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Published on Nov 11, 2010
Part 1 of a 2-part talk which took place at SkeptiCamp DC on October 3, 2010. Views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the organizers of SkeptiCamp DC.
Presented by Sharron Hill
Do-it-yourself mystery investigation groups have proliferated in the U.S. inspired by television shows such as Ghost Hunters. This presentation provides the results of a study to determine the popularity and purposes of these groups in 2010. From a sample size of 1000 groups, about half were found to deliberately use words and symbols of science to characterize their activities, though members are not scientists and have no formal training in research. While they claim to be "scientific," these groups fail to meet the high standards acceptable to the scientific community. They exhibit confusion and misunderstanding about science and objectivity. By mimicking science, amateur investigation groups appear serious and credible to the public. It appears this is an effective way to sell the public the idea that they can find legitimate evidence of the paranormal.