Content: Community

Community

Clarity of Communication

Abstract for Clarity of Communications This essay focuses on some of the factors controlling the clarity of communication with others. The ...

Comments on “Harnessing the Paranormal Community”

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Concerns with Wikipedia

General Wikipedia is hugely important as a means of documenting society and making that knowledge base available to anyone with ...

Consensus Building in the Paranormalist Community

Abstract A community of people cooperating to achieve a common goal is the building block of civilization. From a metaphysical ...

Introduction to Community

General This section is concerned with the major issues that the community concerned with the frontier subject must confront if ...

Open Letter to Paranormalists: Limits of science, trust and responsibility

Tom Butler, 2017 Abstract This is a letter to members of the paranormalist community discussing lessons learned, as Co-Director of ...

Opinion Setters: What to Believe

Introduction for Opinion Setters You can tell you are in a maturing community when you notice that a few truths have begun ...

Paranormalist Community

The Paranormalist Community Think of a community as a collection of people who share interest in one or more ideas ...

Pseudoscience

Updated 6/2017. My apologies to you if you read the earlier version. I see that I wrote the draft quite ...

Quotes From People Who Should Know Better

Myopia:  a lack of foresight or discernment; a narrow view of something Ours is a small community concerned with a ...

Skeptic

On Practicing Healthy Skepticism and Being a Skeptic A Brief Note About the Name: A number of friends have urged ...

Trojan Horse

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Wikipedia Arbitration

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Wikipedia Bullying Editors

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Wikipedia Watch

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Consensus Building in the Paranormalist Community

Abstract

A community of people cooperating to achieve a common goal is the building block of civilization. From a metaphysical perspective, discussions amongst members of a cooperative community enable them to compose coherent statements of understanding and receive candid feedback. Composing thoughts to express an idea, either to tell or to respond, provides important opportunities to learn how to manage our mostly unconscious mind and gauge our understanding.

While cooperative communities can facilitate the pursuit of rational maturity, in practice, the necessary candid feedback is seldom available. People may indicate agreement, but often remain unconvinced. In actual practice, many people exit such conversations without expressing their point of view while possibly believing the opposite is true.

The focus of this essay is on the nature of communication in the paranormalist community with emphasis on the need for, and obstacles to, consensus building. A brief discussion about the consequences of how we think are discussed. Possible tools for managing worldview are offered.

Introduction

Longtime observers of the paranormalist community may have noticed considerable change in the community over the years, but little apparent progress in understanding the nature of these phenomena. All of us are in the same boat, Paranormal. In a very real sense, we are dependent on one another, as scientists need practitioners to produce examples for study and practitioners need scientists for guidance in how to work with them.

If progress requires cooperation amongst citizens of the community, how can cooperation be improved? In my view, the answer has everything to do with how we mentally process information and the nature of our spiritual instincts.

Shared Perception of Reality

If our purpose is to gain understanding about the nature of reality, and if there is one actual reality, it seems clear that each of us is converging on the same understanding. If this is true, our differences are ultimately temporary.

I say that we are converging on the same understanding because it appears that understanding, itself, is a relative concept. An experience might be new to us and our understanding of it only slight, but that understanding becomes more precise as we have other, similar experiences.

And so, it might be true that none of us are completely right in our opinion because our understanding is not complete. Even so, it is arguable that some of us see reality with greater lucidity than do others. If so, the sages were right all along in saying that the truth is evident for those who have eyes to see.

In the end, it comes down to the simple truth that the present is created from the past. That is, unless we have developed the presence of mind to examine the validity of what we perceive, with the intention to better align our understanding with the actual nature of reality, our perception will be based on memory of past experiences.

You may know this presence of mind as mindfulness. (1)

Community

As I will explain in Spiritual Anatomy, below, one of the more important tools for the mindful way is the cooperative community. Participation in a community enables self-evaluation. The process of composing what to say helps us organize our thoughts. An honest response from others in the community helps us develop an idea of how sensible our understanding has become. An underlying assumption of a cooperative community is that its members return candid responses. They need not agree, or even be rational, but they do need to be candid. It is when people do not return honest feedback that the cooperative community fails.

Paranormalists and Paranormalist Seekers

I define paranormalists as people who experience, study or have a more than casual interest in psychic ability (psi functioning, remote viewing, healing intention), healing intention (biofield healing, distant healing, healing prayer) and the phenomena related to survival of consciousness (mediumship, visual and audible ITC, hauntings). However, being a paranormalist does not mean a person is consciously seeking to gain understanding. For instance, to a casual observer, ghost hunting clubs appear to be more like sporting societies than study groups.

As you read this essay, keep in mind that I am addressing it to paranormalists in general, but when it comes to questions of increasing understanding, I am specifically directing my comments to seekers. Here, a seeker is one who consciously responds to the urge to gain understanding about the nature of reality. (2)

As an aside to the skeptics amongst us, being a paranormalist does not mean all paranormalists think these phenomena are actually paranormal. In fact, being a skeptic is relative so that the farther a concept is from mainstream thought, the more likely it will be rejected by a person who studies these phenomena. For instance, anomalistic psychologists (3) reject psi and survival phenomena, while exceptional experiences psychologists (4) may accept psi but reject survival phenomena.

If the cohesiveness of a community is based on its member’s common understanding of the concepts which define it. Greater agreement in understanding tends to attract improved understanding, while decreasing agreement tends to disperse the binding influence. In effect, unlimited freedom of opinion with little or no collaboration produces a chaotic environment which tend to defeat efforts to develop a cohesive foundation of understanding.

In this sense, the paranormalist community is fast becoming a failed community. We have less and less agreement about the nature of the related phenomena. Belief rather than objective understanding, profit motive and pet theories dominate. It seems that everyone has become their own expert, learned leadership is often anti-psi, but predominantly anti-survival.

