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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's all about belief

Earlier today on his Twitter account, Greg Bishop posed an interesting question:

spacebrother To disclosure advocates (and others): Would you trust what is disclosed by the government if it's what you want to hear?

My response was fairly straight forward, and if you have been at Forteania long enough you probably know what I said. I replied:

@spacebrother I think so because I don't think disclosure advocates want the "truth" so much as a confirmation of their belief system

The problem with Disclosure, and other issues in the realm of the Fortean (and in life for that matter) are our belief systems. What tends to happen is that people are more likely to accept only those things that fit easily into their world views (reality tunnels) or whatever belief system that they hold. Or in some cases they will interpret the data coming into their brains through their belief systems. As an example, I over heard two co-workers talking about an experience that one of them had had the previous weekend during a church service. A woman was at the front of the congregation singing a hymn, and the entire congregation was really 'feeling the spirit' as my co-worker put it. Suddenly the woman who was singing let out a loud scream. Evidently she had felt a hand being place on her cheek. The interesting part is that all of the congregation was able to clearly make a hand print upon the woman's cheek, immediately following the event. Now of course for those that had witnessed this event, it was truly a miracle. Perhaps it was even a sign from God.

I'm not arguing as to what may or may not have occurred in this case. I wasn't there so I can't say for sure. What we can take away from this story however, is that people interpret events based on their world views. Since this phantom hand print appeared during a church service, then it was obviously the work of God or perhaps angels or what have you. But if it had occurred during say, a séance? What then? Well in this case it might have been further proof of the medium's contact with the 'other side'. This gets us back to the True Believer vs Pseudo-skeptic issue that I have brought up time after time on this blog. Both sides of the eternal debate are so wrapped up in their beliefs that they have a difficult time entertaining the other person's point of view.

Disclosure is another obvious example of this within the Fortean arena. The Disclosure movement will not stop demanding the 'Truth' from the government until it is released. The problem is they have a very specific idea of just what exactly this 'Truth' is. But that doesn't necessarily translate to what may or may not exist in reality. It seems that unless the 'Government' hands over the alien spaceship that crashed at Roswell, or whatever particular part of the modern UFO that the Disclosure person believes in, they will not be satisfied. This would seem to be because they are not looking for some objective 'Truth' that is grounded in our consensus 'reality' (we just can't get away from this damn word), rather they are looking for a confirmation of their beliefs.

I am not intending on picking on the Disclosure movement. Really we are all guilty of this to one degree or another, we all have a belief system to some degree or another. Now, how much we let it dictate our actions and/or opinions is another matter entirely. Like anything else, perhaps just by recognizing that we have this kind of hindrance to gaining new insight, we can move past it in order to try and learn things. I don't mean to invalidate beliefs, unless they turn out to be incorrect of course, we are entitled to believe whatever we wish.

If you prefer to think that the government has already solved the UFO problem, which I admit is a pretty comforting position to be in (it removes the mystery), then by all means knock yourself out. Personally I would like to refrain from coming down on one side or another. It's part of my life philosophy, which I am in the process of developing because we should never stop growing and learning. I simply try to assimilate as much data as possible on a given topic and then come to a tentative position on the issue. If I later learn something that invalidates my previous opinion I discard it and make a new one. I'm not perfect, so it doesn't always work out. After all I'm only human. But I try a little bit more each day to challenge myself.

I would urge each of you to do the same. Try and be as open minded as possible about whatever is coming into your reality tunnel. The next time a phantom hand print appears on someone, don't be so quick to conclude what caused it (whether religious, paranormal, or perhaps scientific) rather just file it away until you have more data on it. It's hard for us to admit sometimes that we just really don't know a lot about what's going on out there in the world. But it's at least intellectually honest to do so. Until next time, watch out for those handsy spirits!


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