Seeing is not always believing.

August 19, 2017

By now some of you may have learned that I am the group skeptic; I'm the one who believes in science above all. Now, before I go any further let me take a moment to define skepticism because that word seems to mean various things to different people; most automatically conclude that it is equal to a non-believer. Encyclopedia Britannica explains that it is “the attitude of doubting knowledge claims set forth in various areas.” See, so it is not that I'm a non-believer as much as I'm just a doubter... hmm that doesn't make me sound much better, does it?

 

Nonetheless, as the title of this post suggests I firmly accept that seeing is not always believing. How many of you have heard of apophenia; it was a term coined by a German neurologist name Klaus Conrad? Still doesn't ring any bells? How about patternicity; a term made popular by Michael Shermer to discuss the same phenomenon? Okay, that one at least gives a clearer idea of what we are talking about; “the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data.” The form of patternicity that most often applies to the paranormal field would be pareidolia; perceiving faces in seemingly random places such as those often found in photographs. In his 1995 book entitled "The Demon-Haunted World – Science as a Candle in the Dark," Carl Sagan explained how the ability to recognize a face in poor visibility was a vital survival skill. However, this essential survival skill can play tricks on us and is a prime example of how seeing should not always be a case for believing. Pareidolia can also be applied to audio, but I will save that for a later date.

 

As far as seeing is not always believing... I question everything, even my own eyes. One instance tends to come to mind when I think about this topic. While on my first visit to Bachelor's Grove Cemetery in Midlothian, IL, (back in 2010) I was "following" a red light that I could only seem to catch out of the corner of my eye. It only stays in the cemetery area itself and no matter where I was when I started "following" it, I would continually end up at the same location (despite not walking the same path each time). I was unaware that orbs (especially blue ones) were said to be often observed. Since I could not seem to get a direct look at it, I am still to this day not convinced I saw an orb, but I can say I am not sure what I followed around that night. Dakota was there with me, but he never saw it, it wasn't until reviewing photos that the topic even came up. There on the camera was an image of me turning towards this red light that was just over my shoulder.

 

This photo is the only reason I believe I had seen something and it is a shame my hard drive died, or I would share the image with you all. I still don't know what it was, and the other two times I visited Bachelors Grove I never saw it nor caught it on camera. So though I am pretty sure I saw something, I still don't believe it. 

 

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