I've been too tired lately to come up with content for here, let alone be able to make it sensible or entertaining.
That said, here's something I scratched out this morning:
One of my guilty pleasures is the show Ghost Hunters on the Scifi Channel, which I suppose might technically violate my "no reality show" policy. I think it squeaks by, though, on the basis that it's so steeped in a fantasy-world rendition of how science works.
See, the Ghost Hunters seem to legitimately believe that what they do is "take a scientific approach" to the study of the paranormal -- but unfortunately most of what they do just plain isn't scientific at all.
One of the staples of the show is Using Faulty Logic™, which I'm pleased to say they're quite good at.
Because so many people seem to not understand how logic works, I'm going to give a couple of examples of Ghost Hunter Logic™ and explain why they're no good. Hopefully this will serve as a kind of public service announcement, possibly helping some people that don't realize that they're not thinking logically about things.
First up: thermometers and EMF detectors as scientific ghost detection tools.
The theory here is that many places that people typically think might be haunted have been found to have measurable temperature differentials and measurable Electro Magnetic Field fluctuations.
As a logic excercise, we're going to assume that ghosts do exist, and that they do cause EMF/temperature fluctuations. (This is quite a stretch; neither of these things has been even close to proven, but bear with me.)
So, if I were going with Ghost Hunter Logic™, I could make the following claim:
"I just measured a cold spot and an abnormally high level of electromagnetic radiation with my scientific instruments. Because I know that ghosts cause cold spots and magnetic field fluctuations, I now know that there's a ghost here right now. Give me a tv show."
In case you're one of the large part of the population suffering from faulty logic-detection, that statement doesn't work because you can't correlate cause and effect in this way. Just because Pine-sol smells like pine doesn't mean that smelling pine proves that there must be Pine-sol around.
That's the fundamental flaw with how the Ghost Hunters guys investigate things. They come into every investigation thinking that there are ghosts; now any cold spot or magnetic field fluctuation that can't easily be explained becomes evidence that there's a ghost. Sure, they often discount them if they can easily explain them, which I have to give them credit for, but far too often they just don't think of the logical explanation.
Case in point:
Recently they were investigating a haunted library. As they walked around through the aisles, they kept hearing "footsteps" coming from aisles that would stop as soon as they would stop to listen. This suggested to them that something sentient was trying to evade detection. What this suggested to me was that their own footfalls were pehaps being echoed, or that there were loose floorboards or something that would transfer the noise over to another aisle.
I'm going to try to make a habit of posting examples of faulty logic I come across in an attempt to solve this serious problem.
The author lives in Vancouver, Washington, USA with his girlfriend and a menagerie of cats, rats, fish, birds, guinea pigs and robots.
Among other inanities, he strives to use investigative techniques to work young starlet breasts into every aspect of rational discourse -- focusing on the discourse, thus making it not perverted. Also, has recently begun a career as "Internet hairstylist."
He can be contacted via email and Jabber IM at 'email@example.com'. He likes to be contacted.
(All press inquiries, however, ought be directed towards the author's agent, Alistair Hoel, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)