There is a huge difference between going fishing and going to the supermarket to buy fish.
Fishing is a developed skill, requiring years of practice and patience, as well as a steadfast determination to constantly learn and refine your approach. Very few of us will ever make a living with a rod and a reel, let alone become so profoundly and consistently successful that we gain any form of celebrity out on the lake.
Going to the supermarket to buy fish doesn’t require too many of those traits.
Furthermore, those fishermen who do spend the infinite hours improving their abilities won’t be satisfied casting off in stocked ponds where the fish will bite a bare hook. Instead, they are drawn to the challenge of the most difficult waters with the largest, smartest creatures to conquer. In many ways, it’s the lack of fish that will draw the true and proud angler to his workplace.
Therein lies the connection to paranormal research: It’s the lack of evidence that is truly exciting to us. In some cases, the lack of evidence is actually more important than any collection of anomalies.
Natural vs. Supernatural
The first concept we must consider is that a supernatural or paranormal anomaly, by definition, must be an outlying, rare experience and not a common occurrence. This is especially true when our anomalies are compounded and corroborated into what we would call evidence.
Consider this situation: You are investigating a notoriously active location, where you feel cold chills, document unexplained footsteps, and have paranormal personal experiences. At this location, you set out to capture EVP’s by asking questions and waiting for a response. Upon review, you find that 50% of your questions are followed by anomalous noise, and that half of those noises are construed as answers to your questions. This will provide you with a hypothetical success rate of 25%.
Now you take your investigation to a location that is either newly developed, blessed, cleansed, or just plain void of any spirit activity. You have no personal experiences, all of the footsteps you hear are your own, and it’s downright balmy and warm the entire time. You conduct an identical EVP session, using the same recorder and the same questions. Upon review, you again find that you have 50% of your questions followed with anomalous noise, and, again, half of those responses can be construed as answers to your questions.
At this point, it can be hypothesized that your EVP anomalies in the second investigation are not supernatural. Instead, they are a naturally-occurring, albeit mysterious phenomenon that cannot be corroborated with any other pieces of evidence. (Remember that it would be unwise to purport that a single audio anomaly is evidence of the paranormal). The frequency of these “answers” not only calls into question the EVP’s from the second investigation, but, more problematically, it appears that your evidence from the first investigation may be tainted as well.
These sort of false-positives could be caused by a number of factors in this case; perhaps your finger is sliding over the microphone on your recorder? Maybe you shuffle your feet unknowingly after every 4 or 5 questions? Is your digital recorder subject to radio interference?
The Unknown vs. The Paranormal
Another aspect of this argument to consider is that not everything that can be categorized as “Unknown” is actually “Paranormal”.
As our civilization develops, and along with it, our sciences develop, the mysteries of the world have a tendency to break down. Those occurrences that were once unknown will be understood as soon as we have ability to properly investigate and study them.
Yet there are still some great unknowns in modern science that are definitely not paranormal. Yawning is a great example, as it is an extremely common and natural behavior for which our modern scientists can only speculate as to the reasoning and efficacy. The cause of yawning, and the physiological purpose is still definitely unknown and natural, but definitely not paranormal.
As our sciences develop, especially in regard to paranormal research, we will surely reclassify some of the phenomenon that we encounter in the field as natural phenomena. This should not be seen as threat to our research, as the narrowing of our focus will allow for a more succinct and plausible theory on the nature of ghosts and hauntings. We perform this reclassification on a local scale during every investigation as we work to debunk certain incidents to hone in on the truly paranormal activity that me be present.
So, the next time that you fire up your paranormal research setup, or cast your reel into that lake, don’t be discouraged about the lack of results; You’re working in a field that requires you to constantly adjust your tactics to achieve success.
Besides, anybody can catch those small fish. Only the most dedicated and patient of us will snag something big enough to brag about.