I recently read an article that stated that part of the problem with being a paranormal investigator is never having convincing evidence. That’s a pretty strong statement and broad generalization. Obviously, the writer of the article can’t possibly know what evidence each and every investigator worldwide has and I’m guessing this deduction is based on watching too many bad investigation shows (and let’s be honest, there are a lot with more coming out every week).
I think the problem isn’t the lack of convincing evidence, it is the audience. The audience must determine if it finds the presented evidence convincing. In the same vein, the audience has frequently already made up their mind, they are either reviewing the evidence to support their belief in the great beyond, or they are watching simply to shoot down any and all attempts to prove life after death. The audience is generally divided into two categories: the believers who do not require strong evidence and the non-believers who believe that no evidence will ever convince them to change their minds.
That said, there are some people who really reach to bring forth convincing evidence. Not every knock, whisper, or shuffle is paranormal. Not every spot is an orb. Not every light is an entity instead of a reflection. Not every grainy mist is a spirit. Not all of this mix up can be put entirely on the investigator, either. Frequently we find our clients desperately want to believe their house is haunted and want to see faces everywhere and are convinced all noises are paranormal. Some clients want to be on television and so will read into evidence presented in order to get on paranormal shows and get their 15 minutes of fame.
We also fight with pareidolia, a term derived from the Greek words for “mistaken image.” The best known examples are when Jesus or Mary is seen in grilled cheese or a window streak. Our brains are pre-wired to find patterns, images, and faces anywhere like rugs, wooden tables or doors, clouds, and yes, burned grilled cheese.
One of my own team members says he will be a skeptic until he sees something float across the room. As of this writing, nothing even remotely close to such an event has occurred during one of our investigations.
I’m not entirely convinced that will change his mind, either. All this is not to say that I am not a skeptic. I am a believer (or I wouldn’t be an investigator) but I need a lot of good evidence before I will jump to paranormal. Just recently I had a discussion with a paranormal investigator from television. His friend had sent him a picture with an interesting anomaly in it. My first impression was that it was fake. At first glance, it seemed that someone had put a grey mist in the shape of a person in the reflection of a glass door. The television personality assured me that the photo had not been doctored in anyway. I will take his word for it. He drew a diagram that attempted to explain the anomaly by calling it a reflection from a nearby lamp. However, I found many issues with this explanation, none of which he answered to my satisfaction. This doesn’t mean I believe it to be supernatural, either. I am just not convinced the evidence is paranormal or that there isn’t a third yet to be discovered explanation.