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lestatdelioncourt

Response to "no scientific evidence" of ghost

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Angel1510

BTW Ancient civilizations were aware of objects falling from the sky and even collected them. The Egyptians during the Pharaonic period made jewelry and other decorative items from them. Of course they did not understand exactly how they came to fall to the ground but they were certainly aware of the phenomenon. The same holds true for cultures from other places and times. Perhaps what you are referring to is the phenomenon of cataclysmic meteor strikes that changed global climates and left huge craters.

Ancient civilisations also believed in gods, spirits and all other kinds of 'non-scientific' phenomenon. Just because something has been believed for thousands of years doesn't make it real.

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Frank Merton

Objects falling from the sky are quite real. The other day we found a chunk of blue ice in the back yard. The dogs wouldn't go near it.

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Mike G

What would you say to those who say there is no scientific proof of paranormal (ghosts)?

I would be talking to myself.

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sinewave

Ancient civilisations also believed in gods, spirits and all other kinds of 'non-scientific' phenomenon. Just because something has been believed for thousands of years doesn't make it real.

They never saw their gods but they did see space debris streak through the sky and hit the ground.

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Angel1510

They never saw their gods but they did see space debris streak through the sky and hit the ground.

Just because they couldn't see something, does not mean it does not exist. Unless the ancients could reproduce the same thing in a scientific environment does that mean it never happened? Thousands of years later, our technology has shown us but back then they did not have the means. I feel the same way about ghosts. We are unable to prove their existence....yet!

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Frank Merton

You seem to think we should believe in things cause we can't see them.

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Angel1510

You seem to think we should believe in things cause we can't see them.

No we should believe in things if we do see them, can feel them and have other personal evidence which leads us to believe in their existence. My point about 'not seeing' related to the gods of the ancients..do you think they ever saw a God?

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Avallaine

An extraordinary belief is one for which there is no ready or consistent evidence. The thing, for the most part must be taken on faith. In all of your examples there was reproducible empirical evidence.

The fact remains, after many centuries of belief, the only evidence for ghosts is anecdotal.

And, if you look into my examples a little deeper, you'll see that the evidence in each case was not trusted either because it was a random event that could not be reproduced (meteorites), or because what evidence there was was disregarded and explained away because it went against the prevailing theories of the time. In each case, as well, the proponents were scoffed at and ridiculed for suggesting such patently ridiculous things.

Perhaps we simply haven't yet invented the instruments needed to measure whatever "ghosts" are composed of.

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sinewave

That is precisely the point of science. Nothing is ever accepted without substantial evidence. The things you mentioned were all determined with scientific method. Science does not say ghosts don't exist, only that the facts are not there to suggest otherwise.

There are other things working against the idea namely basic laws of physics. The notion of free roaming masses of energy does not fit with how we know the Universe to work. Concentrated energy is unstable and tends to dissipate into its surroundings. There is no example anywhere in nature of source-less free roaming energy. For ghosts to exist, that is what they would have to be. Yes, science does not have all the answers and it is sometimes wrong but there is an enormous body of work that squares very nicely with it. We make practical use of that work every day.

At this point, some really staunch believers start to throw down ideas about parallel universes and quantum entanglement which are concepts explored by theoretical physics. It is interesting how those people gravitate toward science only where and when it supports their beliefs. The rest of the time, that same discipline is dismissed as imperfect.

In the end, believe what you need to believe to get by.

Edited by sinewave

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Avallaine

You're still not getting it. The evidence was there, but it was ignored.

There were stones that fell from the sky, and witnesses that saw them do it (of course, they were only ignorant rural folks, though, what did they know?); but stones could not fall from the sky, so the evidence was disregarded.

Alfred Wegener had the geological and fossil evidence to prove that continents moved, broke apart, and collided, but he was fuzzy on how they did so, because the ocean floor was largely undiscovered. Only after paleomagnetism and seafloor spreading were discovered was the theory of plate tectonics developed...but the facts clearly represented in the rocks were ignored until then.