Roadblocks to Idea Sharing

Establishing the consensus necessary for community norms requires members of the community to be candid about expressing their point of view and open to the possibility of seeing other people’s point of view. Consensus building is typically an ongoing process as opinions converge toward a common view. If a common view is not found, the community can be expected to splinter as people who do agree, self-organize themselves into sub-communities of interests. This appears to be our current state.

A Fractured Community

The old blind men trying to describe an elephant parable applies here. From it, we learn that a coherent explanation of the phenomena may only be possible if all the sub-communities of interest work together. As it is today, some sub-communities disagree with the others to the point of actively attempting to debunk their view of the phenomena.

The dominant sub-communities are:

  1. Parapsychology: Academically trained, usually with doctorates, concerned with theorizing and conducting research, primarily considering the human nature-based response to phenomena, especially psi field-related phenomena.
  2. Citizen Scientists: People who are involved in the study of these phenomena on the layperson side of the academic-layperson partition. These include hauntings investigation as opposed to ghost hunting, ordered investigation of mediumship and ITC. More an emphasis on survival phenomena.
  3. Mediumistic Practitioners: People who apply techniques to induce transcommunication, such as mental and physical mediumship, automatic writing and ITC. Healing intention is included here. Usually an assumption of survival, but also presumably psi-only practitioners such as remote viewing and healing intention
  4. Hobbyists: This community of interest is primarily composed of ghost hunters. There are hundreds of ghost hunter clubs which are usually operated as social clubs with haunted house investigations as outings. They usually employ quite a lot of technology to collect evidence, including recording for EVP.
  5. Seekers: People who are interested in understanding these phenomena as it relates to their true nature and relationship with reality. Such concepts as personal improvement and human potential apply to this community of interest.

My premise is that parapsychology depends on the other groups for access to phenomena, and the other groups depend on parapsychology for learned guidance about the nature of the phenomena and possibly how to work with them. This happens to some extent; however, my observation has been that all five groups mostly ignore the others. They have developed their own stories about the nature of these phenomena; often many different stories within a group.

Further, that a common story is necessary for progress to be made in our understanding. Lacking it, the paranormalist community is rapidly contracting. For the most part, the way is left for superstition and scientism to overshadow objective study of these phenomena.

As such, my objective here is to understand the dynamics of this dispersal and seek ways to find a common story. The obstacles I see, those behaviors I think are at the center of this failure to communicate, include:

  1. People Tend to be Protective of Their Examples of Phenomena.

Sharing examples of phenomena is an important part of social media for paranormalist. On the surface, sharing is an effective way to teach one another about the nature of the phenomena and encourage further attempts to collect more examples.

The problem is that many examples are simply not paranormal. Some are artifacts of whatever technology was used. Many of these technologies are poorly understood and most of us do not know the many ways they might fool us. For instance, photographic latency can produce ghost lights and bright objects and particulates can produce orbs.

A witness may not think the example is evidential, but it has become something of a social norm to praise the example, perhaps to support the person’s emotional need for validation or not wanting to be shunned as a doubter. The witness, failing to be candid about the example, effectively reinforces the exhibitor’s erroneous belief. No learning occurs and community understanding about the actual nature of the phenomena is further devolved into belief and away from objective thinking.

While praising an example that probably is not paranormal may seem like a kind gesture, it is more likely the witness does not wish to argue with the exhibitor. We have had so many angry responses to our reports that examples are probably mundane, that now, we hardly ever agree to examine examples from the public.

Our perspective on this is explained at the top of the ATransC.org website front page: “When encountering an extraordinary event, seek first to find commonalities with other extraordinary events and known science before assuming something new. Always error on the side of the mundane.”

  1. Pet Theories.

When we assumed leadership of the ATransC in 2000, a frequently expressed theory was that the only real EVP were those found in the subsonic region of the audio spectrum. Later, some people insisted the only real EVP are in the ultrasonic region. Reversing the audio track to find EVP was popular back then, and some insisted that the only real EVP were those found by reversing the sound track. Over the years, it has become evident that the unseen communicators will speak where we are listening.

To our knowledge, none of those theories were tested under controlled conditions. None have stood the test of further experience.

A person’s prior religious training continues to produce theories related to people being stuck or earthbound because of fear or belief held while still in the flesh. The same can be said about the idea of demons, possession and evil. We know that perception is influenced by prior belief. Because of that, the proofs offered by these theorists is suspect; more like lore making these phenomena unnecessarily scary for the average experiencer. Because of their religious overtones, they help to defeat forward progress.

The idea of a pet theory also comes up in the form of “Spirit told me.” We see evidence of spiritualism in this argument, and even though we are both ordained Spiritualists, certified National Spiritualist Teachers and certified mediums with the national Spiritualist Association of Churches (nsac.org), there seems to be no way that we can convince such seers that they likely colored the message from spirit to agree with their worldview.

It needs to be noted that a pet theory is something of a gift in the sense that it cannot exist unless the theorist has been able to see beyond the dogma of our community. However, a theory cannot move us forward unless people are willing to challenge it by asking why. It also cannot move us forward if the theorist is unable to explain it, or unwilling to engage in extended, candid discussions about its merit.

The usual reaction when we question these theories is anger. Again, this is a form of being protective of one’s phenomena. We have also noted a degree of arrogance in the theorist, as if our degree or experience does not warrant consideration of our input. A theorist telling a witness his theory is right, thus ending the conversation, is perhaps the most common way learned discourse is defeated in our community. The antidote is for the conversation to continue with a well-considered “Yah, but.”

I am potentially guilty of this “My theory is better than yours” syndrome, as well. Knowing the potential of this problem, I spend a great deal of my time examining my models and trying to normalize other models so as to compare apples with apples. I know that the community norms we must develop to move forward depend on our ability to candidly discuss these theories.

