Here’s a humorous take on that reality series that investigates ghosts.
Note: The YouTube version was pulled. I replaced it with the the South Park Studies version. Be advised that this clip uses profanity.
I show this clip because it makes a really good point. In fact, since “reality tv” seems to be here to stay, I can’t help but always wonder why people keep watching this stuff. Monster Quest, UFO Hunters, Ghost Hunters, etc., NEVER actually find conclusive evidence of a monster, UFO, or ghost. Despite the lack of conclusive evidence I too keep watching these shows. Perhaps my standards have slipped?
Whatever the case, New Scientist has an article that made me want to write about this topic.The article discusses how researchers are investigating if strong magnetic fields can cause the human brain to experience paranormal phenomenon.
He devised a helmet with built-in conducting coils that could produce weak fields in complex, rapidly fluctuating patterns around the temporal lobes. He claimed that as many as 4 in every 5 volunteers who wore his helmet experienced a strange “ethereal presence”, which they might interpret as a dead loved one, or even as God (New Scientist, 19 November 1994, p 29).
It does appear that the human brain can be influenced by strong magnetic fields. The article goes on to discuss a more recent attempt at getting to the bottom of this.
One at a time, 80 or so volunteers were sent into the room, where they spent 50 minutes, subjected to either the magnetic fields, infrasound, both or neither. For ethical reasons they had to be told beforehand that they might experience some odd sensations, but were given no further details.
Disappointingly, however, the volunteers were just as likely to report odd sensations regardless of whether the magnetic fields and infrasound were switched on. In other words, they just got spooked by being shut in the eerie room. “If you say to suggestible people, you might experience something weird in here, some of them will,” says French.
Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister once said:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
Goebbels was right. Many studies have been conducted since his day which prove conclusively that humans are hard wired to seek out patterns or meaning. The problem is, sometimes a smart person can present a pattern that will fool most of the people most of the time!
Let’s close with Michael Shermer discussing how we can combat this inherent human flaw: