Unperceived existence and the paranormal
I was so thrilled that Ashley was so taken with my last article ‘Is time the key’. To be honest, before I released the article, I did send him a message to tell him either he would love it or think I was completely insane so I was pretty happy that it was the first one. It wasn’t at all how I had planned to take the article, but it sort of took a mind of it’s own. I feel like that seems to be the general theme for this supernatural synchronicity series, it has taken shape in it’s very own way and in a way that both of us probably didn't anticipate. While talking about these kind of aspects aren’t what you will find in mainstream discussions about the paranormal, I feel they very much have a place in the way we think about paranormal phenomena. Ashley actually put it best when he said:
However surely thinking about the wildest possibilities even beyond our personal understanding is important in order to move things forwards
With this in mind, Ashley certainly didn’t disappoint with his response: Could one universe effect another where he carefully deconstructed each of the theories I worked with and put his own spin on it. There was one particular element that stood out when he spoke about the butterfly effect and it’s relation to time travel.
It’s also directly related to the paradox of time travel, sometimes known as the ‘grandfather paradox’ too. Even if you argued that we could travel back in time and simply observe the events as they happened, then you would be wrong. Our physical presence, especially if realised by others would have a future impact.
The part of this that has triggered a thought here is the words physical presence. Is our physical presence an important part of paranormal phenomena? Is it one of the pieces of the puzzle so to speak?
If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s nobody around to hear, does it make a sound?
Philosophers have long argued that sound, colour, taste, smell and touch are all secondary qualities which exist only in our minds. This essentially means that hearing a sound for example is considered to be a human experience rather than some kind of physical phenomena. So if we were to ask the question 'if a tree falls in the forest, and there's nobody around to hear does it make a sound? As there are no 'ears' to hear the sound the answer to this question is often no. The idea was proposed by Irish philosopher George Berkeley in his 1710 book called A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. Unperceived existence is a philosophical term that plays between existence and perception, something which I found profoundly relevant when it comes to paranormal phenomena.
Can we know that objects continue to exist even when they are not being perceived by anyone?
Well, perhaps we cannot be absolutely certain of their continued existence during the times when they are not being perceived, but common sense tells us that in all probability they do continue to exist even when not being perceived.
can we know that objects exist even when they are being perceived?
Surely no one would be so skeptical as to hold that we cannot know objects exist when they are being directly perceived. Common sense tells us that of course we can know that objects exist during the intervals that we are directly perceiving them.
John Locke - An essay concerning human understanding 1690
When it comes to paranormal phenomena, Ashley and I have both spoken before about perception. We all have a different perception when it comes to the paranormal. If we apply the above when it comes to the paranormal, we ask the question - is paranormal activity happening when there is no one to observe it? This then means that paranormal phenomena purely comes down to how a person observes this phenomena and then how they perceive it. It is all quite thought provoking and it is something I will leave up to you for your own thoughts.
Does our presence change things?
Veering away from philosophy, lets look at actual paranormal investigating. In order to observe paranormal phenomena, we need to enter a location to do so. While we may not be in the room at the time, we are likely setting up equipment like recorders or video cameras to be able to observe any possible activity. Us entering a location means that just like in the butterfly effect theory above, just by us being there, we have changed things. I know this is a question I have actually asked myself on several occasions. Is activity occurring because there is a potential haunting, or is it happening because I am there? I know that many people who actively investigate the paranormal think this often as well. Do you ever hear someone refer to themselves as a paranormal beacon? Whenever they are around activity just seems to gravitate towards them. Some people feel it is due to some sort if psychic gift they may have and that spirits resonate with them. Others feel it is because they have a special connection with the other side because it is something that they are out there doing so often.
What if I bring this back around to what we have implying all along. What if it is actually us causing this activity? Just us being there could actually be causing these things to happen. Just by us even thinking we are a 'beacon' for activity could actually make it happen. No matter what path of research I seem to look down, it always leads back to the same doorway. Behind that door, is us. Are we the main component here? Im am going to finish this with a simple quote and then give it over to Ashley for his thoughts. Of course I would love to know your thoughts on the matter so please join the conversation and tell us your comments below!
Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it ... We ourselves produce the results of the measurement.
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