The Paranormal Spectrum of Belief

Over the years, I have learned that there is a very wide spectrum of belief when it comes to the paranormal. I think most people fit into one of four general categories.

Let’s start with the extremes. On one end of the spectrum are the Extreme Believers. They believe in ghosts, but they take that belief to a whole new level. Not only do they “know” that ghosts exist, they readily accept any experience or piece of evidence as solid proof….no questions asked. Debunking is a foreign concept to them. An orb? Yep, it’s paranormal. The possibilities of it being dust, a bug, a reflection – none of these things even come to mind. A noise in an empty house? Definitely a ghost making its presence known, no further analysis required. They are so excited by the thrill of the paranormal, they often fail to discern the difference between readily explainable events and those which cannot be explained. Paranormal fraud is an unfortunate reality, and these too-willing-to-believe folks often feed right into crooked teams’ deceitful claims, further perpetuating the fraud. The motto of the Extreme Believer: “If it’s on TV or captured on film, it must be real.”

On the other end of the spectrum are the Disbelievers. These people are adamant that ghosts do not exist. Period. They view all reported evidence as fakery, misinterpretation, and, in general, hogwash. Any and all attempts to prove otherwise are pointless, irresponsible, misleading, and oftentimes offensive. In many cases, the religious and/or cultural beliefs of this group contradict any possibility that ghosts could exist. The motto of the Disbeliever: “Don’t waste my time.”

Then we have the Super Skeptics. This person thinks that it is possible that ghosts exist, but they need to see cold, hard proof – and they need to see it with their own eyes. They dismiss most, if not all, paranormal evidence in existence today. Unless they personally come face-to-face with an intelligent, coherently-speaking, full-body apparition, they’re just not buying into the idea. The motto of the Super Skeptic: “Show me something I can’t deny, and then we’ll talk.”

Somewhere right in the middle is where I would like to think the majority of serious paranormal investigators fall. Let’s call them the Cautious Believers. They believe that ghosts exist, but they closely examine and evaluate evidence and claims in an objective and skeptical manner. For these folks, evidence is not truly evidence unless every single logical explanation for the activity can be ruled out. A dark shadow in a corner? Where are all of the sources of light? Could anyone or anything be casting the shadow? No? Let’s go to the video. Was it captured on film? If so, can it be seen from different angles around the room? Yes? OK, can it be recreated by moving everyone and everything into the same places? If someone stands or walks in front of an opposing window when a car drives by, does the shadow mysteriously reappear? Can it be recreated in any other way? No? Did any of the equipment pick up anything at the same time as the shadow was seen? An EMF spike, a temperature change, an EVP? And so on. It is only after every possible (and even some seemingly impossible) explanations have been exhausted that a Cautious Believer will consider something as potentially paranormal. The motto of the Cautious Believer: “Debunk, debunk, debunk…..”

I consider myself to be a Cautious Believer. I do believe in ghosts. However, a belief is just a belief; it is not proof. If I hear a mysterious voice on a recorder, I do not immediately jump to the conclusion that it is paranormal. However, if the voice I heard was captured on multiple recorders and video review has proven that it could not have come from anyone or anything else inside or outside the building, I start to consider the possibility. If audio review shows that the voice is at a frequency outside that of normal human speech, now we’re really talking. Successfully debunking most of your evidence can be disappointing (“Aw man, I really wanted that to be a spirit!”). However, it is the only way to know that what you are left with – the stuff you can’t explain, rationalize, or debunk – is good, solid evidence.

Where do YOU fall on the spectrum of belief?

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