  1. Promotion of a Pet Theory for Profit.

Probably most people have developed a theory to explain some or all of these phenomena because they are inspired to do so. While many are only motivated to prove they are right, the most aggressive are those who have written a book, and now benefit by the book being right.

Again, I need to acknowledge that I am probably guilty of promoting a pet theory, I have written a book and most of ethericstudies.org is dedicated to explaining how the theory works. In my defense, I make it possible for people to contact me and spend a great deal of time trying to engage people in discussions of alternative views. My theory may not be right, but I cannot know without collaboration with sufficiently informed people willing to explain the problems.

  1. The Silver Bullet Syndrome.

Transform EVP are the original form of transcommunication and remains the form best understood by way of practice and research. They appear to form under the influence of intended order on a chaotic process such as audio noise. The problem is that transform EVP can be difficult means of making contact. Not everyone is successful and only a relative few collect clearly understandable examples.

On the other hand, opportunistic forms of EVP are supposedly found in the output audio stream of radio-sweep, EVPmaker and most environmental sensing technologies. The sound stream consists of bits of speech, some of which are supposed to be arranged to produce the phenomenal message. The bits of sound are in every output. All that remains is for the practitioner to figure out how to make some of the noise seem like a message.

In practice, we see that the majority of people trying EVP are willing to force those bits of sound into expected meaning, whether or not it is actually present. The result is that opportunistic techniques have become so popular that they have pretty much pushed the old fashion and harder to use transform technique into obscurity. In fact, much of what is being reported as EVP today, probably is not.

After considerable study and honest attempts to see how opportunistic technique might produce EVP, we have finally officially set it aside as a technique that causes too many false positives to be of use. Our policy now is to explain to people that, for teaching or research, we no longer consider supposed EVP produced by opportunistic techniques, including ghost or spirit boxes and some of the new apps.

We routinely suggest that we would be happy to revisit this policy if someone presented us with meaningful research supporting opportunistic techniques. The people who should be conducting such research are those selling the equipment. (5) As it appears, the profit motive mentioned next in Item 5 appears to be the reason the vendors work so hard to convince people the equipment works.

Again, the tendency of people to be protective of their examples of phenomena appear to be the problem. People who openly discount examples of any form of phenomena are likely to receive an angry response, or be shunned as an ignoramus. From my perspective, the transform-opportunistic EVP divide has had a devastating effect on the forward progress of our community. At root is a widely shared belief in something that has little or no objective support.

  1. A Profit Motive.

Some people have developed a theory to explain some or all of these phenomena. While many are only motivated to prove they are right, it seems the most aggressive are those who have written a book, and now benefit by the book being right. We see this in a number of opinion setters in our community, as they have found an audience to agree with their views and now seek to profit with books and website advertising revenue.

The people promoting opportunistic EVP tend also to be making money by getting people to purchase the equipment. This is also a potential problem when people promote an event to pay the rent. We have attended a few excellent private venues, even hosted a few, but some bordered on deception. For instance, we have been kicked out of a séance facility in France because we were too negative, according to the sponsors. In fact, we were challenging the promoters for disingenuous representation of the phenomena. It would have been unethical had we not.

The profit motive usually consists of a person trying to sell a book. But many researchers depend on donors to fund their department, or at least a project. An interesting new development are academic seeking funding under false pretenses; perhaps ostensibly to study survival phenomena while intending to debunk it, or seeking funding to develop old, failed ideas as if they are newly invented.

People should be paid for their work. Lisa and I originally sold signed copies of the book we wrote for the Association, but finally stopped because of the personal cost and time. Without a little profit motive, service to the community has a limited lifespan for many of us. From my experience, a mental medium stands spiritually uncloaked before a client. I for one have found the experience beyond my willingness to serve. The years people spend developing ability … in this lifetime or others, warrants reasonable reimbursement, else they should not be expected to be available to serve.

A similar situation exists with EVP practitioners. Not everyone is able to successfully record for EVP and only a few we know of are able to contact specific people with any consistency. Like mental mediumship. there is always a risk that the practitioner must report no success. It also takes considerable time and effort to properly examine the recordings and compassionately deal with the sitter. Thinking someone should do these things for free is the same as thinking a therapist should work for free.

  1. Academic-Layperson Divide.

Parapsychologists typically hold a Ph.D. and operate under the cloak of that authority. Members of the other communities of interest typically do not have an advanced degree, or if they do, do not operate under its authority. The expected social order is that people with an advanced degree provides learned guidance to people who are not as well informed about their specialty.

We have observed, and personally experienced, a tendency of parapsychologists to avoid discussing theory with laypeople. Instead, much of the parapsychological literature consists of one-sided studies that too often discount reported phenomena with the assumption of delusion or ignorance.

Given the lack of informed discourse amongst the laypeople of our community, it is easy to understand how the academic-layperson divide came about. However, almost every effort we have made to bridge that divide has failed.

When a sub-community is closed to discourse amongst the other sub-communities … all trying to describe the same elephant … the greater community either fails, or finds a way to compensate for the missing input. That appears to be happening now, as the parapsychological community is become less relevant in the objective study of transcommunication.

Importance of Sharing Ideas

Two realizations began to emerge as I studied these phenomena and sought to explain the related concepts to others. The most important is that the phenomena are a symptom and not the end objective. This is important so let me say it a different way. EVP, for instance, is a tool with which we can study our spiritual nature and the nature of the greater reality, which is our true home. Yes, having an EVP example containing the voice a loved one is reassuring, but that should not obscure the fact that our dead loved one is not dead at all, only transitioned to a different aspect of reality. If we miss that point, then all else is just cultural pabulum.

