The Weiler Psi

Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics

The Many Effects of Belief Systems on Psi

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Beliefs are generally considered to be a good thing.  Belief is faith, and faith drives religions, and in certain situations it can improve skills and life in general but having beliefs can also be counterproductive in activating psychic ability.  It all depends on the nature of the belief and in what manner a person holds it.  An active belief is generally better than a subconscious one and a flexibility in beliefs is better than a rigid one.   One of the things that distinguish skeptics from psychic people is in fact, rigidity of belief.  Skeptics have more rigid beliefs and psychic people have fewer of them.
In my dealings with skeptics this has come up again and again.  The belief in a material view of the world colors all of their logical processes and dominates their thinking to the point where the confirmation bias is quite strong.  For example I have seen skeptics place more belief in the ability of a dog to find its way home  on a 1,000 mile journey based on an ability to sniff out their owners via a single molecule floating around in the air than accepting the presence of psychic ability.  The famous cat Oscar, who knows when patients are dying is another example of this.  Skeptics would rather believe that the cat is picking up on a a so called smell of imminent death that everyone throughout the history of man has apparently missed rather than accept a psi explanation.
Consideration of a psi explanation is simply out of the question.  This is a rigid belief.  It freezes a person into a certain mindset and reduces the ability of the mind to cope with information at odds with the belief.  In religion as well, rigid beliefs lead to oddball scientific theories, such as creationism because people have trouble coping with ideas that run counter to their beliefs.
If you ask a skeptical person about psychic ability, they will nearly always frame it in terms of belief.  People believe they are psychic according to skeptics.  Yet if you ask a psychic person about their ability, they will not frame it that way; they might state beliefs about why they have this ability, but not about whether they have it.  That part is simply an accumulation of evidence.  It is what it is.  These are very different ways of perceiving psychic ability.
Having subconscious beliefs though, creates stability.  Beliefs fix certain things and ensure a certain amount of predictability and continuity.  Beliefs make it possible for some people to have status in the eyes of other people.  Look at how much status being rich confers on people.  Bear in mind that being rich in and of itself does not meet any of our traditional values.  No one would argue that having money automatically makes someone a better or more interesting person yet if there were two people who were identical in every other aspect, we would confer a greater status on the one who was wealthy.  That person would seem more handsome or beautiful and more intelligent and thoughtful.  By having a large set of such beliefs, we create a stable society.
I had an opportunity to experience this first hand as a foreign exchange student for a year when I was in High School.  I was in Germany for a year.  (West Germany actually, this was before the wall came down.)  Germans are not Americans who speak a different language; they have different cultural values that are reflected in their values, attitudes, ideas and beliefs as well as their language.  I was also an exchange student for six weeks to Mexico, where I studied Spanish.  Same thing.  In all of these different cultures there are an underlying set of subconscious beliefs that help give the society both its identity and cohesion and just as importantly, prevent change.
By now you probably realize that the word belief is rather broad and covers a lot of territory.  There is also a different type of belief that is more akin to intent.  Believing in yourself and your abilities is generally beneficial; so what is the difference between a generalized belief in “something” and a belief in yourself?  One of these I already mentioned: rigidity.  Beliefs which lack flexibility are damaging to well, . . . everyone.  I was speaking to a 25 year old woman yesterday who has come out of the closet as a lesbian.  Naturally, her mother is a fundamentalist Christian and rather than accept that her daughter was gay, she threw her out of the house.  This is a terrible and unnecessary personal conflict she’s created.  The beliefs were so strong that she was willing to inflict tremendous emotion pain on herself rather than change.
There is another type of belief though that is generally positive and this is the conscious type.  Typically, a person chooses to believe that they are better in some way than they have previously believed themselves to be.  The object of this sort of belief is the exact opposite of the more ordinary unconscious belief:  There is a deliberate attempt to change and to face the fears that prevent the positive change.  Through force of will a less desirable belief is swapped out for a new and improved version.
I said earlier that psychic people have fewer unconscious beliefs and I think that this is because psychic ability itself is a trip into the subconscious mind and this forces us to be more aware of the beliefs that most people can leave in the unconscious state.  One thing that I experienced as a child and many other psychic people have related the same experience to me is the feeling of being an outsider and being alone, even in a crowd.  This “outsider” feeling is the result of that introspection.  Even as children we could see the patterns of belief and how they affected other people and this made us sufficiently different not to have the same beliefs or to hold them far less rigidly.  Just having the awareness was enough to put us on the outside looking in.
In order for psychic ability to flourish we need to keep our subconscious beliefs at an arms distance and not coincidentally, that’s exactly what we’re wired to do.  Religion is rather vague for us for that reason.  We instinctively don’t want that area to “harden.”  We remain open about other people for the same reason.  Strong prejudice of any sort is exceedingly rare among psychic people.
The word belief is such a simple term, yet under examination it gets more and more complex.  It’s important too because it affects our daily lives in so many ways.

One comment on “The Many Effects of Belief Systems on Psi

  1. Monica
    August 15, 2010

    You’re all about faith lately, hunh? :p

    On a sadder note, I’ve been in the middle of a LOT of right-wing\LGBT debates. One of the things I’ve noticed is that the right-wingers, the ones who say the Taliban is right to kill gays, are highly insecure. That’s because Christianity promotes, albeit unintentionally, brainwashing children into believing that if they don’t follow The Rules, they’ll go to Hell. Perhaps the same concept applies with psi power–they don’t believe it for the same reason they don’t believe gays can be anything but monsters: It breaks The Rules. And if one Rule breaks, what about the rest?

    I kind of feel sorry for them sometimes…

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