Tag Archives: Entertainment

That is probably not a ghost, it’s probably just randomness.

By, Adam K. Fetterman

Poster design by Gravillis Inc.

A recent trend in cable television is paranormal investigation shows. For example, the SyFy channel has Ghost Hunters and A&E has Paranormal State. The point of these shows is to investigate claims of the paranormal and then confirm or debunk them. While certain shows do a fairly good job of at least “trying” to debunk the claims, others make no clear attempt. For instance, many, if not all, of these shows feature a time of “investigation” in which the main “characters” try to communicate with the spirit world. They do so by asking the “ghosts” to make a noise or make themselves appear. Usually they will come up with some sort of noise or evidence and conclude that, “indeed, there is a presence!” The first problem here is that, in order to properly debunk such events, one must not believe in them in the first place, or at least have some education in explaining psychological or natural experiences. However, the main issue is that a truly skeptical person will take the evidence of a random noise in response to a question as chance occurrence that is more likely to be explained statistical randomness. One the other hand, a paranormal believer would dismiss that event as chance and explain it paranormally.

This is what is known as the conjunction fallacy. According to Rogers, Davis, & Fisk (2008), indeed those who believe in the paranormal, are more susceptible to the conjunction fallacy than non-believers. Furthermore, they found that those less educated in math, statistics and psychology were more susceptible as well. Therefore, when two not-so-rare events occur (i.e. talking and a bump in the night), paranormal believers make the error in concluding that both events occurring simultaneously was too improbable to be coincidence. Based on previous findings, Rogers and colleagues suggest that this happens because those that believe in the paranormal have less understanding of chance and randomness. In closing, it is obvious that these shows are for purely entertainment value and most people would not tune in if they didn’t find “evidence” of the paranormal. However, it does seem troublesome to perpetuate a lack of rational and logical reasoning skills.

In a couple weeks: Why some are motivated to believe in the paranormal?

Researching the paranormal with Ryan Buell. By, Jennifer Vazquez – The Leader

A&E’s Paranormal State website.

SyFy’s Ghost Hunters website.

Rogers, P., Davis T., & Fisk, J. (2009). Paranormal belief and susceptibility of the conjunction fallacy. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 524-542

The Conference Ends without Closing…

Final sunsetNow that we’ve come to the end, the Compass team would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone who has participated and made our first virtual conference an overwhelming success. The authors and presenters have been, without exception, engaging and professional to the last. We’d also like to extend a special note of thanks to our virtual attendees, who have kept the discussions alive with insightful commentary, and their openness to explore issues across disciplines.

There will be no new content uploaded to the site after Friday 30th October, but there is still much to discuss. All of the presentations and comments will remain on the website indefinitely, and we’d encourage you all to keep engaging with the content so long as there are issues to be explored, and interdisciplinary barriers to be broken down! If you sign up to receive email alerts of new comments, you can keep up with any ongoing conversations.

We sincerely hope you have enjoyed the conference – here are some things that you can do to stay in touch:

  • Check out the Compass journals and recommend to your librarian. Researchers, teaching faculty, and advanced students will all benefit from the accessible, informative articles that provide overviews of current research. Personal subscriptions are now also available.
  • Complete the post-conference opinion survey, coming to you next week. Your thoughts will help us make decisions about future conferences.
  • If you have suggestions, or even just a short comment, you can pop it in our Suggestion Box or Email us
  • Access the Publishing Workshops and Keynotes via iTunes (as from the conference website). The raw feed for the podcasts can be found here.
  • Share our keynote video lectures via our Vimeo channel
  • Tell others about your experience of the conference!

Final reminder: your 20% book discount token is valid until 15th November, so visit the book exhibit before then.

Until next time…?

Thanks again,

The Compass Team
www.blackwell-compass.com