Doctor Ignaz Semmelweis reduced incidence of puerperal fever drastically in his clinic--the mortality rate dropped 90%--simply by having doctors who had handled cadavers wash their hands with chlorinated lime before examining patients. He discovered this by eliminating all variables until only the contact with cadavers was left. Others duplicated his results. But the facts conflicted with the current theories of how illness spread. The evidence was plain and the results were repeatable by anyone, in the best tradition of the scientific method...but it went against the current paradigm, so the facts were dismissed. (In fact the "Semmelweis reflex"--a knee-jerk rejection of evidence that contradicts established models and theories--was named after this shameful incident.)

The problem is not always with the evidence. Solid facts and repeatable results are no guarantee that facts will be accepted, if they go against the prevailing theories of the time.

Science is a marvelous approach to facts...but scientists are human, and subject to the same irrational emotional responses as the rest of this. Sometimes the facts are discarded in favor of the theory, despite all reason declaring that things should work the other way around. What makes a belief "extraordinary" is whether or not it fits within an accepted paradigm.

Sometimes you have to wait until technology catches up to the ideas under discussion. You can't discover Jupiter's moons unless you have a telescope. You can't devise a germ theory until you have a microscope that shows germs exist. You can't come up with plate tectonics until you can map the seafloor and see it spreading.

You say "The notion of free roaming masses of energy does not fit with how we know the Universe to work." This is incorrect. In reality, the notion does not fit with what we know so far about how the currently observable parts of the Universe work.

Surely you don't think we know all there is to know yet?

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sinewave

You're still not getting it. The evidence was there, but it was ignored.

There were stones that fell from the sky, and witnesses that saw them do it (of course, they were only ignorant rural folks, though, what did they know?); but stones could not fall from the sky, so the evidence was disregarded.

Alfred Wegener had the geological and fossil evidence to prove that continents moved, broke apart, and collided, but he was fuzzy on how they did so, because the ocean floor was largely undiscovered. Only after paleomagnetism and seafloor spreading were discovered was the theory of plate tectonics developed...but the facts clearly represented in the rocks were ignored until then.

Doctor Ignaz Semmelweis reduced incidence of puerperal fever drastically in his clinic--the mortality rate dropped 90%--simply by having doctors who had handled cadavers wash their hands with chlorinated lime before examining patients. He discovered this by eliminating all variables until only the contact with cadavers was left. Others duplicated his results. But the facts conflicted with the current theories of how illness spread. The evidence was plain and the results were repeatable by anyone, in the best tradition of the scientific method...but it went against the current paradigm, so the facts were dismissed. (In fact the "Semmelweis reflex"--a knee-jerk rejection of evidence that contradicts established models and theories--was named after this shameful incident.)

The problem is not always with the evidence. Solid facts and repeatable results are no guarantee that facts will be accepted, if they go against the prevailing theories of the time.

Science is a marvelous approach to facts...but scientists are human, and subject to the same irrational emotional responses as the rest of this. Sometimes the facts are discarded in favor of the theory, despite all reason declaring that things should work the other way around. What makes a belief "extraordinary" is whether or not it fits within an accepted paradigm.

Sometimes you have to wait until technology catches up to the ideas under discussion. You can't discover Jupiter's moons unless you have a telescope. You can't devise a germ theory until you have a microscope that shows germs exist. You can't come up with plate tectonics until you can map the seafloor and see it spreading.

You say "The notion of free roaming masses of energy does not fit with how we know the Universe to work." This is incorrect. In reality, the notion does not fit with what we know so far about how the currently observable parts of the Universe work.

Surely you don't think we know all there is to know yet?

I completely understand what you are saying. Science and pseudoscience look the same when they start. There is skepticism and analysis that may seem harsh. Beliefs are challenged and feelings are hurt. Good science always tries to poke holes in ideas. Those ideas that regularly survive the gauntlet are deemed acceptable. Many people find that harsh treatment distasteful and disrespectful because it has the indirect effect of attacking beliefs.

