The Devil's Advocate

Episode 10: The Claims of Steve Hultay

by on Jul.10, 2010, under Podcast

In this episode, David and Stephen critically examine the claims of Steve Hultay from Keyport Paranormal.  They also discuss some of their closed cases before the episode is through!

3 Comments for this entry

  • Resor

    sort of liked this post 😛 not all of it – there were a few things which i found a lttle bit off however all in all it was a nice read, many thanks for the post! 🙂 Best regards, Resor

  • David Rountree

    Thanks Resor,
    Our point in the end is extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (Carl Sagan) and none of these ITC folks supply any of it, leaving us essentially to take their word for it. Well, I’m sorry, but at best that is called “Anecdotal Evidence” and is a poor example of that at best.
    The expression anecdotal evidence refers to evidence that may be true but cherry-picked or otherwise unrepresentative of typical cases.

    Also, anecdotal evidence can be inaccurate, sometimes based on anecdotes, second-hand accounts of events or hearsay.

    Anecdotal evidence, which may itself be true and verifiable, can be used to deduce a conclusion which does not follow from it, usually by generalizing from an insufficient amount of evidence. For example “my grandfather smoked like a chimney and died healthy in a car crash at the age of 99” does not disprove the proposition that “smoking markedly increases the probability of cancer and heart disease at a relatively early age”. While the evidence is true, it does not warrant the conclusion made from it.

    Conclusions made from anecdotal evidence might not be untrue, but they are unreliable because they don’t follow from the evidence and might easily be incorrect.

    You can also take a generalization and then search for anecdotal evidence that “confirms” it. For example “Yogurt prolongs life. I didn’t believe it, but then I heard that a man in a mountain village who ate only yogurt lived to 120.”

    The term is often used in contrast to scientific evidence, such as evidence-based medicine, which are types of formal accounts. Some anecdotal evidence does not qualify as scientific evidence because its nature prevents it from being investigated using the scientific method. Misuse of anecdotal evidence is a logical fallacy and is sometimes informally referred to as the “person who” fallacy (“I know a person who…”; “I know of a case where…” etc. Compare with hasty generalization). Anecdotal evidence is not necessarily representative of a “typical” experience; statistical evidence can more accurately determine how typical something is.

    Accounts of direct personal experience are commonly equated to anecdotal evidence where the evidence is anecdote, hearsay or represents a conclusion deduced from generalization. Unlike anecdotal evidence, the reliability of accounts of personal experience is normally capable of assessment for legal proceedings.

    How it applies to our work as legitimate paranormal researchers, has a specific deffinition.
    In science, anecdotal evidence is defined as:

    1. information that is not based on facts or careful study
    2. non-scientific observations or studies, which do not provide proof but may assist research efforts
    3. reports or observations of usually unscientific observers
    4. casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis
    5. information passed along by word-of-mouth but not documented scientifically

    Although such evidence is not seen as conclusive, it is sometimes regarded as an invitation to more rigorous scientific study of the phenomenon in question. For instance, one study found that 35 of 47 anecdotal reports of side effects were later sustained as “clearly correct.”

    Anecdotal evidence is considered the least certain type of scientific information. Researchers may use anecdotal evidence for suggesting new hypotheses, but never as validating evidence. So to claim one is talking to the dead based on these presentations is highly premature and biased in that it is assuming instead of proving.
    (Information from Wikipedia)

  • Administrator

    Great clarification of the drawback of anecdotal evidence, David. I was reminded of how a certain director of a certain local group consistently falls into this logical trap on a regular basis, which prompted me to sever ties after a particularly silly rant against evidence-based medicine.

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