What Does It Mean to Believe in the Paranormal?

Ghosts spooky ghostly

"Don't you believe in the paranormal?" The look on her face suggested that she wanted an affirmative response. She wanted me to say that I believed. As tempting as it was to give her what she was seeking, I opted to be honest. Will I ever learn?

I don't know. That depends on what you mean by "the paranormal." That phrase is so broad I don't know what you mean by it. It is almost like asking someone if they agree with politics. What politics? What specific claims made by politicians?

She was frowning now. This wasn't what she wanted to hear. "I'm asking if you believe in paranormal experiences?"

I believe that many people experience things they can't explain. If that is all you mean by "paranormal," then I do believe in paranormal experiences. I don't assume that these experiences are evidence of anything supernatural. But if "paranormal" means "hard to explain," then I'm on board.

Having conversations about hard-to-define subjects isn't easy. If we can't reach some agreement on what we're talking about, we're bound to misunderstand each other.

I've experienced some strange things I couldn't immediately explain. I suspect this is true for most of us. Does this mean "the paranormal" is real? That depends on how we define it.

If I were to create a list of all the strange and unexplained experiences I've had, it might be as long as 25-30 items. If I excluded those I had while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the list would be shorter. If I dropped those I had while running a fever or drifting in or out of sleep, it would be shorter yet. I bet I'd be down to fewer than 10.

At least half of these were things I couldn't explain at the time but became much easier later on. The effects of sleep deprivation account for the more recent ones. The power of suggestion accounts for some of the more interesting remote ones.

As for the few that remain, I'd have a hard time considering them evidence of anything. Having difficulty explaining x doesn't strike me as compelling evidence that y exists.

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