Dead End Dialog

You may have noticed that our main goal at the Bent Spoon is to promote conversation between the believers and skeptics of the paranormal community, we like to mention that from time to time. If you belong to one of the aforementioned groups, you may have also noticed how frustrating these conversations can be. Being of the skeptical persuasion, I have had a number of mind- numbing debates that left me genuinely annoyed. As, I’m sure, you, the reader, have as well. This is a huge obstacle. As a writer for the Bent Spoon, my objective is to create new paths around this obstacle, so instead of viewing this article as callous, see it as an opportunity to progress and reciprocate. With that, on to the subject.


This is a  list of my least favorite responses I receive when discussing the paranormal, a cop- out compilation.


Number one: “Science can’t explain everything”. This one really gets under my skin. Science is not a noun, it’s a verb despite what the dictionary might say. Science is not a person that makes claims or is wrong, it’s an action, a process, a method of investigating, fine tuned for eliminating errors and biases.Everything we know about the world around us was learned by using science.


Number two: “We’re not trying to prove anything to anyone.” Really? Is that why we’re having this discussion? Is that why your group posts pictures, videos and EVPs on your website from the frequent investigations you participate in? Next!


Number three: “skeptics are just closed minded”. I think everyone is close minded to an extent, but I think that close mindedness has become a misattributed trait of skeptics when it can easily be said about believers as well. As my friend Bobby Nelson enjoys pointing out, most believers are so steadfast in their beliefs, they openly admit that there is nothing that would make them reconsider them. That is the very definition of being close minded.


Number four: “we’re just collecting data”. Data is factual information used as a basis for reasoning or calculation. There is no purpose for “Just collecting” it How do these EMF spikes relate to paranormal phenomena and how can you prove that correlation?


Number five: “These are all just theories”. a theory is the closest thing to fact as possible. It is a hypothesis that has been thoroughly tested and has gone through the peer review process. The “stone tape theory” is just something someone made up. Theories are not wild, baseless guesses.

I have more examples, but I think my point has been made. Hopefully you’ve made it through this brief article without thinking any worse of me. As I said before, this isn’t intended to be mean- spirited, it’s supposed to inspire you to make your own list and let us know what you’re tired of hearing. Let’s all stop having the same old, tired conversations and move forward. Let’s actually learn from each other.

Dead End Dialog

A Fool’s Gambit

Like the rest of the paranormal “theories” pertaining to ghosts that I have heard, the explanation invoking the first law of thermodynamics has been regurgitated so often in the paranormal echo-chamber that I cannot trace it’s origins. I have to wonder how that misappropriated notion has survived so long. Did our nation’s public school fail us or is it simply a bluff given with the idea that if it sounds scientific, it’s good enough?

The first law of thermodynamics, or conservation of energy, is often given as a possible explanation of what comprises a ghost and how it came to be. Whether this misunderstanding is what led many investigators to believe ghosts are made of “energy,” or that it was given as a supportive hypothesis of the former is unknown to me and, most likely, to the claimant as well. Though the underlying concept is a pretty common one. It’s the general misinterpretation of energy itself.

What is energy really? Energy is a scalar, that is, a quantity of a system’s ability to produce changes or do work. In this sense, some one saying, “Ghosts are just energy,” would be equivalent to saying, “Ghosts are just length,” or any other measurable quantity. To those making the claim, are human bodies like a jar of fireflies, buzzing with a swarm of glowing, free-floating energy that escapes the moment we die?

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A Fool’s Gambit


For the most part, ghost hunters have their hearts in the right place.  Many truly care about local history, and want to help the people who are experiencing what they perceive to be paranormal phenomena.  But there are several fallacies that most amateur investigation teams regularly employ that damages not only their own credibility, but also blurs the line between truth and fiction, harming their clients in the process.

One major fallacy that ghost hunters use is working backwards from a conclusion.  While claiming to follow the scientific method, what these individuals and groups are actually doing is starting with a conclusion; in this case that ghosts are real, that they inhabit a particular location, etc. and then working backward to find evidence.  This is improper and harmful because the amateur ghost hunter will try to find the data to match their conclusion instead of allowing the data to lead them to an answer.  Misinterpretations, false positives, and illogical conclusions will often follow this style of investigative protocol.  For instance, when a team attempts to debunk the sound of footsteps in an empty part of a house and fail, they assume it must be the sound of an invisible dead person wandering around, and further stroke their client’s fears by telling them so.

Another fallacy that ghost hunters tend to use, one quite similar to the last, is the logical fallacy of Arguing from Ignorance.  This fallacy asserts that a position is true simply because it has not been proven false.  For instance, a paranormal team may come home with a sound on their recorder, but that doesn’t mean it is a ghost.  It just means it is an anomalous sound they don’t know the source of.  The typical amateur ghost hunter will say that no one whispered during the time of the recording, nor were any noises at all made, therefore the sound they are hearing must be the voice of a dead person.  But that is logically invalid.  Just because you can’t explain something doesn’t mean that the explanation is therefore the least likely reason of all.

The third common fallacy ghost hunters employ is “going lights out.”  Turning out the lights is just about the worst thing you can possibly do when trying to spot a ghost.  It immediately puts you at a disadvantage.  I actually once asked Kris Williams, former cast member of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, and now employed on Ghost Hunters International, why the team turned out the lights during investigations.  She told me it was because they are looking for things that are “darker than dark.”  But she also told someone else that sometimes ghosts have a fluorescent glow.  So which is it?  Whatever the truth is about ghosts, you would have a much better chance at collecting evidence looking for them with the lights on.  If it is a dark figure you’re trying to find, you’ll see it under well it conditions, not the other way around.  And if it glows, you may see it in the dark, but you’ll see more details in the light.

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