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Presenting Your Case For The Paranormal

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#1 OffDutyCop


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Posted 06 May 2010 - 03:12 PM

Ladies and Gentlemen -

Since childhood, I've always had an interest in the paranormal. I'm sure that many of those who choose to read this can relate to the excitement I felt, when, as a young man, I first ventured into the vast ocean of cyberspace, and learned that there were entire online communities of people who shared my passion and interest. Having grown up in a relatively small town in the American southeast, such things just weren't discussed openly. What's more, the local library only had a handful of dust covered books on the subject. Yet, online, I had access to not only a collection of kindred spirits, but also a wealth of information from across the globe that I otherwise wouldn't have had access to. In my excitement, I hurriedly joined the fray, posting my vast collections of digital "orbs", "ecto" and disappearing body parts. Imagine my dismay when they were readily explained away as dust, environmental conditions and camera malfunctions.

At first, I probably didn't want to believe it. I might have even gotten a little angry. Then, I decided to start doing as much of my own independent research as possible, in an effort to prove the "naysayers" wrong. In doing so, I inadvertently proved them right. Everything I came up with, at every twist and every turn, showed me that most of my photos did have very plausible, non-paranormal explanations. Sheepishly, I returned to these communities, proverbial hat in hand, and said "teach me".

It was during this time, that I truly came to appreciate the value of individual members, and the life experiences that they brought to the table. A plumber might be able to explain the knocking noises in the walls of a home. A woman versed in ancient cultures may have helped me to better understand some strange symbols, and realize that they weren't inherently evil at all. A photography expert, usually had a plausible explanation for some rather odd anomalies captured on film. During this phase of "enlightenment", I not only used the skills and experiences of others to build upon my knowledge, but I began to understand how to utilize my own skills and experiences when investigating the paranormal.

While I realize that this post has probably been rather long and tedious already, I'd like to take some time to share some of the opinions I've formed, as I've applied my skills to paranormal research, in hopes of doing what I can to help some of you in the future. For those of you who "stick it out", I hope this post will prove to be both interesting and informative.

This particular thread deals a bit with analyzing evidence, and subjecting your evidence to the opinions of others, such as in an online community.

As a detective, I deal with some form of evidence on a day to day basis. While this is always done in regards to a crime, and preparing a case for prosecution, I've found that many of the rules of evidence and conduct which are associated with a criminal investigation and trial, can likewise be applicable for reviewing evidence of the paranormal.

First off, we need to establish the difference between "evidence" and "proof".

According to Webster's Dictionary online, "evidence" is:

an outward sign : indication b : something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter

on the other hand, "Proof" is defined as:

1 a : the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact

b : the process or an instance of establishing the validity of a statement especially by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning

So, in a nutshell, "evidence" contributes, or rather, can contribute to "proof", but it generally takes the presence of more than one piece of evidence to generate that proof. With that being said, a single picture, or even a single EVP will most likely never constitute solid "proof" in regards to the existence of the paranormal. This does not mean, however, that just because you may never capture that one awe-inspiring, indisputable picture of a full bodied apparition, that you should give up hope, and in turn, give up the hunt. Just as in police work, we may find that evidence continuously gathered over a period of time will generate the proof needed for wide spread and generally accepted "proof" of the paranormal.

I mention this, because in some instances, simply knowing the difference between the words "evidence" and "proof", and utilizing these terms in the appropriate context, will add to your credibility as an investigator.

Now, the following rules will mostly be applicable to the process of presenting your potential evidence for review by your peers.

1. Keep an open mind. I've got to be completely honest when I say that I cringe every time a member posts a picture, EVP, personal account, etc., and proceeds to become hostile when opinions are presented which differ from their own. In a way, this goes back to knowing the difference between "evidence" and "proof", or rather, not knowing the difference. I say this, because in my experience, this situation takes place most often when a member believes themselves to have captured undeniable "proof" of the paranormal, while others disagree.

I can't tell you how many times I've begun to investigate a crime, and found evidence to suggest that one individual was the perpetrator, only to discover that the actual perpetrator was a different individual altogether by the time that the investigation comes to an end. I've been wrong in preliminary stages of an investigation, but have always managed to get my facts straight by the end. This is accomplished by continued investigation, further research, and even the opinions and advice of my coworkers. Don't be afraid or unwilling to look at ALL angles in regards to the search for evidence of the paranormal. You might be surprised by what you find!

2. Never Let Them See You Get Angry: Just as Having an Open Mind ties in to knowing the difference between "evidence" and "proof", Never Letting Them See You Get Angry ties in to having an open mind. As I said before, in the past I have presented potential evidence for review that was debunked, and at the time, it got under my skin. I'm almost positive that I probably made a few assinine comments that I deeply regret to this day. I say this, because every time I see a member get angry over a difference in opinion regarding potential evidence, they tend to lose a little bit of credibility in my opinion. It's as if they appear defensive, or close minded, neither one being a good attribute.

