Would it be so bad if you didn’t rely on a belief in the paranormal? 

Ok so this might be a strange post to read but I’ve been thinking and I’m going to be a lot more open with the readers on this one, those of you who are regular readers of the blog will know, I wasn’t always sceptical!

This time around 12 years ago I was in over my head in a deep spiritual belief in the paranormal, every smudge on an image, every video, every story anything that played to my belief system in the paranormal was 100% real, impossible to fake and I would defend it with every part of me!Deep in my subconscious I knew how easily these things could not be real, I was a pretty intelligent person I had survived one hell of a lot of persecution for my belief from most the individuals I mentioned it to!

I suppose now looking back I always knew that somehow it didn’t add up! 

But why would I continue to defend it?

I was renowned for being able to ‘convert’ individuals into believing in ghosts and the afterlife, I had every answer, every connection and I could throw these out with exact precision, I could tell ‘real life’ ghost stories that actually left grown men in tears unable to sleep, I had been reading into and “researching” the paranormal from a very young age I knew every twist and turn that made even the most outlandish explanation make sense!

I would have defended these beliefs at any cost, I suppose in a way it was MY thing, MY personal experiences and in a way MY ego standing in the way of logic for a long time, each experience has definitely happened to me or at least to me they had occurred exactly as I thought they had! ‘Based on my beliefs at the time’!

I can say this though, it was very difficult to let go of those beliefs as I was like letting go of a piece of my safety net, it was a slow process of realisation and allowing my research to take new directions and to be actually open minded for the first time ever and listen to all sides of the story, I had claimed many people to be closed minded for not sharing my beliefs when really in the end it was me who was being closed minded it was me who was ignoring information that showed my beliefs to be misguided. A lot of individuals will make the comment straight away across social media that I am sceptical because I have never experienced anything so I want to list a few things I have personally experienced:

I have been thrown/pushed by what I considered a demon

I have been scratched multiple times by a seemingly unseen entities

I believed I was an empath/medium for many years and could give some pretty accurate readings too

I have witnessed multiple full bodied apparitions inc shadow people, black cloud like people, white cloud like people, full detailed apparitions (one as recent as a few weeks ago)

I have summoned demons and experienced what I had believed to be demonic poltergeist activity

I have heard disembodied voices in a locked and secluded building

I have had a radio turn up and down on request

I have witnessed a friend be clamped to the floor during the night with an apparition walking over them

I have been pushed / touched multiple times during vigils

I have had my bed sheets completely removed and made up on the other bed in the room whilst asleep (leaving 2 sets of bedding one over the other)

I have spoken to individual spirits directly at a younger age

I have witnessed and stroked a ghost dog (turns out it’s not an omen)

I have had my TV turn on by itself and the door open to the bedroom seconds later

I have had doors open on request when trying to explain these things to people

I have witnessed posters, mirrors and clocks pulled down from walls

I have had multiple rude wake up calls from various entities including the famous hat man…………………..

 

One day I will answer the “how do you explain that then???” question that follows me around daily on all these but for now let stick to this.

This list could go on for a very long time, my life has been riddled with what can be considered paranormal activity and I suppose that’s why I take this research as seriously as I do, but without that research (and research in the right direction) all of these things will be labelled paranormal with no real objection, most would think and have said “how can you be a sceptic after all of that?” well quite easily a lot of these experiences can be explained in a normal scientific sense, a small investigation could show these experiences for what they really are or even just taking into account personal life experiences at the time.


 The whole process was a case of slowly taking each individual experience I had been through and be honest with myself about what had happened and try to research and understand the non-paranormal basis for it, I can tell you it was an incredible experience the realisation of what my brain was capable of and the human body’s ability to communicate itself with the brain on top of that the shear level of insecurity that occurred from removing the foundations of my belief system one brick at a time, it was exciting as well as uncomfortably terrifying but then things slowly clicked, I had been relying on my belief system to hold me together, I used guardian angels as reasons why things would go right as well as demons and spiritual attachments when things went downhill! Everything had a reason or a plan!

No matter what I was never to blame for my own actions or anything that went on around me, it was always something else which for any person in the world, would be an extreme comfort!

Thank god!, praise Allah!, Jesus Christ!, the arch Angels, you must have had someone looking over you that day, somethings got it in for you, the devil makes work for idol hands! Etc etc etc

Whichever way these words/thoughts are used they seem to be in place to enable us to separate our actions from ourselves!

But this was just a basis for a belief system so why was mine leaning towards the paranormal?

Well I have always enjoyed ghost stories, for some reason the adrenaline rush and the fear that followed them was exciting and the rush was in its own way, addictive, whether that be achieved through watching scary movies, telling or being told scary stories even imagining scary things it became very normal from a very young age, even now my mum tells me to be quiet or shut up if I even mention the paranormal.


