S.O.S. Ghostbuster

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Locution (from Latin locutio, -onis a “speaking” < loqui “speak”) is a paranormal phenomenon a supernatural revelation where a religious figure, statue or icon speaks, usually to a saint. Phenomena of locutions are described in the lives of Christian saints such as Saint Mary of Egypt (5th century), who heard the locution from the Icon of Virgin Mary at the Holy Sepulcher or in case of the Saint Henry of Coquet Island (d. 1127) who experienced the locution from the figure of Christ crucified.

The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (1978) reports the locution phenomenon in the life of the St. Henry of Coquet, a Dane by birth, who was a hermit on an island off the British coast by Tynemouth:

“After some years a party of Danes tried to persuade him to return to his own country, where there was no lack of site suitable for hermits. But after a night in prayer and experience of a locution from the figure of Christ crucified, he decided to stay on. As his holiness became known, visitors became numerous, attracted by his special gifts of prophesy, telekinesis and reading the secrets of hearts”.

Likewise, similar locution case is reported in the life of Saint Mary of Egypt:

“Once at Jerusalem, she was held back from entering the church with the other pilgrims by an invisible and irresistible force. Lifting her eyes to an icon of the Blessed Virgin, she was told to go over the Jordan where she would find rest”.

Locution (paranormal) – Wikipedia

Unexplained phenomena. For phenomena not subject to laws of nature.

Paranormal is a general term (coined c. 1915–1920) that designates experiences that lie outside “the range of normal experience or scientific explanation” or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science’s current ability to explain or measure. Paranormal phenomena are distinct from certain hypothetical entities, such as dark matter and dark energy, only insofar as paranormal phenomena are inconsistent with the world as already understood through empirical observation coupled with scientific methodology. Thousands of stories relating to paranormal phenomena are found in popular culture, folklore, and the recollections of individual subjects. In contrast, the scientific community, as referenced in statements made by organizations such as the United States National Science Foundation, maintains that scientific evidence does not support a variety of beliefs that have been characterized as paranormal

Paranormal” has been in the English language since at least 1920. It consists of two parts: para and normal. In most definitions of the word paranormal, it is described as anything that is beyond or contrary to what is deemed scientifically possible. The definition implies that the scientific explanation of the world around us is the ‘normal’ part of the word and ‘para’ makes up the above, beyond, beside, contrary, or against part of the meaning.

Paranormal subjects
On the classification of paranormal subjects, Terence Hines in his book Pseudoscience and the Paranormal (2003) wrote:

The paranormal can best be thought of as a subset of pseudoscience. What sets the paranormal apart from other pseudo sciences is a reliance on explanations for alleged phenomena that are well outside the bounds of established science. Thus, paranormal phenomena include extrasensory perception (ESP), telekinesis, ghosts, poltergeists, life after death, reincarnation, faith healing, human auras, and so forth. The explanations for these allied phenomena are phrased in vague terms of “psychic forces,” “human energy fields,” and so on. This is in contrast to many pseudo scientific explanations for other non paranormal phenomena, which, although very bad science, are still couched in acceptable scientific terms. The most notable paranormal beliefs include those that pertain to ghosts, extraterrestrial life, unidentified flying objects and cryptids.

Ghosts and other spiritual entities

A ghost is a manifestation of the spirit or soul of a person. Alternative theories expand on that idea and include belief in the ghosts of deceased animals. Sometimes the term “ghost” is used synonymously with any spirit or demon, however in popular usage the term typically refers to a deceased person’s spirit.

Extraterrestrial life and UFOs
Extraterrestrial hypothesis and unidentified flying object

The possibility of extraterrestrial life is not, by itself, a paranormal subject. Many scientists are actively engaged in the search for unicellular life within the solar system, carrying out studies on the surface of Mars and examining meteors that have fallen to Earth. Projects such as SETI are conducting an astronomical search for radio activity that would show evidence of intelligent life outside the solar system. Scientific theories of how life developed on Earth allow for the possibility that life developed on other planets as well. The paranormal aspect of extraterrestrial life centers largely around the belief in unidentified flying objects and the phenomena said to be associated with them.

Parapsychology
Participant of a Ganzfeld experiment which proponents say may show evidence of telepathy. Experimental investigation of the paranormal has been conducted by parapsychologists. Although parapsychology has its roots in earlier research, it began using the experimental approach in the 1930s under the direction of J. B. Rhine (1895–1980). Rhine popularized the now famous methodology of using card-guessing and dice-rolling experiments in a laboratory in the hopes of finding a statistical validation of extra-sensory perception.

