What you see is all there is
Paranormal investigators and Velikovsky sound similarly sciencey
In January 2013, I wrote about Immanuel Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, and pseudoscience, referencing Michael Gordin’s excellent book The Pseudoscience Wars (2012). Well, I’m writing about it again, to be included in a book about amateur investigation groups “sounding sciencey” and fooling the public. I went back to some of my old sources and found a good one. It’s…… Continue reading Paranormal investigators and Velikovsky sound similarly sciencey
A Guide to Ghost Hunting Guidebooks: NO MORE! Please!
This might come as a shock to the millions of ghost enthusiasts out there: The scientific consensus is that ghosts are NOT spirits, remnants of the dead, recordings of energy, or supernatural entities. Our existing knowledge about nature does not point to a conclusion that ghosts are a single definable thing, paranormal or normal, that you…… Continue reading A Guide to Ghost Hunting Guidebooks: NO MORE! Please!
“True Jersey” NJ.com published a stinker of a story on the Jersey Devil
A paranormal investigator who writes a column called Paranormal Corner for NJ.com broke a story this weekend that was both a coup for web hits and an utter disaster for her credibility. Kelly Roncace received an email with a photo of what the sender said was the Jersey Devil. The JD is one of the…… Continue reading “True Jersey” NJ.com published a stinker of a story on the Jersey Devil
No, you are not the new Jane Goodall: My Twitter exchange with Melba Ketchum
I had a discussion with Melba Ketchum today on Twitter regarding her continued claims that Bigfoot will be proven true. Some of it spilled over to Facebook – her favorite communication outlet. I was surprised she responded and it went on for quite a while. For those of you who missed it, good for you. But…… Continue reading No, you are not the new Jane Goodall: My Twitter exchange with Melba Ketchum
Defending the faith of cryptozoology
My latest post, regarding the rational vs non-rational response to the new cryptozoology book by Loxton and Prothero, Abominable Science, went live on Huffington Post yesterday. Cryptozoology Gets Respect While Bigfooters Behave Badly. When critical thinkers approach the subject of Bigfoot (or cryptozoology in general) with a focus on the evidence, they are met with…… Continue reading Defending the faith of cryptozoology
Ketchum’s Galileo Gambit
One of my essential reading blogs, Respectful Insolence, has resurrected an older post on The Galileo Gambit. It was timely. It was in reference mainly to the day to day parade of quackery that passes by in the media. Orac coined the term “Galileo gambit” to describe a very common ploy used by quacks – they…… Continue reading Ketchum’s Galileo Gambit
Paper on Amateur paranormal investigation groups: Being Scientifical
I finished my thesis last year on amateur paranormal investigation groups. Many of you have requested copies. It can be purchased but not many would want to spend the money for that so I’m giving it away via PDF. You can download here. Hill_ARIGs_Being_scientifical_thesis Also, it was adapted for a piece in Skeptical Inquirer magazine,…… Continue reading Paper on Amateur paranormal investigation groups: Being Scientifical
Scientist states he has explanation(s) for sky noise but it only sounds sciencey
I’ve been closely following the story of strange noises from the sky that flared up in January. I wrote about them on Doubtful News. The noises are widespread, varied in type, sometimes able to be explained and sometimes known to be hoaxed. But, because this spate of anomalies (a Fortean Flap, if you will) is in…… Continue reading Scientist states he has explanation(s) for sky noise but it only sounds sciencey
Scientific or Scientifical?
About half of all amateur research and investigation groups (ARIGs – those self-forming groups that do ghost hunting, Bigfoot searches, cataloging of UFO sightings, and other paranormalia) on the Internet say they use scientific methods and equipment and/or their field is based in science.  As one who actually did scientific work in a lab…… Continue reading Scientific or Scientifical?
Bigfoot researchers making big leaps
A few behaviors really irk me: acting like an authority to the public when you don’t deserve to be authoritative and making shit up to give a good story. The scientist in me would like experience, credentials and an exhibition of expertise. I also need evidence for wild claims. Because, well, you know… I doubt…… Continue reading Bigfoot researchers making big leaps
Want to shed the pseudoscience label? Try harder.
When I was a kid, cryptozoology books advocated the existence of these creatures. The same dramatic stories were repeated in many books. I was swayed by the stories but eventually I got bored with them. There was something missing. Stories only get you so far. I wanted a structure, I wanted details. I really wanted…… Continue reading Want to shed the pseudoscience label? Try harder.
Chupacabra gets a necropsy: Ben Radford’s new book does the dirty work
We were given a teaser of the stunning new findings about the chupacabra in Ben Radford’s preceding book Scientific Paranormal Investigation, which I reviewed here. I was excited to dig into the entire story in Tracking The Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction and Folklore. The book has high praise and positive reviews already.…… Continue reading Chupacabra gets a necropsy: Ben Radford’s new book does the dirty work
Paranormal-themed nonfiction TV: A list
I was writing an article when I realized I needed a clear idea about when this whole amateur investigation reality-television thing became popular. So, I started a list. (I’m a good Googler.) Here is a list of TV shows (series) that portray the paranormal as real or examine it as possibly real. Some are reality-type…… Continue reading Paranormal-themed nonfiction TV: A list
Buell and PRS to offer classes for the credulous
I once went to a presentation by the Paranormal Research Society, held at a local Pennsylvania State University campus. It was not sponsored (nor endorsed) by the university but by a student activities group. I chuckled softly to myself when Ryan Buell flubbed information about some very famous “ghost” photographs. His background on parapsychological history…… Continue reading Buell and PRS to offer classes for the credulous
Ghost hunters as “really good researchers, I guess”
Story from The Onion: ‘Ghost Hunters’ Enjoys Surprising 100% Success Rate “What can I say? We’re just really good researchers, I guess.” At press time, despite having repeatedly resolved the most central question of human existence, the program is somehow not on the cover of every major newspaper, magazine, and scientific journal in the world. Sure,…… Continue reading Ghost hunters as “really good researchers, I guess”
Paranormal investigators doing good, but going wrong
There are so many ghost hunting groups wandering around in the dark that they trip over each other. I attempted to count paranormal investigation groups and gave up at around 1500 without even searching Facebook. We all have our opinions about what they try to do – find evidence of life after death. Those of us…… Continue reading Paranormal investigators doing good, but going wrong
Studying modern day amateur scientists and researchers or “What the hell was that?”
I’m off inside my own head these days… My main project is my Masters’ thesis in Science and the Public. I started gathering data this summer; fall will be consumed with crunching data, making sense of it and writing it up. I’ll graduate in February, barring any unforeseen disasters. The hardest part about a thesis…… Continue reading Studying modern day amateur scientists and researchers or “What the hell was that?”