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ASSESSING THE PARANORMAL:
by Harry Stafford, Ph.D, Director of Haunted St. Augustine – Nighlty Investigations of
THE ROLE OF THE MIND I
There’s a familiar saying “it’s all in the mind.” All of us have experienced the power of suggestion. We know how rapidly our attention can be riveted to something of appeal or significance to us – such as someone consuming an icy beverage on a blisteringly hot day. Parapsychology recognizes how easily the power of suggestion can evoke the paranormal experiences that so many strongly desire. This is evident in many supposed sightings, interpretations of what we hear on EVP, or just the feelings evoked by eerie accounts of paranormal events. What about a decidedly spooky setting such as a cemetery filled with broken and weather-worn monuments?
On an even more fundamental level, we are learning the potent role mind can play in the very ways we construct reality. The Placebo Effect has proven how sugar pills can contribute to healings if we believe these pills to be some powerful drug. Demonstrations of psychokinesis or telekinesis in the laboratory illustrate how the mind may directly affect material objects apart from any ordinary physical contact. What is most relevant to the paranormal, however, is the view of many physicists today that mind is at the basis of all reality. Sir James Jeans once remarked that our understanding of quantum physics makes the world look more and more like a great idea (mind) rather than a great “thing” (matter.) Most of the founders of quantum physics – such as Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, etc. – held similar views, views that are even more commonplace today.
All of us — and all “things”– are manifestations of a vast, integral field of energy that is more like “mind” than “matter” as it is traditionally understood. Our observation and interpretation of what we see and experience cannot be neatly separated from what we think of as a world or events existing objectively apart from us. In a real sense, there is no such separately existing world.
Consider what this means, for example, for encounters with the paranormal. If we do not exist separately from the ordinary world, how much more true is this of the paranormal? If we in part construct the ordinary world through our senses and our beliefs and interpretations of events, how much more true may this be for the world(s) of the paranormal? If we project reality outward onto our everyday world (a well-known fact of modern psychology,) how much more may we do so with the paranormal world(s)? For example, what is an “intelligent haunting,” really? We shall return to these intriguing and perplexing issues . . . Paranormal riddles are also riddles about the nature of reality itself.
©Harry C. Stafford, 2010
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