There's a holy grail of a sort when it comes to books about proper investigations into paranormal phenomena... and that is anything with a legitimate guarantee of any sort.
1. EmpiricismSimply said, a scientist prefers to "look and see." You do not argue about whether it is raining outside -- just stick a hand out the window.
2. Determination"Cause-and-effect" underlie everything. In simple mechanisms, an action causes a reaction, and effects do not occur without causes. This does not mean that some processes are not random or chaotic. But a causative agent does not produce one effect today and another effect tomorrow.
Prefer the simple explanation to the complex;
#5. Scientific Manipulation
#5. Scientific ManipulationAny idea, even though it may be simple and conform to apparent observations must usually be confirmed by work that teases out the possibility that the effects are caused by other factors.
Nearly all statements make assumptions about prior conditions.
A scientist reaches a dead end in research...
...and has to go back and determine if all the assumptions made are true or how the world operates.
skep·ti·cismpronunciation: \ˈskep-tə-ˌsi-zəm\Function: noun
1 : an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object
2a : the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain
2b : the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics
3 : doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation)
#9. A Respect for Power of Theoretical StructureDiederich describes how a scientist is unlikely to adopt the attitude: "That's all right in theory but it won't work in practice." He notes that the theory is "all right" only if it works in practice. Indeed the rightness of a theory is in the end what the scientist is working toward; no science facts are accumulated at random. (This is an understanding that many science fair students must learn!)
#11. Loyalty to RealityDr. Urey did not convert to just any new idea, but accepted a model that matched reality better. He would never have considered holding to an old conclusion just because his name was associated with it.
12. Aversion to Superstition and an Automatic Preference for Scientific ExplanationNo scientist can know all of the experimental evidence underlying current science concepts and therefore must adopt some views without understanding their basis. A scientist rejects superstition and prefers science paradigms out of an appreciation for the power of reality-based knowledge.
13. A Thirst for Knowledge, an "Intellectual Drive"Scientists are addicted puzzle-solvers. The little piece of the puzzle that doesn't fit is the most interesting. However, as Diederich notes, scientists are willing to live with incompleteness rather than "fill the gaps with off-hand explanations."
Now, I wasn't going to do #14... as I want to avoid making this TOO long an article... but I did want to separate this sentence in #14 about "Suspended Judgement"...
Again Diederich describes: "A scientist tries hard not to form an opinion on a given issue until he has investigated it, because it is so hard to give up opinions already formed, and they tend to make us find the facts that support the opinions."
The organisation that the authors' belong to have a "three rule" notation that's made the rounds often through various outlets... one of these three is...
"Don't bother me with the facts, my mind's made up!"
I also often quote Epictetus who once said it is "impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows."
Granted, in accepting any of this, one must then look above and scratch several of these "Scientific Attitudes"... because we need to ONLY work from that which is know... not try to see if there's something we might not know.
To show I'm not completely against these "Attitudes", I whole-heartedly agree with #15 which is, in effect, to ensure all assumptions in a presentation of findings are clearly labelled as just that... assumptions.
Of course, in certain spheres, this is a one-way street...
The knocking on the wall could be a ghost... We need to investigate on-site.
The knocking on the wall is not a ghost... it's... um... the "Old Hag" syndrome which is nothing by sleep paralysis and hallucinations! No investigation required... until we find out it was experienced by more than one witness, then we will conveniently either forget that we ever "looked into" the case or come up with the next easiest answer as per William of Ockham's shaving implement!
Reading the two ideas above, which do you feel might yield something legitimately empirical... and yet, empiricism is "prime" in this list.
16. Ability to Separate Fundamental Concepts from the Irrelevant or Unimportant
Some young scientists get bogged down in observations and data that are of little importance to the concept they want to investigate.
After all, if we say the Gods are hurling fire at us while juggling bowling balls in the clouds, why waste time looking for other possibilities?
As a (albeit failed/interrupted) mathematical student... and a professional computer technician by trade, I do absolutely agree with the #17 "Attitude" which is, indeed, mathematics as a truly universal language. It is true, all you math-phobes... pretty much everything in the universe can (eventually with some effort,) be brought into focus with numbers... This isn't any snarky-sarcasm here... I mean this and agree with this...
Of course, there's #18...