Imagine a child telling their parents about the man stood in the corner or the old woman looking through the window (this is pretty common place to be fair) but I was deadly serious and frightened by the situation, the issue was that fear was what made me comfortable at the time and this is actually pretty common among individuals especially in the paranormal field.
I feel this stuck with me throughout my life and made me look at experiences in a completely different light, I suppose my brain would make sense of information by starting at the paranormal end and working its way back. 


The reform wasn’t spawned by a change in my belief system but a change in my life style, as I began to take more responsibility for my own actions my belief system began to crumble slightly, even the slightest difference can make a huge change to an individual.

I could no longer rely on the idea that when something went wrong it wasn’t my fault, I was in control of my life whether I liked it or not, I was always intrigued by peoples behaviours but never my own, which started my research path towards various forms of psychology which in turn pointed towards experimentation and then onto the sciences and the scientific method, this began to blow all of my pre conceived beliefs out of the water, not only did the sciences have answers for my experiences but also for my own behaviour which in turn gave me more answers for why these experiences happened and how they were thought possible although seemed so impossible.

The fear disappeared which enabled me to focus on actual explanation more than my instinct to look for a paranormal explanation.

It was eye opening, I was finally truly open minded and every experience finally made clear sense, it was exciting and even life became so much simpler because of it.

So here I am now A SCEPTIC!

As a standard I am now officially required to ruin everyone’s fun, to belittle everyone I come across in the paranormal, to standing on belief systems wherever go, to ensure I stick my nose up at anyone & everyone and of course the standard hunting down and eating of babies more for fun and not for nutrients!!!!!

All of the above being a completely misguided idea by the majority of the paranormal world of what being a sceptic is!


On top of that I realised the persecution I had received as a believer was nothing in comparison to what I get now, people in the paranormal seem to have a complete misunderstanding of what a sceptic is and everyone else has a complete misunderstanding of what a paranormal investigator is!

The difference being is regardless of all of it, I’m still deep in the paranormal world, I’m here to stay unfortunately for those out there who are out to manipulate individuals using fake psychic abilities and getting way too much silver crossing their palms, especially those who prey on the vulnerable and create a worsening situation for people suffering with mental illness or delusion.

I feel like there should be some kind of sarcastic superhero pose with that paragraph!


All of this tends to start the same way it did for me, it just spirals out of control and once we are adults, we have much more power over others, our personal decisions and beliefs affect those around us and in turn affects others decisions and even belief systems and we go round and round in circles, I could have easily started selling myself as a psychic and charging individuals for readings in order to console them in regards to their lost loved ones, I could have become a lead investigator for an events team and pocket money from events whilst spreading entertaining flawed evidence, I could have bathed in the “wow you approach ghosts and demons you are such a bad ass” light that I see some investigators / Demonologists enjoying, I could have even agreed to say what a production company told me say on TV and stage paranormal activity to gain fame and fortune and millions of followers!

I’m not saying these things are on purpose attempts by all individuals to manipulate others but it is their own misunderstanding of their beliefs and science that create the same results. It’s still manipulation if you don’t know you’re doing it.

So what’s so bad about stepping into the light?

Well let’s face it the above is probably the most open I have ever been to the readers of this little corner of the paranormal world, we are all vulnerable in our ways and strong in others it’s the human condition.

Unfortunately delusion is sometimes the only answer to survive life’s little traumas, and the paranormal can be very powering, whether it be the lack of personal responsibility, the social aspect that it brings to individuals, the cool factor of being able to say you hunt scary ghosts, even the ability to be different from average or hold the equivalent of superpowers, the comfort that we will see loved ones again or the ones that held us together through our lives who have passed away are always still there to ensure we are on the right path!


As the majority of us know the paranormal world is abundant in its characters and have varying reasons why they believe or even investigate, I can guarantee I will get comments from someone explaining that they do not fall into any of these brackets (and that’s exactly what I meant by being honest with myself about my experiences, it’s an eye opener).

Question your beliefs even if it feels terrifying if they hold up to questioning with solid answers then fine, if they fail but are able to succeed with a little jiggle of the facts its worth dropping them and trying to find solid answers.

Without that belief system you will be able to rely on yourself, stand on your own 2 feet and most importantly you can genuinely help others instead of hiding away and passing on bad advice.

We defend these belief systems because they support us and help us through bad times, our belief system is like our best friend or favourite family member, if someone says something bad about them you would naturally jump up and be defensive in order to protect them even if you know there was a huge chance they have done something wrong. Its natural but it’s also a massive flaw in our psyche.

We need belief systems but also need personal control of them!

So would it be so bad if you didn’t rely on a belief in the afterlife?

To sum it all up, no it wouldn’t if anything it would be more enlightening, it will be more empowering and by far it would allow everything in your life, others around you and research into the paranormal to move forward.

