You don't have to understand aerodynamics to fly
Are ghost external entities?
Do ghosts exist outside people's heads? What evidence do we have that they do?
- repeated similar accounts from one place
- photographs of 'ghosts'
- instruments affected in haunted areas
- multiple witnesses at a single sighting
Perhaps surprisingly, there are alternative explanations for all these instances. See, for instance, the discussion of the Stone Tape theory and the page about anomalous photos.
That being the case, we don't need to invoke plasma physics or quantum theory yet to explain ghosts. What we really need are convincing instrumental records of ghosts as external entities.
Put evidence first
You can find many articles on the web which approach the paranormal from a scientific view. The technical detail may be enough to put most researchers off the scientific approach altogether.
You will find detailed descriptions of the science (not always accurate) behind such things as EMF meters and infrasound. You can also find a lot about such arcane matters as quantum theory. There are articles explaining electromagnetism that vary from simple to university level and beyond.
This is fine except that the material often goes into far too much detail for paranormal researchers. There are technical articles here, of course, though the aim has always been to keep them simple and relevant to paranormal research.
The most important point about science that paranormal field researchers need to know is how to gather good evidence. Until there is persuasive evidence that ghosts exist outside people's heads (see left) then plasma theory and is irrelevant.
The science you need to know
There really isn't any need to go into exotic science to do paranormal research. It is much more important to obtain rigorous scientific evidence.
The things to concentrate on are:
Leave the complicated science alone until you have persuasive evidence. Good evidence is the bedrock of good science. You don't necessarily need to understand how everything works to measure it properly.
© Maurice Townsend 2006
It is amazing how many psychic phenomena (not to mention, divination) rely on random, or near random, patterns.
Consider, for instance, EVP. Some EVP researchers deliberately use white noise (a mixture of equal intensities of many sound frequencies) to 'stimulate' apparent communication with 'spirits' or other discarnate entities. Similarly, random visual patterns are sometimes said contain 'faces' or 'figures' in photographs.
Other techniques for 'spirit' communication, such as table-tilting, planchette and ouija also rely on what are effectively machines that deliberately produce random movements. The movements themselves are made by the participants (supposedly by unconscious muscular action - UMA). However, by having several people all contributing slight pressure in different directions, the overall movement becomes essentially random.
In all these cases, the idea is to see meaningful patterns (words, faces) standing out from the random background.
There are two problems with all these techniques. Firstly, humans have a tendency to 'see' patterns, even where there are none. Secondly, what might appear a random background may not be random at all (for instance, the 'white noise' between radio channels is not random but contains fragments of badly tuned and distant stations as well as atmospheric effects).
It is such practical matters that should concern field researchers rather than arcane scientific theory.