After centuries of questioning and learning we have an incomplete but substantial understanding of the way things work. Yes, science does not have all the answers but the answers we do have indicate the notion of ghosts does not fit the way we understand the Universe to work. To some, that is evidence we have not advanced enough but that is merely a null hypothesis and not a constructive argument. Regardless of the level of human understanding, belief with hard evidence is the start of science. Belief without evidence is irrational. To date, there is no hard evidence to support the notion of ghosts.

Edited by sinewave

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Avallaine

I completely understand what you are saying. Science and pseudoscience look the same when they start. There is skepticism and analysis that may seem harsh. Beliefs are challenged and feelings are hurt. Good science always tries to poke holes in ideas. Those ideas that regularly survive the gauntlet are deemed acceptable. Many people find that harsh treatment distasteful and disrespectful because it has the indirect effect of attacking beliefs.

It's not the challenging of evidence nor even the harshness of the challenge I find frustrating. It's the double standard of "If the facts don't fit the theory, they must be disregarded." Too often the experts let their current knowledge and the certainty it gives them blind them to the possibilities that new evidence presents.

After centuries of questioning and learning we have an incomplete but substantial understanding of the way things work. Yes, science does not have all the answers but the answers we do have indicate the notion of ghosts does not fit the way we understand the Universe to work.

You know, there was another time when the leading scientists thought something similar. This quote is possibly apocryphal:

"There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." ~ Lord Kelvin, 1900

...but this one has been tracked down to a speech given at the University of Chicago in 1894:

...it seems probable that most of the grand underlying principles have now been firmly established and that further advances are to be sought chiefly in the rigorous application of these principles to all the phenomena which come under our notice...the future truths of physical science are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals." ~Albert A. Michelson

And then there's these:

"When I began my physical studies [in Munich in 1874] and sought advice from my venerable teacher Philipp von Jolly... he portrayed to me physics as a highly developed, almost fully matured science... Possibly in one or another nook there would perhaps be a dust particle or a small bubble to be examined and classified, but the system as a whole stood there fairly secured, and theoretical physics approached visibly that degree of perfection which, for example, geometry has had already for centuries."

- from a 1924 lecture by Max Planck (Sci. Am, Feb 1996 p.10)

"Sometimes I really regret that I did not live in those times when there was still so much that was new; to be sure enough much is yet unknown, but I do not think that it will be possible to discover anything easily nowadays that would lead us to revise our entire outlook as radically as was possible in the days when telescopes and microscopes were still new." - Heinrich Hertz as a physics student in 1875

"We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about astronomy." - Simon Newcomb, early American astronomer, 1888

It's never a good idea to assume your knowledge is anywhere near complete. A part of Albert A. Michelson's speech that doesn't usually get quoted is this:

“It is never safe to affirm that the future of physical science has no marvels in store which may be even more astonishing than those of the past."

Regardless of the level of human understanding, belief with hard evidence is the start of science.

I wouldn't say "belief with hard evidence" is. With hard evidence, you don't need to "believe." Sadly, some phenomena are of a nature that makes gathering hard evidence difficult. But that may be a fault of our current ability to perceive and record the evidence. You couldn't detect radioactivity in Renaissance France...but that didn't mean radioactivity didn't exist.

Belief without evidence is irrational.

Agreed. But sometimes there is evidence that, while insufficient for public proof, is is nevertheless enough to prove to an individual that something unaccounted for is happening. If the evidence is something random and unrepeatable, there may be nothing the individual who witnessed it can do but wait until more evidence turns up. But in order to find that new evidence, you have to talk to others about it, even though you know what you're discussing isn't supposed to be possible. You have to put up with stories from people who make wild assumptions about it, and people who've been influenced by sensationalistic fiction, and people who may be just out of their minds, in order to uncover the real data. You have to sift through a lot of dirt to find a diamond, but it's valuable enough to be worth it.

