Is validation more important than proof?

21st November 2021. Reading Time: 6 minutes General. 733 page views. 3 comments.

We develop attachments to experiences and evidence because we so desperately want it to validate what part of us deep inside so strongly believes: that the paranormal exists and is all around us yet we cannot prove it. So why do we spend so much of our time on social media arguing about it?

There is a common scenario that I see play out on social media and one that once again I found myself entangled into.  In this particular instance, a person had what they felt was a very strong and profound experience that was also experienced by others.  To accompany this experience, they had a photo where a green like orb could be seen.  Many of you may already know where this conversation was headed.  They sent me the photo to ask my opinion of what it could be.  I usually will tell a person "sorry I don't review photos", but in this case, I could see the cause straight away and it was something I have written in-depth about.  They were a person that seemed to genuinely want to understand what it was and was also someone I had briefly spoken to through social media before.  I went on to explain that it was lens flare and in particular a form of ghosting.  I showed diagrams of why it happens and even mapped out the light source on their photo so they could understand it how and why it happens.  I also went on to say that just because this green light is not something paranormal, it doesn't mean your experience didn't happen, I just didn't think this green light was evidence of that.  Of course, it ended as it always does with the person arguing that it wasn't lens flare and it had to be paranormal because of the experience they believed to accompany it.  I later saw this person asking others on social media the very same question.  In the majority of cases, most were stating that they thought it was lens flare.  Becoming frustrated, the person who posted the photo said "Why won't anyone believe me?".  At this moment I could sense the desperation.  While their actions of posting the photo may be interpreted differently, this person wasn't offering a photo to prove to the World the paranormal exists.  They wanted to prove it to themselves.  They wanted to prove that what they experienced happened.  They weren't seeking out to prove the paranormal to the World per se, they were seeking to prove their own personal experience.  

Part of the problem in the paranormal community on social media is the aggressiveness and sometimes arrogance toward people when someone is presenting something they consider to be evidence. It shows a great divide that I think not everyone realises or considers.  Many paranormal groups offer a space for everyday people to share their experiences in which they hope to get validation that what they experienced wasn't just in their head or that they are not crazy.  The people submitting photos for example are not always people that are paranormal investigators who are out every weekend. They have experienced something and some of them just want to hear that what they experienced was paranormal.  Some are receptive but others will not listen to anything other than what they want to hear.  Of course, then you have paranormal investigators who have been researching the paranormal for 2, 10, or 20 years with varying degrees of experience.  Day in and out they are given these kinds of photos and asked to explain them.  When they have taken the time to do this they are often met with resistance when it doesn't match what the person submitting the photo wants to hear, these investigators start to become disgruntled and some can begin to be quite aggressive on social media as they feel like they are wasting their time.  I admit that I have fallen into this boat before.  Especially when I have been asked and I tell them I will probably not tell you what you want to hear but they beg.  I then tell them my thoughts and have been told I am a 'hater' or a 'non believer'.  Some people are so aggressive and disgruntled that they come out swinging right from the bat and start throwing around phrases that are disrespectful to the person asking the question implying they are crazy.  We must remember that two wrongs don't make a right and no matter what you believe when it comes to the paranormal, you should never disrespect another person and calling them names for believing differently from you.

We somehow need to bridge this divide.  I don't have an answer as to how.  I try to adopt compassion for both sides, even though it can be difficult at times.  On one end you have someone who is so desperate for someone to tell them that what happened to them was paranormal.  Often it is a comfort thing in someone wanting validation they aren't alone and their loved ones are still around.  In some cases, it can even be a bit of narcissism.  At the other end, you have people who are asked for an opinion and when they give it they are attacked because it is not the answer the person was looking for.  How do you ever resolve that without changing people and human nature?  You can't.  It is the nature of the beast that social media has spawned.  We have to remember that most people will not act that way in 'real life'.  It is different when you have a keyboard to hide behind.  In-person when for example I have had someone show me a photo and I offer an explanation, they say OK and it ends.  They probably are cursing me in their head.  On social media, however, that filter isn't there so they can say what they are thinking and not feel the same remorse they would if we were in person. 

Maybe in some cases, we need to put the evidence itself aside.  These sorts of things will never be evidence that the paranormal exists so why do we spend so much of our time on social media arguing about it?  It goes deeper and is much simpler.  People want to know that they are not alone and they are not crazy.  They want someone to tell them what they experienced was paranormal.  Of course no one can ever say with certainty that something is paranormal.  We can believe it to be but we never know for sure.  What we can offer is assurance.  We have all been in their shoes in some way or another.  Whether it was an experience we had or even something we have captured at an investigation.  We develop attachments to experiences and evidence because we so desperately want it to validate what part of us deep inside so strongly believes: that the paranormal exists and is all around us yet we cannot prove it.

So the next time the situation presents itself with a fellow investigator or even a person posting in a group instead of entering into arguments, maybe we just need to put the evidence aside and look at their experience and utter 3 very simple words.

"I believe you"

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  • Kd Foreman 3 years ago

    Yep yep yep. It's a constant battle. The unfortunate thing about conversations ON THE INTERNET, is that tones and inflections are inserted by the reader, which can cause hurt feelings. The person answering may have tried to state some experience or knowledge in the kindest most tactful way, yet the original poster can get huffy if the majority are not agreeing. This article is an EYE OPENER! From now on, I will be sure to add on: Even though I believe this pic is natural causes, I'm sure your EXPERIENCE was startling!!

  • yvonne hunter 3 years ago

    Excellent article. When someone asks me to view a photograph or give me their explanation I always ask them to think about how they felt during their experience, what made them think or feel in themselves what made them think it was paranormal. Im a firm believer in following your own experience, own senses, own path. The majority of fellow investigators I know would not be investigators if they were not being true to themselves. I personally think its a waste of energy, time and funds if you are going to lie to themselves...what is the point? We all would like proof and yes it would be very exciting if any Investigator managed to find some proof. However, even if we did would we miss important information by not relying on social media and find as much history and information to back the experience up. Again, though validity would be needed. It is time other paths were attempted to gain evidence, proof and validity. The paranormal field has become to quick with teams using loud equipment and gadets, maybe if we stepped back and used our natural senses more, we discover something we have been missing

    • Charles Rudd 3 years ago

      When you have had a paranormal experience you don't have to prove it because it just is.