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Otherworld North East
Studies in the Unexplained

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North East Paranormal | Newcastle Paranormal | Durham Paranormal | Northumberland Paranormal

Otherworld North East
Studies in the Unexplained

Website design and content © Otherworld North East 2003-2016
unless otherwise stated.

The opinions expressed on this website belong to the individual authors, who also retain copyright of their own material.

North East Paranormal | Newcastle Paranormal | Durham Paranormal | Northumberland Paranormal


By Lee Munro, 18th May 2012There is an interesting article on Science Daily. The article referenced research by Scott Atran and Jeremy Ginges.  The article can be viewed here, Religion Is a Potent Force for Cooperation and Conflict.

In essence, the article proposes that amongst believers of the same faith, religious belief increases cooperative acts while also increasing distrust and opposition to outsiders. Believers are united not only in the adherence to their ideals, but also in defence of them.

This made me think.  Do we not see similar with regard to paranormal groups?

There is no doubt that the majority of people actively involved with paranormal investigations or ghost hunts are believers.  We can also see that amongst believers there is a distinct lack of a willingness to question not only the validity of their own beliefs and experiences, but also the beliefs and experiences of other believers. Futhermore, it can be seen how defensive these groups can be when challenged or questioned by those who do not hold the same beliefs, such as non-believers or those with a more sceptical leaning.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say there can be a self-congratulatory undercurrent amongst believers.  Not for any insights or evidence brought to the table, but simply for being "one of us", part of the ingroup.

So the question then must be - what are they so defensive about?

If the evidential basis of their beliefs is being questioned, why is it often more likely that we will see them attack the questioner rather than defend the basis of their belief - the sceptic as merely closed minded inquisitor response? When "evidence" supporting their claims is presented, why is valid evidence that is contrary to their own views dismissed, deleted or ignored?

Are they looking for answers or simply confirmation of what they already "know"?

Experience would suggest the latter. It would also suggest that just as important as their beliefs is the need to belong, to be in the company (real or virtual) of those that will confirm and not question their own beliefs. If critical assessment won't bolster those beliefs, strength in numbers might. It would appear at times that the need to believe and belong overwhelms any other consideration.

There are of course two caveats to this.

First, to an extent the same can be levelled at non-believers. They can at times be as subjective and agenda driven as any believer. Non-believers are by definition part of their own ingroup, and everything that entails.

Second, people do have experiences or witness events that can be most accurately described as anomalous or unexplained.  I find looking at possible explanations for these is almost as fascinating as the phenomenon.  However, unexplained does not equate to paranormal.  That's simply an error of reasoning.

But neither do I subscribe to the blanket response that all believers or experiencers are self-deluded, cognitively or mentally deficient in some fashion and intentional fraudsters. This certainly will be true is some cases, but certainly not all.  However, in researching or investigating these experiences questions need to be asked.

So do you want to accept with blind faith the answer your belief system enters into the blank, or be objective and question - and be prepared to answer questions?

Paranormal belief and ingroup/outgroup psychology.

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