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The Audio Visual Paranormal Paradox

A Little Observation

For many years now much of the Paranormal field seems to have been focused on what we can see and hear. Well they do say seeing is believing I guess, but should believe what we see? After all our eyes can deceive us and often they do.

However whilst investigating over the years I soon discovered a bit of a paradox regarding what has become fashionably known as ‘evidence’ amongst us ghost hunters! This paradox presents itself in much of this ‘evidence’ these days especially with its review through social media.

The problem that I have observed is that audio and visual information such as photo’s, videos and EVP’s are very subjective and no matter how good they appear to be initially, there always appear to be counter arguments that discounts the validity of such ‘evidence’. I have personally witnessed this myself with what could be called a class A crystal clear EVP recording that I captured at the Explosions Museum in Gosport. The EVP was captured on a camcorder as one of my team filmed us in a group walking around the Admin Block. The EVP itself is available on my YouTube Channel to listen to if you wish, but the point here is that what was said was out of context to what was being discussed by the group and there was equally no reaction by the group to what was said. This generates the belief that this EVP was not audibly heard by the group at the time, but the camcorder still managed to record it. When presented to the rest of the team not present at the time it was recorded, it received its first stint of being questioned and many an explanation were presented which were all good. Once the EVP was made public this course of disbelief and additional explanations followed. The point here being that the EVP for the group present was very interesting and they could easily state according to their own experience that it wasn’t them, but for those that were not present the explanation was to avoid association with the Paranormal and place it with the group present. For example, we had a few suggest that one of us may have said it, but simply forgotten. It was this and many a discussion that I have had with investigators regarding audio visual ‘evidence’ that actually lead me to come to a probable understanding that what we see as ‘evidence’ may not be in reality. Which is a really odd thing to understand.

You see as a community, from our conversations on social media, to the TV shows we all watch from time to time, we have always seen audio visual information as ‘evidence’. Like many, when I first started overnight investigations I approached it from two angles really; 1) debunk what I could with logical real world explanations, and 2) capture evidence of the Paranormal in the form of pictures, video and EVP’s. That was ten plus years ago that I started doing that and from what I can see for many that hasn’t changed much today. Just to be clear I don’t think we should stop this approach in its entirety, but I am more of the thinking that perhaps audio visual information isn’t really ‘evidence’ and should be treated as anomalous information that helps us to direct our investigations. Perhaps from that we can find the evidence we are looking for.

Thus no matter how clear your EVP or how amazing that video of an apparition is or the picture of a spirit on the stairs, they will always be received with questions and often they will not be accepted, hence a paradox.

What is Evidence?

Due to this strange situation I found myself looking into what evidence is exactly. This told me that evidence is a body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid. Its establishing information like audio visuals as fact which I think is difficult. The reason its so hard to establish them as fact is down to trust and belief, plus control. Often in the Paranormal field we can be very dubious of the ‘evidence’ presented by others in the field. This isn’t a bad thing really as its a little like our version of peer review. The problem is that many review the presented ‘evidence’ and then provide comments which are neither constructive or supported in fact. I think its really good that we can comment and discuss various phenomena, but everyone’s opinion and ideas are really valid.

I often from time to time comment on various Paranormal statements on social media and have equally been lucky to have some quite interesting discussions. This kind of social media engagement is like the coffee house discussions of old, but they will never replace the excellent interaction of face to face discussions, which is why the popularity of the Paranormal conventions lately is so important.

However I digress!!

So, if we are not to accept photo’s, audio and video as evidence of the Paranormal, then what is? Firstly, if these are captured in controlled conditions, it can be shown that they haven’t been altered easily and they are cross referenced by other angles and technology; then perhaps they become more valid. Fundamentally if we can eradicate the possibility of fraud then we can potentially present them as actual evidence, but equally if they are questionable then they could potentially be seen as poor evidence. Back to our paradox.

The true evidence in my opinion will be found in the data. The problem is that the data involved will be significantly large and captured over a long period of time. In fact that information which makes up this data isn’t something we need to start from scratch as there is already an amazing amount already out there, which just needs to be reviewed and understood as a part of the bigger picture.

Data is massively important and here’s why. I often like to mention black holes at this point, as I think they are an excellent example of proof through data in order to support the existence of an anomaly. Now I’m no astrophysicist, if that’s even the right title, but I believe rather than just claiming there was a weird anomaly out in space, clever scientist types gathered lots of data to prove their theory. Revealing not just that black holes exist, but their possible mechanics too.

Understanding the mechanics is where pictures, audio and video let’s the side down, it can potentially show that something may exist, but why or how it exists isn’t explained. That is the important thing to remember. Rather than trying to capture phenomena, let’s try and understand it, figure out why it occurs and potentially explain its source.

What to do next?

