Please don't read this post if you've received this five-question email survey and have yet to respond!
Not sure about publishing this - just recording these questions and my responses for posterity as I think it threw open some interesting issues that I'd like to explore more deeply in future.
My friend and i are doing an assignment on the supernatural/paranormal and if they are real. We would like to ask you a few questions if that's okay. Please try your best to answer them.
Happy to answer, but I think you need to tie down what you mean by 'the paranormal'.
I think some things that are currently considered paranormal, such as ESP, witnessing time slips, crisis apparitions, and perhaps residual hauntings may indeed occur. I don't believe in the tenets of Spiritualism, but think there are other reasons why people experience ghosts.
I think that while UFO sightings and other things are not strong enough evidence that extraterrestrials have visited Earth, it is highly likely that there are other intelligent life forms in the universe, but it's also possible that they may have contacted humans in some way. Then there's the whole field of cryptozoology, and what are called Earth mysteries. Does this survey blanket-cover all of the above? Because my answers will vary depending on which aspects of the paranormal we're talking about.
Q. What your opinion on the supernatural/paranormal and Do you think it's real?
A. I am agnostic about most things in the paranormal realm; there is simply not yet enough evidence, but I may believe more definitely when there is.
Q. Why do/don't you think so?
A. That's complicated. Like many people, I need strong science-grade evidence to support a belief in something that seems improbable, but I'm also prepared to stick my neck out sometimes and say I think the science hasn't yet addressed an issue adequately, and it may in fact exist - ESP, etc, listed above, are examples. I think science will eventually provide explanations for many things we currently deem paranormal as our understanding of the cosmos expands to include these things.
Q. Do you have any experiences of the supernatural/paranormal?
A. Possibly. One such event is described in the opening of our book 'Spooked', which you can read for free in the preview here. I have had several other experiences that I haven't yet found convincing explanations for, despite years of research. But then again our senses, our brain's processing of the data they provide, and our memory and recall are all far from infallible.
Q. Does this affect your opinion?
A. I remain agnostic, as I'm not sure my experiences were actually paranormal; there may be natural explanations that fit more closely than I care to admit.
Q. Do you think your gender affects your opinion?
A. Good question. I don't think my gender affects my own opinions of my experiences, (but then I can't know the answer because I have no basis for comparison). However, it is interesting to study statistics collected on paranormal beliefs. You may find this in your study, but generally, women admit to believing generally in the paranormal more than men do. Among other reasons, this may be to do with self-perception, with some men possibly not wanting to admit such beliefs because it is considered to be more masculine to maintain a facade of rationality. In career fields such as science, politics and business - all male-dominated - admitting belief in the paranormal could be seen as a sign of mental weakness and have a negative effect on careers. The opening scenes in the new Ghostbusters 3 movie reflect this, as the Erin Gilbert character loses her university job due to her paranormal beliefs. Yes, it's just a comedy, but this stuff happens.
I hope that's some help.
is a blog by James Gilberd - leader and co-founder of Strange Occurrences. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Strange Occurrences team.
James Gilberd is an amateur paranormalist, writer and musician, and a professional photographer, living in Wellington, New Zealand.