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Paranormal Pseudoscience Skepticism/critical thinking

I know Halloween is coming up soon and all, but…

…I am as appalled as my fellow ScienceBlogger Mark over this horrifically credulous article on ghosts on This Old House at CNN.com. Here’s a small taste, which comes after a long discussion of how to choose a “good” ghost inspector:

If natural explanations cannot be found, and it’s determined that there is indeed a presence in your house, the investigators will likely suggest you get in touch with a family minister so he or she can come to the house and to pray for the soul of the spirit that is present. This is not an “exorcism,” but simply an attempt to get the ghost to leave in peace.

If a willing minister is not available, the ghost hunter should be able to suggest another person capable of getting rid of ghosts — either a professional medium, psychic, or someone who is sensitive to spirits. This person should be someone the ghost hunter has worked with before, or who was referred through a legitimate source.

If the medium detects that a spirit is present, he will try to convince it to move on. How effective is this? It’s hard to say. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I often get calls from people asking for this service, but in my years in the paranormal field, I have found very few people trustworthy enough for this assignment. They are out there though, and your investigator should do all they can to get you in touch with them.

Let me assure you, though, that ghosts are not present to hurt anyone and in almost every case, a family can peacefully coincide with a spirit.

Unlike Mark, I don’t think this is a joke, although the article appears to be a reprint of an article that appeared in This Old House last year. Why CNN.com is reprinting such a credulous piece of rubbish, I have no idea.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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