Are Paranormal Believers Victims of Flawed Thinking?

If synchronicities and spirit guides float your boat upon the river in the chapel perilous, please try not to sink the boats of others sailing by.

Most philosophers have known, at least since around 500 B.C., that the world perceived by our senses is not “the real world” but a construct we create — our own private work of art.

~Cosmic Trigger, Robert Anton Wilson

Charon by Dore

Charon by Dore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)(PD)

via Mysterious Universe

Lately I’ve been thinking about the reasons some of us believe in the paranormal and some of us don’t. What I found is the scientific community, and the academic community, think believers need to be studied in more detail, because there is seemingly something wrong with them.

So this is definitely one of those “Don’t shoot the messenger” kind of posts. I didn’t come up with this stuff, I’m just writing about it, because I believe it to be interesting. In believing it to be interesting, it could be a sign there is something wrong with me too.

I’ve developed this type of curiosity before on the subject of conspiracy theories, and it led to the writing of a post about the role a part of the brain called the amygdala plays in tendencies to buy into conspiracy theories. Whether or not one believes in the paranormal, however, isn’t nearly as clearly theorized as the root of conspiracy theories.

A belief in the paranormal, or not, is something deeply rooted in our psyche, and like belief in religion, it helps us cope with things in life we cannot control and helps us make sense of things we do not understand.

There are also those who attribute cognitive abilities as being a determining factor whether a person becomes a believer in the paranormal or not. In other words, paranormal believers are not as analytical as non-believers and are prone to flawed logic because they don’t dig deep enough when solving problems.

That’s what some researchers are saying anyway.

Again, I didn’t say it, and it’s not necessarily my opinion on the subject.

I’m just reporting it.

Believers in the Paranormal Just Want to Cope With Life

I made it a point to repeat the fact that I am just the messenger here, because some theorize when believers in religion or the paranormal have their beliefs threatened, they tend to react negatively and often with anger.

Going back to the early days of civilization man has wondered whether the mind and body are separate entities, or all rolled up into one neat, disposable package. The one part of this that cannot be argued is the disposable aspect of the body. We’re in the jungle, baby, and we’re all gonna die.

This is the point where philosophies diverge.

Is the mind a separate entity that continues on once its container is shed, or does the mind die when the body does?

Even the opinions of the best philosophers and scientists are little more than just poetry when it comes to this matter. Some views undoubtedly move us emotionally, and touch our sensibilities in such a way that we buy into what’s being said. Others… not so much.

None of it can be proven, but like poetry, it can have a deep effect on us if we’re open to hearing the message being delivered.

By definition, the same is true of the paranormal. Some of the stories and theories surrounding topics lumped under the paranormal heading touch our sensibilities and lure us into a particular belief system.



  • n0b0d1

    “In other words, paranormal believers are not as analytical as
    non-believers and are prone to flawed logic because they don’t dig deep
    enough when solving problems.”

    “Many”…perhaps even “most”, but not all…I think…there’s a word for this…

    • Kevin Boudreau

      I would dare say that those who don’t believe are too dismissive, almost fearing what they don’t understand or can explain. Sure there are some who are perhaps too gullible, but as Irish posted above, until a person experiences it, they’ll just keep scoffing it like a fool.

      • n0b0d1

        I don’t think it’s foolish to scoff what you haven’t experienced yourself…I believe because I have seen with my own eyes and am not satisfied with the scientific explanations, but it is ultimately belief.

        I could still be mad.

    • Juan

      That word is sombunall (some but not all).

      • n0b0d1

        Thank you…a search for “some of all” + “robert anton wilson” produced nothing…stupid search engines. 😛

  • Irish Deoband

    As a paranormal investigator and researcher for 18 years, I have seen my fair share of the paranormal. From personal bodily injuries caused by spirits to attachment/possession. I have seen a homicide take place right before my eyes by something that no one could see but later we heard. Anyone that tries to debunk the paranormal, I invite them to investigate with a professional and reputable team…lets see who is telling the truth.

    • Skeeter

      BS, man…BS.

      • Irish Deoband

        So you are saying that the “paranormal” is a manifestation of flawed logic on the part of those witnessing it? Have you ever investigated the paranormal?

        • Kevin Boudreau

          Irish, people who don’t believe are choosing not to. If they did take the time to truly investigate, they would find that we live in a world of lies, and to try and discredit people who believe in the supernatural is simply a way to further suppress the lie. More and more people, however, are coming to the realization that there is truth in it. Most will just have trouble figuring out which is and isn’t.

          • Irish Deoband

            I absolutely agree Kevin…well said. So many try to discredit what is no longer a pseudo-science but factual science yet will never seek the realm of exploration themselves.

