The Shared Diary of a Novice Paranormal Investigator, aged 52 and Three Quar

When you believe in things you don’t understand, then you suffer.

(Stevie Wonder)

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamed of in your philosophy.


Ri fol ri fol tol de riddle dee.


What is this Science Stuff Anyway?

I have not yet poked about enough in Science .  Some people claim that scientific investigations of dowsing have resulted in a thorough debunking.  Therefore it is time for me to consider what I understand of ‘scientific investigation’, and unpack some of the meanings at work.  If I investigate something as a Scientist, what does that entail?  I start with my biggest dictionary; the one too awkward for anyone smaller than a gorilla to hold comfortably:

Science: the systematic study of the nature and behaviour of the material and physical universe, based on observation, experiment and measurement, and the formulation of laws to describe these facts in general terms.

So.  Systematic.  I like that.  I was dissatisfied with the club investigations because they were not systematic – punters yelled out random questions or requests without getting to the heart of anything. 

Observation is more problematic.  I have seen things and not been sure what I was looking at.  I have been watching things and missed some bits, happening concurrently but just off centre.  When we observe something, how do we choose which bits of data are significant?  How can we be sure we have collected all the data?  How can we identify what is and what is not data? 

Experiment, we will unpick shortly.

Measurement – fair enough, we can measure some things some times. 

The formulation of laws.  That sounds a bit grandiose.  I am not keen on that one, it makes me want to rebel.  Should that not say ‘the formulation of stories which appear to explain that which has been observed’?  Once there is a law in the mix, it has status, especially if people worked quite hard on it.  Contradictions are not popular.  Just ask Galileo how supportive his colleagues were in 1632 when he insisted that the Earth travelled around the sun.  He will tell you that they covered their own backs.  Today, the Inquisition is not about to place scientists under house arrest or torture, but orthodoxies are as likely as ever to stifle troublesome upstarts.  

Time for more dictionary:

Scientific method: a method of investigation in which a problem is first identified and observations, experiments, or other relevant data are then used to construct or test hypotheses that purport to solve it.
(Collins English language dictionary)

Once again it sounds only right and proper, but it is full of hazards.  It is hypothesis driven, and it relies on that which we can sense.  That really means it is driven by the need to create stories about what we see, or to prove stories about what we see.  Fallible creatures that we are, how often do we see that which is not already part of our stories?  There are trillions of tiny events all around us, ignored because they are unconnected to the story of our daily business.  Hidden away in plain view, the elephant is ever in the room with us.  Impartiality is a myth. 

I will give this Science stuff a try anyway.

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