Glad to see we're getting to the meat of the argument now.
Re the Saturday Ghost - I was using that as a specific example of a general truth. Ghosts & Spirits refuse to show up whenever the chance to publicly prove their existence arises.
Given the fact that people have been claiming to see them for thousands of years, and given the fact that genuine undeniable proof that the spirit world actually exists would be HUGE scientific news, on a par with splitting the atom and the discovery of quarks - don't you find that a puzzle?
I certainly do.
If dramatic paranormal events are as common as they seem to be (judging by the posts in this forum and the stories people tell in popular newspapers) - why has it been impossible to get the truth of the paranormal world accepted by any
respectable scientific body?
The philosopher David Hume pointed out that we should accept the paranormal only if the alternative – hoax, lie, illusion or whatever – would be even more miraculously unlikely. Usually such alternatives are all too likely.
Thousands upon thousands of clinically-controlled experiments have been conducted in universities, laboratories, institutes, medical centers and private institutions all over the globe and you will find that the majority of the results of these cases support findings which, at minimum, claim that there are forces at work which science, at the moment, cannot fully explain using those "known physical laws" of which you seem to be so fond.
Re your list of researchers - we could bat names around for ages, and I could come up with many more scientists who reject the paranormal than you could who support it. Because science *does* reject the paranormal. If more scientists accepted it than rejected it, it would be the established scientific view, and we wouldn't be having this discussion.
After she had a near-death experience, here's what Dr Susan Blackmore had to say about ESP and the paranormal.
'I decided to give up a sensible career in psychology, and devote myself to parapsychology instead - to the disgust of my academic teachers and the horror of my parents. The story of what I found is familiar (I wrote about it in In Search of the Light: The Adventures of a Parapsychologist, Prometheus, 1996). I found that many of my assumptions were wrong; ESP was not round every corner, scientists were not trying to suppress evidence for it - there just wasn't any evidence that stood up to scrutiny. I had to change my mind. Interestingly, having changed my mind in such a dramatic way once, I have little fear of having to do so again. This is why I say that if any convincing evidence for the paranormal, or for life after death, comes along I will change my mind again. So far it has not.'
If you want to check out her credentials, here they are:
Many of the researchers you point me towards engage, not in science, but in pseudoscience.
Here's an interesting list of questions designed to help distinguish a pseudoscience from a true science.
1. Has the subject shown progress?
2. Does the discipline use technical words such as "vibration" or "energy" without clearly defining what they mean?
3. Would accepting the tenets of a claim require you to abandon any well established physical laws?
4. Are popular articles on the subject lacking in references?
5. Is the only evidence offered anecdotal in nature?
6. Does the proponent of the subject claim that "air-tight" experiments have been performed that prove the truth of the subject matter, and that cheating would have been impossible?
7. Are the results of the aforementioned experiments successfully repeated by other researchers?
8. Does the proponent of the subject claim to be overly or unfairly criticized?
9. Is the subject taught only in non-credit institutions?
10. Does the proponent of the claim use what one writer has called "factuals" - statements that are largely or wholly true but unrelated to the claim?
11. When criticized, do the defenders of the claim attack the critic rather than the criticism?
12. Does the proponent make appeals to history (i.e. it has been around a long time, so it must be true)?
13. Does the subject display the "shyness effect" (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't)?
14. Does the proponent use the appeal to ignorance argument ("there are more things under heaven … than are dreamed of in your philosophy …")?
15. Does the proponent use the appeal to popularity argument ("millions believe it, so it must be true")?
16. Does the proponent use alleged expertise in other areas to lend weight to the claim?
Interesting how many of the above apply when I talk to people who believe in spirits, ghosts, esp etc.
The fact that many different and diverging human beings have witnessed or other experienced encounters which they describe as 'ghosts, spirits, or the souls of those who have departed this earth through death' lends more creedence to the existence of these entities than it does not.
(See point 15)
I don't believe that I have (in my four score or so years of study) ever heard of a ghost who keeps a scheduled appointment book! (Rather a good thing, too, because my concept of what the next plane of existence might be like might would surely be put to the test if one did!)
(See point 13)
For example, the tightly controlled and well-documented experiments of Dr. Genady Sergeyev with liquid crystals proved that molecules of humid air vapor are "changed in structure" by the electromagnetic impulses of human thought (the more intense the thought, the greater the change and the longer it lasts) and, further, when water vapor in the air in a room settles upon objects (like the floor, tables, chairs, etc.) in liquid form, those molecules so affected stayed in that transmuted state (as far as he was capable of measuring in his experiments) up to 4 days!
(See points 6 and 7)
I submit to you that -- with respect to what we now call "the paranormal" -- collectively, we are only one step away from that ultimate goal of proving or disproving its existence.
You may be right - but I'd be willing to bet my pension on the outcome. It will be (in so far as proof is possible) disproved.
However, people will still believe in the paranormal, even when the evidence against it is even greater than it is now (and I'd argue that currently, it's utterly convincing).
They'll believe because the need to believe is so great.
'What should be the posture of the scientific investigator about paranatural survival claims? Clearly, we need an open mind, and we should not reject a priori any such claim; if claims are responsibly framed they should be carefully evaluated. After a century and a half of scientific research, what are we to conclude? I submit that there is insufficient reliable or objective evidence that some individuals are able to reach another plane of existence beyond this world and/or communicate with the dead. As far as we know, the death of the body entails the death of psychological functions, consciousness, and/or the personality; and there is no reason to believe that ghosts hover and haunt and/or can communicate with us.
I realize that this flies in the face of what the preponderance of humans wish to believe, but science should deal as best it can with what is the case, not with what we would like it to be. Unfortunately, scientific objectivity today has an uphill battle in this area in the face of media hype and the enormous public fascination with paranormal and paranatural claims.'