If the implications of these phenomena are as we think, they are profound. They suggest that living a full life means seeking to understand the greater reality and living in accordance with its organizing principles. I describe this realization in terms of mindfulness and the mindful way. Explaining the implications of this realization has become the underlying them of all I do these day. You may have other ways of describing this way of knowing. The important point is that the underlying concepts amongst the different ways of visualizing this concept must be the same. It is the common underlying concepts for which we must find a consensus.

The second realization is that explaining the first realization is more difficult than I expected. My wife Lisa and I have developed many ways to bring these phenomena to the public. Of the 129 issues of the newsletter published by Association TransCommunication, Lisa and I published the last 54 between 2000 and 2014. We estimate each issue has been read by some 1000 people. The website routinely receives 700 to 900 unique visitors a day. The book we wrote, There is No Death and There are No Dead, has made the association more than $34,000, which means nearly 7,000 people have read the book. Over the years, I have personally answered thousands of questions from website visitors. Yet, there is little evidence in the paranormalist community that we have existed.

It is probably human nature to gather all of the information about a subject of interest and synthesize a personal point of view that does not normally highlight any one source. Assuming that is true, it is reasonable to think our contribution to the community has been considered and merged with all of the rest. The problem I see, however, is that much of the belief popularly held by members of our community appears to contradict what we have written. If we have had an effect, it is a very subtle one.

Again, this apparent difficulty in getting ideas out to the public is not unique to us, but it is a problem that must be resolved if we are to see understanding about these phenomena progress. So, the question is, how do the opinion setters amongst us help us develop stories about these phenomena that are both objectively meaningful and practically useful? I do not have an answer, but the following point to consider might help in our efforts to collaborate with others.

Spiritual Anatomy

To understand ourselves and others, we must first understand our spiritual anatomy. (6) By spiritual anatomy, I mean who we are as immortal beings and the functional areas involved in developing unconscious and conscious perception. Considering the more objective theories of today, we can see that it is probable we experience the world as we were taught, rather than experiencing its actual nature.

This section provides a brief overview of the factors which appear to determine how we form our opinion. All of it is discussed in more detail in Your Immortal Self: Exploring the mindful way(7) (Or, see ethericstudies.or/concepts/.) If you have read other essays by me, you will know that some of this material is often repeated; however, I tend to tailor explanations for the subject, so please take the time to read it again.

Objective Thinking

For the sake of discussion, it is necessary to make a distinction between that which seems to be less in alignment with actual reality and that which appears to be more in alignment. The American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (AA-EVP) was founded in 1982 by Sarah Estep to “Provide objective evidence that we survive death in an individual conscious state.” When we assumed leadership of the AA-EVP in 2000, we were determined to maintain a focus on the objective aspect of Sarah’s goal. The Association is now the ATransC, and a review of the atransc.org website will show that we have tried to remain objective to this day.

At the bottom of each page of atransc.org is a link to the Our Pledge to You page, on which we say: “We pledge to do all we can to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information about all things etheric. While we do not know what will be seen as true in the future, we will attempt to identify what on this website is supported by empirical evidence, what is speculation and what is common knowledge.” The pledge is important because we have found that an objective point of view is essential to ethical disclosure of information about the nature of reality, otherwise, our audience has reason to think our work is based on belief.

As it is used here, Objective is intended as understanding based on empirical evidence supported by sound theory and undistorted by emotion or personal bias. Considering our goal, our pledge and the need to support those in need of assurance, it is important that we strive to provide only the most ethical and reasonable explanations about these phenomena.

Of course, I have been way off in the past about some concepts. For instance, we were very supportive of some audio and visual ITC techniques in the past, but which I would hesitate to support today. Naturally, our understanding is also evolving. That is why I have learned to provide references and links to additional information in my writing. This is not to say the additional information is correct. It is to say that the more you know about the subject, the better prepared you are to decide for yourself. It is for you to do the work of exploring the references and links.

Rational Personal Responsibility

When I say that the present is decided by the past, I am referring to the concept that our worldview is the filter for our perception. Our worldview is a mostly unconscious database populated with memory, cultural training and spiritual instincts inherited from our personality and the collective of personalities with whom we share a common source. Since we share worldview with our human, our human’s instincts are also involved. If we do not stop and think about our actions, worldview pretty much determines how we perceive our world.

Rupert Sheldrake referred to this as Nature’s Habit(8) This is another way of saying that we do what we have always done unless we make a conscious effort to change. Making that effort is the essence of mindfulness, and what I think of as rational personal responsibility. Not making the effort is a definition of the average person. For instance, I argue in my Irrational Nature of Gun Ownership Musing that owning a gun is more a surrender to our human survival instincts than it is the expression of a rational mind. (9)

The idea of rational personal responsibility is nicely summarized under the first Ethical Expression Column in the Possible Mindfulness Personal Code of Ethics Table: Just because you can, does not mean you should(10) Communities are developed by people cooperating to support a common set of ideals. Cooperative communities are torn apart by people disregarding such ideals in favor of personal wants.

Personal Responsibility as a Process

The Conditional Freewill Essay includes a discussion about the implication of mostly unconscious processing of perception on our ability to personally account for our actions. (11) Our ability to assure that what we say and do what we intend is limited by our lucidity. Here, lucidity is used to mean the extent to which we are able to sense the actual nature of environmental information and before it is colored by worldview. Greater lucidity means greater ability to be responsible for our actions; personal responsibility or self-determination. This is in contrast to hyperlucidity, which is a useful term for the problem of thinking we are sensing clearly, while in fact, we are only seeing a story created by our worldview.Code_of_Ethics

The most important points for you to consider when evaluating your next actions is that the environmental information you just received into your mind, possibly a physical/biological-to-psi signal from your body’s five senses or a psi signal from a friend in spirit, will have been changed from its original form before entering into your conscious awareness.