In a jury trial, if my demeanor changes for the worse during cross-examination by the defense, I would likewise lose a degree of credibility and respect in the eyes of the jury. I have to remain calm, cool, and even cordial, in an effort to avoid swaying the opinion of the very people whom I'm trying to convince I'm right.

3. Know Your Facts! When you present a piece of potential evidence for review, you must expect that others will more than likely have questions. What was the weather like? Was there anyone else in the vicinity? What's the history of the location? What kind of camera was used? These are just a few of some of the more commonly asked questions, especially in regards to photographs. Being prepared, and knowing the answers to these questions will lend to your credibility.

I understand that in some cases, maybe even the majority of cases, potential evidence is captured accidentally. In these situations, you most likely will not know the answers to many questions that are asked, a problem which is seemingly unavoidable. In cases where you go out LOOKING for things that go "bump in the night", however, you should make note of EVERYTHING!

4. Always Tell the Truth! Never, under any circumstances, purposefully fabricate a piece of evidence, or knowingly give false answers to questions. If you don't know the answer, say "I DON'T KNOW"!
If there is even a possibility that someone else was in the area, don't say that there is none. If you don't remember if someone was smoking, don't say they weren't! Even if you don't have an answer, you'll gain more respect by admitting that fact than you will by making something up. If you're caught in a lie, you'll probably destroy much of your credibility for quite a long time. The problem is, not only are you detracting from your own credibility, but the credibility of other investigators as well!

5. Never Take it Personally I don't remember the first time I lost a criminal case, because from the onset, I refused to take it personally. If I had, my first lost probably would have been my last, as I would have lacked the will to continue in my career.

If a piece of potential evidence is debunked, accept it! Move on, and keep investigating, because that next piece of evidence is right around the corner, and you never know, it just might be the big one!

6. Avoid Labels, Don't Alienate the Jury! In a criminal case, the smart thing to do is to avoid calling undue attention to a person's race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., as you never know which one the jurors might have something in common with the "bad guy". In bringing attention to these traits, you risk insulting and/or alienating the jury, which can cause a case to quickly go down hill.

Too often, I've seen the labels "Skeptic" and "Believer" tossed back and forth as insults. (Regardless of the fact that there's nothing inherently insulting about either term.) When you use these labels as weapons, however, sometimes you not only hit your intended target, but others who sympathize with their point of view, whether in public or private. Now, instead of the one enemy that you intended to make, you have ten!
This can really put a damper on your efforts to receive unbiased opinions on a potential piece of evidence.

I hope that if you've made it this far, you've found the post informative and entertaining.

In closing, I'll simply say good luck, be safe and Happy Hunting!
"In each of us, there are two sides at war....the good and the evil. The fight rages between them all of our lives, but one of them must conquer. In our own hands lies the power to choose. What we want most to be, we are. " ---Dr. Henry Jekyll

#2 Vlawde



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Posted 06 May 2010 - 03:22 PM

Well said!
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#3 408nate08


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Posted 06 May 2010 - 04:29 PM

Very interesting. Thank you very much!

#4 hixenbj



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Posted 06 May 2010 - 05:41 PM

Wow, I enjoyed that. And I agree with Vlawde, well said!!
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#5 trin



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Posted 06 May 2010 - 09:20 PM

Personally, I had the carp scared out of me a few times when working alone in a light industrial job.  I was all alone in the building and  no one could have come into my work area unless i buzzed them in!

Just about everyone who'd worked there had gotten a scare or been hassled at some point...  (my tools would get hidden and things would be broken when I was in another part of the room to get something, or answer the phone.)

However, I didn't EVER catch anything there either on film or tape. (digital wasn't available until after the place had burned down...)

#6 EVP



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Posted 07 May 2010 - 12:29 AM

Strangely, some of the more compelling evidence of the unexplained never gets captured on any media yet is witnessed collectively regardless if a recording is made during the event.

Btw ODC - great guidelines and hopefully they're utilized by many in this field...

One more dissection is needed IMO - Truth and fact....but that's another consuming thread in itself.

Edited by evp, 07 May 2010 - 12:31 AM.

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#7 Ms. Tify

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 01:20 AM

I agree, very well said!
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#8 FBN Paranormal

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 05:28 AM

Honestly, this should be a 'sticky' somewhere. Well done.
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#9 Caniswalensis


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Posted 07 May 2010 - 07:03 AM

Superb piece, ODC.

I am proud to be a member of the same forum as you.  

I think FBN has a great idea there.  I am taking it upon my self to pin this thread.  I'll keep it where it is for now, but if people think it would be better in a different section, we can move it later.


