by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground e-Magazine
In the paranormal field, we talk a lot about proof. Here is Merriam Webster’s definition: the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact.
We tend to see proof as absolute and objective, because proof is that which convinces us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that something is real or unreal. Proof is tricky, though. There is an old axiom – “you can’t prove a negative.” In other words, if you are trying to prove that God doesn’t exist or that ghosts don’t exist, if you follow this axiom, then you will never be able to prove it. Can you prove a negative? I would submit to you that proof – as defined above by Webster – is subjective. The cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind. That is really quite a subjective statement.
I think we all have different tipping points as to what we consider absolute proof. Cheryl once asked me, “What would you take as proof that ghosts are real?” I’m pretty sure that I’d have to see one in the presence of others who saw it, and capture it on video or film. And even then – who knows if I would believe or not. I feel like I will know the proof when I see it.
For some, proof can be a personal experience. For others it can be a feeling or a knowing. Still, others like me need something grand – an alien space ship landing on live television during the Super Bowl, for instance. How cool would THAT be?
I once had a conversation with a friend about belief in God. I asked her what made her so certain that there was a God – and how I could find that certainty myself. Her answer was that I only needed to ask for a sign, and God would answer.
“But what sign?” I asked.
“Nothing specific,” she replied. “Just ask for a sign and God will give you one.”
“But if it isn’t specific, how will I recognize it?”
She smiled a serene smile. “You’ll know.”
It was in that moment that I decided the type of sign that would convince me could only be something extremely specific – a car of clowns driving by at noon on Sunday with Inna Gada Davida blaring out the windows or something.
I exaggerate slightly, but you know what I am saying. I have a high threshold of proof.
On the other hand, I also don’t believe that God doesn’t exist. Or that ghosts don’t exist. Or that aliens aren’t out there. Because I’ve seen no proof in that direction, either. My high threshold of proof goes both ways.
Belief and disbelief are funny things. As much as we talk about standards of proof, there will be some people (and I might be one of them) that will never be entirely convinced. On the other end of the spectrum, there will be people who always believe.
Does this make one end of the spectrum more intelligent than the other, or more “right” than the other? I don’t think so. It all comes down to who we are and how we choose to believe. As I was explaining my “proof” epiphany to my beloved quantum geek husband this morning, he said to me, “There is no proof, only justified belief.”
By golly, he’s right! We believe what we do and we disbelieve what we do because we have reached a place where we have enough evidence that we feel justifies our beliefs. And those justifications that we use as proof are highly individual, highly subjective and intensely personal. Nobody else on the face of the earth has my standard of proof, and I don’t share anyone else’s standard of proof. So why do we feel a need to have others share our standards when they are so uniquely our own? If you’ve found what you need to believe, then it has meaning only for you. I have to find my own meaning. As does everyone else. Those differences are what make the world such a diverse and interesting place to live.