Let me know your opinions of this post on the ParaRationalise facebook page and if you think this was an interesting read click like and stay up to date with the latest posts. 

If you have an interest in belief systems or this post has inspired you to read more into it may I recommend the following books:

The Psychology of Paranormal Belief: A Researcher’s Handbook

An Introduction to the Psychology of Paranormal Belief and Experience

The Believing Brain: From Spiritual Faiths to Political Convictions – How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths.

Paranormal Events, Investigations and ‘Evestigations’!

Ok so I’m taking a quick breather from digging through the brain to write about something that is actually a complete mess and completely misunderstood in the paranormal!

And if I’m honest, if people will just take this one post on board it really could change the face of paranormal research!

But hey we can only dream!!!!……

Let’s talk about the massive difference between a Paranormal event night, an investigation of the paranormal and the most common paranormal ‘Evestigation’!

Now most out there will say “I already know and have done 1000’s of investigations in lots of locations, who’s this keyboard warrior to tell me what I’m doing

Well this ‘Keyboard Warrior’ is going to tell you because firstly I may use a keyboard to explain this stuff but I am actually a practical investigator of the paranormal, and secondly that one sentence “I’ve done 1000’s of investigations in lots of locations” on its own could mean you have been attending/running an excessive amount of ‘Evestigations’!

Let’s explain each individually:

A Paranormal Event Night

These are ‘for entertainment purposes only’, and to be fair they can be very entertaining and that’s a good thing!

Let’s face it, if you have a chance to live the 3D interactive horror film experience and feel stupidly scared, whilst running around in the dark and trying to contact ghosts and get them to do scary things it can be a proper good laugh as we as humans love to get an adrenaline rush especially if it can be shared with friends!

In fact I would actually quite love to go back to my believer days and attend an event! Then believe and be wrapped in the usual ‘bullshit’ that the apparent ‘investigators’ and ‘mediums’ ply into the audience!

Those were the days!…….

But unfortunately I take this research a little too seriously and it’s such an anchor in my life that I would struggle to remove my critical thinking hat and just enjoy the moment!

Boring I know!

Now if I attend these I tend to be looking at the behaviours of individuals and how they react to certain situations more than hunting for ghosts! (I swear I’m actually quite a fun person)

So to sum up events, they are in place for fun, and only fun, it doesn’t really count as research but it’s the gateway activity for budding investigators out there! The events teams can misinform and wind up the audience as much as needed to scare the hell out of them and quite frankly if that’s where it ends it’s not an issue………….!


A Paranormal Investigation

This is the real deal or as close as it gets, actually looking at apparent activity as an investigator and trying to find an answer to what has happened, these can start by being contacted to visit a site, residential property or landmark usually by the owners to find an answer to what they feel has been a paranormal occurrence or even deciding that something sounds like a paranormal occurrence and going to the location to investigate!

This will tend to involve a great deal of research including interviewing witness’, data collection, taking into account the occurrence and what has been experienced followed by a logical hypothesis to be controlled, tested and reported in detail using the scientific method and using critical thinking at all times!

Mostly these investigations are done under a strict confidentiality agreement between the client and the investigator(s) along with a code of ethics, code of conduct and a thorough risk assessment to ensure all involved are protected!

It will usually involve an investigation of just the occurrence that has occurred, if an experience occurred during the day in a certain part of a building that will be your concentration! Unless additional experiences occur during the investigation!

This isn’t exactly exciting or fun to do, you need a pretty big hard on for finding the truth in the paranormal to do it, you see they do not involve much fun if at all and running around buildings in the dark is considered a little………well……….stupid!

They mostly don’t involve lots of equipment and you will find yourself neck deep in the situation for more than one night only!
That can amount to weeks, months and sometimes years dealing with an investigation!

I can count on my hands the amount of these investigators that I know and they work extremely hard to find the truth, usually to have it mocked or batted away by the sheer mass of misinformed ‘Evestigators’ out there!

Which leads quite nicely into:


The Paranormal ‘EVESTIGATION‘!!!!

This should be said followed by streamers, party poppers, wild applause, champagne cork pops and a whole lot of laughter!

But no……..

This is going to start with a small disclaimer instead!!!

*****I have a great deal of friends and fellow investigators that partake in these paranormal event / investigations and also a lot who hold the belief that what they are doing is indeed a full-fledged scientific paranormal investigation! I’m not having a dig at anyone but just blogging opinion! Hopefully we can all gain something from this! A lot of people I know are evolving in their approach and that’s amazing as it’s not an easy step to take ******

I personally, and believe almost everyone in the field started out their practical investigating by attending events or ‘Evestigations’ to get into the paranormal field, this isn’t a bad thing but it is a ‘quick sand’ situation, evestigations are a mix of fun, sociability and scariness with a little ‘science’ (pseudoscience mostly) thrown in for attempted authenticity.

