Monday, 29 October 2012

First eliminate the normal!

If you are investigating a haunting (or some other anomalous case) and you're looking for possible natural explanations for what has been reported, you may be wasting your time! You might look for a few obvious possibilities but what about all the other not so obvious ones? For any given reported anomaly there may be many different possible natural explanations. Unless you check them all out, you can never eliminate them. It doesn't matter how weird the phenomenon, if there are untested natural explanations possible, the best you can ever say is that it might be paranormal. Or not!

I often read reports of people on ghost vigils looking into strange incidents that happened on the night. While the things they test are OK as far as they go, I can usually think of several possibilities that either didn't occur to them or they didn't bother to check. I suspect, in most cases, the former is true. It is a shame because it is much easier to check possible explanations just after an incident, a luxury we don't usually have with witness reports received for investigation. I have often explained my own weird observations by checking them out at the time. Even waiting a few minutes can make it impossible to check certain aspects!

So how can we be fully prepared for every possible natural explanation when something weird happens? My solution is to look for weird events in everyday life. Regular readers will be aware that I am always on the look out for mysterious stuff to explain in my day to day life. It is an extremely useful way to discover possible natural explanations that would never otherwise have occurred to me. I would suggest that all anomaly investigators should follow this example and keep a look out for situations in everyday life which could be interpreted as paranormal. And most importantly, having found a natural explanation, you should look for clues or symptoms that point to that cause. You can also pursue xenonormal studies, when not actively investigating.

If you go on active investigation without being armed with lots of possible explanations for anything weird that you might encounter, then you may simply be wasting your time. Any results you present will always be open to challenge by others who can think of alternative causes. Of course, the are always some obscure natural explanations that even a well-prepared investigator will not think of. But at the moment, even quite obvious things are being overlooked making conclusions like 'unexplained', 'inexplicable' or even 'paranormal' look distinctly unsupportable.

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