        • Skeeter

          Ohhh puhhhleeez. Would-be Ghostbusters have been running around for over 100 hundred years trying to prove (uhmm.. scam) the reality of the paranormal….and this was built upon thousands of years of con-men running various superstitions. You’re full of BS by claiming all of this first-hand experience with the paranormal…with entities attacking you….with entities killing people in front of you. You are either a fantasy prone kook or just another insecure freak trying to gain some sense of importance (I believe the latter). I feel sorry for you.

          • Yarglad

            You have no evidence of your claims, you are only trying to put others, who have much better idea of what they’re talking about, down because of insecurity in your own beliefs.

          • Skeeter

            So, as the unbeliever of the guy who claimed he saw a man get killed by spiritual entities “right in front of his eyes”, I’m the one needing to put forth evidence? You’re funny. The guy is a freakin’ liar. He did not see spiritual forces kill a man in front of him. He was not attacked by entities.

          • Rhoid Rager

            killed? when did he say killed? are you reading something we’re not seeing somewhere?

          • echar

            I am pretty sure the comment was edited. I remember reading something along the lines of witnessing someone being murdered/killed by a spirit.

          • Rhoid Rager

            i see. redacted.

          • echar

            It’s some serious stuff.

          • Calypso_1

            Indeed. It stated an unseen killer which people heard after the event. My thought was that I too have witnessed a homicide by an unseen killer that I heard afterwards. Sound – slower than a speeding bullet.

          • Skeeter

            Yep…that’s what happened.

          • Skeeter

            The original poster edited his text and removed some of his claims once I challenged him…that’s why it sounds a little more tame than before.

  • HCE

    “If synchronicities and spirit guides float your boat upon the river in the chapel perilous, please try not to sink the boats of others sailing by.”

    Fine, but then the naive realists need to quit trying to sink those of us who think think there’s more going on than what our five senses tell us. If those who believe, or at least have suspicions or doubts are trying to sink their boats, it’s only because we’ve been harassed for so long by the Randy-ites, Shermerites, Dawkinites, etc.

    Leave us alone, and we’ll leave you alone, deal?

    • Skeeter

      Few people have issue with others thinking that “there’s more going on than what our five senses tell us.” I think most people would agree with you. That’s why we have science, etc. The problem is when the crackpots cross the line and start trying to act like they know the unknowable….that they know what’s “really” going on that our five senses can’t tell us. The problem is when the crackpots not only tell us that they believe something weird is happening, but suddenly tell us that it’s really ghosts or demons or psychic powers or flying saucers or bigfoot or the NWO or the Illuminati, etc…. Dawkins and friends will totally agree with you that the universe is an amazingly big space and that we only have a tiny fraction of the truth — but they’ll laugh you right off this rock when you pretend you are privy to supernatural answers which are somehow hidden to the rest of us until we “first just believe.”

      • Rhoid Rager

        Scientists always believe something before they engage in ‘science’. They’re called world views. The reason world views change over time (so-called scientific revolutions) is because scientists have the balls to believe something different is happening in the world and act on those beliefs. Scientists that state that belief has no part in science are full of shit. A good book to read about this Michael Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge. He was a real philosopher of science that saw the nuanced process of hypothesis-formation. He saw how personal beliefs always interject in how we see the world–even in the flawed (and falsfiable) enterprise that is science. Your view of science ought to be expanded to include the nuanced nooks and crannies of human intuition–something as yet unexplained.

        • Skeeter

          You have absolutely no argument from me. I agree with you 100%. Belief is paramount in life and in science. We believe all kinds of things – we believe the sun is going to rise each morning. We believe are cars will start. We believe our keys unlock our doors. The difference between the scientist and the crackpot kook is that the scientist says “hey, I think there might be something more going on here….let’s run a test and confirm/deny our new idea” and the crackpot say “Hey, ghosts and demons exist…they kill people right in front of me. I’ve been chasing them for 18 years and I know how to scare them out of your house just like they do on those International Ghosthunter tv shows…..and check out my really cool ghosthunting team t-shirt and laser temperature reader that I got off ebay”…..There’s a huge difference between good science and hilarious crackpottery.

  • BuzzCoastin

    I don’t believe in the paranormal or supernatural
    paranormal & supernatural things happen in my life
    all the time, which
    kinda obviates the need to believe

    • echar


    • Juan


  • Danger

    I just get really annoyed by how they present information sometimes.
    Like they’re quick to believe something esoteric sounding; fine, just don’t come and tell me you know these “facts” and that I’m the closed minded one, when it turns out all you did was watch a YouTube video about it. Lol I’ve had friends and girlfriends like that.

