Skeptics Don’t Have to Disprove paranormal Claims to Defeat Them


It is a common statement by skeptics, proving the opposite is very difficult; believers say here’s a ghost now disprove it

To disprove a claim it would have to be testable under the scientific method, otherwise, we would have to disprove every alternate possibility of which could be infinite. We wouldn’t even know when we had all the possibilities accounted for. 

Or we could (hypothetically) disprove certain specific theories about ghosts. But most current explanations for ghosts are not testable.

So the skeptic is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They can’t disprove that untestable claim because it can’t be tested… well no. 

It’s the red herring sold to make the paranormal doubter’s job easier: If they can convince you their job is really difficult you won’t complain when they don’t do it. The truth goes back to the burden of proof. You probably have heard it by now; the burden of proof is on the claimant. You claim it is a ghost so you must prove it is a ghost. That’s true, but we don’t automatically accept counterclaims either. If a skeptic claims that your ghost is just a guy under a sheet they have the same obligation to prove their explanation.  

So a pseudo-skeptic seeking to disprove a paranormal claim would only have to prove that their explanation was more likely. And only one clear, concise, well-developed hypothesis is needed. And the skeptic’s initial hypothesis doesn’t even have to be scientifically testable either. We can compare two untestable explanations with a logical method, often referred to a heuristics. Ever heard of Occam’s Razor? 

Heuristsics aren’t perfect, and some methods are better than others, but they are a great place to start until our competing explanations can be tested scientifically. 

This is reasonable. This is logical. The burden is minimal yet fair and it allows a  comparison between the paranormal explanations too. This is what science uses to determine which theory is more likely to be correct. There is no obligation for skeptics to disprove the paranormal. 

We have two teams playing a game they call science but in reality they are not even close. No one wants to discuss the elephant in the room; any attempt to explain paranormal claims will involve a significant margin of error. But this is how investigation works! This is how we prove or disprove these claims! It takes time, continuous effort and honest, logical discussion. Eventually this leads to scientific testing, we get an answer on whether our hypothesis was right or wrong, and our confidence in the conclusion increases. But who is going to do the work?