The determining factors for what you finally sense is what is in your worldview and the intention you previously expressed to your mostly unconscious mind. Your worldview is shared by your human body and your spiritual self. That means what you were taught in school, what you learned from that horror movie last night and what your body thinks it is supposed to do to maintain its place in the pecking order or to assure continuity of its kind, are all factors in forming the information that came to your conscious mind each moment of your lifeLucidity

The one conscious influence you have on your mind’s coloring of information is the expression of intention to experience things as they actually are. The day you realize the need for this conscious influence on your mind is the day you step onto the mindful way. It is how you take control of your self-determination. Expression of intention is a lifestyle behavior, so if you are just beginning, give your mental processes a while to respond.Hyperlucidity

Understanding is Relative

Portions of the following text is partially extracted from Your Immortal Self. (7)

One of the organizing concepts for Personality is the Principle of Understanding: Perception of reality as it is and not as it is believed to be, with emphasis on underlying principles.

Experience becomes understanding as a person aligns personal reality with local reality. A fundamental concept in the Implicit Cosmology is that personality exists to experience, gain understanding from that experience and return that understanding to the Collective. Understanding is seen as being a quality of personality, and is therefore the quality determining perceptual agreement. Understanding is a measure of progression.

Note that local reality is a special instance of actual reality. Actual reality is as it is perceived by Source. Local reality is the expression of actual reality as it is understood by those personalities said to be collectively imagining physical reality to create a venue for learning. Based on the Principle of Perceptual Agreement, perception of personal reality converges on local reality as it visualized those who maintain this venue. Thus, it can be said that “Experience becomes understanding as a person aligns personal reality with local reality.”

(Principle of Perceptual Agreement: Personality must be in perceptual agreement with the aspect of reality with which it will associate.)

The Nature of Understanding

A distinction is made in the Implicit Cosmology between information, knowledge and understanding:

Information

Information can be compared to raw data. In the context of mind, it is sensory input from the environment brought by the physical senses and countless psi signals. As it is received, information is undifferentiated and is only sensible when organized into some context. Think of the bits and pieces of information coming to us every moment as data points which must eventually be integrate into a sensible image. Much of what people think they know is just information.

Knowledge

When information is considered and the related concepts are understood, the resulting comprehension is considered knowledge. To be knowledgeable about something is to comprehend related concepts so that they can be reasonably well visualized. This is the key to the nature of knowledge. It must be comprehensible enough to be visualized as a concept. Here, visualize is used in the general sense of being imaged in some way in the mind. That might be sufficient recognition of an odor to name its source or formulation of many seemingly unrelated concepts into a form that can be described to others.

For instance, consider the old story of blind men examining an elephant: if each man represents a concept (leg, tail and such) then knowledge would be the ability of the men as a group to be able to describe an elephant. Knowledge is a combination of information, understanding concepts and comprehension of a global sense of meaning.limits-of-understanding

Understanding

In the Implicit Cosmology, perception is modeled as the outcome of a process that begins with encountering information that is external to the mind. We, as etheric mind and physical body, are immersed in an array of environmental signals. All come to us as a psi signal, some from the body’s physical senses, the rest from other personalities in the etheric. All of these signals are processed in our Attention Complex where they are filtered according to our interested. Only some reach our conscious awareness, always as they have been translated by worldview. (12) (See the Attention Complex in the Lucidity Diagram, above)

The degree to which understanding agrees with reality (intended order) is also a function of our worldview. For instance, if we have been taught to be prejudiced about something, and we retain that prejudice, we will have that prejudice reinforced by the tone of the information coming to our conscious awareness. Unless we have become aware of the need to examine that perception, we will likely take what emerges from the unconscious perception process without question. Here, the exercises of mindfulness as a conscious effort to see things as they are intended become important in helping us see the world as it is, rather than as we are taught to think it is.

Understanding is not an absolute. As is shown in the Limits of Understanding Diagram, correct perception (understanding) is typically limited upon first exposure to a concept. As a mindful person seeks to better understand the concept, understanding approaches perception that agrees with reality. This is an obvious effect when, say, a new principle in science is introduced, but it is less obvious when the process of overcoming prejudices learned in youth, and fears foisted upon the avatar relationship by human instincts, are considered.

As we move through a lifetime from youth to old age, things held to be true populate our worldview and tend to reinforce future perception. A conscious effort is usually required to break this cycle. Perhaps even more distressing, we carry these truths into transition from this lifetime. The result can be a complex, reportedly emotionally painful period of getting well while worldview is better aligned with reality.

Cooperative Community

The Cooperative Community Organizing Principle is defined in the Implicit Cosmology as: An effort to express understanding is necessary for progression. A person is attracted to communities of like-minded people cooperating to facilitate progression. (13)

Communities of like-minded people help to satisfy our human’s social need. They can be considered cooperative communities if they enable members to express ideas and receive meaningful feedback. The act of ordering thoughts before speaking helps us better understand our point. Learning how others respond helps establish a sense of reasonableness. Without purposeful consideration of what we think about something, it is difficult for us to transform information into understanding. It appears to be understanding that we take with us beyond this lifetime.

A saying I like based on the Cooperative Community Organizing Principle is:

The Way of Progression
Through community comes knowledge
Through teaching comes understanding
It takes a collective

In a cooperative community, it is the responsibility of the individual to take the initiative to either comment or respond based on point of view. Being correct is not the idea. It is the preparation to express an idea that is so powerful. In this way, the speaker is both student and teacher. As an old adage goes, our lot is to learn, and having learned, our lot is to teach. Each member of a cooperative community fills both the role of seeker and that of teacher, simply by interacting with other members of the community.

