The Parapsychology forums member, Kim, wrote in the scientific debates forum an interesting post. He titled it “How important is proof?” but I called it “Which kind of a paranormal researcher are you?”. Read below and post your answer and thought right into the article’s thread on the forum. Below is the post, verbatim.
Overall there are two types of explorers in the world of paranormal investigation. There is nothing wrong with either POV in my opinion, but either you are one or the other:
Category 1.) wants to find proof, to establish beyond a shadow of a doubt that there really are psychic phenomonon.
Category 2.) wants to research the most extreme phenomonon out there, no matter what method they have to resort to, and not worry about whether they can explain or prove it. There are pitfalls to both sides to be sure.
The people who want to PROVE something, have many of the same problems as mainstream evangelists like Billy Graham. Billy Graham was a very intelectual theologian. He knew much more than he put forth in 99 percent of his sermons. Yet he constantly repeated the slavation message because it was most important. Occasionally he got a chance to speculate a bit, and teach those who were also advanced in his field, but despite his brilliance, and substantial abilities, he spent most of his time explaining the basics to non-believers, and novices. Like Rev. Graham, those provers, are always stuck with the basics. They repeat the same experiments, and listen to the same dull skeptics explain away their ‘proof’ over and over. These guys are ghost hunting with a camera, while most phenomonon don’t photograph. All they want is a scrap of film they can blow up into an 8×10 glossy of some snarly ghost, so skeptics can insist they doctored it on photoshop.
The most problematic part of this plight, whether evangelist, or psychic investigator, is trying to prove a spiritual reality, with physical means, in a physical world, to people who are so caught up in the concrete physical, they can’t even wrap their minds around a simple phenomonon.
The plus to this is credibility, for the movement and for themselves. Even if they don’t find their proof, they are scientists. Some people still scoff of course, but they don’t get accused of being insane very often. Fruther if they prefer they can keep what they are trying to prove and explain fairly simple, and they dont’ have to draw extrapolated conclusions involving contradictions with various religious belief systems. Also by keeping at least one foot in the physical realm, they don’t risk the delusions the other types are at risk for.
The other types have largely abandoned the idea of proving anything. It becomes irrelivant what the masses believe. The factors involved in their quests vary, so maybe I should subdivide them. They are either
A.) Obcessed with finding deep spiritual truth for themselves
B.) Seeking to help others, or even save the world with their abilities
C.) Curious, intelectual, spiritual, and bored enough to seek other worlds
D.) All of the above.
These people could care less if they can photograph a ghost, though they would give their eye teeth to see the picture, having no doubt it was real. They would type and categorize it, then find out who the creature was and who he worked for. Would their findings be credible? Not to anyone but themselves and others like them.
These people are the Tent Revivalists of the Psi movement. They heal, they cast out devils, and they tell the wildest most hell fire and brimstone stories you can imagine. They may have seen heaven, hell, and all the 32 plains of astral existance… but they can’t prove it. Proving things takes time, and limits their exploration. They realize their stories lack credibility with most people, but those who know, know… right? They delight in finding other explorers to compare notes with. Like the healing preacher Earnest Angely, they are made fun of, but I’ll tell you what. I went to one of his meetings once, and I saw hundreds of empty wheelchairs at the end of that. The man may seem crazy, and he might talk funny but his stuff works. Sometimes those crazy explorers of the shadowlands hit on something that works too. Still normal people listening to them, are hard pressed to understand, much less believe…
The plus side, involves a lot of freedom in practice, attitude, and of course the ability to keep a low profile if they choose. There are a lot of opportunities to go further… way further with extrapolation, and theory, than one could if they had to prove themselves at every turn…
But that leads us to a huge pitfall, and the deepest pit of all; becoming self deluded, confused and appearing to be an idiot even to your peers. There are also physical and emotional side effects to that kind of work, and it is a major commitment of time and sweat, for which you can’t really take credit or even acknowledge to most of the people around you. The pitfalls of this approach, are numerous, and involve potential for delusions, and a serious risk to sanity. I mean actual loss of sanity is possible even probable, but being perceived as sane, goes out the window the minute they open their mouths outside their own group. Heck there are times just observing a quiet visionary, in public can make you wonder what is wrong with them, unless you see what they see.
Which am I? I am pretty much Category 2. D) which is all of the above crazy tent preaching investigator. Why? I figured out even as a child, that most people don’t believe in stuff like this… except late at night, in a dimly lit room listening to the best darned experiences I can remember. Then I can scare the pants off even the most logical skeptics… and for a little while they believe. They sit on the edge of their chairs, and scream if the cat moves.
IF I wanted proof, I’d still be ghost busting my first case. I still wouldn’t have incontestable proof, and I wouldn’t know jack about what really causes these things, or how to deal with them. People either believe, or they don’t want to, and life is too short to explain and argue over the same baby steps over and over, to the willfully ignorant. Sometimes people have good reason to be skeptical… not because it isn’t true, but because they couldn’t handle knowing. I’d rather deal with being called insane, than argue with someone who needs their doubts. I’d rather risk insanity… (well it’s too late to do that anyway, it’s gone)… than deny what I see, to myself. I’ll deny it to others if necessary.
“In a world of only blind people, what is a man with 20-80 vision called? Delusional!” I’ll be the first to admit that my sight and understanding is probably less than equal to 20-80 vision, when it comes to all that is really out there, but I’ve definitely seen a lot of stuff, and comprehended at least a tiny fraction of it.
Which kind of parinormal investigator are you?