Prof. Jami Blaauw-Hara
2013, March 7th Cognitive Dissonance and Paranormal Activity
When discussing dual beliefs, paranormal activities and beings are a great place to start. What is a more questionable topic then the afterlife? People have questioned it, pretty much since there have been people to question it. How much does one personally believe, though? Would you go as far as saying that you believe in ghosts? Or are you one to put reasons behind why something out of the ordinary had just happened? How far do your dual beliefs go?
What Is Cognitive Dissonance?
The dual beliefs I discuss, are called ‘cognitive dissonance’. Which is the idea that two beliefs can be held simultaneously, usually under the circumstances that one belief is uncomfortable to deal with to whoever is dealing with it. This idea is a theory of Leon Festinger’s (1951). The theory itself is a dual belief, as cognition (thought) and dissonance (feeling-often that of dread) are competitive ideas. Paranormal activities, of any kind, would set this theory into motion for most people.
My Personal Experience
Personally, I have had experience in the area of paranormal activities, so I know quite a bit about dual beliefs. Being a member of a paranormal club here on the NCMC campus, ones beliefs seem to come in pairs of how you feel and then later on if you can explain how you felt about an event and you can come up for the reasoning behind it. When I explore ‘haunted’ places and something unfamiliar to me occurs, I immediately try to come up with what it is-before saying that it’s a ghost or something. Other things we have yet to explain, and I do believe those to have been paranormal activity sightings. We’ve had our flashlights turned on and off, hair that has been lifted to a certain angle (looking as though it is being pulled), and even at one point I myself felt as though I was being strangled by a force that I could not sense other than force’s touch. On the other hand, the buildings we visit obviously have to be older and so we are able to label all the other noises to that alone. So the footsteps one person might hear out in the hallway and immediately it’s thought to be a ghost- no, you would be hearing the hallways creak due to the deteriorating floorboards. The shadows on the walls/floors have also been able to be explained, due to the fact that one of our locations has low-lighting and the other doesn’t have electricity at all, so the fire we light often plays tricks on our eyes.
Other Member's Experiences
Other members of the group I belong to have experienced similar occurrences. My boyfriend said that at one point he’d felt a little hand on the back of his leg, rubbing it as though it were someone (a child’s height) looking for his attention. Some people have said that they feel when a certain room doesn’t give off ‘the right feeling’ and then they immediately would like to leave. Unfortunately though, we have also noticed that those who tag along with us and are critical members of the team, don’t often have anything that happens to them.
Equipment We Use
As far as equipment goes, when we go on our hunts usually we have a backpack or two full of equipment for paranormal investigations. We use 3 different recorders, to try and pick up any vocalization made of the ghost’s part. We often carry 4 or 5 flashlights on us when we go to the Onaway location, because the house we go to doesn’t have any form of electricity. We use the dowsing rods, as we ask questions, and then we have the ghosts answer them through the rods. As skeptic as some people may be, that technique actually works. We carry 2-3 cameras, and take between 100- (and at one point) 900 photos every outing we go on. We continue to take pictures, even though we already have pictures of all of this, just because we go over every inch of every photo looking to see if we pick anything up. So when we do, the picture will go under group inspection as we all try to come up for reasoning beyond the straight up assumption that it is a ghost. Also when we go to Onaway, we will most often carry a second backpack full of warm gear such as gloves, hats, scarves, extra layers, etc. The house there has one source of heat and that is the fireplace on the main level of the house. So far, we have been able to have suspicious activity with all of our actual paranormal team equipment though.
In The End
Both events we can explain and events we cannot explain have occurred, but while I am a member of a club that deals with things that are paranormal, I don’t think I will immediately say that there is no such thing as a ghost. As I mentioned before with the afterlife, we’re not really sure what really goes on when one dies. Anything is possible; we could follow the religious beliefs and go straight on to awaiting for judgment and wait for God to send us to either heaven or hell. Then again you could also say, that while we wait we linger around either loved ones or places we loved (or spent our lifetime at). Nothing can definitely be said about whatever awaits the living when they pass. We could die tomorrow, and possibly end up being ghosts and haunting poor innocent people at a place we once enjoyed spending our time. So no, I do not immediately turn down the idea that ghosts or other paranormal beings exist.