I’ve come up with a new term to describe a fallacy in the way some skeptics view paranormal investigation; the participation problem. Many prominent skeptics are quick to criticize the community of paranormal investigators for their lack of scientific rigor in the collection and analysis of evidence. While I agree that there is work to be done here the skeptics take it a step too far: They ask why after years and decades of research we do not produce definitive proof of anything?
This confuses me because it seems obvious to me skeptics have answered their own question. How would a community that lacks the ability to gather and catalog these phenomenon in a scientific way be able to prove the phenomenon exists in the eyes of science? It’s not a trick question. The answer is they can’t; in fact it would be virtually impossible. In one statement skeptics acknowledge there is a lack of scientific engagement in the investigation of the paranormal and in another they use the lack of scientific proof as an excuse to put a dis-proven stamp on anything labeled paranormal.
Now if the skeptic community actively engaged in investigation in an objective and thorough manner then there would be room for discussion, but they don’t. Most skeptics, even several prominent ones, are arm-chair researchers who do not attempt to collect evidence, determine the validity of eyewitness testimony or really analyze the details of the problemset. The few skeptics that conduct field research base their results on a simplified definition of the phenomenon, an extremely limited sample size and a clear bias to prove their own beliefs. In fact these investigations are often nothing more than a dog and pony show to create the illusion of investigation. For those that disagree with this paragraph I have detailed why this is so in several analyses of the work of prominent skeptics and will continue to do so to provide further proof of my claims.
Of course there is another reason we do not have proof of the paranormal. These phenomenon are so outside the realm of anything known that there is no easy way to prove it if it did exist. There are no ghost detectors, no alien meters or Sasquatch finders; the methods to collect evidence are limited and it is easy to dismiss any evidence collected with these limited methods. So how could there possibly be definitive proof of the paranormal? Perhaps someone needs to capture a ghost in a bottle.
Unfortunately instead of lending a hand in the investigation many skeptics will follow their bias. The fact is the skeptical community could be a great help to the paranormal investigation community if they could set their bias aside and help the real investigation proceed in a more scientific manner. Until a skeptic can tell me a scientific process or device to prove a ghost actually exists, I stick with my vote to put the scientific method aside and adopt a more practical methodology, based off of techniques used in the intelligence community.