Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why paranormal research isn't science

A group of "ghost hunters" want to search the Salem Witch House to find out if it's haunted--the name "Witch House" apparently being enough for ghosts to haunt it, despite the fact that the only relation it had to the Salem Witch Trials was that one of the judges lived there. I suspect any pagans still reading this blog are going to whip themselves into a frenzy of head-desking upon learning about one of the article's main proponents of the idea:
"I'm firmly convinced this house is absolutely haunted," said the Witch King of Salem, also known as Eric Fraize, a self-described warlock and "one of the highest-priced psychics on eBay."

Fraize suggested the Witch House to Spirit Finders as a likely hunting ground. Even the tenuous connection to the witch trials could mean restless souls still roam the place, he said, then, there was the exorcist who said the spirits of the witches followed him after he visited.

"Any 370-year-old house is bound to have generational memories," said Fraize, dressed in black and framed by the odd array of items on his mantel: skulls, statuettes of demons, a dagger, an oath to Satan signed in his blood, and a portrait of his deceased mother.

Indeed. A "witch" who signs an oath to Satan, and whose qualifications to talk about hauntings are that he prostitutes himself on eBay. Well, I suppose that's about as much qualification as one needs to talk about made-up fantasies.

Do they expect to find anything?
Fraize plans to accompany Spirit Finders to the Witch House, which the ghost hunters say they will investigate without charge. Andrews says that they've recorded electronic voice phenomena - that's "ghosts talking," to you and me - in other buildings. But Fraize is not promising that they'll find anything.

"If the ghost doesn't want to present itself, it won't," quoth the Witch King. "That doesn't mean it's not there."

In other words, if they find anything, the house is haunted. If they don't, the house is still haunted. Way to achieve falsifiability, there.

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