So now we all understand this paradox, let’s try and collate information that can help us all better comprehend the field better. Please don’t stop gathering pictures, video and audio pieces as they all feed into the abundance of information on the subject which is as important as the cross correspondence, the Scole experiment, the Philip Experiment and the Enfield Poltergeist. In order to understand the whole thing we need to take on board all possibilities, theories and potential beliefs around the matter.

Some of my greatest paranormal discussions have been with Mediums trying to understand how they ‘see’ spirit and the answer isn’t always the same. In fact in my opinion its often a visualisation that comes from feeling, that feeling is the receipt of information, which their mind then interprets using their own beliefs, knowledge and memory. However what I have always found fascinating in many mediums is that comprehension that they know they are right in what they say, sometimes even when the person they communicating to doesn’t understand the information they are being give. Information that sometimes becomes understood at a later date.

How mediums work and the very concept of psi within this whole system of the Paranormal makes me believe that our minds play a large part in the phenomena we investigate. The question is how can our minds obtain this information or even project it into our very environments? Understanding that potentially this psi ability is far more natural than supernatural is equally interesting and also for me begins to open even more questions; like how did we miss this?

Sometimes when presented with information like this I often place the pursuit of ghosts and spirits on back burner and believe the understanding of the extent of our own minds could be far more interesting. Russell Targ called it the Limitless Mind, and wrote a book about it. Dean Radin called the Entangled Minds; and he wrote a book about it too. Both are respected scientists with a wealth of knowledge in psi, so perhaps our minds hold the evidence to that which we really seek.

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Paranormal Evidence Review 

A Little on Evidence

Over the years I’ve heard the term ‘evidence’ thrown around in relation to the paranormal on many occasions, I’ve even used it a few times myself in the past. Although these days I’m more inclined to believe that perhaps ‘evidence’ might be a little bit of a step too far and equally could be the reason said suggested ‘evidence’ receives such backlash on social media.

You see the term evidence in simple form means; the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid. That’s true or valid, which is important. In my opinion this very concept suggests that evidence is absolute as true has no grey area.

If we had found evidence of the paranormal then we would have proof that was undeniable.

Now a few reading this may indeed argue that we in the paranormal may not have concrete proof of the paranormal, but we do collect various facts, information, etc which should be considered evidence in that they are each pieces of the greater puzzle.

So, I’m not going to say we should stop using the term because it’s all a bit wrong, but perhaps we could start working better to understand those smaller pieces of evidence to ensure they are taking us in the right direction.

Peer Review Perhaps

With all this in mind I have decided to add to the Metetherial Project a section for peer review of probable paranormal evidence. However this will be based on cooperation of the individual who has originally submitted the piece of evidence to the public domain in the first place. Basically, I’m not about to go hunting the internet for pictures, video and audio then writing posts on them stating how I think their fake! After all I think social media has this pretty well covered.

If I stumble on something that is within the public domain though I may politely ask its originator if they would like to submit it for peer review by me and whom ever else I can rope into the review. That way we can objectively look at the ‘evidence’ and hopefully generate a report on it, which could be posted on my website.

My First Evidence Review

With all this in mind I actually did stumble on such a piece of evidence that made its way from social media to the newspapers. This was a photograph captured by Claire Cowell at 30 East Drive of the Black Monk of Pontefract. Straight away such a claim based on only a photo would no doubt generate mixed feelings of its contents. So, here is the photo..

 

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Claire Cowell’s Photo

Once I located Claire I asked her if she would be willing to submit her photo for review by myself and a few others. Of course with many in the paranormal, Claire was more than happy for me to look into the photo and open to probable explanations.

I continued to chat with Claire in order to gather some additional information around this photo and the circumstance it was taken in. I also advised Claire of my intention and approach for the review, which would be to analyse the photo and also seek the opinion of a few others in the field.

First Impressions of the Photo

Of course like anyone looking at a photo like this we establish our first impressions quite early on and often they can be influenced by a great number of things too. It’s important to see the review through and cover off as much as possible, especially when you’re dealing with a field where there are many possibilities out there.

My own first impression was that a member of the team had moved from the living room and gone upstairs, Claire’s photo had caught this without realising it. Then perhaps seen it later not realising what had occurred at the time it was taken.

This is a common mistake and to be honest one I have made at one point, where the lack of a consistent timeline means that in review we can often mistake normal things for something paranormal. However in this photo’s case Claire is sure that she  reviewed the picture directly after it was taken and is very certain that it wasn’t one of the team. In fact there was a sequence of events that lead to her taking the picture which included hearing something being thrown. There’s obviously much more to this story, which I will include in the evidence review, so keep an eye out for it right here.

This Is Where You Come In

If you’ve got a piece of ‘evidence’ that you would like me to review with the help of various members of the field, please don’t hesitate to contact me using info@ashleyknibb.com

Also, if you would like to get involved and help add to reviews, please contact me with your details.

At the end of the day moving the field forward is all about cooperation in a respectful manner to others. Hopefully this will be a little step in the right direction.

Thank you to Claire Cowell for allowing me use your photo as the first piece of evidence to be reviewed.

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