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I am writing an argumentative essay on paranomal phenoma for my portfolio in English....

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echoesofsilencex | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 22, 2013 at 6:51 PM via web

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I am writing an argumentative essay on paranomal phenoma for my portfolio in English. For my evidence for the existence of paranormal phenomena,  I was planning on using 5 examples: 3 from 3 different time periods (1800s,1900s and 2000s) and 2 from 2 different cultures which I have yet to decide on. However, I have no idea what to use as evidence against paranormal phenomena. Help, please? Thank you.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 22, 2013 at 8:38 PM (Answer #1)

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You have a good plan for your essay, and it is not surprising that you are struggling with the contradictory arguments to the existence of paranormal phenomena. The types of incidents, the consistency of them over time, and the sheer number of reported incidents is rather overwhelming evidence of paranormal activity.

A quick look at the research suggests two possible opposing points for your essay. First, scientists are not able to refine and highlight new effects of the phenomenon

[T]he data claiming to demonstrate paranormal events ''always stay at the very edge of perceptibility.'' As scientists learn more about a phenomenon, they can often refine their experiments to highlight the new effects. Despite years of work, that has not occurred with the paranormal research....

Second, paranormal activity is not scientifically reproducible. 

Paranormal phenomena are usually not reliably reproducible. Thus one has reports of the events, but usually one does not have the ability to make the events recur at will. If paranormal phenomena were reliably reproducible, then it would be very difficult to say that they did not exist.

This seems to be the most effective argument: it cannot be verified scientifically, so there is the possibility, at least, that it is not real. 

It is hard to discount so many people over so much time documenting these experiences (and discounting all of them as liars seems ridiculous), so your best strategy is probably to make the best contrary arguments you can and then move on to your position arguments. Happy writing!

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Lori Steinbach

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Jessica Gardner | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 27, 2013 at 12:04 AM (Answer #2)

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A good article for you to use as a source in your essay is this one from Discovery magazine: http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/real-paranormal-activity-111021.htm. Its argument is not that paranormal phenomena does not exist, but that the "evidence" of it is unreliable. Most of it is based on personal accounts, which cannot be verified, as auntlori explains above. Furthermore, ghost hunters' equipment is also unreliable. Take the recordings of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) for example:

The problem is that microphones are very sensitive and may record anything from someone whispering in the next room, to wind blowing, to ordinary random sounds from the environment, or even sounds from the ghost hunters themselves. There's no mystery about what causes EVPs, and it has nothing to do with ghosts. EVPs are created by a well-understood psychological process called apophenia, which causes people to "hear" distinct sounds in random white noise patterns such as the background static in an audio recording (like hearing the doorbell or the telephone while one is in the shower).

While believers of paranormal phenomena may disagree with this, it is a valid rebuttal to your argument and might be worthwhile to include in your essay.

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Jessica Gardner

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