#10 henkelhh



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Posted 07 May 2010 - 01:43 PM

Excellent th_sarcastic_blum.gif

#11 BlueAngel


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Posted 07 May 2010 - 05:07 PM

That was awesome ODC.. innocent0005.gif

#12 OffDutyCop


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Posted 09 May 2010 - 05:49 AM

Thank you all for your kind words. This is a post that I've been considering typing up for a while now, and just couldn't seem to find the right words. Too often, I see excellent members who have the potential to contribute a wealth of information and opinions to our forum, and the paranormal community as a whole, become disillusioned over dissenting opinions regarding a piece of potential evidence. I'm always thought that this was one of the greatest shames associated with a paranormal community such as ours. However, how should it be remedied? Certainly, those who give honest and educated opinions shouldn't be muzzled. In doing that, we would be cutting our own proverbial throats. The only way to remedy the situation, in my opinion, is for ALL sides to realize that we have an obligation to seek out the truth, whatever that may be, and that we can do so in a professional manner, without the need for anyone to feel belittled, embarassed or insulted.

"In each of us, there are two sides at war....the good and the evil. The fight rages between them all of our lives, but one of them must conquer. In our own hands lies the power to choose. What we want most to be, we are. " ---Dr. Henry Jekyll

#13 LadyNBlack



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Posted 09 May 2010 - 07:47 PM

Words to live by!

I would like to add a thought, though.  This pertains to the teaching aspect of places such as this board, especially in regards to photographs and other submitted forms of evidence.

Fortunately, I haven't seen this behavior on this board very often, but its quite rampant on some other boards I frequent...and that's the LACK of teaching.  Newbies will post something, and it'll immediately be shot down without explanation.  During my early days of paranormal research, I knew darn well that many anomalies could be explained away through natural means...but that didn't mean I necessarily understood the process or jargon involved, lol.  Luckily, there are plenty of great people, especially on this board, that are willing to spell out certain technologies and post links to further info.

Hehe, but...still to this day I cringe a little inside when someone posts an orb photo, honestly believing it to be a great catch...and then get nothing but thirty one-word replies of 'dust.'
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#14 Guest_Silent Walker_*

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 04:35 AM

ODC, superb post friend, I totally agree with everything you have said.

If there was ever an award for post of the year then this would already have my vote....

#15 lycosa



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Posted 10 May 2010 - 09:24 AM

However, how should it be remedied? Certainly, those who give honest and educated opinions shouldn't be muzzled. In doing that, we would be cutting our own proverbial throats.

Well said.

I think it is wise to remember that nobody is an expert of the paranormal.  We all carry with us our own opinions; one can not be any more right than any other. I like to remember the very definition of 'paranormal' is in fact that which can not be explained by scientific methods and is beyond the range of normal experience. If we remember that, we can then realize just how subjective our experience is to the paranormal, and to go one step further, we can say that all experience is subjective. Since it is impossible to freeze any paranormal event in time, we have to rely on the data we are able to collect at the moment it occurs.

Whether or not you employ the scientific method in your investigation, I think this article truly represents the importance of at least being rational... and not to argue with myself forever here, but rational is of course just as subjective as anything else. In other words, if you are investigating the paranormal from the perspective of a spiritualist, is it wrong to attempt to quantify a paranormal event in the terms of that religion/belief? If the opinion of the investigator does not fit some scientific model, is it wrong?

So I think all I'm really trying to say is that people define 'rational' based on their own experiences and that reality is entirely subjective to each individual. When we enter into discussions like these, nobody comes armed with an absolute truth. We only share parallel experiences which lead all of us to believe that what we are investigating is worthy of our pursuit.

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" - Conan Doyle

"When you have eliminated the improbable, whatever remains, however impossible, must be the truth" - Your local Paranormal Society

#16 Menet


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Posted 30 July 2010 - 05:25 PM

This was a very good read.   Thank you.
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#17 LoneWolf87



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Posted 29 October 2010 - 11:37 PM

When you were discussing "evidence" vs. "proof", I felt like I was back in my Evidence and Investigation class  :lol:

This was an awesome post with a lot of great information!
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#18 CuriousAngel81



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Posted 30 October 2010 - 06:20 AM


As people said already, well said. You said it in a way to where it's very understandable and it doesn't insult anyone. You also made alot of good points. Sadly, I am my own skeptic so alot of things I catch never see the daylight of any kind of opinions or thoughts. Only real thing I ever remember really posting on here with evidence, or proof depending on WHO you are,  are my EVPs (which you can find under Sleep Hill Cemtery EVPs (part 1 and 2) which I posted a few weeks ago.

Anyway, again, well said. :)  :good:


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#19 insanislupus



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Posted 10 May 2011 - 06:18 PM

I especially like #6. I have heard several people dismiss any paranormal claim associated with a security guard because he is perceived to be very superstitious due to being from the Dominican Republic. They fail to care that he is also college educated, which technically makes him more educated than most of them.
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#20 Vlawde



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Posted 10 May 2011 - 06:28 PM

Say, what ever happened to ODC? Seeing this made me realize I havent seen him around in months
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