Fool’s Gold

My wife and I watched spellbound as a strange, translucent shadow moved back and forth in the hallway outside our bedroom door. It moved inconsistently at about human height, and bore a strikingly similar shape to that of a person. We watched a while, anticipating movement; looking for clues to its identity; commenting on what we thought it might be. Eventually, I got out of bed and proceeded to the only light source available – the crack in my daughter’s bedroom door. Inside, by the glow of a night light, I found a very small balloon dancing about near a fan and reflecting a faint shadow into the hall through the barely open door. End of mystery. Certainly not paranormal, though it looked every inch the part.

Yesterday, my dog was standing in the kitchen waiting for his snack. This was a bit of a shocker, because Oliver was outside, tied up, and barking. How could he be in two places at once? Was he astral projecting? The spirit of his deceased father, perhaps? His doppelgänger? I’m a trained observer, dog-gone-it, and I know what I saw. Clear as a bell, it was. But it wasn’t. I am always amazed at how such hallucinations are possible, but this was a brief sighting, and obviously not an accurate one – my brain somehow found a way to create Oliver’s “second” and make it appear acceptably real.

This is what we face as paranormal investigators – the natural occurrences of normal life can confound us in a heartbeat, and our imaginations will trigger without any perceivable encouragement. How to recognize the validity of our observations (barring audio or video assistance) becomes a major task, because it appears painfully obvious that we’re terrible eye witnesses and simply can’t be relied upon for accuracy. Occasionally, the things we see are more difficult to dispense with – especially when they span more than a few seconds and are seen by more than one person. Other times, our paranormal experiences are fleeting. They find us alone, and while no less real to our senses, present the same problem – how do we differentiate between reality and illusion. Do we stop trusting our eyes and ears? Is this just part of what it means to be human?

Absolutely it is, but this is not a black and white issue – it is ten thousand shades of gray. Seeing my dog where he was not doesn’t deny the existence or the richness of credible paranormal experiences. The weight of one single incident has no bearing on any other. The fact that our minds are capable of manufacturing such visions does not categorically explain or discredit every unexplainable event we encounter. The truth is always found in the middle – between the obvious and the impossible; in spite of belief or doubt. Our job as investigators is to accurately recognize enough of the facts to shed a small light on what is real, while never losing sight of the false or the convincing.

Things paranormal can offer up a frustrating road to travel; can make us appear foolish and gullible, and frankly, will waste our time. The paranormal can be fool’s gold, as it cloaks the truth amid just enough glitter and shine to catch our eye and capture our imaginations. But just because we can be deceived, doesn’t mean we are. Sometimes, there truly is “gold in them thar hills” – buried between the facts and the deceptions. Ya just gotta keep looking, and learn to laugh at yourself along the way.
_____________________________________________________________________
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com

Advertisements

Definitely Kinda Sorta

I have a problem. I’ve captured video of some thingy that travels unpredictably, is incredibly fast, changes shapes, and casts its own very bright light. I recorded it during a private daytime investigation, so duh… It’s not a bug, flashlight, or car lights. Besides, no one was even in the building. But listen, I know what it’s not – I just don’t know what it is.

At first I was disappointed to see it a second time because that suggested a naturally recurring situation, but everything about it was completely different from the first one, so I labeled both of the anomalies as temporarily unexplainable. Likewise for the third, fourth, and fifth occurrences – each different, and each completely without sensible interpretation. However, by the time number six arrived, I was pretty jaded and with much chagrin, decided that I couldn’t accept any of them as paranormal. Into the proverbial trash with them all.

No, I had to re-evaluate. I knew eventually I would have to discredit the darn things because that’s my job, so I pushed it aside for later and moved on to the final video file. And there it was – number seven. This time, it was the shape and size of a bright orange baseball. I watched transfixed; spellbound and incredulous, as it moved up the stairs casting a soft, golden glow on the far wall of the stairwell. Basically, I just stared at the screen – fully awake and focused – watching it take the shape of a perfect orb, and slowly float away.

Wait. An orb? Oh Lord, not an orb! I don’t believe in orbs. Not even a little bit. In order for me to believe in an orb it would have to introduce itself verbally and sit in my hand while singing Handel’s Messiah and juggling. Orbs are never paranormal, dammit! And that’s final. But I dunno what this is! It was round just that once, which suggests I can probably avoid the word “orb,” so I’m calling it a light anomaly. But just because I don’t know what the phenomenon is, doesn’t mean I don’t know what I think, and I definitely kinda sorta don’t think it’s paranormal. Am I just being stubborn? I prefer prudent, cautious, and sensible, but if that’s so, then why does it feel so wrong? Well, it’s one of those things, right? Sometimes it doesn’t matter how unexplainable something appears to be, ya just can’t call it paranormal. Sometimes you just suck it up and try to muddle through.

