Frame 352 of the Patterson-Gimlin film
A post on WTRF.com talks about the recent Science, Technology and Research Symposium in Charleston, Virginia.
Michael Shermer, author and founder of The Skeptics Society, was talking to a crowd that included scientists and students about how easily people can be fooled when it comes to the paranormal.
Mr. Shermer said:
“We already know that people lie; that happens all the time. … The more interesting question is why do people fall for it,
Furthermore, he goes on to say:
As for the reason people believe strange things, Shermer said it is rooted in humanity’s evolutionary history and its psychological drive to connect invisible causes to the events around them. That movement in the grass may be the wind or it could be a predator.
In evolutionary terms, it makes more sense to assume it’s a predator. In other words, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and therefore people are hardwired to assume there is an agent controlling the forces around them.
I’ve heard this example being used time and time again. The first time I heard it was in a philosophy class. We were discussing the human need to believe in god. A similar example was used to make a point as to why humans, need to feel in control, and at times believing in absurd things to fulfill this need. In the classroom discussion, the professor went on to describe a scenario where a person was in the middle of a wildfire. With no way out and the grim realization that death was imminent, this person would almost certainly get on their knees and pray to god for help.
Now, the professor made the point that even though this person could be an atheist, the reason why they would pray to a god they so adamantly rejected was simple human psychology.
The need for us as humans to feel in control.
You see, in the case of the wildfire, the person does not have any control whatsoever over their environment. So by praying for a miracle, this person is somewhat psychologically assuming that if a miracle does happen, then they would have, through prayer, controlled the outcome of their grim destiny. Giving the false sense of control we so desperately need.
Well, that was an OK classroom exercise when I was younger and more naive.
As we move on with our lives and travel abroad and experience life, we tend to believe more and more that control is just an illusion. That what the professor was trying to teach us was just a ‘westernized’ way of thinking. A thought process of an underdeveloped mind.
In the WTRF.com article, Mr. Shermer’s statements somewhat remind me of this thought process. Saying that people are gullible for believing in UFOs or Bigfoot or creatures that have not been proven to exist by science. This is a very ‘westernized’ way of putting things.
Yes, we here at GhostTheory are a bunch of skeptics as well. But we are skeptical at the evidence that is being presented by all these ghost hunting groups. Videos of “orbs” or shadows and noises are being passed around the web labeled as evidence. We believe that just because a group of ghost hunters use scientific instruments, does not mean that the investigation was done in a scientific manner. Or that the evidence collected hold any scientific value.
We are skeptical, but not totally closed minded. Do I believe in alien spacecrafts coming to visit earth? Yes. why? well because at the age of 9 or so I had an amazing sighting. I knew from early on that what I saw was not something common. Do I believe in ghosts? yes. Because at the age of 11 I had a sighting of a shadow person I still cannot explain to this day. I know what I saw, and know in my heart that it’s was not something that can be easily dismissed.
So who are we to discredit people who come out and tell of sightings of Bigfoot or apparitions throughout their homes? Can we say that all these people were hallucinating? or that they are attention whores?
We should definitely use critical thinking when inspecting evidence, and analyze it from all angles. We should avoid saying things like “Science can’t prove they exist, therefore you’re nuts”. Remember, the mountain gorilla was not discovered until 1902 (mountain gorilla, not gorillas in general)
“In October 1902, Captain Robert von Beringe (1865-1940) shot two large apes during an expedition to establish the boundaries of German East Africa. One of the apes was recovered and sent to the Zoological Museum in Berlin, where Professor Paul Matschie (1861-1926) classified the animal as a new form of gorilla and named it Gorilla beringei after the man who discovered it…” – Wikipedia
When locals would recount tales of big hairy man-like creatures in the jungles, most European explorers brushed it off as tales and legends. It wasn’t until one was shot and killed (seems to be the only way!) that the mountain gorilla was discovered and classified.
Science is a byproduct of our research. It is not something that is completely written in stone, it’s always changing.
We don’t have the credibility in the field of the paranormal because of people who do not see the damage they are inflicting when they bring their beliefs into their research, skeptics or believers.
This is why, the majority of these so-called ghost hunters are not doing what it takes to bring proper research to the field.
The argument between skeptics and believers will always exist. Just remember, don’t shoot Bigfoot if it does exist.