ASSAP: Paranormal Research
ASSAP: Paranormal Education
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Anomalous phenomena are those things that don't fit neatly into our scientific theories of how the universe works. Indeed, for an event to be described as 'anomalous' or 'paranormal', we must demonstrate that it has no ordinary explanation based on current science. Paranormal investigators are, inevitably, looking for things that don't fit conventional explanations.

Like a jigsaw

If you look at a spontaneous case of apparently paranormal phenomena, it resembles a jigsaw. You are trying to see the full picture of the incident but you only have some of the pieces. What is more, some of the pieces don't seem to fit at all and others appear to be from a different jigsaw! All of which makes it a difficult puzzle!

Jigsaw pieces present

The jigsaw pieces you examine come from various sources, particularly witness reports but also some times instrumental recordings. But even the pieces you have may not fit together. In other words they do not point unambiguously to a single explanation. Why is that?

  • witness testimony is known not to be reliable
  • instrumental recordings can be misinterpeted
  • possible investigator assumptions

If several people witness the same incident, they will come up with conflictiong accounts. Sometimes things will be reported that simply never happened (see here). So some jigsaw pieces will NEVER fit because they are the wrong shape!

Even something as apparently simple as a camera can produce instrumental artefsacts, like orbs or flying rods, that can be misinterpreted. So some jigsaw pieces will never fit because they belong to a completely different jigsaw!

Some investigators make assumptions about likely causes of particular events, that can lead them to miss important clues. So such investigators may concentrate on the jigswa pieces that DON'T fit rather than those that do!

Missing jigsaw pieces

If the investigator was present when the original spontaneous anomalous event ioccured, equiped with a battery of relevant recording equipment, it would probably be possible to see the whole picture. The further we move away from that ideal, the more missing pieces there are in the jigsaw.

For instance, if there WERE instruments or witnesses near the original incident who recorded nothing, why was that? Was the incident subjective to the main witness or witnesses? Are there things we SHOULD have seen that were not there?

If there is a lot of useful information missing, it is dangerous to form hard theories.

Putting the picture together

It should be possible, for most paranormal cases, to assemble some kind of picture of what happened during a particular case. This will, inevitably, leave some bits of contradictory evidence neglected. It is always tempting, as a paranormal researcher, to try to make these fit. However, if there is a clear obvious explanation with just sa few details against it, the temptation should be resisted. If all the evidence is massively contradictory, it suggests there is too much missing from the evidence to come to a meaningful conclusion.

If we have several parts of a jigsaw the point to an obvious pictuire, we should throw the bits that don't fit away. They probably come from another jigsaw altogether!