The Logic Paradox: Hostages of Belief

In recent years the primary focus of my research has been on human perception.  After all our perceptions are key, not only to the way we interpret the world around us, but also to the decisions we make and the things we believe.  Understanding the fallibility and  strengths of the way humans ‘digest’ their experiences is vital to my research in mysterious phenomena.

Part of the basic process in understanding human perception is simply observing.  Watching how individuals interpret various conditions or events and then comparing those observations with published research results from respected and accomplished scientists.  That basic process alone can be fascinating.   Over time it’s easy to become engulfed  in the subject and recognize the incredible power of bias and the limiting input of a singular perspective.  No one, including myself, is free from the power of this unyielding variable, however it does seem to affect some more than others.

Throughout my years of research, I have noticed a pattern. It’s nothing new really, but it seems as though people (mostly those of a spiritual nature)  tend to adopt concepts that seem “logical” based on their own personal experience rather than what seems “illogical” based on factual information.  It’s not really that difficult to understand why, after all if you’ve  “heard” voices in your bedroom, it seems like an easy assumption that someone or something is/was there speaking.

But very often the human mind is lazy, unwilling to invest its time in considering options that go beyond easily explainable occurrences.  If the simpler explanations (i.e. Another person in the room, Radio on, Television on, person outside) can be ruled out, they will accept their initial analysis and ignore other more elaborate possibilities such as psychological issues, neurological issues or even simple misinterpretations.

It’s easier for us as humans to believe our first impressions and so we tend to “accentuate the positive”, confirming our experiences even if it goes against the majority of demonstrated research or even if it seems too wild to be true.

It seems to me there’s a blinding element to this biased human perception process that seems to hinder a person’s ability to reason.  They are in essence a hostage of their own beliefs and some tend to be trapped into ideas that resemble the erratic rantings of psychotic behavior.

In 2008 I spoke to a woman in Western Massachusetts who claimed she was being tormented by demons. She claimed to hear them walking in her attic and was adamant that they were watching her at all hours of the night, waiting for the right time to kill her.  The woman’s husband was concerned and while he was not as sold on the idea of a spiritual entity he often humored her by attempting rituals to “scare” the beings away.

Later that same year I spoke to a woman who was subsequently diagnosed with a mental disorder called paranoid schizophrenia. She claimed that the police were building missiles on the hill in her home town and that all of her neighbors were breaking into her house every night to watch her sleep. She claimed that they were planning to do something awful to her.

Both women were adamant about their claims. These were sincere people who truly felt these things were happening in spite of the real world logic that discounted such fantastic claims. Other than the component of demons vs humans, what difference is there between these two claims?  Why is the highly irrational fear of stalking humans with bad intentions considered eligible for psycho-analysis but the equally irrational fear of attacking demons less concerning?

It is my opinion that the answer lies with the nature of each claim and the public perception of them.  The element of spirituality is often regarded as a type of religious belief and to suggest psychotic behavior in response to spirit based perspective would be both insulting and politically incorrect (imagine the religious consequences if this were accepted), so the subject becomes taboo and the experiences continue.

Of course this is not to suggest that all paranormal experiences are the result of a mental illness, but it does seem as though there are elements within our own psychological processes that maintain and foster our beliefs, even in the face of opposing logic. This restrictive behavior acts as a barricade, hindering our ability to logically process any new information that opposes our beliefs.

Perhaps discovery is best served not by finding new things, but by removing old ones.

Supporting research:

First Impressions Matter: A Model of Confirmatory Bias*
Confirmation Bias in Complex Analyses

How psychotic-like are paranormal beliefs?

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