To date, there is no hard evidence to support the notion of ghosts.

Nothing hard enough, no. Not yet. If ghosts are part of a real phenomenon, then it will keep happening, and the evidence will eventually show. If they aren't, they'll eventually give way to some other bit of folklore or morph into something else. (Though their remarkable persistence is odd, if they're only myth...)

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Angel1510

That is precisely the point of science. Nothing is ever accepted without substantial evidence. The things you mentioned were all determined with scientific method. Science does not say ghosts don't exist, only that the facts are not there to suggest otherwise.

Science may not say ghosts don't exist but there are plenty of people who say ghosts do not exist and quote science as the proof!

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sinewave

It's not the challenging of evidence nor even the harshness of the challenge I find frustrating. It's the double standard of "If the facts don't fit the theory, they must be disregarded." Too often the experts let their current knowledge and the certainty it gives them blind them to the possibilities that new evidence presents.

With all due respect, anecdotes are not the same as facts. They are stories based on perception and are valued accordingly. And yes, the ghost hypothesis takes a very low probability in science for many reasons. The existing body of work in physics and cosmology shows very strongly that the laws of thermodynamics apply everywhere in the Universe. It will take a lot more than human perception to rewrite any of that work.

You know, there was another time when the leading scientists thought something similar. This quote is possibly apocryphal:

"There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." ~ Lord Kelvin, 1900

...but this one has been tracked down to a speech given at the University of Chicago in 1894:

...it seems probable that most of the grand underlying principles have now been firmly established and that further advances are to be sought chiefly in the rigorous application of these principles to all the phenomena which come under our notice...the future truths of physical science are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals." ~Albert A. Michelson

And then there's these:

"When I began my physical studies [in Munich in 1874] and sought advice from my venerable teacher Philipp von Jolly... he portrayed to me physics as a highly developed, almost fully matured science... Possibly in one or another nook there would perhaps be a dust particle or a small bubble to be examined and classified, but the system as a whole stood there fairly secured, and theoretical physics approached visibly that degree of perfection which, for example, geometry has had already for centuries."

- from a 1924 lecture by Max Planck (Sci. Am, Feb 1996 p.10)

"Sometimes I really regret that I did not live in those times when there was still so much that was new; to be sure enough much is yet unknown, but I do not think that it will be possible to discover anything easily nowadays that would lead us to revise our entire outlook as radically as was possible in the days when telescopes and microscopes were still new." - Heinrich Hertz as a physics student in 1875

"We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about astronomy." - Simon Newcomb, early American astronomer, 1888

It's never a good idea to assume your knowledge is anywhere near complete. A part of Albert A. Michelson's speech that doesn't usually get quoted is this:

“It is never safe to affirm that the future of physical science has no marvels in store which may be even more astonishing than those of the past."

Yes, and that is precisely why science is a team sport. Any one person can be wrong. It has happened and it will continue to happen. Peer review is essential in all sciences. The fact that great scientific minds have been wrong from time to time does not make the ghost hypothesis any more plausible.

I wouldn't say "belief with hard evidence" is. With hard evidence, you don't need to "believe." Sadly, some phenomena are of a nature that makes gathering hard evidence difficult. But that may be a fault of our current ability to perceive and record the evidence. You couldn't detect radioactivity in Renaissance France...but that didn't mean radioactivity didn't exist.

Actually yes, there is belief in science. The Higgs boson is a good example. It was the only fundamental particle that had not been verified. The math was there to support the hypothesis but there was no way prior to the LHC to apply enough energy to liberate the particles.

it is very true it was not possible to detect nuclear radiation prior to the turn of the last century. Ghost phenomena are reported by people using nothing more advanced than their ears and eyes. If it is possible to detect them with human senses it would be possible to detect them by other means. We cannot see what cannot be seen.