An important point of this is that the listener does not need to be convinced by the speaker. Much of my current understanding has come from attempts to explain the reasonableness of paranormalist thought to other Wikipedia editors; a challenge at which I completely failed. The real value comes from composing our thoughts into sensible expressions of what we think is true, and the candid response from our listener. This process fails when the listener does not provide a candid response. Wikipedia editors are very candid.

Making a Cooperative Community Work

A person becomes a member of a community by having the same or similar interests as held by other members of the community. A cooperative community, which is typically a subset of such a community, develops when members of the greater community begin to share ideas and give considered feedback to other member’s ideas.

On a global scale, paranormalists are in the same community, but not all paranormalists are open to the exchange of ideas. The test is if people make meaningful comments about things related to the subject at hand and if others respond in a considered fashion. Communication does not begin if people limit themselves to silence or flippant remarks.

Words have consequences. An offhand, poorly considered remark brings little value in promoting understanding amongst other members. Perhaps more important is that the harm ill-considered comments do to both the exchange of ideas and the speaker’s worldview is substantial. For the speaker, it reinforces the intention, expressed to the unconscious mental processes, to accept cultural contamination without review.

Assuming that the person you are talking with does intend to be like-minded, there are points to consider when sharing ideas that might improve chances of reaching agreement. A few points to consider are suggested below. Just use them as guides, as every situation is unique.

As it turns out, social media does not support very effective cooperative communities. Yes, anyone can voice their opinion, but it is more of a talking at one another kind of exchange. From my experience, most people who comment, do so in not very well considered statements that invite little conversation. A good deal of the time, I cannot figure out their point, the comments are so brief.

Interestingly, it can be argued that social media works as a mechanism for suppressing considered discussion. Is this creating a generation of people who are no longer able to form a meaningful consensus?

Discussion boards have their shortcoming, but an important feature is easy participation in a thoughtful discussion. A second feature is that the discussion remains for a time so that others can learn. This is why the ATransC Idea Exchange has been maintained. (atransc.org/forum/) Please feel free to take advantage of its capability.

Tell Me Three Times

A quote I remember from many years ago, I think from a Native American Shaman, addresses our difficulty in comprehending information. I remember it as: “Tell me three times; once for my head, once for my heart and once for my spirit.” The telling is not simple repetition. Here, telling the head is an analytical explanation. Telling the heart is explaining why it matters to the person. Telling the spirit is an appeal to the underlying moral and ethical meaning of existence.

Trice-telling can be paraphrased here as recognition that a conversation with a person is really a conversation with his or her mostly unconscious mind. As a functional area for thought, the mind has considerable resistance to change. It must be changed in small increments, and depending on how the person learns, the conversation must be addressed to the person’s learning style if it is to get past the Attention Limiter. (See the Attention Limiter functional area in the Lucidity Diagram, above.)

Learning Styles

Just as people are born left or right-handed, people are born with basic personality traits that tend to influence their behavior. Personality styles are cataloged and studied in psychology as a means of understanding human behavior. (14) They have also been adapted to teach salespeople how to relate to customers. In 1981, David Merrill and Roger Reid published a book reporting their study of corporate personnel interactions which became something of an industry standard. (15) They noted four main personality styles:

Analytical: thinking, thorough, disciplined.
Amiable: supportive, patient, diplomatic.
Driver: independent, decisive, determined.
Expressive: good communicator, enthusiastic, imaginative.

Each basic style is typically further divided so that a person might be seen as a Driver-Analytical or a Driver-Expressive. The point of these styles is that people likely begin dealing with a situation from the perspective of one of these styles.

Temperament

You may remember that a basic question in psychology is whether temperament is inherited from a family member (nature) or learned while a child (nurture). Considering Sheldrake’s Hypothesis of Formative Causation, (8) temperament can be at least partially modeled as Nature’s Habit established by preceding generations (nature). A refinement of Sheldrake’s hypothesis offered in the Trans-Survival Hypothesis (16) is that the entangled personality contributes the urge to gain understanding to a person’s temperament, while the human instincts contribute the urge to assure survival of the species.

Formative Causation and the Trans-Survival Hypothesis leans the nature-nurture question toward nature, but cultural contamination has a more contemporary influence on temperament that cannot be ignored. What we are taught introduces a strong, often repeated influence on our temperament, but that is biased by the nature side of the equation. We translate cultural influences (nurture) according to our nature.

With that in mind, it makes sense to define temperament as a predisposition to understand experiences. And, a person’s temperament is based on previous understanding inherited from Source, personality and the personality’s and human’s collectives, as it is modified by intended understanding. If a life field is not entangled with a personality, its temperament is likely inherited from its collective.

A person’s point of view is how a person expresses worldview as it is biased by temperament. For instance, a person with a strong Driver temperament might hear “Be responsible for your family” from cultural upbringing as a command to keep family members away from worldly influences at all cost. A community may teach its citizens to be deeply afraid of demons, but if the temperament of a member of that society is to question authority, it may be natural for that person to turn that fearfulness into a curiosity as to why demons are fearful. Upon discovering there is nothing to fear, the person’s temperament might help to modify worldview’s influence, permitting the person to be more accepting of the unknown.

Villager-Explorer Effect

This is more commonly known as the Sheep-Goat Effect, but I do not much like being called a sheep. In 1942, Professor Gertrude Schmeidler identified a correlation between people scoring high on a belief in the paranormal survey with their psi functioning scores. Conversely, a poor belief score correlated with a lower than chance psi function score. She referred to this as the Sheep-Goat Effect with believers as the sheep. (17) As noted, for my self-esteem, I am referring to the believers as explorers because of their willingness to explore new ideas. Conversely, I am referring to disbelievers as villagers because of the more conservative attitude of people who follow cultural norms and depend on maintaining the status quo.