But why? Am I actually going to ignore this just because it’s an orb? I could have been wrong all these years. Orbs might actually be paranormal. Not the silly ones that supposedly have faces and only happen at the exact same moment as lens flare, of course, but what kind of investigator refuses to recognize evidence just because it differs from his “other” world view? Either this is real or it isn’t – there’s no middle ground here. But an orb? Sigh… I’d have preferred a tap dancing T-Rex.

Well, I’ll be okay – don’t worry about me. I’ll just do a lot of shoulder shrugging and say things like, “I dunno what it is. What do you think?” My reputation will stay in tact; my credibility will come back. There’s nothing to fret about because it is sooo not an orb, but then what is it? Okay, I know. I get it! It’s a light anomaly, and there’s an explanation out there somewhere. I’ll figure it out. Geeez… Why me?
___________________________________________________________________________
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/

Uninformed and Misled

This week I read a very thought provoking blog post on The Big Seance entitled “How Does the Skeptic View Paranormal Folk?” It features a stunning video from a young lady which everyone in the paranormal field should see. Truthfully, I found most of what she said to be mildly offensive, and I thought she exhibited a surprising and willing lack of intellectual faculty concerning the paranormal field. However, I won’t dwell on her unfavorable opinions of us. She is well within her rights to speak her mind, and I would never object to her expression of those ideas, but I found it eye-opening. I recommend you read this blog entry and see the video – you can draw your own conclusions.

However, even though I won’t concern myself with the negativity, I’d like to focus instead on the one area in which she and I agree. I even recorded an entire podcast episode about the same subject entitled “No Scientists.” It centers on what I feel is a fact – paranormal investigators are not scientists. That shouldn’t be a shocking revelation. I do believe we have fiercely stepped into a gaping void we call “paranormal studies,” but we’ve done so out of love for the subject, passion for the possibilities, reverence for the unknown, and because the scientific community has almost to a man, ignored it. Regardless, we’re not scientists – not by determination or default.

We don’t do things scientifically, carry out our work according to any accepted scientific methods, record and store our data in any reasonable scientific manner, or draw conclusions in an organized and sensible fashion. If we’re being honest, almost nothing about what we do is definitively scientific.

But all is not lost. There’s nothing wrong with observing accurately and reporting what we observe? That’s actually what we do. We’re reporters. That’s how I see it – we’re like this strange new kind of guerrilla journalist. A journalist, by definition, is “anyone who keeps a journal, diary, or any other record of events.” Likewise, a reporter is “anyone who reports”. Well, that’s us! We might also be able to call ourselves researchers since the dictionary states that research involves a “diligent, systematic, and often extensive inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc.” That fits like a glove, no?

We shouldn’t even hint that we do science (and you know, a lot of us do) because that would be truly inaccurate, but also because scientists are forced to deal only with facts and unquestionable truths. As paranormal investigators (reporters; researchers), we deal with the exact opposite. We may believe our paranormal realities are facts, and they may indeed be quite true, but there really is no proof. Not yet. That’s what we’re looking for, right? The data we gather is incredibly, and singularly important to that end, and some day, science may find that data to be priceless in determining heretofore elusive facts and truths. One day, they may move forward into the unknown on the back of our data. An unknown, we already know exists.

You know, the scientific community has a history of ridiculing those who don’t quite meet their standards and criteria. Today’s breed might deny that, of course, but it’s on the record – the facts don’t lie. Some scientists spend considerable time attempting to invalidate and dismiss us all as uninformed hobbyists or unfortunately misled souls. That time would be better spent looking at our data with the unbiased eye they so humbly claim to possess, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Partly because they’re very good at missing the forest for the trees; partly because (if the aforementioned video is any indication) they just don’t want anything to do with us. Well, it doesn’t matter. We’re not scientists anyway, so they’ll do their thing and we’ll do ours. Much respect to everyone, but I’m not sure I want to enter a pitch black abandoned mental institution with a scientist by my side anyway. I prefer my “uninformed and misled” brothers and sisters. Peace!
____________________________________________________________________________
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/