We don't know everything, so make sure you really understand what you do know
I don’t participate in facebook group discussions. I end up getting really frustrated with the urge to throw my computer out the window. I am not talking about the people that ask for an opinion and then get upset when you lay it on them that it isn’t paranormal. That is a lost cause and something I think we all come to expect these days. What does tend to annoy me however are the self proclaimed experts who seemingly know everything when actually they don’t.
There are no experts in the paranormal field and the whole field itself it based on theory and belief. In the same way you cannot tell a religious person that God doesn’t exist, you cannot tell someone that believes in the afterlife that there are no such things as ghosts. So I don’t understand why some people feel the need to try and argue this point. What you can do however is provide them with alternative explanations and it is up to them whether or not they take it on board. It is here that lies the problem. A lot of people claim they know the alternative explanation but in reality, they have a misinformed misconception of it. The best example I can give here is ORBS. Any photo that is presented, a lot of investigators will jump the gun and tell the user that it is just dust. Almost out of a reflex. It is done and dusted so to speak. Do they actually know it is dust? Do they know how a camera works? Have they properly studied the photo? Have they looked at the EXIF data to see if a flash was fired? Do they even know what EXIF data is? Do they know that there are other anomalies within a camera that can cause an orb effect that has nothing to do with dust? By saying it is just dust when it isn’t shows that you are in fact misinformed and more likely trying to just get a point across. I was actually told the other day by an investigator that it didn’t matter what caused the orb whether it was dust or lens flare they felt it was just easier to say it was dust to prove their point because ORBS don’t exist. They were quite aggressive about it and felt that it didn’t matter if they were wrong about the type of orb, it was more or less them putting their point across. Again by doing this we are giving out the wrong information. How is a person supposed to learn if we are doing this? They then go on with the same misconception and perhaps pass it onto others and all of a sudden you have a group of people who unknowingly believe that they know the answer when they haven’t learnt the true answer to begin with. ORBS is just an example, there are so many others, but I think you get my point.
Others will try and use abusive behaviour. They will swear a lot and insult you and tell you that you are stupid for even asking someone to look at your photo. I personally don't tolerate this. I don't think a person is going to take on board anything you say if you become abusive toward them. If you present with them facts, you have a much better chance of having an actual discussion with them, where they may actually be open to another view point based on the information you have presented.
Unless you actually know the proper answer, then it is probably best to stay out of the discussion. Perhaps you can learn or if you really have to give your two cents worth, be honest about it. I quite often will see people who claim they have been investigating the paranormal for x amount of years, so they know what they are talking about. Again, there are no experts and the number of years sometimes doesn't matter. If someone has been doing things wrong for 15 years and not growing, evolving and learning, then they don’t really know any more than they did when they first started. It is probably not someone that you want to be learning from. Make the most of your time. Put ego aside and realise that you don’t know everything. No one does. Some people will talk a big game to cover their tracks to show that they actually know about a topic, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. If they tell you for example it is dust ask them why and how a camera works. If someone is giving you an explanation, you would expect that they know enough about to back up what they are saying. You will soon have a gauge of if this person actually knows the answer or is just trying to make a point. Ultimately we need to be out there learning from each other and evolving, not just trying to make a point (which is actually not even accurate). There are people in the field who specialise in different areas. They don’t claim to know everything because it is impossible, but they tend to focus on one particular area and they are usually a wealth of information about that area and they know this area really well. This is why networking and collaboration are so important because you find these people and you can learn a lot. Some people will instead turn to online learning channels. If this is something that you want to do then go for it, but do your research and make sure it is a reputable person in the field who knows what they are talking about. A lot of people are very good at talking and can convincingly argue that the sky is green when we know that isn't quite right, however they will keep arguing just to win or make a point. Make sure you are getting your information from someone who really knows what they are talking about (not just says they know).
In a field where we learn from each other as peers, it is important to make sure that those we are learning from actually know what they are talking about. It can be difficult to gauge but we all learn through experience and mistakes. A little research is also all it takes to clarify things. Just remember, Wikipedia is not exactly a good source either. Check your facts and learn what you need. Make an area of the paranormal your own. You don't need to know know everything, but choose an area you are passionate about and learn about that. If you don't know the answers, be honest about your knowledge. People have so much respect for someone that says 'I don't know the answer' rather than someone who guesses or makes it up.
You get a good gauge on people pretty early on. Trust your gut, it is usually right and if in doubt - research! No one knows everything, and it sure is fun trying to find out isn't it?
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