I struggled a while with how to title this thread, believe it or not, because of one word. One word that has altered my thinking when it comes to paranormal phenomena. Belief. A few weeks ago, I was looking for fodder to add to the blog when I discovered an interesting question on About.com’s paranormal section. The question posed was ‘How can I make my parents believe in ghosts?’ Amidst the answer provided by the Guide, he stated that “belief” is an inappropriate word relating to the paranormal.
When people ask me if I believe in ghosts, I say no. Belief implies that there is no evidence; that you’re accepting something merely on faith. However, there is evidence for ghost and haunting phenomena. No one knows exactly what that evidence (experiences, photos, videos, etc.) actually represents, but it has certainly been part of the human experience for all of recorded history across all cultures. So I don’t “believe” in ghosts; I think there is compelling evidence for the phenomena that is worthy of continued and thoughtful research. Belief is not required.
So then, we have two sides of a debate, with a few scattered in between. On one side, there are scientists who spend their entire lives questioning why things happen the way they do. They want to know the intimate details of life and how it all works together in this great design. It is an admirable endeavour, for without scientists there would be no cure for what ails us and there would be no advancement of technology, etc.
On the other side of the spectrum are those who believe any speck of dust on a photograph is an orb; any jumble of noise recorded is an EVP and any weird feelings in their old house must be a ghostly presence. These individuals accept unconditionally that we sometimes have “unfinished business” when we leave this realm of existence or that our deaths can be so traumatic as to imprint our lives on the very fabric of the spiritual plane keeping spirits here.
I personally fall somewhere in between those two extremes. I’m not ready to rule out the existence of the paranormal, but with the advancements in technology and the ever present strain of individuals who persist in creating false evidence, I cannot say I am 100% convinced. There are too many ways to fake photos and videos and EVPs, so in that respect I think science, through technology, has hindered discovery of true evidence. From this vantage point in the middle, I have come to realise and believe that the scientific community and paranormal enthusiasts will never truly come together the way people expect. The paranormal has always and will always remain on the fringe of society, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, there are many aspects of life which clash in a powerful way – religion being at the top of the list – yet that does not hinder progress in any way nor does it take away from paranormal enthusiasts’ territory. Those in the middle may come closer together because they are the individuals who truly matter. They are the ones who can see both sides of the coin and accept that there are differing opinions without the need for extremes.
But ultimately, I believe that the paranormal will always remain just on the fringes of our existence and that’s not a bad thing. After all, many of us prefer to live on the edge. ;o)