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The Paranormal Numbers Game

PSI’s Dave Wood looks at why so many paranormal investigators are doomed to ridicule just because they can’t play the numbers game and don’t understand statistics.Two Dice

Many a paranormal investigator becomes cynical and frustrated over the years because no one who isn’t a full-throated believer will take them seriously. To take one example, they can recall several occasions when they pointed towards and ‘orb’ and it ‘appeared’ on camera. Everyone concerned might exclaim that there is no way ‘orbs’ can be dust – because they appear on command.

To those with less experience such an event might seem impressive. Surely orbs must be paranormal if they can behave on command? No mote of dust can do that. So why won’t anyone rational takes these claims seriously, even when they accept them at face value?

Something science learnt long ago is that what is not said is just as important as what is said. Would you take a potentially dangerous clinical drug if ten out of ten studies said it was effective? How would you feel if twenty studies showed them to be ineffective but no one bothered to mention them? The odds might seem less appealing now. If someone shows you a single picture of someone pointing to an orb on camera it seems quite compelling. But what if, in a file drawer somewhere, there were another thirty photos of the same person pointing at nothing at all. Or the orb was in the wrong place?

One in three photos might show orbs (a common figure in many locations) and there may be a one in ten chance that an orb might appear near or in the line of someone’s outstretched hand. Is it not therefore just simple math’s and logic that of thirty photos of them must show an orb that is being pointed out, in the same way that six rolls of a die should show every number?

It is difficult to believe that most individuals would go out to deceive in this way. However the reality is that they most likely do not. Human memory is very selective. We will always pick and choose from events to find those that fit in with our beliefs and our arguments. Over time all the other circumstances are forgotten and just the one occasion and the one photograph remains.

Next time someone is failing to take you seriously its always worth asking yourself whether you are really giving them any reason to take you seriously.