Old Habits Die Hard

Paranormal Researchers have teamed up with Behavioural Psychologists to determine whether ghosts retain their prior personalities and habits.

“It’s just something we take for granted, that someone who had tendencies in life would carry them on after they died. But with any science, assumptions must be tested, so that’s what we set out to do,” said Hente Vaumer, Project Lead of Spiritual Investigations of North Carolina (SINC).

Using a mixture of techniques, such as psychological profiling, environmental analysis and sifting through historical records, the team compiled a set of characteristics to examine on a host of ghosts.

“While most investigators look at hard evidence, like photographs of apparitions or listening to EVPs, we go one step further an apply what we’ve found back to the personality of the entity we’re after. It is challenging, especially since, just like common folk, we have good days and bad days. Another time we had to throw out a whole month worth of compiled data because it turned out that we were dealing with two separate entities,” he says, “Still, it’s proving to be very insightful.”

Some of the key findings to come from the research include:

  • Most ghosts (86% of the sample collected) are not malevolent in nature.
  • Habits formed during a lifetime have a higher tendency to carry on after death.
  • Speech and behavioural habits have the highest tendency, whereas physical habits, like a limp or finger strumming, are less evident.
  • Of the entities marked as malevolent, 70% resorted to physical interaction when provoked, compared to 25% of non-malevolent.
  • Intelligence does not appear to have a correlation to the entity’s previous apparent level.
  • Criminal entities, those that have been identified by historical records as having served time for serious crime, represented 65% of the malevolent entities.

Says psychologist Rana Martina, “This is very exciting. It shows that the physical body, the chemicals and makeup, become insignificant after one dies. Without the influence of hormones and bodily constraints, the mind is free to develop on a different plane altogether. One can imagine that it would be like living in a sensory deprivation chamber, only even sensations of thirst, hunger and other desires would be quashed. So this raises a very important question: If there are no physical demands to motivate the mind, all that is left, the core motivator we can call it, must be of a pure essence.”

The team are cautious about drawing conclusions, conscious that others in the field do not appreciate their approach.

“Some say Paranormology is a quack-science. Others say the same thing about Psychology. Be that as it may, we’ve kept to scientific methodology and our papers can be scrutinised by peer review. We’re also using statistical analysis rather than pure empirical methodologies, and I think this makes all the difference.”ChesterLogoSmall

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Ghost Hunting a Science

Following on from television shows like ‘Ghost Hunters‘ and books like ‘Paranormology‘, the hunt for ghosts and research into the spiritual realm is set to lose its pseudoscience badge in favour of a degree.

Students at the University of Mount Gambier in South Australia can now choose to become official Paranormologists. With the aim to make Paranormology as commonplace as geography or astronomy, the University is trialing the course over the next few years.

“The first few subjects deal with scientific methodology, the importance of thoroughly recording observations and peer review. Once the students have a grounding in the accepted practices, they then move on to equipment, practical training and observation techniques,” says Doctor Sue Rochester, “The word ‘ghost’ doesn’t even appear in any recommended text books until the third year.”

Unproven methodologies such as clairvoyance and seances are not part of the curriculum, says Sue, although they are addressed in the subjects of hoaxes.

“As a scientist working in a field that naturally attracts charlatanism, it’s important to know how to remain objective, how to spot human interference, how to use scientific analysis to rule out trickery.”

The Paranormology course is being piloted with a view for expanding into other fields, such as Cryptozoology and Ufology.