The Elusive Meaning of Truth

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Søren Kierkegaard, an 18th century Danish philosopher and theologian once said, “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

Recently I received an email from a source that shall remain unnamed, who wanted to warn me regarding my skeptical beliefs and sources in my writings (more specifically from debunkers), in which I threw caution to the wind when writing or publishing material from a pseudoskeptical source. This person went on to warn me (rather ambiguously) that I needed to clarify my thoughts on where I stood before publishing articles that seemed ‘one-sided,’ in which reference was made to a short article that I published in The Journal of Anomalous Sciences long ago, telling readers about the mindset of “True believers” and “debunkers” without understanding the difference between a “pseudoskeptic” and a” true skeptic.” I believe the inference made was to better understand another person’s stand when writing, publishing, or reading about another person’s skeptical belief, and not let my skepticism get in the way of another skeptical source.

Confused? I know I was at first myself. I do however, want to clarify one thing before I continue . . . I am, and always have been, a believer of free agency, and that anyone with one ounce of intelligence will formulate an opinion of what they ‘believe’ to be the truth behind substantiated facts. In other words, proof or competent, solid evidence that affirms and supports their argument, with substance, as to what and why they believe what they do should be their goal; their version of the truth, strengthening their resolve and their opinion.

I like to consider myself a person with common sense. Albeit, I will be the first to admit that sometimes my logic can be somewhat twisted, but when it is, it’s only to point out the absurd. However, I will listen to another person’s opinion without passing judgment regarding what they believe, regardless whether their version of the truth matches or conflicts with mine. If their provision of facts and information strengthens (affirms) their argument, which proves to be sound and their data valid and concluded with a logical hypothesis or conclusion, I will often reassess what I believed to be the truth, revisiting my own belief on whatever subject discussed, to the point modifying my definition of what I had perceived to be the truth if logical and necessary. In other words, I seek the truth, not a belief system and if that truth ends up going against my current beliefs than I will modify my beliefs, not try to ignore or modify the facts/truth.

All this brings to mind something my father once told me when I was around eight years old, ‘For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice,” a quote by the 18th century mentalist Joseph Dunninger. There are those people who will believe anything and everything they’re told and then those that believe absolutely nothing at all, regardless of how much empirical evidence is presented. Now add to that two words, “stupid’ and/or “ignorant,” and you will be presented with a quagmire of huge proportions, especially if you’re attempting to understand why they believe what they believe, or trying to presented any logical argument that gives them a “deer in the headlights look” or gives you a headache for even attempting to provide an argument. You’re better off trying to figure out why a Kamikaze pilot wore a helmet.

“Ignorant” simply means “an individual lacks knowledge, is uninformed, or unaware of important information regarding a particular subject or fact (e.g. – ignorant of quantum physics). While “stupid” on the other hand, not only lacks an ordinary quickness or keenness of mind (basically they’re dull), they can be characterized as being mentally foolish and lacking common sense, are often inane, annoying, and/or irritating by their being oblivious to logic to just about everyone who does.

Ignorance can be fixed, as it only requires knowledge and education to overcome, however, a person with decades of education, multiple doctorates and ump-teen technical certifications can still be stupid.

However, stupid…no one can fix. I really hate it when I’m asked a ‘stupid’ question and retort with what I would consider to be an excellent sarcastic comment… stupid people just don’t get.

So where am I going with all this? I’m getting there…

Both Kurt and I formulated Desert Highlands Paranormal Research on the premise of providing a methodology resembling as close to a scientific approach to our research as possible without being scientists. We pride ourselves (and at times we’ve been called arrogant because of it) on trying to discover the truth behind anything anomalous, regardless of whether it’s UFOs, alien abduction, the paranormal, cryptids, or the mystic faculties. We experiment with different concepts and ideas, designs and implementations of equipment or procedures, and we are both obsessive about documenting everything with objective empirical evidence. When in doubt, we throw it out.

Skeptic, Pseudoskeptic, or Debunker? Well, there are teams out there that proclaim to be experts in the paranormal, yet their evidence is either subjective or non-existent, their methods are questionable, and they’re either ignorant, stupid, or both (have you read what passes for science and is published on the Internet lately?). They’re going for a record as to how many pictures of dust they collect.

Well I used to use a 35mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera with black & white film (that I developed myself to save money). I learned that skill by the time I was 13 years old to earn a boy scout merit badge. Over all the years of doing paranormal research with this camera, I never ever saw an orb in any of my photographs. When digital photography first came around, I was amazed by all the photographs taken by Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) that had orbs in them. Most of the ghost hunters I knew at the time that owned one claimed them to be ghostly apparitions that only the sensor of the DSLR could reveal.

Well I wasn’t convinced, after all, the only difference between the two cameras was that one used film and the other a digital sensor. Otherwise, the mechanism for a DSLR and SLR camera is identical. Remembering something said by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and a paranormal investigator himself, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

So I decided to experiment with a simple pocket digital camera, and my first DSLR camera to determine what could cause orbs to appear in a photograph. To make this long story short, I simply looked at the environment in which many of the ‘orb’ photographs were captured, and analyzed. What could cause them? I discovered shaking a dusty drapery in my own home created thousands of orbs (yes I washed the curtains), then I tried my daughter’s talcum powder…more orbs. I tried her hair spray and a squeeze from a bottle of Windex…Yup, more orbs. I went outside and cut a couple of ears of corn and shook them in front of the camera, I threw dirt in the air, I took pictures in the snow and in the rain, I tried anything and everything…I got thousands of orbs in hundreds of photographs.

Yes I believed orbs were supernatural at one time, but no longer. Does that mean all orbs are bogus, pseudo ghosts or spirits? No not at all, but in order for me to believe they could be something as improbable as something paranormal, it’s got to show what I call “Intelligent intent.” It’s got to move intelligently around people, objects, stop, slow down, speed up, and have other collaborating evidence to support it…like an EVP or captured on multiple cameras and or video simultaneously.

Am I a skeptic? No, I’m a researcher. I believe all things anomalous (well I still have my doubts about cryptids, but I do reserve an open mind) I just don’t believe everything I hear. People exaggerate, embellish, or outright lie.

Am I a pseudo-skeptic? No I’m not, and nor am I a debunker (I actually dislike that word). I first try to eliminate the obvious before I go putting my neck on the block by calling a paranormal experience anything.

Am I a believer? Yes and no, it all depends on what can be substantiated. However, I am open-minded, and I have seen things I cannot explain. Unless I see a human shape with my own eyes, or can validate an apparition of a human being in a photograph (from the original camera or negative), a video of that apparition (again I want the original recording), I won’t call it anything but “paranormally compelling.” Even an EVP I will not call a ghost or a spirit, because there is no way of knowing that it’s not a dimensional, an alien, non-human entity, or cryptid…and definitely not another bloody demon. I hate it when any anomalous team predisposes an explanation BEFORE a proper investigation has even been done, much less not follow-up any research of the event AFTER it has concluded and the documentation and evidence completed.