Monday, January 08, 2007

Opening the paranormal can of worms… maybe I should catch some paranormal fish.

For those of you that don’t read the comments left on each post, you may have missed this absolute gem of a comment about my last post:

Robert, I am surprised at you!
Seeking a purely "scientific" explanation of "paranormal" phenomenon! I would have thought you had enough exposure to entities such as "Whitney", (for one) to consider ghosts more than random glimpses of a parallel universe... And how would you explain Cousin Edward?

Personally, I don't like the term "paranormal". Anything the human mind is capable of IS normal - no matter how profound or far from our societal "norms". To be "paranormal", or METAphysical, the event would have to be something of which the human mind is NOT capable. With the current state of the psychological arts in our society, I think we would have great difficulty determining whether any particular event is something of which the mind is not capable.

Ladies and gentlemen… to me, this comment is proof of something that I have been saying all along… my Mother reads my blog. I say this for two reasons… One, there is nothing paranormal about the way someone’s neck hair stands up when their parent uses their full first name; two, no one else would know the “Cousin Edward” story. While not particularly surprising that Mom reads this stuff, it may surprise many of you to find out that my Mom is one of the major driving forces behind my interest in the paranormal, as well as my open-mindedness on the subject.

Throughout my life, Mom has manifested signs of latent psychic ability. (Although she would probably take exception to the term ‘latent’) One of the most compelling proofs of this ability to me was the “Cousin Edward” story. When I was in my late teens, My Mom’s cousin Edward was going through a rough time… he had an inoperable brain tumor that doctors said was going to eventually kill him. Eddie was a trooper though, and hung in there for a very long time through chemotherapy, surgery and everything else the doctors tried. He was only a few years older than I was, and it was very tragic. When we got the phone call that he had lost the fight and passed away, I was the one who picked up the phone. My memory is a little fuzzy on this part, but I think it was my aunt telling me that Eddie had passed away. I went to give the phone to my Mom, telling her that she may want to sit down first. She looked me in the eye and said “Edward passed away, right?”. “Yeah.” I said, “How did you know?” “He came to visit me last night and told me.” Mom said, without batting an eye.

This definitely rated a 9 on the weird-shit-ometer. Even for Mom.

The “Whitney” story is something else entirely. Whitney was the name my Dad gave the ghost that we believed haunted our house, and some of the surrounding area. Whenever a set of keys went missing, but was found later somewhere that we had already looked, it was invariably blamed on “Whitney”. Mom actually saw a man in a three-corner hat standing in our backyard one afternoon, but when she looked again, the man had vanished. "Must be Whitney" we all agreed.

Yeah, Jay and I still joke that Mom is a “Weirdness Magnet”. Believe me, these tales are just the tip of the iceberg.

Buuuuut…. Knowing now what I didn’t know then, I would classify the “Cousin Edward” story as an example of Mom’s latent clairvoyance, not Ghosts. “Whitney” on the other hand was indeed a haunting… and fits pretty well with my quantum intrusion theory, thank you very much… particularly if one is to posit that these alternate quantum states have some level of physicality in our plane of existence. Missing keys aside, I have seen some evidence to support the idea that ghosts can manipulate physical objects.

Unlike Mom, I do like the term “Paranormal”. It means, (according to the dog-eared Webster’s Dictionary I keep by my computer) “Not explainable by current science”. I certainly prefer it to terms like “supernatural” or “metaphysical”, which tend to have more magical and spiritual connotations in the popular culture. I also believe that science can explain most things in the universe if science is willing to keep an open mind to that which it does not currently understand. The sciences devoted to discovering some of this more wondrous stuff are Parapsychology and Paraphysics. Most people think of these as “fringe” sciences, stuff best not discussed in serious scientific forums. But remember, the cryptozoologists that discovered the existence of the giant squid were once “fringe” guys as well.

Science’s view of the universe is constantly under revision, and it is through these revisions that great breakthroughs in how we see the universe are born. It may be closed-minded to think that someday science will explain many of the things we currently do not understand, but it’s just as closed-minded to believe that some things are impossible for us to understand.

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