They portray what people want to see in an investigation as well as not flexing any individual’s personal beliefs to the point of an uncomfortable crunch!

Unfortunately most in paranormal world are using the TV as there educated stand point to tell them how to investigate ghosts, hell we may as well all start using spookier more serious voices, start walking around with mediums, shit a brick at the slightest noise and run as fast ass as possible out of the building in the opposite direction from the actual……ffffffffucking thing we are supposed to be investigating!!!!!!!

Phewww! And breathe!……….

Anyway Evestigations……..The ‘Evestigation’ is what makes up the majority of the paranormal world, they tend to be a lot more of a social situation than an actual investigation, on top of that most teams have 100’s of pieces of equipment which they will tend to say makes them a ‘scientific’ paranormal investigation team when in fact they are a ‘technical’ team, this equipment is also mostly misused and mainly used to try and communicate with spirits using flashy lights and noises with no real reading to be logged or recorded, most still spend their time looking for ghosts or spirits instead of taking on board research and helping it move forward, (that’s the barrier to get over STOP looking for ghosts or the paranormal and you’ll begin to see things more clearly and gather some worthwhile evidence of the paranormal) sounds crazy right?!? Trust me try it and see!It basically involves having all the gear ‘as seen on TV’, finding somewhere that fits the old fashioned view of a haunted location (Old, maybe abandoned, spooky & isolated for example), turning the lights off, calling out to ghosts to do something and assuming that any creaky floorboard, cough or fart is a reply then label it evidence and spend weeks convincing yourself and others across social media that it was a paranormal experience and you have the evidence prove it!

You see I only really have such a deep seated issue with this style of ‘investigation’ because people are so blindly passionate about it but fail to realise or just walk by the fact that it is a stagnant form of investigation and in fact every noise, piece of footage, recording and personal experience has no real weight to count even close to paranormal evidence no matter how many people witnessed it (and before we jump on the “I saw it with my own eyes” bollocks, get reading the brain and the paranormal series and learn what the brain can be capable of.)If people used this passion in the right direction we could make some real advances in the paranormal field and in a relatively short time, the thousands of teams out there every weekend will be doing things properly and gaining data that could begin to reveal the puzzle, don’t forget some of the most life changing scientific advances were found by a typical joe bloggs in his garage scenario.

Put controls in place, use scientific method to find answers even if they are the ones you really don’t want, it can be boring but trust me if you start finding a correlation between something and a seemingly paranormal event it’s a whole lot more exciting than someone pretending to sense a ghost or lost loved one or even the joy of seeing a normal situation as anything more than normal, and the best part, you will have evidence! You would have logged your method, your findings and any third party could test those findings and help push forward the field each time adding to the evidential data.

BUT we all know a lot of individuals out there don’t want to disprove anything paranormal, be it either for a financial advantage, an emotional advantage or they just enjoy living in a world with there head buried deep up there own arse and aggressively defend it as the fresh air of facts greatly offends there nostrils!

Now before I start boiling and whistling out of my ears like a loony toons character and maybe you haven’t already clicked off this page to start commenting what a jumped up jackass I am, I’m going to try to help explain how we can make things better and hopefully a little more accurate.

Feel free to use recording devices to pick up on what is happening that’s good investigation, now the equipment used on these “Evestigations” isn’t necessarily doing what you might think it is, we have not one piece of equipment in the whole world that is actually capable of communicating with the dead, trust me if we did, that person who built it would be rolling around in more money than Scrooge McDuck.

Unfortunately people are still paying through the nose for defective crap and modified junk! A few suppliers actually do a great job with high quality products one of them is ParaTech UK run by Glen Smith and I personally use some of his equipment, of course he has the usual paranormal kit but his quality is second to none, even sceptical horrible investigators like me need nightvision cameras to see what everyone in the room is up to during events and Evestigations after all us sceptics are only here to ruin everyone else’s fun! Sighhhh!

One piece I am keeping my eye on at the moment is the ghost array so check it out!

Why would a sceptic be interested in this? Well, if this turns out how I thinks it’s going to turn out, we could be looking at something that can log multiple pieces of data in multiple locations at once! And given glens eye for detail and quality it’s going to be not just impressive but also a huge game changer! 

Look for equipment that has actual readings, not LED’s and read up on what the equipment does (On non-paranormal sites) and how accurate the equipment is, even get it professionally calibrated if possible. Know the equipment for its non-paranormal application and log the data it finds.

Know what you are investigating, be it taking witness reports and reacting appropriately for example (I saw a dark figure walking down the hallway) find out exactly where it was and where the witness was standing and when, set a camera to try and see this figure also at the same time and place, if it appears find out why it appeared? What is it? Ask a thousand questions to yourself use Occam’s razor to follow a logical line of investigation don’t just assume it was a ghost and miss the shadow of a Pidgeon flying past the window. As I said above DO NOT LOOK FOR GHOSTS! Find why this is happening and then you find the true answer, walking away assuming that you caught a figure on tape will just ply money into the hands of the property owner and of course the Daily Fail!

