Articles ~ Research ~ SGHA Method 1: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Generally speaking, what is method one?
A controlled experiment with a blind standard.
An experiment or test can be carried out by using the scientific method. The steps are make an observation, ask a question, form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, analyze the results, draw a conclusion, and communicate results. The reason a hypothesis is tested is so that it can be confirmed, denied, or refined, with the knowledge currently available.
To demonstrate a cause and effect hypothesis, an experiment must often show that, for example, a phenomenon occurs after a certain treatment is given to a subject, and that the phenomenon does not occur in the absence of the treatment .A controlled experiment generally compares the results obtained from an experimental sample against a control sample, which is practically identical to the experimental sample except for the one aspect whose effect is being tested (the independent variable).
In method 1, we are using this same procedure to compare a positive control ( a "haunted" location) against a negative control, "the control sample" ( a "non-haunted location) to ascertain if there is a significant difference between paranormal and normal. A additional control, the blind standard, is utilized to ensure that the ghost hunters are not aware which locations are positive controls and which are negative controls. This, along with standardized operating procedures, ensures that the ghost hunters are collecting data the same way in either type of control.
The independent variable tested may be a particular piece of instrumentation or a important variable observed in a hypothesis formed through quasi-emperical methods.
Here is a possible example:
A hypothesis developed through quasi-emperical methods may suggest that "ghosts" can be photographed, but not seen by the naked eye, due to the influence of the gamma irradiation on photoluminescence properties of the ghost itself.
The hypothesis is tested by obtaining a instrument that measures gamma radiation (since it's the measurable component) and the ghost hunters are properly trained to operate the meter. The meter is then used in "ghost hunts" in positive and negative control sites. Any measurements obtained are recorded and trended. The research cycle ends when measurements have been obtained in at least 20 positive control sites and 20 negative control sites.
The results are then compared to see if there is a difference between the measurements obtained in the positive controls and those taken in the negative controls. If the measurements are equal or greater than the sum of the negative control sites, the hypothesis is rejected as there is no significant difference in gamma radiation in haunted and non-haunted environments.
What are the advantages of Method 1?
1. It is very simple. All you need to do is to find the measurable component in a hypothesis and run it through the method. Also, because of it simplicity, you can run multiple variables in a single research cycle.
2. The variable that "ghosts do not exist" is trended as well. If ghosts do not exist, any variable that is tested should balance out between the controls or be outweighed by the negative control.
3. Scientific controls are a vital part of Method 1, since they can eliminate or minimize unintended influences such as researcher bias, environmental changes and biological variation. Controls are needed to eliminate alternate explanations of experimental results.
How do you have a positive control for something unknown, like the paranormal?
The most logical answer, to us, was to use probability theory. This page contains the methods that we use to assign positive and negative controls.
What are the limitations of Method 1?
Method 1 cannot track a large number of variables at once without becoming too complicated. If this is required, another method must be used.
Blind Standard v. s. the Double Blind Standard
Prior to July of 2009, Method 1 was conducted under a double blind standard. This meant that the ghost hunters of SGHA were completely unaware that they were going in non-haunted locations under the guise that they were haunted. While the double blind standard ensured a more reliable result, it also had it's disadvantages.
1. The inability to publish results without reveling the method itself.
2. Confusion in methodology when instrumentation was removed or switched out for other instruments when a research cycle ended.
In July of 2009, the double blind standard was downgraded to a blind standard. SGHA ghost hunters now know about Method 1 and the negative controls. However the location of the control sites is still kept confidential.
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