Assessing The Paranormal with Dr. Harry Stafford
INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE EXPERIENCES
In assessing the authenticity of paranormal phenomena , collective sightings or experiences obviously carry more weight than those of a single person. This is a factor, but alone cannot determine what is valid. Some individuals are more sensitive and open, whether in the sensory or intuitive mode. This is a continuous variable, and has to be weighed with a number of other relevant considerations, such as a history of prior paranormal occurrences (preferably of which the present subject is unaware.) A single person may pick up what others are missing.
On the other hand, the fact that many people may interpret a collective event in the same way does not automatically establish that interpretation as true. For example, many may witness an eclipse, but we know that – contrary to one mythical belief – the sun or moon has not actually been eaten by a cosmic demon. The eclipse is an illusion caused by a unique alignment, how ever many people witness the same effect. One person who understands this has a more accurate grasp than a thousand who do not.
Regardless of whether paranormal events are witnessed by one person or many, the question remains of how to interpret the occurrence, of what is its cause and meaning. This is where the real work of paranormal investigation begins. It is also where the education and background of the investigator plays a highly significant role. An example is understanding the role of cultural beliefs or psychological projection in both individual and collective perceptions.
© Harry C. Stafford, 2009
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