Take that information and retry the camera set up same place and time etc etc your hypothesis is going to be based on a small amount of information that’s why it is only a hypothesis (NOT A THEORY)


from this design an experiment to test the hypothesis, for example set a  camera outside the window to show the suspected bird flying past the window at the same time the figure shape appears in the hallway, once you’ve tried this and shown that what it is then you know with a pretty high level of confidence that this is not a ghost but the shadow of a bird, if it doesn’t correlate then get back to the drawing board. It’s really that simple go round and round until an answer is found (or not in some cases)

Possibly the easiest example here! Also if you feel you want to start changing your approach to investigations take a look at the following pages and seriously consider membership:

ASSAP

SPR

So to wrap this up and to have a bit of a giggle, if you managed to get this far leave a comment on the Facebook page saying “remember that time the EMF ran up to the 5th LED ” if you didn’t get this far you won’t be reading this and well you’re gonna be a little confused by everyones comment! 
Thanks for reading guys I will catch you soon for the next part of the brain and the Paranornal series! 

Part 4 – The Brain and the Paranormal Series – False Memories in the Paranormal

Now this is a deeply interesting and maybe a little controversial subject but certainly one I feel needs to be addressed in this series, I can already imagine the back lash I am going to get for this post so I will start with a little disclaimer –

 This post is not calling anyone a liar, the issue with false memories is that someone who experiences them are completely unaware that it has happened and it’s not something an investigator can pick up on except in certain circumstances ………..people who experience the paranormal truly believe they have experienced something paranormal, this will tend to be based on their own perspective and/or belief system……yes sometimes individuals seek attention or aim to gain in some way through lying but that is not what this post is about!

Hopefully that’s clear now so we will move on………

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What is experienced?

False memories are an incredible phenomena that involve the details of a situation being ‘blurred’, be incorrectly remembered, gain additional non-existent information or even appear out of nowhere, it is also quite easy to implant a false memory but we will look at that in more detail later.

They have a major effect on witness statements and individuals recalling information from a situation, we tend to miss details or the brain will infill them based on a number of observed factors for example: Illness, Tiredness, Hyper Arousal (fear or panic), poor viewing conditions (eg Darkness or dim lighting), certain drug use and of course the two that really stand out within the paranormal community –

The need to believe and the expectation for something to happen!

For example, arriving at an event, investigation or séance – some who might attend are 100% believer’s and know something is going to happen no matter what but even the sceptics who arrive tend to at least want something to happen also. Now I understand that this can happen within residential properties so I will add the new house effect to this series at a later date.

False Memories are an important factor to the paranormal investigator because we collect a lot of witness statements and observe a lot of ‘strange‘ behaviour or happenings this means we should be separately documenting everything, most of this series should easily point to the fact that the body or mind is not a tool for investigating the paranormal as we are somewhat flawed in our design!

memory-false

So what is happening?

False Memories as mentioned previously are caused by a great deal of factors, the literature on this subject is vast and a lot of years of research has been done to find out the exact causes, try Googling Chris French or Elizabeth Loftus for example, the only issue is these vary under many different circumstances, for example if someone is scared which in all fairness once on an event and all of a sudden all hell breaks loose because Jan’s been touched on the back by a ghost at the same time that Rob’s had his jeans tugged by the old mortuary monk, it’s only natural to feel fear and panic at this point as most of us have a ‘swarm mentality’ (another post for another time).

As we feel this hyper arousal from the situation our brain, or the adrenal cortex to be a little more precise, releases a lovely little hormone called Cortisol and also a little dab of epinephrine (adrenaline) for good measure, this can have 2 effects on our memory:

  1. It allows us to clearly remember very detailed images of the situation (the flash bulb effect) which unfortunately although detailed is not always accurate but it is a requirement for the brain to learn from the scary situation in order to avoid the encounter again so the memory is created regardless.
  2. In circumstances of very high trauma it can damage or even completely inhibit memory recall of the situation.

Now I could go into every perceived cause but this series is about bringing the paranormal examples to the scientific examples, the expectation for something to happen is usually enough to get the old blood pumping enough to kick start the adrenal cortex, add that to the usual lights off style of investigation and also the fact mostly its done throughout the night we have a pretty good cocktail for individuals to fall into a trap with false memories. (Tiredness, low light, paranormal belief, a want for something to happen and hyper arousal)!!!

This may be a good point to just recap that this is not saying an individual is lying, the individual will not have any idea that this has happened!

This of course can be counteracted by the use of a camera to be able to look back and visualise without doubt what actually occurred! (Look forward to the upcoming investigating series in 2017)

Ok so now we have in place the idea of the false memory but what if we suddenly gain more information that wasn’t actually there in the first place?

