Skeptics and believers collide on the paranormal

 

For years, countless movies, books and television shows have made money on the possibility of the paranormal. However, when it comes to the real world that is not dictated by green screens and computer imaging, there are still those who wholeheartedly believe in the existence of ghosts and spirits. Despite the amount of believers, there are still those who remain deeply skeptical about the paranormal in every possible regard. Paranormal investigators, are people who attempt to bridge the gap between skeptics and believers by demonstrating the reality of the spirit realm.

Psychic medium and paranormal investigator Chris Moon visited NAU Oct. 19. Moon gave students a presentation on his profession, abilities and past fieldwork, as well as a live demonstration of his equipment. This equipment included cameras, night-vision cameras, electromagnetic field meters, non-contact thermometers, white-noise machines, digital voice recorders and — most importantly — the spirit box. A spirit box is a radio-like device that can tune into certain frequencies and is based on Thomas Edison’s original Telephone to the Dead concept.

For investigators like Moon, spirit boxes are essential to actively communicate with the dead. As a psychic, Moon is able to sense paranormal activity but said it is important he does not base his findings solely on his psychic abilities.

“I don’t base any evidence on superstition,” Moon said. “I use my abilities to sense activity and then back it up through equipment.”

As a paranormal investigator, Moon has traveled all over the world and has been to some of the most supernatural locations on Earth, such as the Lizzie Borden House, The Sally House and the field that held the infamous Battle of Gettysburg.

Though Moon hasn’t conducted any formal investigations within Flagstaff, he has throughout Arizona. Moon challenges those who are skeptical to shadow him for a day.

Most associate skepticism with endless questions and a constant need for facts. While these statements are true, there is much more to being a skeptic of the paranormal. Freshman Aurora Howard said she doesn’t completely dismiss the idea of paranormal entities being real, she just needs hard proof to believe.

“I guess I’m somebody who doesn’t choose to fully put my belief into something without solid proof,” Howard said. “In order for me to fully believe, I would need to experience something personal to me or view someone close to me experience something supernatural.”

There are some people in the paranormal community who attempt to force their thoughts and opinions upon skeptics. Howard said she is not happy with others who criticize her for her skepticism, because she doesn’t try to alter their beliefs in any way.

“I don’t see a problem in others fully believing in ghosts, as long as they don’t give me a hard time for being a skeptic,” Howard said.

For many cultures, stories comprise a large part of practices, some of which include tales of the supernatural or paranormal. Junior Beatriz Recinos-Pineda explained that these stories are especially prevalent in Latinx cultures. She referenced the Día de los Muertos holiday and the demonic creature of Latinx American, Iberian and Filipino folklore called a Duende. Recinos-Pineda said these stories tend to become so ingrained within the children that their belief in the paranormal is not something that can be easily stripped away.

“The people I trust around me have told me stories about spirits being close to them, especially in Latinx culture,” Recinos-Pineda said. “There is a lot of belief in spirits. There is so much unknown in this world that it would be wild to not think that it’s a possibility.”

Recinos-Pineda said retelling stories is one of the best ways to convince others of paranormal occurrences and even change a skeptic’s mind.

On a lighter note, there are believers like freshman Kristin Weldy who simply look for the good aspects of life. Weldy said she believes in the paranormal or supernatural because it gives her hope and, at times, even joy.

“I really think that the impossible can be real,” Weldy said. “It gives me something to look forward to when things are bad.”

Skepticism and belief are the main ideologies when it comes to the paranormal. However, there are those who find themselves lodged between the two, unable to proclaim themselves a complete skeptic or believer. Freshman Alexis Painter is one of these individuals. She described herself as both a skeptic and a believer. Her beliefs are not deeply rooted in a freak experience or ghostly occurrence, but have been weighed in her mind against the skeptical side of logic.

“I would describe myself as both a skeptic and a believer, because I don’t believe you can disprove the supernatural, but I also don’t believe you can prove the supernatural,” Painter said. “I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I do believe in demons and angels.”

Painter said paranormal stories have a large influence on her believing, but she hasn’t personally had an experience with the paranormal. However, she said if presented with concrete evidence, she could be easily swayed from one side to the other.

“If someone gave me hard evidence that could not be disproved, then I would accept it as the truth, whether it be on the believers’ side or the skeptics’ side,” Painter said.

For many people, such as Painter and Howard, proof is the most influential aspect of their belief or skepticism. On the other hand, where concrete evidence falls short, often stories that are passed down through generations make up the difference.

With believers, skeptics and those in between, it cannot be agreed whether or not paranormal phenomena occur. The question is how to explain the unexplainable. But regardless of a person’s stance on ghosts, demons or spirits, there are those who dedicate their lives to investigating the paranormal. Moon stresses that if one chooses to go looking for the paranormal or pursue an investigation of their own, it is important to remain respectful of all spirits and to treat them as you would treat a friend.