The Paranormal Problem: Why Skepticism Is Important to Paranormal Research

Hey, everyone! Heather here. Ryan is one of our newest investigators-in-training and has hit the ground running with this wonderful blog post. He is one of our team skeptics who is always looking for evidence of the paranormal and debunking anything that isn’t. He keeps the rest of us honest. Enjoy his first post!

Imagine, if you will, that you are walking down a dark hallway in an abandoned building. You are alone and yet you feel the overwhelming presence of another person in the room. Moments later, an unseen force rushes into your body and knocks you flat on the floor. Anyone who knows a thing or two about ghosts will be quick to tell you that you just hit the motherload when it comes to experiencing a haunting. And THAT, dear reader, is the problem with paranormal research.

You see, given the facts from the above scenario, it would be hard for anyone to disagree that you had a paranormal experience. However, to attribute the experience to a ghost is a logical fallacy, and it would hold just as much merit to say that you were knocked down by an invisible beam from outer space. The reality of the situation is that you now have proof that something unexplained happened and it is now your duty as a researcher to uncover the true nature of the phenomena.

Unfortunately, researchers too often lose sight of that objectivity. Personal experiences may be enough to convince them of the existence of ghosts (or whatever paranormal phenomena float your particular boat), but the lack of repeatable experiences makes it impossible to present them as scientific evidence. Thus, we often find ourselves in the business of “proving.” We have faith in our experiences and attempt to collect enough data to make a case for objectively proving to the world that we are right. Sadly, this often narrows our field of vision when it comes to viewing paranormal phenomena.

Any decent researcher will tell you that a majority of paranormal claims can be explained by natural means. A pipe rattles in a wall and causes strange noises in a house; a trick of the light causes a shadowy figure to move across a darkened room. Every now and again, though, there is an occurrence that is more difficult to explain (say, an object flying off of a table and landing across the room). It is easy for a ghost hunter to attribute that to a spirit, or a parapsychologist to say it was caused by psychokinesis (the ability of the conscious, or subconscious, mind to move objects); but rarely will one group give credence the possibility of the other. Even more rarely will they search for further explanation for the phenomena once they find a way to skew it to support their subscribed theory. And thus, the facts of the experience are skewed to fit the theory of the investigator and the research is no longer scientific.

The term ‘skeptic’ has become a dirty word amongst paranormal circles, but I think it’s because people don’t understand what it means to be a skeptic. Being skeptical is not about disproving the existence of paranormal phenomena, but about seeking to find the truth about their cause through questioning the experience and examining the possible natural causes. When on an investigation, it is easy to make the leap in logic from “something happened I don’t understand” to “a ghost did it”, but such leaps of logic do nothing to help you as a researcher and they are a disservice to your client. It is crucial to pull out all the stops in trying to find the cause of a phenomenon and it is crucial to call on a third party to investigate other possibilities that may be beyond your level of understanding.

Unless you have a full-bodied, plain-as-day ghost walking down the hall that more than one person sees, then you owe it to yourself and the world to question everything. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know what caused that,” because that is the first step on the path towards finding the truth. It could be just another pipe banging in the wall, or maybe (just maybe) it’s a real live ghost. If you don’t take the time to find out for sure, you’re just fumbling around in the dark.

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About Heather S. Dobson

I wish I was Wonder Woman, but I'm actually a wife, mother of three young ones, a writer, a paranormal investigator, and a lunatic. I'm also hoping to win a Nobel Prize in physics, but I guess that means I should get something above a BS in said subject and do more in-depth, life-changing studies besides "the sticking power of mac 'n cheese on smooth wallpaper." Alas...
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One Response to The Paranormal Problem: Why Skepticism Is Important to Paranormal Research

  1. Pingback: The Paranormal Problem: Why Skepticism Is Important To Paranormal Research | The Man Who Wrestled Bigfoot

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