Thursday, 10 November 2011

What I did on my holiday.

In 2006, I wrote a little book. That's not technically accurate.

In 2006, someone I made up wrote a little book. Yes, that's more like it. It probably happens to everyone, you're all out there going 'Duh, has he just experienced that?'

The backstory to this is that I was working on a novel about a ghosthunter and since I knew nothing about ghosthunting, I had to research the subject. What I found made me think OMG! WTF? and other abbreviated modern expletives as well as some of the old-fashioned longer ones because what I found was science of a standard that would even make a Climatologist blush.

I could not place the fictional character in any University, not even in East Anglia, with that standard of science. Orbs? Rods? Comprehensively debunked and just to be sure, I did it again myself. It was easy. Ghost detectors? No, those meters are EMF detectors. What are ghosts made of? Nobody knows. How can anyone build a detector to detect a substance when the nature of the substance is entirely unknown and indeed might not be a detectable substance at all? There are people buying meters so sensitive they can detect coins moving in your pocket. They are spending massive money on devices they don't know how to use. You just try telling them they are being conned and see what you get.

Infrared thermometers do not measure the mid-air cold spot these morons were aiming them at. They measure the temperature of the first solid object they are aimed at and the further away it is, the greater the circle of temperature they average over. Move it and the temperature reading changes. I became somewhat miffed and if you aren't British, be aware that 'somewhat miffed' means you might get an axe in your head at any moment. We will, of course, apologise afterwards so it's not all bad.

The fictional character was of the kind who is easily enraged, and who regards the term 'idiot' as applying to everyone on the planet and probably on most other planets too. He took over for a while, even to the extent of forming his own unique internet presence. He has been interviewed and as far as the Internet is aware, he is more real than me.

The bastard also sold a book before I did.

This particular Mr. Hyde (I have spawned more than one) is called Romulus Crowe. He is not hard to find.

Anyway, the point of this story is that in a fit of rage, I wrote a short book about the idiocy of ghosthunters which does not disparage the subject area but which rails at the appalling methodology masquerading as science.

It wasn't very long (about 30 pages) and it wasn't very good because I didn't write it with sales in mind. I just bunged it on Lulu, had a bit of a laugh about a non-fiction book by a fictional author and forgot about it.

About a year later, Lulu sent me a fiver by Paypal. I had to request my password because I hadn't been back. It turns out the book had sold a few copies which surprised me because it was, in my view, overpriced and then there was the Lulu postage to consider.

Still I ignored it. This wasn't where I wanted to go and I was still wastefully employed even though the shutdown of the department was clearly only a matter of time by this stage.

While I ignored it, put the electronic version out on Barnes and Noble and on the Apple iBook thingy. In the last month there have been over ten sales of this long-forgotten half-joke book. Not many, not retirement income by any means, perhaps a beer's worth. Remember I had not put this up as a serious income generator so it was priced to the bone. Lulu made much more than I did out of each sale.

Since that book I have researched the area more. I know far more about cold reading now, about fakery and how to spot it, and about the less than one percent of paranormal activity that could be attributed to the real unknown. There is also the mind-manipulation of the Righteous which is related to this whole game.

As Romulus Crowe, I once played with a sceptic. He wasn't as bright as he thought he was, he used standard put-downs and in his superiority, he laid down a challenge. He stated three things and said 'one of these things is true, tell me which and I'll take you seriously'.

I told him which was true with one hundred percent certainty. It was easy. He had given me the answer days earlier in a throwaway remark in a comment. Then I told him how I'd done it and taught him a couple of cold-reading party tricks.

What I've been doing on my holiday is expanding and rewriting that little book. When I first did it the options were print or PDF. Now it can be electronic and very cheap as well as actually worh getting in print.

I have been working on taking that book seriously now. These days I can get it onto Amazon as a Kindle book and through a lot of other outlets also. What's it for? It's for two separate things.

One, its intention is to get those amateur paranormalists to look harder at the underlying science and to apply proper methods to their work. Waving an EMF meter around and saying 'Ooo, lookie' is not science. Orbs are bunk, rods are bunk, shadows mean nothing and fakery abounds. If you're going to study this stuff, it's time to take it seriously.

Two, the original novel is currently under consideration by publishers. If one of them takes it on, the advertising is already under way. If none take it I will publish it myself. With the advertising already in place and currently (if inadvertently) active, I don't have time to waste.

Perhaps you consider anything described as 'paranormal' as inherently mad. If so, what term do you apply to those who govern us?


The Underdoug said...

"...what term do you apply to those who govern us?."


The populace being the paradiddled.

Angry Exile said...

It has four letters in it.

Lord T said...

AE you forgot the 's' at the end

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