by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground e-Magazine
I admit it. I read (and occasionally participate in) paranormal bulletin boards. The most common thing I see (other than the question about why TAPS doesn’t wear helmet cams or head lamps) on these boards is one of the following two statements.
Ghosts are real.
Ghosts aren’t real.
Boy, if you ever want to see a flame war erupt on a paranormal bulletin board, just make one of those two statements. Everyone is certain that they are correct. And so, every piece of evidence they see is filtered through their preconceived belief.
In science, there is something called “The Observer Effect“. Simply put, in scientific experimentation, the observer changes the outcome. This is more than just theory – it has been borne out in quantum physics experiments.
To put it in more folksy terms, as my drunken English professor used to say, “If you’re a lookin’ for it *hic*, you’ll a find it.” But then, he used to start every English class with “Good morning, good people,” and end each class with, “I kiss my angels good day.” In between, he’d tell stories about the campus squirrels. Seriously. Good thing I knew how to write BEFORE I took his class. But I digress.
Ghosts don’t exist.
On the surface, these two statements appear to be polar opposites. They actually have a lot in common. Both are statements of belief. There is no objectivity in either.
In true scientific inquiry, there is no room for belief. Objective analysis demands that – as our science editor, JD Harrison always tells me – I come from a place of neither belief nor disbelief.
Here’s what I know. I have no proof that ghosts exist. I also have no proof that they don’t. I have no idea what a ghost even IS, because it hasn’t been quantified. From a scientific standpoint, I have no agenda. There is no data to support either statement as being true.
We are all a product of our culture, our life experiences, our upbringing and our belief system. All of these things affect how we approach anything and everything. It is very difficult to set those things aside, especially if we aren’t consciously aware of our preconceived biases. So when we make an absolute statement about something in the absence of definitive scientific proof, then we are acting from those preconceived biases. How can we objectively observe evidence if we are unaware of our own biases?
Here’s something else I come across alot – usually in the midst of a belief/non-belief flame war. Those who don’t believe often view themselves as rational, logical thinkers and view the believers as easily manipulated (and often unintelligent) loons. Those who do believe frequently view themselves as open-minded and view the non-believers as closed minded, linear thinkers. Not always, of course, but enough that I see a pattern.
As one who has swung back and forth between belief and disbelief most of my life, I completely understand coming up with a hypothesis and then trying to prove it. Or – more aptly – I’ve swung back and forth between wanting to believe and wanting to disbelieve. I’d love to believe in ghosts. It’d be cool. And in that wanting to believe, I’ve often looked at “evidence” and interpreted it as ghostly.
The truth is, I really don’t really have any evidence. I don’t even really have a clue what a ghost is. Or a UFO. The U stands for unidentified for a reason. All I know for sure is that I don’t know. And I’ll never find out the truth if I am seeking it from a place of belief or disbelief. If what I require is scientific proof, then I need to leave my belief or lack thereof at the door. If I don’t need proof, and belief is what is important, then I don’t need to worry about objective evidence.
I don’t have answers. Right now, I am a blank slate. I don’t know where I’ll fall. Will I need objective evidence? Or, will I need only my belief or disbelief that comes from a knowing inside of myself? It will be interesting to see where I eventually fall. If I figure it out, I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, how about you? Do you believe? Do you disbelieve? Or are you like me with no frickin’ clue? I’m guessing that wherever you are, it’s working for you or you wouldn’t be there.
Likewise, where others are is working for them. We’re all seeking the answers in our own way from our own head space. It doesn’t make any of us any more or less intelligent than anyone else. It just makes us human beings trying to find a way of interpreting the world that works for us.
I kiss my angels good day.