Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Occam’s Razor

Ghost hunters often keep this theory in mind when they are trying to determine if something they have seen or experienced is paranormal or not. 

Occam’s razor is a theory that puts forth this concept: “The simplest explanation is usually the best.” Another interpretation of this theory is: “The reason that makes the fewest assumptions is the right one.” 

Paranormal investigators sometimes get trapped into a vicious cycle of looking too far and wide in their efforts to prove something they have experienced is indeed paranormal. 

In contrast, the Occam Razor theory reminds us not to overlook obvious or common explanations.

A good rule of thumb is --if you have to repeatedly justify a piece of evidence it most likely is not paranormal in nature.

In the process of determining whether something is paranormal or not it is best to take one thing at a time and always look first for a logical explanation. 

If something slips off a shelf—your first question should not be did a ghost push it off? But rather, was the shelf bumped, did the shelf support give way slightly because of the vibrations of footsteps? Was the shelf support loose?

A good rule of thumb is to always: stop, think and be realistic.

To balance the above we also need to ask what is possible versus what is likely. In this way we do not rule out or miss something that could prove to be paranormal in nature. But again, pick the answer that needs the fewest assumptions.

Another good rule of thumb: paranormal evidence that will stand up to scrutiny cannot be attributed to countless other reasons.

Let’s look at the shelf example. Can we determine if the item slipped off the shelf because of paranormal activity? 

Many cynics of the paranormal would state that if there is a man made explanation for an event then it can’t possibly be paranormal. 

I actually agree with this theory up to a certain point. If the shelf support was loose, or when you walk across the room another item slips then you have your man made cause. 

At this juncture cynics would state—there you go. 

But what they never address after they make this conclusion is this: What if other things are occurring in the room besides things slipping off the shelf? What if they can’t all be attributed to man made causes? What then?

Happy Ghost Hunting!

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