Within the field of psychiatry false memories are known as confabulation and it is basically the brains way of filling gaps of information once we recall a memory, this happens on an unconscious level, this can happen when 2 pieces of information contradict each other, when a witness is asked again and again to describe a memory or even during hypnotism to dig out repressed memories!

Describing the memory again and again forces the brain to attempt to pull information from the memory, this is basically filled with whatever would normally occur to the individual based on previous beliefs or situations, if someone has a deep belief in the paranormal or spirituality then those gaps could be filled by information involving it or if the individual, in this case, the investigator starts asking closed or multiple choice questions.

Brain-Synapse-Memory-Engineering-long-term-molecular-neuroscience-750x400

This can be surprisingly more common than you might think, published in 2014 is a brilliant experiment repeated from Professor Richard Wiseman in 2005 with an additional twist, that was conducted by Chris French and Krissy Wilson of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where 180 undergraduates and staff from Goldsmiths college were shown a video, (1 of 2 videos containing the same footage with one slight variant between the two) the video showed a ‘psychic’ with various instruments (Spoons, keys etc) the ‘Psychic’ then bent a key using sleight of hand and placed the key down on the table, the second video was identical but included the “psychic” claiming that the key was still bending.

the subjects watched the videos in pairs although some included a ‘stooge’ to aid the experiment, this was to show how an outside influence after the fact affects the memories of the other participants

See the published write up of the experiment here – Wilson and French 2014

The experiment showed that when we witness something the memory can be manipulated via verbal cues not just during the experience and also after depending on the point of view of others around us, on top of this the experiment also showed that people with a belief in the paranormal were also more likely to continue to believe they witnessed the key continue to bend.

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What an investigator should do?

So as an investigator false memories should take consideration, as mentioned at the beginning of this post this is not calling anyone a liar, someone who experiences a false memory will be completely unaware of it, if someone has what they perceive to be a paranormal experience in a high percentage of cases that person truly believes that is what has happened, it’s up to the investigator to find out if that’s the case.

The research shows the following criteria seems to correlate with a susceptibility to false memories:

Fantasy Proneness, disassociativity, hypnotic susceptibility and absorption which funnily enough is the same criteria as susceptibility for paranormal belief and the tendency to report paranormal experiences.

First to second interview will tend to pull out these details of a false memory if one is present, in fact it may also cause false memories, so ensure that closed questions aren’t asked, but also be aware that giving too much freedom for the witness to go over situation that can cause them to try to remember details that in fact didn’t occur.

Another point which investigators forget is that they themselves can also be prone to false memory (we are all human after all) that is why it is imperative as an investigator to document what they can at each stage of the investigation.

The investigator should always ensure that they record (with permission) the whole interview using either a camera or Dictaphone, this isn’t to capture any paranormal occurrence or EVP that might occur this is to ensure that the whole interview is recorded for later review.

Check over the details, do they add up? in one sentence does the witness claim to be located in the hallway looking into the kitchen when the apparent phenomena occurred and another they were actually in the kitchen, these details that seem to collide can tend to indicate a false memory.

Check these details after the fact, transcribe the interview and highlight the main factors, location, who was present, what time, day or night etc etc do they match up? do they change significantly this could be a case of false memory and even a badly conducted deception in some cases.

Once this is complete the investigator can move forward with the investigation, if an investigator feels that they may be compromised is someway (eg absorbing into the witnesses own belief system, experiencing a paranormal occurrence alongside the witness or feeling that the witness has an inappropriate interest in them) then it is in the best interests of the investigator to gain the help from a fellow investigator, hand the case over to another investigator or even close the case in some more serious circumstances.

What an investigator should NOT do?

As mentioned multiple times before, A FALSE MEMORY IS NOT LYING, so its not in the investigators best interests to openly say to a witness especially in the first instance that you feel what they have experienced is a false memory they will instantly take that as an accusation of dishonesty!

also ensure that you do not feed information to the witness that could evolve a memory, for example, we as investigators tend to know more than most when it comes to the ‘paranormal’ explanations so if someone has experienced walking into a kitchen and the cupboard being open it should not then be referred to as Poltergeist activity.

We are in a fragile position of authority we must not validate claims to the witness at any point, this is the issue with a lot of teams out there that instantly start talking about paranormal occurrences which in turn immediately solidifies the witness’ pre conceived belief that an experience is indeed paranormal.

Questions should be open and only in the interest of the investigation, do not start asking closed questions which include details that you assume has happen e.g.

Witness – “I saw a shadow walk down the stairs towards me”

Investigator – “Did you hear the footsteps of the shadow?”

Witness – “Yes”

This can create the idea that the shadow was heard walking down the steps also,

Try this instead:

Witness – “I saw a shadow walk down the stairs towards me”

Investigator – “What sounds did you hear whilst this happened?”

