by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground e-Magazine
If you’d allow me a moment of self-indulgence here, I’d like to spend some time patting everyone involved with Paranormal Underground on the back.
Here’s what I love about our magazine. We believe that there is a place at the table for every belief system in the discussion of the paranormal. Whether you are a skeptic, skeptical believer, full-on believer or something else altogether, we believe that your unique point of view furthers the discussion and brings us closer to answers.
Unless we outright ask our writers for opinions (as we do in our Round Table discussion every month), what you get in their articles is data. From all sides of the aisle. Our writers try to present the data in an unbiased fashion. Because we want you, the reader, to be able to draw your own conclusions.
Here’s the thing about data. It is almost always open to interpretation. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my years as a marketing guru, it is that data can be massaged. Facts can be put together in ways that can point to just about any conclusion that I want you to draw. Yep. I’m that good.
Okay. Enough back patting. I do have a point that is about to become lost in all of my self-admiration. It’s difficult to find true objectivity. We all have belief systems, and we all want the data to fit neatly within those belief systems. Often, we can even take extraordinary data that points to exactly the opposite of what we believe and massage it enough so that it fits our world-view. And we won’t even realize we’ve done it. We humans can be delusional that way.
In his book, Spirit Faces, author and world-renowned ITC researcher, Mark Macy, talks about the boggle point. Simply put, the boggle point is a point at which data input is so far beyond our world view that our minds become boggled. And so, often instead of making a new place in our belief system for such data, we do one of two things. We massage the heck out of it until it does fit, or we dismiss it altogether.
Which brings me to Occam’s Razor. This term is whacked around like a badminton birdie in paranormal circles. Heck – I use it myself. We’re all intelligent people here, but if, for some reason you haven’t heard of Occam’s Razor, it is the principle that states that, when evaluating phenomena, the simplest explanation is usually the correct explanation. It leaves no room for assumptions – because in order to truly analyze data, one must begin with the fewest number of assumptions possible.
In theory, this is all well and good. Of course any researcher worth his salt wouldn’t make assumptions. Would he? Or does he – without realizing it? Easy in theory, Occam’s Razor is almost always difficult to put into practice. We all make assumptions about everything. Some of those assumptions are based on solid, provable evidence. Others, however, are based upon the theoretical. Things we think we know about invisible forces we think we understand.
And this is where Occam can become murky. What is it that we truly know? What is it that we only think we understand? And, perhaps most importantly, what is it that we truly want to believe?
In a conversation with world-famous UFO researcher, Stanton Friedman (see the upcoming February, 2009 Paranormal Underground for the full interview), I asked him about how Occam’s Razor might apply to the research he’s done. Here’s what Stan told me.
“The simplest explanation is very definitely that we’re dealing with alien vehicles. What could be more simple than that?”
Granted, this is a quote taken out of context in a larger article about UFOs, alien abductions, Roswell, etc., but he has a good point. Sometimes we dismiss the simplest explanation because it doesn’t fit into our own world-view. And we start making assumptions so that we can massage the data.
Maybe, just maybe, there are times when the simplest explanation that makes the fewest assumptions is a paranormal one. Whether we’re talking about UFOs, ghosts, cryptids or any of the myriad of other unexplained phenomena that fall within the paranormal realm, perhaps there are cases where we walk away from the simplest explanation in order to protect how we see the universe.
Of course, I could be wrong. It’s a difficult thing to say. Which brings me back to our humble little magazine once again. Our wonderful writers are passionate about their subjects. They pour their heart and soul into researching facts and finding data. But they leave the most important part up to you. You, as the reader, get a chance to look at the data and decide what you do with it. Will it be data that brings you up to your boggle point? Will it challenge your world-view? How will you interpret what you read?
Believe it or not, we’re very interested in your interpretations of the data. Because we want to further the discussion. So join us in chats. Post in our forums. Write letters to our editors (Cheryl – email@example.com, Chad – firstname.lastname@example.org, Karen – email@example.com). Join in the discussion. No matter what your point of view is, without it we can’t advance our understanding in the field of paranormal. And really – that’s what it is all about.