Sunday, March 27, 2011

Beings from another dimension!

  This premise conjures up images from 1950s B movies, but seems to be quickly climbing the ranks in the paranormal community.  Originally postulated as a proposed explanation for the sporadic behavior of UFOs, most notably supported by Jaques Vallee and J. Allen Hynek as an alternative "hypothesis" to the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. Hypothesis being a loose term and not intended in the scientific definition, being that the inter-dimensional hypothesis is not falsifiable or testable though experiment.
(Note: for more information on the continous misuse of scientific terms by the paranormal field, see Pork Rhine's article)

   This concept has been adopted by paranormal investigators, seeking a possible explanation for what they classify as Intelligent Hauntings and more commonly Shadow People. The classification of intelligent haunting refers to an interactive entity, such as a poltergeist or a demonic entity. Unlike the residual haunting, these beings are fully aware and cognizant. Shadow people (shadow men/ shadow beings/ shadow figures) are featureless silhouettes ans are typically considered "evil entities". The archetypal shadow person experience is reported at night, after waking or seen in fleeting visions in the witness' peripheral vision.  While this phenomena could be easily explained by sleep paralysis or hypnagogia, pareidolia, and even retinal detachment, paranormal investigators propose that these are living entities, entering our bedrooms at night through inter- dimensional portals or vortices. This notion, they feel, is supported by string theory, there-by making the inter- dimensional hypothesis scientific. What they fail to understand is that even if these extra dimensions exist ( there are no experiments capable of confirming these dimensions and are purely hypothetical) they are thought to be extremely small, as in possibly below the scale of quarks and strings. 
 I believe this misunderstanding lies in the term dimension itself, being confused for a parallel world instead of the measure of spacial extent, because if you consider it in the light of the correct definition, it literally makes no sense. 

   In conclusion, while it may sound pedantic, learn your terms or you won't be taken seriously.

the Water tape theory, thanks for the memory.

   Like the stone tape theory, the basic idea of the water tape theory is that  neighboring bodies of water absorb the emotional crisis energy of a traumatic event, imprinting the event in the body of water and spontaneously playing it back on repeat. While it seems possible the piezoelectric effect may be responsible for the attribution of mystical properties of crystals which may have lead to the foundation of the stone tape concept, the property of water memory is based solely on bad science.
   Originally proposed by Jacques Benveniste in 1988, Benveniste, a proponent of homeopathy, sought to explain a foundational mechanism of the practice. In an experiment involving human antibodies being diluted out of existence in water, Benveniste reported that human basophils responded as if reacting to the actual antibodies.
He is quoted stating  "It's like agitating a car key in the river, going miles downstream, extracting a few drops of water, and then starting one's car with the water." 
It should be known that these results were only found in the solution that was violently shaken during dilution.
The Results were submitted to the scientific journal Nature and were the subject of some controversy. In the following issue, a follow-up investigation was conducted by Nature editor  John Maddox and renowned skeptic James Randi. The results were found to be non repeatable, though Benveniste refused to retract the article stating that the protocol in the following investigations were not identical to his own.

Another proponent of magical water properties is Dr. Maseru Emoto who claims that thoughts or emotion can directly effect water droplets resulting in noticeable differences when the droplets are frozen, being deemed "beautiful" or "ugly". His methods and protocol are highly criticized, though Emoto openly admits that he is not a scientist.

   There are countless other pseudoscientific claims revolving around water that I could rattle off, but they most likely wouldn't bring us any closer to the the origin of the water tape theory and it's relation to residual hauntings. 
If I were to speculate, I would assume that it is merely a modification of the stone tape theory, bolstered by conformation bias. Being that water is even more abundant than quartz or limestone, finding a body of water near an alleged residual haunting if far more likely, creating an unfounded causal relationship between the two. This logical fallacy is know also as Post hoc ergo propter hoc (latin for after this, therefore because of this) and is nearly as abundant in the paranormal community as bodies of water and limestone are to tragic events. 

  Lets consider the concept. If water were capable of retaining the emotional energies produced by traumatic events, the world we live in would be cluttered by these projected playbacks. Water is run through all of our cities and houses through plumbing, there is water in the air, and the human body is 61.8% by weight. Think of it, we'd be sneezing ghosts! 

  This "theory", like most others attempting to describe the mechanisms of spirits, quickly falls apart with very little thought put to it. Let's continue to think before we "theorize".

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shadow of an Origin

In it's infancy, Shadow of a Doubt was intended to be a public access TV show, featuring paranormal clips from TV and Youtube and possible explanations plus brief bits of the history surrounding each phenomenon. I was barely begining the project when I stumbled onto Patrick H T Doyle's Haunted Hoax web series.

The project was abandoned.
Only the opening credits and two short teasers remain, the raw footage was lost in a move.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Restligeists and Stone Tapes

In the lexicon of your average ghost hunter, you'll typically find between three and five classifications of hauntings. These range from the more sensational demonic and poltergeist types to the less violent, yet still interactive intelligent hauntings and shadow people and finally, the "residual haunting" or restligeist  (essentially "residual ghost"). This type is described as a non interactive scene from the past, played on loop, like a skipping record and can be represented by visual and auditory phenomena. The mechanism suggested to support this phenomena is localized minerals such as limestone and quartz act as a recording medium capturing the emotional energy resulting from a traumatic event, typically involving death. This conjecture presumes the existence of the non-conventional emotional energy despite no evidence supporting it and no known method of measuring or detecting it. While this fact invalidates the postulate outright, I want to delve a little further into the subject in order to discover the the possible rationale behind it. 
The second factor in the stone tape hypothesis rests upon the presence of quartz and limestone, the recording medium for the "energy" to be captured and replayed. Quartz is the most common mineral found in soil and limestone is prevalent many types of architecture and is also quite common. That properties do they have in common? The presence of silica is the only relation I'm aware of beyond the fact that quartz can be found in natural cavities of limestone. Between the two, quartz seems like a likely choice due to the new age fascination with crystals. Though crystals are thought to have paranormal qualities, one true property may be the source of the mystical misconception. Crystals are known to be piezoelectric, meaning that when the crystal is compressed, it's crystal lattice deforms and disturbs the charge balance.  When the lattice is changed slightly, the charge imbalance creates a potential difference, essentially producing electricity. While this property is fascinating, it lends no credence nor supports in any way the idea that it can record moments in time.
In typical fashion of paranormal theories, this concept has been copy/ pasted so many times over that it's become unclear where it originated, but it was likely born from the 1961 book Ghost and Ghoul by Thomas Lethbridge or Peter Sasdy's teleplay the Stone Tape, the latter being responsible for the name, at least.
Since ideas such as these have been passed back and forth so frequently and been adopted and promoted by television personalities, it's very unlikely that they will be abandoned, eternally being played in loop within the closed system of the paranormal community, a stone tape itself. A parting word of advice to paranormal investigators; If you want to be taken seriously by science, take science seriously.