This concept implies that people who allow for the possibility of new ideas are more likely to consciously experience new ideas. The inverse of this can be seen in the concept of incredulity blindness, a useful term to describe how some people are inexplicably unable to see or hear examples of paranormal phenomena. The Perceptual Agreement Discourse (18) addresses this concept in detail.

Suspended Judgement

If you are following this progression for how we relate to our world, you will notice that there are many factors conspiring to influence the way we experience life, most of which are beyond our direct control. As a general statement, instincts must be recognized, acknowledged and managed; once learned, beliefs are difficult to change but incremental change is possible.

The only real influence we have on our temperament is the conscious expression of intention to be different. An old Zen Buddhist saying is, “Before enlightenment chop wood–carry water, after enlightenment chop wood–carry water” This might be paraphrased as “Question for understanding, after understanding, question again.”

The most powerful technique I know for remembering to question is to habitually practice suspended judgment. Even if a person is skeptical, suspended judgment as an openness to the possibility that the unknown offers far more opportunities to experience phenomena. The Attention Complex which supports perception is designed to make an agree or disagree decision about what is real and what is not. Once a decision is made, it becomes part of worldview, and is, therefore, difficult to change.

The perceptual processes in our mostly unconscious mind are also designed to characterize what is real in terms familiar to the person. In this same model, intention expressed by the conscious self is the means by which the perceptual process can be evolved. As such, following the Villager-Explorer Effect, the intention to withhold judgment about experiences enables more experiences. The Perception and Expression Discourse (19) addresses this concept in detail.

My engineering training has taught me to beware of absolutes. In engineering, there are always tolerances of accuracy which must be acknowledged and possible unknowns that must be prepared for. Even in things metaphysics, I might weave a good explanation, but it is always with the awareness that this is what I understand today. Saying I know for sure potentially closes the door to further understanding.

An example that comes up way too often is the way people decide someone is a fraud. Even though they threaten the wellbeing of that person by accusing fraud, they pronounce as if they are the holder of everything that is to be known about the subject. In fact, none of us know enough to be anything more than to seek better controls.

Take the situations in which a physical medium has been caught moving about the dark room of a séance. I have witnessed convincing demonstrations of matter-through-matter on many occasions by different mediums. I understand how deep a demonstrating physical medium’s trance can be. There is nothing in what we know today that says medium’s controlling personality cannot release them from their bonds, move them about like a trance puppet and then return them to their bonds; all without the medium’s awareness. Unless those possibilities have been accounted for, no one has the intellectual or moral authority to make accusations of fraud; only observations that things were not as expected, so what can we learn from it?

Justified

Over the years I have studied metaphysics, I have found no evidence of evil or demons. For sure, I have encountered people behaving badly, but in every case I have had the opportunity to examine, the person has in some way, felt justified in his or her actions.

This is an important perspective to have when considering why people behave as they do. There is little sense in simply concluding they are wrong. The need is first for us to examine the sensibility of our point of view, and then seek to understand the other person’s motivation.

To be sure, this is not a turn the other cheek philosophy. I am not speaking of how to act with someone who poses potential harm. Even though a person may feel justified in threatening actions, it is still necessary for us to react defensively.

My focus is on the frequently expressed fear of evil we encounter amongst paranormalists. Above all else, remember that it is not what happens to us, but how we react to what happens to us. If we can understand why a person behaves or thinks as they do, we are well underway to understand how to deal with the situation.

The Conditional Freewill Essay (11) is an attempt to identify the characteristics of free will, what of it is real and what is predetermined. The essay also includes a reasonably well-detailed examination of how we think, which should help you integrate what is in this essay.

Belief is a Matter of Faith

Here is something of a case study. A person contacted me, wanting someone to examine a message she found in her cell phone voice mail. The girl told me she thought it might be from her transitioned boyfriend. She explained that she had called the telephone number shown for the recording, but the person there knew nothing of the call. (By implication, the call was, therefore, paranormal.) Because my responses so often anger requesters, it is my practice these days not to examine evidence; however, she was insistent and I agreed.

Here is where I usually get in trouble. If the person wants to believe something is said in the recording, then I know enough not to get involved. But, I assume people ask us to examine their example because they truly want to know what is said. The motto for the ATransC website includes the phrase “…objective evidence that we survive .…” That means we attempt to base our examination of examples on objective evidence, rather than belief. This includes resisting the Phantom Voices Syndrome. (20)

The short audio consisted of a young male’s voice which was interrupted so that one heard fragments of voice (about 10%) separated by longer periods of quiet (about 90%). I could make out a low-volume swishing sound in most of the quiet segments. Even with ten or so tries, I was unable to make out what was being said. I reported as much to the girl. True to form, she was very indignant and scolded me, saying “I thought you were a believer.”

If you listen closely to a radio-sweep sound file, you will sometimes notice a repeated, low volume swishing sound in the quieter segments. That is the sound of the sweep locking on to one station after another in quick succession. In areas in which there are few radio stations, the sweep will have many quiet segments with the occasional fragment of voice or music. The sweep is typically a few seconds long, so a person speaking on one station with no voice or music on the others, will produce exactly what I heard in the girl’s example.

In a subsequent email, I suggested that the girl might have been spoofed. (I think she is in a ghost hunting club.) I was trying to warn her to use extra discernment. Instead, she said that others heard her name and that the voice had made a cryptic statement which she could not understand. (That, by the way, should have been her first hint that the file should be discarded.)

Feeling reasonably sure the recording was not paranormal, I did a little research about how a telephone number can be spoofed. As it turns out, there are apps one can use that do just that. It is apparently easy and free to put a message in someone’s voice mailbox which appears to have come from a different telephone number.

Objective or Belief

The possibly spoofed call illustrates an important problem for cooperative communities. There need not be agreement in any one exchange, but there does need to be rational feedback. Remember I said that we are converging on the same understanding? The intention to gain objective understanding is the key characteristic of a paranormalist seeker. As one myself, for me, a like-minded person is one who is also a paranormalist seeker.