Witness – “I didn’t hear anything it was completely silent”

This helped to not include any details that never actually occurred, if the witness heard footsteps they would include it in the answer, if the details didn’t come from the witness initially then they should not be included in the investigation.

Thanks for reading,

As always,

I invite any corrections to research that may have updated since the time of the original post and I will update once I have confirmed the research is valid.

Again thanks for reading and I look forward to your feedback!

Please give the facebook page a like for up to date progress on the rest of the series

References:

Anomalystic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience – C.French & A.Stone

Wilson&French2014

Wilson_&_French_PAID_article

FrenchWilson2006

Fantastic_Memories

Further Reading / Watching

As above +

 

 

Why a flashlight isn’t communicating with a ghost! 

Unfortunately this is a massive issue within the paranormal community and something that I feel is a shame I have to make a video on just to make a very old fashioned point!

See the video below!

It’s time to move on from this unbelievably archaic trick!

Part 3 – The Brain and the Paranormal – Pareidolia in the Paranormal 

Catch up on the series here:

Introduction

Part 1

Part 2

Ok so I think this subject had to happen within this series, I am happy to say I have seen a big change over the years with people realising that Pareidolia is a valid argument for a great deal of paranormal pics thrown into the pools of social media.
This is all well and good except as with most things in the paranormal community it gets used again and again without many people actually looking into the subject! It’s become quite an annoying buzzword that people comment on everything!

I thought it would be good to explain what this is and what is happening within the brain that allows it to happen!

This way hopefully individuals can explain to others who don’t understand the single word of ‘Pareidolia’ when it’s commented on a photo they have asked a group to look at.

What is experienced?

So Pareidolia is a form of apophenia this is the brains ability to make sense of information and create patterns in things that just aren’t there! Pareidolia applies to predominantly the visual and audio side of our senses.

I will explain apophenia in detail in a later post but for now we will stick with Pareidolia for now due to its importance in paranormal research!

Pareidolia is our ability to see faces, bodies or shapes in meaningless stimuli, eg seeing faces, monsters, Angels, animals etc in clouds when really it is just condensed water vapour in a random shape!

It also includes hearing voices, music and words in meaningless sound, some in the paranormal community call this matrixing (not sure of the origins) it’s actually pareidolia but whatever floats your boat because that ship is staying by the looks of things!

What is really happening?

Well once again our ever so ‘reliable’ brain is playing with us, and the best part of pareidolia is………….I can prove it!!!! Right here in this post but I will get to that,

For the more technical side of pareidolia the part of the brain that is known to cause this phenomena is the right fusiform which is part of the temporal and obsitial lobe, this has been shown in MRI studies to spark to life when individuals are shown faces and effectively face looking objects, the only variation found between a real face and an object that looks like a face is the reaction time for the brain to recognise it, a face looking object takes longer for the brain to ‘connect the dots’ and decide upon what it is seeing.

This recognition can also be manipulated using something referred to as ‘anchoring’ in which another stimuli is added to enable the viewer to see/hear something that they maybe couldn’t before, this is common place in the paranormal community and a complete pain in the backside for any serious investigator out there, this is done be it by using words during EVP playback on the screen to ensure the listeners hears the word the individual thinks is being said or a back story to a photograph or video that ensures the individual is looking for certain details, and please don’t get my started on circling and zooming in to certain areas of a photo or video! (I will on purposely show this further on)

This is an example of Anchoring (NOTE: SCROLL DOWN SLOWLY TO NOT SPOIL THE EXAMPLE)

Some maybe lucky enough to have not seen this photograph of a coat hook before:

And here we add some writing to help the individual to see what may have not have been seen previously:

 


This is a good example of what happens for someone who has not seen this reference before, those who have will already have seen that coming and come to the conclusion that it looks like a drunk octopus wanting to fight, you see this also shows a level of anchoring, as the internet has so nicely put it “what is seen cannot be unseen”, so imagine you have a massive interest in the paranormal and you go out photographing haunted locations and you catch an orb or atmospheric object (mists, fog, smudges on mirrors etc).

Take this example from Gloucester Paranormal the team picked up this image and realised it was brilliant example of Pareidolia (NOTE THE BELOW IMAGE IS NOT OF A GHOST)

Most other teams would have advertised this as paranormal do you see the man in the window?

Maybe if I circle it and zoom in some more?

****NOTE THIS IS NOT AN IMAGE OF A GHOST, THIS IS A TYPICAL EXAMPLE OF PAREIDOLIA*****

When most in the paranormal community look at these photos they are actively looking for a spirit, ghost or anything out of the ordinary and there is a very good chance that because they are in that paranormal mind set you are going to create patterns in the brain that point predominantly to faces of ghosts or people like shapes, this is pareidolia in action. Once this happens you cannot reverse it easily, your brain follows the same path again and again in order to fill gaps and makes the person seeing the photo instantly look for paranormal based images. Unfortunately studies have found that believers in the paranormal or magical are more likely to assign these patterns to ghosts and demons etc. along with emotions to the false image than the actual natural or technical explanation.

