Challenge is Good!


Something has been bothering me lately. It’s been one of those slow burn kinda problems. You know, it starts out as an almost fleeting thought – nothing more than a small realization that simmers until you finally find yourself shouting about it. Eventually, it becomes one of those raging storms in your life where you feel you have to take a stand and maybe even tell the world. Surely, if others knew what you think you know, there would be changes, right? Heads would roll, attitudes would transform – there would be upheaval and a new world order, and possibly, spiritual reckoning.  God herself would descend and smite people!

Ah well… Maybe the best approach is to just get it off my chest, let the chips fall where they may, and prepare for a speedy exit. There’s just way too much BS in the paranormal field. There! I said it. Too many people who just make things up. I’m not talking about the theorizing and the speculation – that kind of stuff is good because it keeps us thinking and encourages us to look into different corners of the subject; prevents us from blindly accepting the imaginings of others, and the nonsense. But there has also always been a certain amount of… let’s call it “creative specifics.” We have to deal with individuals who play a little fast and loose with reality. “The door opened on its own – no one was in the room, there wasn’t a breeze – it had to be the ghost!” When in fact, someone was quite near the room, the wind was howling, other doors created suction, there were measurable earth tremors… This kind of investigation is unfortunate and we have to deal with it, but this should forewarn us about a more sinister kind of tomfoolery – the paranormal liar.

This person prays upon us. He takes our fascination with the unknown and muddies it with fantastic notions that can’t be analyzed. He is the fake medium, the guy who contacts spirits through divining rods on the eighth floor, gets video ITC results on his cell. He is always temporarily possessed on investigations, frequently brings spirits home with him, finds a demon in his basement, and regularly manages to get scratched. His flashlight always responds. His coat is always tugged. He has ways to do things that no one ever heard of, and no one can ever witness.

I guess I invite the criticism or beg the question, “Well, what about you, Mr. EVP researcher?” Fair enough, and to be perfectly honest with you, I wouldn’t believe me without more than a “howdy do” and a slap on the back. I suppose that’s one reason why I am open to questioning. I don’t have secrets, but hopefully, you have had some doubt anyway. I encourage it!

But I’ve been becoming more and more jaded this past year or so. There have been just too many mediums who didn’t deliver, more than a few EVP specialists who don’t know what they’re doing, and all sorts of nifty new equipment that can’t withstand the scrutiny. And I feel really bad about my attitude, because I don’t want to be the guy who just levels criticism and disbelief. I don’t want to be the guy who has gotten too old or too set in his ways to take things to the next level.

After observing a certain medium who was channeling a tormented woman, I was asked, “Are you buying this?” And the honest answer was no, but that’s not how I responded. I said that I’d have to think about it and see how it compared to the evidence – if any. That was actually the right answer, but it wasn’t the honest one. How can I encourage others to challenge my evidence if I won’t return the favor? All evidence must be challenged! It’s such a slippery slope, but we have to confront head-on and look for reasons to disbelieve. If we don’t, we’ll never learn anything. We must honestly embrace everything presented to us long enough to know for certain the disposition and truth of it – even if it smells bad and looks like ocean property in Kansas. We certainly can’t automatically believe, so we have to automatically challenge. Challenge is good.

For me, I guess I am beginning to see it as a needle in a haystack. You can’t refuse to look just because there’s so much hay – you never know what else you might find in there. I’ve always known it wouldn’t be easy to find credible evidence of this part of the unknown – I’ve always known there would be individuals who would get in the way. But ultimately, it’s not about finding the charlatan or the huckster and exposing them. Ultimately, it’s about finding the truthful and learning, and that’s always been difficult.  To quote George Bernard Shaw, “All great truths begin as blasphemies.” I wonder…

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