When Blaine Thompson was named at birth, it was never expected that his first and middle names would come to represent a summary of his upcoming life. His first name, Blaine, came from the Thompson family doctor, Dr. Blaine C. Collins, who was a man devoted to learning, science, and disparagement of superstition. Thompson's middle name came from a family friend who became a player on the national stage having to do with matters of religion and public discourse. Reflected in Thompson's names are the two halves by which he has found himself immersed in life for over four decades now. Thompson has spent a lifetime asking the deeper questions about life via theology, philosophy, and science.
Thompson credits the story of his grandparents for turning him into a philosophical questioner at an early age. He watched his grandparents suffer and pass away from cancer by the time he turned fourteen years of age. Thompson understood the place of faith and the comfort that it provided in matters of the heart while encountering his loss of family, but also his mind could not help but ask questions of a greatly philosophical nature while reflecting on the suffering, and eventual loss, of these significant loved ones.
The reason, Thompson asserts, for mentioning this part of his personal backstory is that it, hopefully, helps any reader understand that he is able to approach highly subjective topics having to deal with human belief, theology, and the concept of an afterlife with humane understanding. Thompson necessarily possesses personal comprehension about loss, and he intimately understands the belief engine. He makes conciliatory efforts over the concept of ghosts and an afterlife that can get lost in a war of words between competing ideologies. Thompson also concedes that a reality allowing for ghosts would make for a promising existence. The very presence of ghosts in a real world would have enormous scientific implications, as well as theological ones, in Thompson's opinion.
Thompson also feels that the debate between science and religion is often escalated to heightened tensions unnecessarily. But, such an opinion is to be expected on his part due to the fact that he has had no problem in synthesizing a balance of appreciation between these two differing cosmological facets and in what each is trying to accomplish. Understandably, the stakes are considered high between both parties in the debate when considering those adherents on either side that postulate both science and religion are mutually exclusive. Thompson is swift in making the point that context is paramount, so he does not see any need for contention between the two differing schools in a way that garners disrespect. He regularly stresses the presence of, and importance of, paradox in human existence. His vigilance in remaining aware of paradox is the vantage point from which he looks at the science and religion discussion. Each of the two counterparts carry their own significance that should each be appreciated for their offerings.
The mistake that should not be errantly made with Thompson is assuming that theology interferes with his adherence to the empirical process in science. His rebuttal to such an assumption is that a divine, holy, and theistic God would be the expecter of ethical honesty from the products of His creation; so why would God excuse dishonesty if empiricism objectively reveals how some of His craftsmanship is put together? Thompson breaks science and theology into the objective and the subjective, and where science is concerned, he is a proponent of the soundness of science and its resting upon a foundation of verified empirical data. Alternatively, theology has to be approached in the subjective sense through philosophical reasoning on how to go about not only asking whether God exists, but also about who God is specifically if an individual believes in a personal God?
As a proponent of science education, Thompson finds it greatly ironic that the very thing with which he considers himself in competition against is what made him look deeper into the philosophy of science and proper application of the methods of science. It is because of the popularity of the, “paranormal,” in pop culture that first made Thompson realize that he needed to step outside a sanitary environment of science learning and to gain a better understanding of how to apply good scientific reasoning to the very abstract. As a lifelong supporter of human spaceflight, Thompson had his eyes metaphorically opened in 2002 while searching Google for NASA related material. It was then that he discovered a website taking NASA audio and video and using them to spin an alternative view of reality. He then felt he had no choice but to make the conscious effort to begin looking into paranormal claims as weighed against mainstream science, and now seventeen years later, Thompson finds himself reflecting back on what he has learned about purported ghostly phenomena, as well as other claims that would fall under a, “paranormal,” designation.
It was at this point in Thompson's history that he realized he not only needed to learn more hard science and psychology, and a history of paranormalism, but he also instinctively knew that he also needed to learn from magicians about matters of the occult. Thompson is adamant about pointing out the fact that he cannot legitimately be labeled as an, “investigator,” of paranormal claims. He regrets this rejection because he would prefer to have the opportunity to go into the field and analyze paranormal claims on a regular basis. But, because of real world and daily obligations, he still has not had time to develop enough of a robust skill set to qualify as an investigator. Rather, he is more of a thought experimentalist and commentator who hopes to someday find time to complete his skill set in emulation of the handful (and by handful he means only a very few) of good investigators who have influenced him. Thompson has been greatly motivated by the work of Joe Nickell, Milbourne Christopher, and Harry Houdini. Thompson has also been influenced by the journalism of Martin Gardner, whose columns on mathematical importance and critical thinking inspired Thompson like so many others. It should be noted that Thompson always warns against other assumption, as well, when he cites his influences in relation to the dissection of paranormal claims rationally. It should not be assumed that because of the inclusion of the names mentioned above that he has also pursued derivation from their political or theological views. Instead, the listed influences have been mentors solely on grounds of paranormal investigation, critical appraisal of paranormal claims, and the importance of mathematical engagement.