In 1957, the Parapsychological Association was formed as the preeminent society for parapsychologists. In 1969, they became affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That affiliation, along with a general openness to psychic and occult phenomena in the 1970s, led to a decade of increased
parapsychological research. During this time, other notable organizations were also formed, including the Academy of Parapsychology and Medicine (1970), the Institute of Parascience (1971), the Academy of Religion and Psychical Research, the Institute for Noetic Sciences (1973), and the International Kirlian Research Association (1975). Each of these groups performed experiments on paranormal subjects to varying degrees. Parapsychological work was also conducted at the Stanford Research Institute during this time.

With the increase in parapsychological investigation, there came an increase in opposition to both the findings of parapsychologists and the granting of any formal recognition of the field. Criticisms of the field were focused in the founding of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (1976), now called the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and its periodical, Skeptical Inquirer. Eventually, more mainstream scientists became critical of parapsychology as an endeavor, and statements by the National Academies of Science and the National Science Foundation cast a pall on the claims of evidence for parapsychology. Today, many cite parapsychology as an example of a pseudoscience.

By the 2000s, the status of paranormal research in the United States had greatly declined from its height in the 1970s, with the majority of work being privately funded and only a small amount of research being carried out in university laboratories. In 2007, Britain had a number of privately funded laboratories in university psychology departments. Publication remained limited to a small number of niche journals, and to date there have been no experimental results that have gained wide acceptance in the scientific community as valid evidence of the paranormal.

Sive research at alleged paranormal locations. One popular website for ghost hunting enthusiasts lists over 300 of these organizations throughout the United States and the United Kingdom.

Parapsychology – Wikipedia

Skeptical scientific investigation

James Randi is a well-known investigator of paranormal claims.

Scientific skeptics advocate critical investigation of claims of paranormal phenomena: applying the scientific method to reach a rational, scientific explanation of the phenomena to account for the paranormal claims, taking into account that alleged paranormal abilities and occurrences are sometimes hoaxes or misinterpretations of natural phenomena. A way of summarizing this method is by the application of Occam’s razor, which suggests that the simpler solution is usually the correct one. The standard scientific models give the explanation that what appears to be paranormal phenomena is usually a misinterpretation, misunderstanding, or anomalous variation of natural phenomena, rather than an actual paranormal phenomenon.

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, formerly the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is an organization that aims to publicise the scientific, skeptical approach. It carries out investigations aimed at understanding paranormal reports in terms of scientific understanding, and publishes its results in its journal, the Skeptical Inquirer.

Richard Wiseman, of The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, draws attention to possible alternative explanations for perceived paranormal activity in his article, The Haunted Brain. While he recognizes that approximately 15% of people believe they have experienced an encounter with a ghost, he reports that only 1% report seeing a full-fledged ghost while the rest report strange sensory stimuli, such as seeing fleeting shadows or wisps of smoke, or the sensation of hearing footsteps or feeling a presence. Wiseman makes the claim that, rather than experiencing paranormal activity, it is activity within our own brains that creates these strange sensations. Although it was initially proposed by Michael Persinger that ghostly experiences could be replicated by stimulating the brain with weak magnetic fields, this theory was later thrown out by research led by Swedish psychologist, Pehr Granqvist. Upon attempting to replicate the research by Persinger, Granqvist and his team determined that the paranormal sensations experienced by Persinger’s subjects were merely the result of suggestion, and that brain stimulation with magnetic fields did not result in ghostly experiences. However, Oxford University psychologist Justin Barrett has proposed a theory to explain sensations of paranormal activity. Barrett claims that ‘agency’—being able to figure out why people do what they do—is so important in everyday life, that it is natural for our brains to work too hard at it, thereby detecting human or ghost-like behaviour in everyday meaningless stimuli. This article in the Skeptical Inquirer suggests that paranormal sensations are not the result of spirits visiting the Earth. Instead, it is the workings inside our brains causing us to attribute meaningless stimuli to ghostly activity.

Former stage magician James Randi is a well-known investigator of paranormal claims. As an investigator with a background in illusion, Randi feels that the simplest explanation for those claiming paranormal abilities is often trickery, illustrated by demonstrating that the spoon bending abilities of psychic Uri Geller can easily be duplicated by trained stage magicians. He is also the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation and its million dollar challenge offering a prize of US $1,000,000 to anyone who can demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event, under test conditions agreed to by both parties. Despite many declarations of supernatural ability, this prize remains unclaimed.

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