A Skeptical Analysis

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Put on your skeptics hat on, write at least one 4-5 sentence paragraph in response to each prompt and upload to the appropriate folder on turnitin.com. Include the prompt questions in your response. To help me more easily read your text, write your response in the color of your choice and leave a blank line before and after your paragraph.

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English 100 Prof. Mark Harrison Ghosts & Hauntings—A Skeptical Analysis WATCH (IN CLASS) Penn & Teller: Bullshit! • “Ghostbusters,” Season 3, Episode 10 • “Signs from Heaven,” Season 3, Episode 12 National Geographic: Is It Real? • “Ghosts,” Season 1, Episode 3 • “Hauntings,” Season 2, Episode 12 READ From The Skeptic’s Dictionary: • Ghost • Ghost Hunters • Haunted House • Paranormal Investigator • Electronic Voice Phenomenon From Snopes.com The Amityville Horror From the course website: • Why People See Ghosts.pdf • Pareidolia.pdf • Dowsing.pdf • How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age • Chapter 5: “Looking for Truth in Personal Experience” (96-105), focus on examples of pareidolia • Chapter 7: “Case Studies in the Extraordinary” (220-294), focus on “Ghosts” and “The Ghost Hunters” (268-77) WRITE Put on your skeptics hat on, write at least one 4-5 sentence paragraph in response to each prompt and upload to the appropriate folder on turnitin.com. Include the prompt questions in your response. To help me more easily read your text, write your response in the color of your choice and leave a blank line before and after your paragraph. 1. (a) Define, in your own words, each of the following methods “ghost hunters” use to convince people ghosts exist and haunt houses. (b) Be skeptical: English 100 Prof. Mark Harrison explain why the method is not good evidence of ghosts or hauntings. How are the “ghost hunters” misusing their equipment and misinterpreting their observations? Electromagnetic field (EMF) detector (a) (b) Photographs and video of “spirit orbs” (a) (b) Electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) (a) (b) Dowsing rod (a) (b) Psychic medium (a) (b) 2. “Ghost hunters” claim to use science to investigate hauntings and find ghosts, such as the methods in prompt #1 above. Explain how “ghost hunters” are actually engaging in pseudoscience (i.e. fake science). 3. Define “pareidolia” in your own words and discuss how this human tendency helps explain why some people interpret fuzzy faces and figures in photographs and on video as images of ghosts, just as some people will see the face of Jesus or The Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich, the bark of a tree, water stains on a window pane, etc. 4. Explain the role auditory pareidolia and the power of suggestion play in allowing people to hear spoken words and phrases in ghost hunter EVP recordings, as well as backwards masking in popular songs. 5. In your own words, explain how dowsing is supposed to work. Some “ghost hunters” use dowsing to indicate the presence of ghosts. What was dowsing originally invented to find? Dowsing has been used to attempt to locate a wide variety of items and entities, from buried treasure to ghosts. How does this fact call into question the efficacy of dowsing? English 100 Prof. Mark Harrison 6. Devise a simple experiment to test these “ghost hunters” to determine if the techniques and equipment they employ actually work to verify that a house is haunted. Keep in mind, “ghost hunters” usually know the full stories of the supposedly haunted houses they investigate. How might your test eliminate this prior knowledge? Briefly explain your experiment. 7. In your own words, explain how each of the following informal logical fallacies may convince people that ghosts exist and haunt houses: a. Anecdotal (Appeal to personal experience or an isolated example instead of a sound argument or compelling evidence) b. Argument from Ignorance (Often phrased as “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”) c. Appeal to Emotion (Manipulate an emotional response in place of a valid or compelling argument) ...
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ProfKelseyJ
School: UT Austin

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A Skeptical Analysis
Essentially, ghost hunting refers to the whole process of assessing locations that are allegedly
reported to be occupied by ghosts. In this vein, the ghost hunting group attempt to gather
evidence to justify the existence of ghosts. Ghost hunting activity requires the use of electronic
devices such as EMF meters, digital video cameras and digital thermometers amongst others.
Other than electronic devices, it also incorporates traditional fact-finding techniques such as
interviews and research. On a similar note, paranormal activities have encountered enormous
criticism due to its inability to justify the existence of ghosts. The Majority of sci-fi writers,
academics and educators term ghost hunting adventure as a pseudoscience, disorganized activity
in vain (Nagar 15-20).
Question One
Electromagnetic field (EMF) detector
Electromagnetic field detector measures ambient or surrounding using sensors such as
electromagnetic field meters. In other words, EMF is a real field created by electrically charged
activities of objects (Nagar 2). Nonetheless, it alters the behavior of the loaded items within its
space. Ghost hunters often misuse this object by assuming that it can detect the presence of
ghosts in the environment. EMF signals are highly sensitive to cell phone signals and oth...

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