Benjamin Radford wanted students to know he did not believe in ghosts.
According to the paranormal skeptic Benjamin Radford, who spoke to students about Bigfoot, Chupacabras and ghosts on campus Tuesday night, between 33 and 50 percent of Americans believe in ghosts, 70 percent believe that angels exist and 53 percent claim that they have been saved by a guardian angel.
Radford, the deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer, a magazine aiming to promote inquiry into controversial claims, and author of hundreds of articles on broad topics concerning the paranormal, was quick to point out hes not interested whether or not these phenomenons exist.
What he is interested in, though, is finding the truth and proving fact over fiction and ghosts, he said, are likely not real.
I want to find out whats going on because the way I see it is if these things are real if Bigfoot is real, if ghosts are real, if aliens really are coming from across the universe to do graffiti in wheat crops and abduct people then we need to know about it, he said.
The TECO room in the Education Building was filled with students to the point where any seat left unprotected was fair game. An Intro to Ethics class was cancelled for the night and students were given extra credit if they chose to listen to Radford for an hour. Others simply came out of pure interest.
I think its an interesting topic, Shelby Hill, a senior majoring in anthropology, said. Its something everyone thinks about.
Radford spent the majority of the hour discussing the evidence people tend to come up with and how ghost-hunter television shows arent as realistic as they may seem.
Ghosts that are seen in photographs as little white, round orbs, he said, are most likely just reflections.
Most evidence backing ghosts, he said, isnt found using the scientific method.
But some were unconvinced by the presentation.
I originally came here as a firm believer on a lot of the things, some of them I wasnt really sure on, Madison McDaniel, a freshman majoring in psychology, said. Its different hearing his opinion, but I believe in personal experience. If I see a ghost, Im going to believe in ghosts.
Radford said people are usually swayed by anecdotes and personal experience.
Theres no better evidence for ghosts today than there was yesterday, last week, last month or two centuries ago, he said. If ghosts dont exist, that explains why you dont have any evidence on ghosts.