Agreed. But sometimes there is evidence that, while insufficient for public proof, is is nevertheless enough to prove to an individual that something unaccounted for is happening. If the evidence is something random and unrepeatable, there may be nothing the individual who witnessed it can do but wait until more evidence turns up. But in order to find that new evidence, you have to talk to others about it, even though you know what you're discussing isn't supposed to be possible. You have to put up with stories from people who make wild assumptions about it, and people who've been influenced by sensationalistic fiction, and people who may be just out of their minds, in order to uncover the real data. You have to sift through a lot of dirt to find a diamond, but it's valuable enough to be worth it.

Yes, and that is called belief. That does not mean ghosts don't exist, it just means there is no evidence to support them so the likelihood of their existence is close to zero. You are not going to get any love from science without facts.

Edited by sinewave
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NewAge1
it is very true it was not possible to detect nuclear radiation prior to the turn of the last century. Ghost phenomena are reported by people using nothing more advanced than their ears and eyes. If it is possible to detect them with human senses it would be possible to detect them by other means. We cannot see what cannot be seen.

The thing is, many have been able to validate their experiences by audio recordings, pictures and footages. Unfortunately, frauds of paranormal activities have plagued the Internet which makes it difficult to sift through the documentations. But it's too often used as an exit door by skeptical scientists when the science fails to give a satisfying explanation, this way they can discard every possible phenomenon and avoid to look at them objectively and neutrally.

I would not call that a state of denial for there is a lot of room for speculations and interpretations but a ''disdain'' which makes it hard for those investigating seriously to be considered objectivelly or even to be heard at all by the mainstream.

Edited by sam_comm
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Avallaine

With all due respect, anecdotes are not the same as facts. They are stories based on perception and are valued accordingly.

And what about the cases I mentioned a couple of posts ago? You could say that meteorites had only "anecdotes" as evidence (of course, those anecdotes were right, while the scientists were wrong); but medical hygiene and continental drift had the facts, and scientists refused to accept them because of their preconceived notions.

And yes, the ghost hypothesis takes a very low probability in science for many reasons. The existing body of work in physics and cosmology shows very strongly that the laws of thermodynamics apply everywhere in the Universe.

You really don't have a good historical perspective, do you? In spite of the fact that I just showed you how prevalent that kind of opinion was in the late nineteenth century, and how very wrong they were.

Besides, who's suggesting that ghosts violate the laws of thermodynamics? I'm certainly not. If you can't imagine ghosts existing except by violating the first law of thermodynamics, that's a failure of your imagination, not of the concept of ghosts.

It will take a lot more than human perception to rewrite any of that work.

Again, who's suggesting we rewrite it? Einstein didn't "rewrite" Newton's laws, he just saw a bigger picture and realized there were situations beyond them in which other, more universal laws, applied. That's what I rather assume will happen when we figure out how what we now call "ghosts" work.

Yes, and that is precisely why science is a team sport. Any one person can be wrong. It has happened and it will continue to happen. Peer review is essential in all sciences. The fact that great scientific minds have been wrong from time to time does not make the ghost hypothesis any more plausible.

No, it doesn't. I never said it did. But the fact that great scientific minds have been so badly wrong at times does mean that they should be more open to the possibility that what we know now is NOT all there is to know.

Actually yes, there is belief in science. The Higgs boson is a good example. It was the only fundamental particle that had not been verified. The math was there to support the hypothesis but there was no way prior to the LHC to apply enough energy to liberate the particles.

I agree that there is belief in science. But the Higgs boson is a terrible example. It was not "believed in," it was hypothesized as solution to a complicated problem. Scientists then asked, "So, if it exists, what would be necessary to observe it?" And they went out to make it happen. That's one of the ways in which science functions well, and I have no problem with that.

What counts as "belief" in science is when we become so entranced by the way our models and theories describe what we see that we start to consider the theory to be the fact. In actuality, the "laws" we invent are descriptive, not prescriptive. Reality itself takes precedence over any theory, not the other way around.

it is very true it was not possible to detect nuclear radiation prior to the turn of the last century. Ghost phenomena are reported by people using nothing more advanced than their ears and eyes. If it is possible to detect them with human senses it would be possible to detect them by other means. We cannot see what cannot be seen.

