his is not the first time I've stepped on toes on this subject, nor do I expect it to be the last. I do sincerely apologize for giving the impression that I felt your work was substandard. This was not my intent at all. I also take my hat off to you for not only getting out there and doing this, but also making attempts to control variables such as dust, motion etc. In checking your website more thoroughly, I did notice the inclusion of an ELF meter, so I apologize again for not looking into this more fully before responding. I also apologize for the manner in which I seem to be "picking" on you. This is not directed to you as an individual but to ALL OF US, myself included, who claim to have had paranormal experiences and encounters which we expect others to accept as fact rather than fantasy. Please understand that the statement below is directed not to Ms. Stark, but to our entire digital community. It has been brewing for a while.

My purpose was to bring to the forefront the question regarding orb photography. It is extremely difficult to control variables when investigating a volunteer's home. Because of this, it is very difficult to exclude false positives. I have and will continue to question the validity of orb photography. I came across a good example of reproduced orb photography and the danger of false positives. If you care to take a look at their findings, here's the URL: http://www.ghoststudy.com/main/fakepageorbs.html.

My suggestions were based upon years of study as well. What I have learned is that there is too much that we don't know to conclusively say that we have evidence supporting paranormal activity. The flood of orb photography is seen by many in the scientific community as an emphasis on unquantifiable, anecdotal, and naturally explainable evidence which they do not accept. Orb and mist photos are also seen as an emphasis on the sensational aspects of "ghost hunting" and are often regarded as an attempt to obtain a trophy rather than to build a body of data to take a hypothesis into the realm of theory. The world of the paranormal, although most likely the oldest field of investigation known to mankind, is still in the position of hypothesis. Institutions such as the Koestler Parapsychology Unit with the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and the Rhine Institute have made incredible strides towards supporting theories regarding psi phenomenon. However, there is little in the way of hard empirical investigations into hypotheses regarding ghosts. The fact is, we're it! There is little to no funding by either the public or private sector for research in this area. There are two ways we can go with this. We can either exclude ourselves from the scientific community and set up our own rules which demand a level of faith from those we expose our findings to, or we can accept the rules as stated and attempt to comply with them. If we take the first option, then we are requesting a suspension of disbelief which is exactly what a storyteller does, but if we expect our findings to be accepted as solid fact then the basic fundamental rules of the scientific method demand a more comprehensive and controlled collection of data before our results will even be considered to have validity.

That does not mean that I don't hold a strong feeling just a hair's breath away from belief that I have encountered paranormal activity and that I have captured images and EVPs that could warrant a truly scientific investigation. It also does not mean that I personally feel that mist and orb photos are not actually showing evidence of paranormal entities. Questioning is not the same as rejecting. However, for any investigation to be even considered within the scientific community the investigation must control as many variables as possible. This may be difficult in most situations. However, the more control exerted over an investigation, the more likely it is to be taken seriously. In lieu of controlled variables, my suggestion was to include comparative and hopefully collaborative data from a variety of environmental tests which could point to an anomaly in the environment. I am currently looking into methods used in field experimentation. I think methods used by scientists collecting data in the field such as psychologists, animal behaviorists, and sociologists may lend well to our type of studies. They have dealt with environments which have allowed little if any control over variables and have still managed to gather credible evidence.

We all want there to be something beyond. Most of us know in our heart of hearts that there is something there. We have a forum here of open minded individuals. This is unique, and academic scrutiny is much less kind in criticism. Please know that this is intended as constructive criticism, and I open myself to the same from anyone with a different slant on this. I'm afraid I'll have to disregard Ms. Stark's advice and walk right in front of that catapult. If we, and I mean we, continue to push our own qualifications, never resting on our laurels, and continue to question even when it hurts, we may yet see the marriage of science and the soul. For that to happen, we need a Jane Goodall of the underworld, someone willing to spend years, decades on a single defined experiment saturated with collected data and based upon the severest structure of scientific method. I fully realize the highly pompous impression this will leave, but I am far more worried about the unquestioning acceptance we afford each other. It is true that we need a nurturing environment considering the opposition and incredulous nature of the common attitudes we are often faced with. However, the protective insulation can be as detrimental as what we are protected from. If we can't question, then there is no reason to speak. I may be lying down the gauntlet but it is only because I respect us enough to think we are up to the challenge.

I don't know Latin myself, but here's one I thought appropriate. "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate" Ockham's Razor http://phyun5.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node10.html#SECTION02125000000000000000

C.T. Thieme
Writer and Web Author

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