  • qB^{D}

    Of course there is more going on than the thin slice our senses can pick up,
    that doesn’t make it something outside of nature.
    I’ve believed in the supernatural and experienced it
    I’ve disbelieved and detected not an inkling of it.
    What the thinker thinks, the prover proves.

    • Rhoid Rager

      No one ever proves anything. Hume sorted that shit out centuries ago.

      • qB^{D}

        The man who proved that you can never prove anything, you say?
        That certainly would be a remarkable feat..

        In this case, however, it’s being used as true to experience, not actual proof.

  • bodge

    I am not into shooting the messenger but you could be more picky about what bullshit you deliver. Sorry.

  • Gjallarbru

    I take offence that anyone says my thinking to be of any less quality then theirs. My job even requires constant application of logic so, being still in business, I must be somewhat good at it.

    According to my logic, for instance, simply claiming complexity can give rise to consciousness is flawed beyond reason. Yet that is the materialistic view. They do not even consider that complexity might allow for a more obvious display of consciousness, but that complexity is not the cause.

    To borrow from Graham Hancock, the materialist reductionnists have nothing to say. They resort to insult and generalizations having nothing of substance to put forward. They lump toghether religious and spiritual. The materialist also use the word “supernatural” or “paranormal” to ostricize, when in fact there is nothing outside of nature, or the real world.

    Those words of supernatural and paranormal are to be abandonned. The indicate that what we are talking about are bastards thoughts, they are designed to make those of us that “believe” into outcasts. What we are talking about is in fact “parareductionnist” phenomenas, for we say that the universe is greater in scope than the five senses.

    And like BuzzCoastin, stuff happens to me too, so it’s not like I really “believe”, I live the stuff regularly.

  • Richard Frith

    We shall instead concern ourselves with enhancing longevity and perfecting interplanetary travel so we can fulfill our desire of constructing an Under Armour outlet on Phobos.

  • Oginikwe

    I find Dr. Moody’s work with people who have died and come back very compelling. Their stories are interesting especially when they come back knowing things that happened while they were “dead” which they otherwise had no way of knowing. Their personal stories seem reasonable enough and are often backed up by the doctors and surgeons who were there.

    However, nothing changes someone’s mind faster than having an inexplicable paranormal experience of his or her own.

  • VaudeVillain

    In answer to the very specific question raised in the headline:

    The ones who have been deceived by others for personal profit are victims, and their thinking is evidently flawed.

  • Adam’s Shadow

    I think a mystical or spiritual sensibility is nothing more than saying that ideas matter.

    Take, for instance, love: at its biological core, it seems to be just a rush of neurochemicals, particularly serotonin and oxytocin, producing lust, attraction, and then finally attachment. But that’s not our experience of it; practically no person experiences their loving relationship (with whatever person or animal, not talking bestiality, just the love some people have for their pets) as “oh, there’s my oxytocin acting up again!” Even if you have conscious and in-depth knowledge of the process of love, its evolutionary and biological bases, the actual human, personal experience of it is radically different from that objective, clinical perspective of love as an evolutionary adaptation.

  • Ken_A1

    It is fact to say that one person’s understanding of reality is a construct created in their brains by interpreting information from their senses. Yes, this means our thinking is necessarily limited, and yes, science is a tool pretty much invented for the express purpose of countering that limitation.

    But when people say that it’s ONLY a construct and that it’s not just limited thinking, but FLAWED thinking, they are going beyond statements of fact and making value judgments about material vs. non-material things.

    I was pleased as punch when Neil deGrasse Tyson debunked the possibility of creating a Star Trek-like transporter to send people from place to place–his logic being that even if you could break yourself down into a recipe for your constituent elements, beam that recipe elsewhere, and build a new you in that location based on that recipe, it still wouldn’t be you. You would lose that ephemeral element of your mind that makes you who you are and can’t be reduced to a recipe.

    • Rus Archer

      if you can maintain the SENSE of continuity, it doesn’t matter whether or not it IS you
      you don’t KNOW that you are the same thing you were 20 years ago
      and physically, you’re not
      cue pkd

  • Capt Jack Obvious

    If you have not had an unexplainable event happen in your life then your life is meant to be fully explainable. The “paranormal” is the whole reason a belief in deities persist. Most “experts” suffer from what I shall dub the Lord Kelvin Syndrome.

    • echar

      To be completely honest, you are appearing as an expert to me.

      • Capt Jack Obvious

        Appearances are deceiving, and deceiving is always for appearances. Honestly, I’m just an expert on foolishness.

    • Rus Archer

      confusing unexplained with unexplainable may have something to do with expectations

  • moonmad

    I would say yes to the above, most times, and also include anyone believing in a religion or faith that stretches oh I don’t know …all of them.