18. An Appreciation of Probabilities and Statistics
Correlations do not prove cause-and-effect, but some pseudoscience arises when a chance occurrence is taken as "proof." Individuals who insist on an all-or-nothing world and who have little experience with statistics will have difficulty understanding the concept of an event occurring by chance.
Before getting started here, it does my heart good to see that the word, "psuedoscience" is NOT in any of the five spell-checking dictionaries I use... had to get that out first.
So, only pseudoscience is guilty of this... no one else, of course!
How's that "infrasound causes everything" hypothesis working out for you? No?
Okay, how about "ambient elevated EM fields causing frontal lobe hallucinations"? Again, not working?
Well, "Sleep Paralysis" and "The Hypnopompic/Hypnogogic States" have surely cleared up everythin... no?
NO WORRIES! I mean, mass hallucination is OBVIOUSLY the root of... not again?
So, looking at the above "catch-alls" thrown out by several members of an esteemed "scientific" organisation, and I can give MANY more examples of "coveralls" that didn't match up to the cases being explored, should I assume that a group that DOES put these out is actually a "pseudoscience" org? I mean, they are latching onto a catch-all without perfect or empirical evidence... so...
Moving on again...
19. An Understanding That All Knowledge Has Tolerance Limits
All careful analyses of the world reveal values that scatter at least slightly around an average point; a human's core body temperature is about so many degrees and objects fall at a certain rate of acceleration, but there is some variation. There is no absolute certainty.
Um, okay... I half expect to see the words "Purple", "Monkey", and "Dishwasher" in this rather odd statement... but I get the drift... As an EXAMPLE, the human core temperature SHOULD be within a specific tolerant limit without causing issues... although there is some room for movement, there isn't a lot of room to wiggle about with this temperature...
Okay... so we should not tolerate any information too far out of the normal and accepted logs of established knowledge.
Yup, think about where we'd be if THAT was a hard-and-fast rule...
Heavier than air craft can't fly. Being in a vehicle that travels faster than 30 (or so) miles an hour would put such a strain on your internal organs as to suffocate you almost immediately upon obtaining that speed. Illness is caused by bad smells that mess up the humours of the blood. We will never achieve any craft that will exit our own atmosphere. The sun revolves around the Earth... I can go on...
Just DON'T challenge what is know, gosh darn it! It'll always work out badly in the end... akin to taking your internal body temperature to 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Just see the example above! Purple monkey dishwasher. Yup,THIS is the PUREST (apparently) "Scientific Attitude".
20. Empathy for the Human Condition
Contrary to popular belief, there is a value system in science and it is based on humans being the only organisms that can "imagine" things that are not triggered by stimuli present at the immediate time in their environment; we are, therefore, the only creatures to "look" back at our past and plan forward to our future.
Bet you didn't know birds didn't make nests, beavers didn't build lodges, and gophers didn't burrow, did you?
This is why when you are reading a moving book, you imagine yourself in the position of another person and you think "I know what the author means and feels." Practices that ignore this empathy and resultant values for human life produce inaccurate science.
...which is why one of the author's of this book has called people frauds, mentally unbalanced, hoaxers, and sham artists without thorough examination and qualification... Even one of his contemporaries called him an "armchair debunker on many claims".
The group which he is attached to regularly calls any person who has a faith or claim outside the norm as "woo-woos" and mocks them... because mocking teaches people everything to make informed decisions... and being called a "woo-woo" has changed so many people's views on so many things... and shows ABSOLUTE understanding of the human condition.
I could go on... this book contains items that would make an Ontario Grade Six student weep for the lack of understanding of scientific principals and even go into the concept that a "house clearing" can be accomplished by simply attending the home and making "loud noises with lots of light" (because that makes the "woos" think it's all better now,) but I believe I simply (in this case) wanted to show one very important thing...
The above "Twenty Scientific Attitudes" have flaws. Big flaws... and the people advocating them are obviously flawed and don't abide by some of them themselves (as even somewhat referenced in the book.)
...and yet, this book has, time and time again been bandied about as a proper "scientific" tome for looking into claims of the paranormal... despite it's supposed base "Scientific Attitudes" being rather sketchy at best... downright wrong at worst.
The book? "Missing Pieces - How to Investigate Ghosts, UFOs, Psychics, & Other Mysteries"... by Robert A. Baker and Joe Nickell.
...and as my title suggests, there may be an "attitude" problem with this book... call it an empirical hunch.