These include witnessing faces in particle orbs or patterns in smoke – see this video on the ParaRationalise Facebook page to see an example.

We have a vast bank of memories of pretty much all faces / sounds and words we have ever experienced, this will help explain when people easily recognise these patterns as looking like loved ones or sounding like people they know, as you walk down a street your brain is constantly absorbing new information, as well as in horror films, cartoons and popular media, to our brain it is a requirement for our survival to note the faces / sounds as often as possible to show if we are in danger, the brain does this very fast and without our conscious knowledge.

This all happens with objects also, it can depend on the mindset of the individual to what they see first, this idea inspired the development of the Rorschach ink blot test which was later found to be difficult and near enough useless to help explain an individual’s mental issues but shows that we can see images in random stimuli.

So let’s look at some examples of visual Pareidolia, some maybe funny some maybe confusing and some maybe rude but I will explain in the title below the image what it is so if you don’t want a spoiler scroll down slowly:

A dogs backside? Or Jesus Christ?

A door and 2 Windows? Or a surprised house?

A broom against a wall? Or well… I’ll let your right fusiform decide that?

You should be getting the point by now, remember “what is seen cannot be unseen” so let’s look at a few more examples…………

Tea light holders? Or a row of scared/shocked faces?

Not a good choice of lampshades!


And this one is just brilliant!
Anyway moving on…….

So as for audio pareidolia there is a lot of pieces of equipment that can induce it and make individuals feel they have communicated or recorded an experience, equipment like the spirit box for example which flicks through radio waves at the speed selected by the users, or using white noise in an attempt to find EVP’s with a recorder this just exacerbates the effects of pareidolia, Unfortunately a lot of these recorders also have issues with small artefacts appearing in a recording that can make the listener believe an EVP has been caught and cause individuals to label what is apparently being said.

This can also be more prominent in certain individuals and I hear from a lot of investigators that have named themselves, ‘kings or queens of the EVP’ which actually means they aren’t very good at monitoring these situations and could catch an EVP in any kind of audio stimuli.

This phenomena does not only happen in our brain it is also a defect present in imaging software such as facial recognition on cameras or the recognition software on Kinect cameras, this can lead to an increase in reports from users that have had a scary experience of their camera’s recognising someone in a photograph that is in fact not there this also works with Kinect cameras when people tend to see what looks like a dancing person on the screen with nothing visually there to the individual present. (see images below)


 So after all of these examples I hope you can see and understand much better as to what our brains are capable of and how we do see these things? Hopefully now when someone posts up in the comments sections of a photo or video – “ITS PAREIDOLIA”, you can now understand exactly what it means and involves. This should enable you to realise that the quote of “a picture never lies” couldn’t in fact be more wrong! Our brains accidently ensure that is the case!

What an investigator should do!

The first thing for an investigator is to understand what it is that is happening (which I hope the above explains), this knowledge can then be passed to any individuals involved in either an investigation or looking to yourselves to consult them for answers on an EVP, Video or Photo.

Use examples to show the individual how it works, keep some in a case file to make things easier especially at first contact stage, this will only be a hope that they will want to take on board any of the information.

You will come across countless examples of pareidolia during investigations either in data you have collected yourself or data a client has collected prior to the investigation being required.

If you come across an EVP and you think you hear a clear voice within it, set up a network of individuals that have no real involvement in the paranormal, send them the recording via email or flash drive with no reference to what has been heard or any details of the investigation and let them tell you what they hear, do this with a multitude of individuals and see if they all decide the same as you do, even after this exercise it will only show you the clarity of what was heard but is worth storing away in the interesting folder for later.

What an investigator should NOT do!

As always an investigator should not go into an investigation with the idea that ghosts or spirits are causing any phenomena, to confirm when asked that a picture is paranormal especially without any investigation shows a great lack of experience in the investigator as well as causing an individual to instantly secure the belief that what they are experiencing is 100% a spirit or a ghost. This can have many complications to both the client and the investigator.

As always,

I invite any corrections to research that may have updated since the time of the original post and I will update once I have confirmed the research is valid.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your feedback!

Please give the facebook page a like for up to date progress on the rest of the series

References:

Leonard Zusne & Warren H Jones – Anomalistic Psychology – A study of magical thinking

Carl Sagan (1995) – The demon haunted world – Science as a candle in the dark

Oliver Sacks – Hallucinations

Further Reading:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Pareidolia

http://www.scielo.br/pdf/anp/v67n4/33.pdf

http://m.cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/11/10/cercor.bhr315.full

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3432238/