The Loh Down On Science

Spooky Science

Science can help you believe in ghosts!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, who has not skipped a groove.

I don't mean science can prove the existence of ghosts. I mean your ghostly claims will have more credibility if you ground them in scientific-sounding ideas.

Communications researcher Paul Brewer wondered: How do hokey ghost-hunting TV shows get people to believe? So he asked volunteers to read newspaper articles about apparitions and the people who hunt them. Then everyone answered questions about the credibility of the ghost hunters.

Brewer got some interesting answers. In the articles, the paranormalists who invoked science for their claims seemed the most trustworthy. One article got big points from readers for simply mentioning a detector that picks up electromagnetic fields.

And that's how to make your ghost story believable: Make up some science to go with it. Like instruments. And technology. And acronyms. And plasma shooters.

Just like in that documentary I saw--Ghostbusters!

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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