The Method Matters


Investigating paranormal claims is pointless without a good methodology. The method is how we judge whether a claim is true or not. If the method is critically flawed how can we expect to get an accurate result? It is lunacy to think the bias and flawed methods demonstrated by scientific skeptics and believers alike will deliver anything of real value. And that should make anyone genuinely interested in the cause of the anomalous a little sad. 

 A paranormal claim can involve reported characteristics from electric fields, to disembodied voices to cold spots. Claims can include photo, video, audio, and physical evidence. A good investigative team needs to be able to deal with the vast array of evidence types to generate sound observations. This means using devices in a controlled way to record signals, using forensic analysis methods to analyze photos, video and audio and the ability to extract critical information from eyewitnesses and locations. This represent s a scope far greater than most fields in science, investigation or analysis. The vastness of the paranormal problem-set represents a tremendous obstacle to overcome. Teams must be able to do it all and do it right. 

But without all of this we are left with an inferior system. Many scientific skeptics lazily apply parsimony and Occam’s Razor to evaluate paranormal claims without ever engaging the evidence. Many paranormal investigation groups use their own methods inspired by TV or their own interpretation of the scientific method. Both fail in their own unique ways. 

It’s tough to get it right, but the method matters. If we don’t get the method right we cannot possibly get the answer right. If we are in this to find truth in paranormal claims it requires commitment. We have to accept that our personal biases are irrelevant and only hinder the process. We have to spend the time to develop standards and learn methods to accurately and effectively evaluate these claims.