If a person prefers more of a belief or faith-based point of view, a like-minded person might be one who prefers the titillation of being spooked by the unknown. For instance, the ATransC is not a place to find belief-oriented people. I say this because we have suspected one of the reasons for diminishing membership in the ATransC has been our determination to remain objective. It is apparently a lot more fun if people can just enjoy spooky examples, rather than trying to uncover whether or not they are just an artifact of the technology.

When you consider with whom you might share your interest in things paranormal, and assuming you wish to seek objective understanding rather than belief, make sure who you chose is interested in the same approach.

The ATransC is no longer a membership organization. Participation is via correspondence, the website, participation in research/studies, signing up for the Occasional Update Email and discussions in the Idea Exchange.

Summary

This essay evolved from my growing frustration about how easily people turn away from objective perspective toward a belief-based view of their world. At the same time, some people seem to avoid situations that might help them better understand their world. In a real sense, no matter what, some people are simply not able to or do not wish to, be convinced about ideas that contradict their beliefs.

The fact is that we know enough these days to follow an objective way of progression. The book I recently published, Your Immortal Self, includes a model designed to help people understand the nature of transcommunication. I am a reporter and do not claim to be the inventor of the model, but since I have found that it applies to so many different forms of phenomena, it seems reasonable for me to think that it has lasting merit. Even though it has not been reasonably vetted by others, I feel comfortable sharing guidance about these phenomena which is based on the model and personal experience.

It is arguable that the paranormalist community is in contraction. (21) Rather than well-informed seekers, we see mostly debunkers or people who prefer explanations based on quantum mysticism of religious doctrine. In a very real sense, sincere paranormalist seekers are a very small minority. As a minority, our ability to study these phenomena is not assured. (22) Keep in mind that skeptics have defined pseudoscience as a danger to society, and have gained wide acceptance in the idea that these phenomena are pseudoscience. Some parts of the US Federal Government agree. (23)

We are all born with the urge to gain spiritual understanding. I suggest that the more we respond to that urge, the happier we can be. In the long view of our immortality resistance is self-destructive. In the end, it is an individual responsibility, but if you want to just believe, do the rest of us a favor by telling us up front so that we can stay out of your way.

References

  1. Butler, Tom. “Mindfulness.” Etheric Studies. 2014. ethericstudies.org/mindfulness/.
  2. Butler, Tom. “Prime Imperative.” Etheric Studies. 2017. ethericstudies.org/prime-imperative/.
  3. APStaff. “What is Anomalistic Psychology?” Goldsmiths, University of London. 2015. gold.ac.uk/apru/what/.
  4. Simmonds-Moore, Christine. “What is Exceptional Psychology?” Journal of Parapsychology, 76 supplement, Pages 54-57, 2012.
  5. Butler, Tom. “EVPmaker with Allophones: Where are We Now?” Association TransCommunication. 2011. atransc.org/evpmaker-study-where-are-we-now/.
  6. Butler, Tom. “Personality-Centric Perspective.” Etheric Studies. 2014. ethericstudies.org/personality-centric-perspective/.
  7. Butler, Tom. Your Immortal Self, Exploring the Mindful Way. AA-EVP Publishing, 2016. ISBN 978-0-9727493-8-1.
  8. Sheldrake, Rupert PhD. “Morphic Resonance and Morphic Fields.” Rupert Sheldrake. [Online] http://sheldrake.org/research/morphic-resonance/introduction?
  9. Butler, Tom. “Irrational Nature of Gun Ownership.” Etheric Studies. 2017. ethericstudies.org/irrational-nature-of-gun-ownership/.
  10. Butler, Tom. “Ethics as a Personal Code for Mindfulness.” Etheric Studies. 2016. ethericstudies.org/code-of-ethics/.
  11. Butler, Tom. “Conditional Freewill.” Etheric Studies. ethericstudies.org/conditional-freewill/.
  12. Butler, Tom. “How We Think.” Etheric Studies. 2014. ethericstudies.org/how-we-think/.
  13. Butler, Tom. “Organizing Principles.” Etheric Studies. 2015. ethericstudies.org/organizing-principles/
  14. Myers, Steve. “Myers Briggs Personality Types.” Team Technology. teamtechnology.co.uk/tt/t-articl/mb-simpl.htm.
  15. Merrill, David W. and Reid, Roger H. Personal Styles and Effective Performance. Chilton Book Company, 1981.
  16. Butler, Tom. “Trans-survival Hypothesis.” Etheric Studies. 2015. ethericstudies.org/trans-survival-hypothesis/.
  17. Storm, Lance. “The Sheep – Goat Effect.” Psi Encyclopedia (SPR). 2016. psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/sheep-goat-effect.
  18. Butler, Tom. “Perceptual Agreement.” Etheric Studies. 2015. ethericstudies.org/perceptual-agreement/.
  19. Butler, Tom. “Perception. Etheric Studies. 2015. ethericstudies.org/perception/
  20. Butler, Tom. “EVP Online Phantom Voices.” Association TransCommunication. 2012. atransc.org/phantom-voices/.
  21. Stemman, Roy. “Skepticism: The New Religion.” Spiritualist Society of Reno. 2010. spiritualistsocietyofreno.org/skepticism-new-religion/.
  22. Biography of Wilhelm Reich. The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust. [Online] 2011. http://www.wilhelmreichtrust.org/biography.html.
  23. “Science and Engineering Indicator 2006, Chapter 7: Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding.” National Science Foundation. 2006. wayback.archive-it.org/5902/20150818094952/http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind06/c7/c7s2.htm.
  24. Butler, Tom. “Implicit Cosmology.” Etheric Studies. 2015. ethericstudies.org/organizing-principles/.