Radiation cannot be "seen," but the effects of it can. Before we understood radiation, there would be no reason for a rational man to believe that one rock was harmless while another (radioactive) rock caused illness in those who stayed near it too long. Shown people with radiation poisoning, he would almost certainly assume they must have gotten sick through some other means than by closeness to some "cursed rock." And he would be dead wrong (though not as dead as the people who, trusting his educated opinion, stayed near the rock which could not possibly cause sickness...and eventually died from it).

Perhaps, like radiation sickness, what we call "ghosts" are not the phenomenon, but the effect of a phenomenon that we cannot yet directly perceive.

Yes, and that is called belief. That does not mean ghosts don't exist, it just means there is no evidence to support them so the likelihood of their existence is close to zero.

You are contradicting yourself. If ghosts exist, their likelihood of existing is 100%; if they do not, the likelihood is 0%. They either exist or they do not; the only thing that will change is our perception of the likelihood. And "likelihood," (unless we're talking hard probability, and in this case, we are not) is a subjective, emotional assessment.

You are not going to get any love from science without facts.

It's damn hard to get love from "science" with facts...if the facts in question imply that a well-loved theory may not be as universally correct as it first appeared.

Edited by Avallaine
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Avallaine

The thing is, many have been able to validate their experiences by audio recordings, pictures and footages. Unfortunately, frauds of paranormal activities have plagued the Internet which makes it difficult to sift through the documentations. But it's too often used as an exit door by skeptical scientists when the science fails to give a satisfying explanation, this way they can discard every possible phenomenon and avoid to look at them objectively and neutrally.

I would not call that a state of denial for there is a lot of room for speculations and interpretations but a ''disdain'' which makes it hard for those investigating seriously to be considered objectivelly or even to be heard at all by the mainstream.

Quite right, and very well put.

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stevemagegod

This is why Unexplained Mysteries is here. It's because we want to believe in something that is for the most part unbelievable.

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sinewave

This is why Unexplained Mysteries is here. It's because we want to believe in something that is for the most part unbelievable.

And that's fine. The topic of this tread is the lack of scientific evidence not the lack of belief.

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Skep B

I would say those go hand in hand.

I'd like to believe in all these things. In a deep down part of my soul I probably do believe in them. The lack of science makes me unable to state it.

All boils down to a battle of faith and science

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Angel1510

It the beliefs of man which has lead to progression. If we only ever accepted what was obvious we would never have come out of the caves!

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Frank Merton

The argument seems to be that because scientists were mistaken about meteorites a few hundred years ago therefore ghosts exist because I testify to them.

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Angel1510

The argument seems to be that because scientists were mistaken about meteorites a few hundred years ago therefore ghosts exist because I testify to them.

That's not it at all! Science now proves that meteorites exist but whether science approved or not the fact remained they were always in existence. I live in hope that one day the anomoly we categorise as 'ghosts' will also be proven..it might even take a few hundred years!

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Frank Merton

That's not it at all! Science now proves that meteorites exist but whether science approved or not the fact remained they were always in existence. I live in hope that one day the anomoly we categorise as 'ghosts' will also be proven..it might even take a few hundred years!

You say, "that's not it," and then you repeat "it."

Because scientists questioned the anomaly of meteors a few hundred years ago does not mean it follows that there are ghosts. I suppose there is a name for that fallacy because it sure the hell is fallacious.

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Angel1510

You say, "that's not it," and then you repeat "it."

Because scientists questioned the anomaly of meteors a few hundred years ago does not mean it follows that there are ghosts. I suppose there is a name for that fallacy because it sure the hell is fallacious.

Closed minds never discovered anything! There are many things we do not understand now...not just ghosts. The ghost phenomena is just one of many things. Even the God particle has still not been completely solved yet! Many scientists are visionaries and have held controversial views throughout history only to be proven right in the end.

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