The question remains whether a blog can successfully be written about ghosts with both believers and skeptics in mind? Can the entries included on this blog site be written respectfully so that beliefs on both sides of the spectrum can be scholastically engaged? Thompson hopes such a result can occur based on the fact that he comes from a background where theology and science have both been equally embraced. In order to have any chance at achieving such said goal, Thompson is highly aware that he must explain some of his own reactions in the past when they have concerned ghosts. Thompson has written many strongly skeptical viewpoints on the actuality of ghosts interacting with everyday human reality. He emphasizes the fact that when it comes to discussions of evidence and investigative methodologies, he must put great stress on these skeptical conclusions. And, Thompson readily admits that after years of following the topic of ghosts, he has encountered the same repetetive motifs and has come to hold a resentment towards those behaviors that have turned what should be sincere investigation of ghostly phenomena into role playing fantasies and carnival attractions. His own efforts have included trying to remain level-headed and to evaluate ghostly claims against a proper measuring stick. However, he has found great disagreement with the practice of citing proof of ghosts which has led to a commonly abusive use of the word, "science."
But, what Thompson seeks to clarify is that his strong reactions have not been personally directed at those who are sincere believers in ghosts. Much to the contrary, he has always been so very grateful to those who have shared their ghost stories with him, because he asks for details so he can try and put himself into their experience so he can better understand. The reason his reactions have been so strong is because of the logic that has often been applied to the subject matter of ghosts. Most frequently, his strong sentiment is in reaction to the logic that is at play, which defies good application of science. As cited above, there have been those public ambassadors for the paranormal who Thompson cannot find common ground with due to enaction of the dramatic, as well as the utilization of pseudoscientific language. Thompson states, as well, that in cases where fraud or money is at play when ghosts are concerned, there is no cordial dialogue to be had and the infractions do make the debate become personal. The topic of ghosts should be a sacred one, and any violation of such for unethical capitalization immediately dispatches any efforts at goodwill.
Some may criticize Thompson for espousing science education and the flourishment of the United States space program while taking on the topic of ghosts. Thompson asks why someone with such passionate interests should NOT be the very one who discusses this topic as held against a scientific standard? No one is more committed to trying to describe this phenomenon against a backdrop of science, and someone seeking out intellectual integrity should indeed confront the subject responsibly. These commitments are entirely compatible with the scientifically explorative spirit that is embodied by space science programs.
Generally speaking, the way Thompson views things, he asks if presented evidence for ghosts is of a good enough quality where he would upend his own worldview and say, “Yes, we now have proof of the existence of ghosts.” To Thompson's regret, in every provided piece of evidence he has looked at so far, he has not been able to make such a leap. This conclusion is not to say that there are not cases that he is going back to look over again, because he is actually carrying on this very process in some specific instances at this time. Some examples of this sort will be mentioned in his blog entries. Thompson is not able to categorically say that ghosts do not exist. He is simply wary of the methods used to accumulate supposed technical data that is correlated to documenting the existence of ghosts. Where the humanity still enters into this picture, however, is that where evidence is submitted for the proof of a ghost, and that evidence clearly has a much more mundane explanation, then a believer in ghosts should also have a second opinion made ready to them for the sake of their not being mislead down a road of errancy. If a person wants to believe a piece of evidence that is supposed to prove the existence of ghosts, then that is certainly their individual choice to make. Therein lies the whole point, as Thompson personally does not want to make a practice in his own life of accepting faulty evidence. He seeks out solid answers, but if those answers remain elusive, then he has no problem with such an outcome. He would rather have questions go unanswered than answer questions with faulty data, and in the wonder of science, many times it may be the case where you have to push back the answers for a later time when better data becomes available.
Whatever one's opinions are about ghosts, Thompson invites them to read, or better, yet, enlighten him on some of the discoveries he has made along his journey.