Saturday, January 30, 2010

Science, Psychology and Type-1 Error

Every person in the American society theorizes about many paranormal activities. The widespread of folklore and insignificant evidence within the paranormal are a significant introduction for superstitious beliefs. For decades this notion of the transcendent, supernatural or numinous, usually involving entities like ghosts, demons or deities, is a cultural universal shared by all human cultures.

Since this phenomena has been around for years we must seek for an explanation for this paranormal activities. As a result the most common explanation is within the imagination of the human mind causing paredolia and apophenia.

A type 1 error (false positive, false alarm, caused by an excess in sensitivity) is a situation created when the brain interprets random patterns as being familiar patterns according to Charles M. Wynn and Arthur W. Wiggins from the book "Quantum leaps in the wrong direction:where real Science Ends and Pseudoscience Begins" . When a person that often believes in paranormal events as something beyond the natural and has claimed for evidence of "seeing" the paranormal activity as a scientific evidence of this phenomena, they don't realize that it could have been a very common type 1 error. For this reason there is a way to explain a paranormal event with a consistent scientific explanation.

But you must be thinking, In what we can associate a type 1 error? Common locations of this error are often found in EVP ( Electro Voice Phenomenon), RF ( Radio Frequency), ITC (InstrumentalTranCommunication) where supernatural phenomenon such as ghost, things moving, poltergeists and voices are commonly found.

Every attribute given as supernatural belief like "ghost trapped in this world", "ghost with unfinished business" , "unexplained energy", "objects flying and moving", "weird steps", "Cold temperatures when a ghost is present" and the "white noise from EVP" creates a concern for all living things and a certain respect to be in harmony with the phenomena. When this values are present the believer often avoids all scientific evidence supporting this values and therefore, creating paranormal beliefs without significant evidence. Like Albert Budden defines in "The poltergeist machine",

"By definition, the paranormal does not conform to conventional expectations of the natural. Therefore, a phenomenon cannot be confirmed as paranormal using the scientific method because,if it was, it would no longer fit the definition."

(This definition is quit interesting because if the hoaxers and frauds where able to get away with their work, than Albert Budden and the scientific method would be wrong by definition.)

When expanding sensory images we often realize that by the time a paranormal event occurs the believer will fight for the farther truth without a sense of logic, by the time this happens, feelings an apophenia will shine a ray of hope to insignificant data.

There is many organizations that today, still believe that all of this supernatural phenomena are based in the regular type 1 error attributes like: James Randi Foundation and Foundation for Paranormal Research which I consider serious.There is also a lot of other foundations and organizations that try to explain this phenomena without the scientific method like: Florida Paranormal Research Foundation and organizations of self-proclaimed serious,critical researchers when they seem to work with psychics like Ghost Research Foundation. And I must say i'm not emphasizing foundations applying psedo-scientific explanations for many things than physics can explain.

So people when you see a movie about ghost, hear the radio about the paranormal and watch TV shows talking about psedo-science don't forget that there is no farther truth than to find significant evidence about the subject and a rational explanation to give.


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