Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
At a psychic fair, some years ago, I had someone come by my booth inquiring about psychic healing. She wasn’t sure about it. Due to my inexperience, I hyped it a bit and made the sale. She sat down and I did my thing. She got nothing from it and went away unconvinced, unhappy and $20 poorer. I sat there in a funk for a bit, mulling over the experience and not feeling very good about it. But not for long, because another lady sat down. “I’m having some trouble with back spasms and I would like you to fix it.” She said. She paid her money, sat down and 20 minutes later the back spasms were gone and she was a happy customer.
Belief matters. The first customer was cautious, hesitant and uncertain. Her fear led her into a poor decision which did not work out for her. Her actions undoubtedly influenced mine and vice versa as we both chose failure. She could not simply dive in and accept the reality of what I was doing and so she got nothing from it. The second woman had a total belief in psychic healing and it almost instantaneously worked for her. The difference between the two women and the results that they got, was of course, belief.
We live in a world where we pretend that this is not so. We can be objective, we can test this or that, things are the way they are irrespective of belief. Everything works the same way every time regardless of who is doing it. It is hard in western society to get away from that objective reality viewpoint because it is everywhere and totally, subconsciously ingrained in us. This morning, while I was meditating, I realized that I was going to have to rid myself of this viewpoint. Objective reality is, after all, nothing more than a belief itself.
One of the great adventures of my life came early. I was a foreign exchange student to what was then West Germany during my senior year of High School. In addition, I graduated with a degree in Spanish at U.C. Berkeley. This gave me in depth exposure to two very different cultures. In addition, I worked for several years as a volunteer with the foreign exchange program that had sent me abroad. What this did for me was twofold: It helped me understand what cultural differences we have and how these cultural differences affect our thinking. And, by extension, it helped me to understand the difference between what I thought I understood and what I actually knew. I could see the edges of my own culture influencing my thinking.
This gave me the head start I needed to understand that an objective reality is a myth. It is a belief, and it is so ingrained that physicists, despite their training are caught up by it. Intellectually, they understand, but western culture has enslaved them. It is easier to imagine 11 dimensions than it is to imagine none. Working on things mathematically is safe. It is the easy way out. But whatever it is that is allowing us to share a reality, it is not objective. There is no “there” there. It is in mainstream physics literature that the outcome of a quantum level experiment can be dependent on who does the experimenting. The objective reality that people cling to is no more than an insubstantial ghost; it looks real enough, but the closer you look, the more clearly you realize that it is all held together by . . . belief.
Which brings us back to the idea that belief matters. Our experiences are a result of what we expect to experience. We are each a prisoner of the limitations of our values, attitudes and ideas. Despite our western cultural upbringing, we have to overcome this insane belief in objectivity. It just doesn’t exist.