Sunday, June 29, 2014

Is Evil Real?

I've recently become involved in an online discussion with another paranormal enthusiast regarding the existence of evil and it's ramifications, and the talk has caused me to think (or rethink) much of my ideals regarding genuine evil. I'd developed several thoughts regarding evil when I briefly studied philosophy in college about three or four years back and here are my essential thoughts on the topic. Keep in mind that these are only opinions as I am not a professional psychologist or philosopher.

Premises of Evil

From my observations regarding evil it has a handful of solid characteristics. For the purposes of these points I will use Dennis Rader, commonly known as the BTK (Bind/Torture/Kill) killer as my text-book example of evil.

  1. Evil requires a certain level of awareness, intent, and intelligence, and is not dependent on instinct. For instance, a cheetah who chases down and kills a gazelle is not evil. The animal is doing what millions of years of evolution have trained it to do for the purposes of survival and existence. Rader, however stalked and killed his victims not out of instinct but out of intention and design. He intelligently chose his victims and committed his acts in a fashion as to allude observation or capture.
  2. Evil is driven by self gratification, not by the survival instinct. Rader at no point 'had' to kill his victims, as an act of self defense, for example. His actions were driven by self pleasure, only. This gratification can come in several forms; financial gain (murder of  a spouse for insurance, as an example), sexual pleasure (Rader), psychological reward, and many others.
  3. Evil comes from within, not without. The Devil, Lucifer, Satan, Djinn, evil spirits, evil aliens...all of these are examples of outside forces people use to externalize violent acts of crime they've committed which we would term evil, blaming these entities for somehow forcing or coercing the act by the 'innocent' perpetrator. However, in truth evil stems from within the perpetrator themselves, committed for the sake of their own gratification.
  4. Evil people, or those who have committed an evil act, seek to deny, diffuse, or even refuse, blame.  M. Scott Peck hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that evil "[i]s consistently self-deceiving, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self-image of perfection" (taken from the Wikipedia page on Peck). Going along with my point number 3. evil people don't want to see themselves as being evil, and externalize that blame in any way they can to either avoid punishment, continue to perform their evil acts for self gratification, or reconcile any form of guilt or shame they may feel for committing the acts.
  5. Evil typically goes hand-in-hand with psychological disorders. In fact I would say you can't have evil without a psychological disorder, however you can certainly have a psychological disorder without  evil. Antisocial disorder, or any emotional or mental disorder which causes loss of empathy or narcissism (a term avoided by professional psychologists these days), can be the foundation or grounds for people to commit evil acts, and I believe anyone would be hard-pressed to argue someone committing evil without having some sort of disorder. However, I am not pointing that fact out as a way to apologize for, or justify someone committing an act of evil. Those perpetrators are still in the presence of mind during the act to justify punishment.
  6. Evil can be overcome by it's perpetrator. Rader was not forced to commit his acts, and although it can be said he was compelled to do so, ultimately he had the choice not to commit them, However that choice would have required him to admit to his acts and come to terms with his compulsions, not something easily done without professional psychological help.
  7. Evil conceals itself. As evident with points 1. and 4., perpetrators of evil acts hide either their actions or their identities for the purposes of avoiding punishment, staving off guilt, or seeking further opportunities to commit evil acts. Rader lived a rather modest and normal alter-ego life, but it was a life that allowed him to research and discover his next victim of his evil intentions. Yes, often times perpetrators of evil will flaunt their actions to the general public, press, or law enforcement, but especially in those times they take pains to keep their true identities concealed.
  8. Evil is persistent and consistent within the perpetrator, and typically is unrelated to emotional outbursts. Bouts of anger or rage do not constitute acts evil. If a housewife kills her husband after finding him in bed with another woman, this does not constitute an evil act.
With those points in mind I've come to the conclusion that evil is something that is real, but it is 100% founded within intelligent perception. I'm tempted to say "human intelligent perception" here, but for the purposes of the paranormal we have to expand the boundaries of that definition. If paranormal entities, whether they be alien, ultra-universal, or spiritual, are intelligent, they can commit acts of evil. On that point, and emphasizing my belief as stated in point number 3. I don't believe in demonic possession in the least. I could go on further regarding my ideals on why demonic possession is a farce, but I would need another few blog posts, specifically about the cultural perspective of demons and the Devil. I'll save all that for another day. :)



Friday, June 27, 2014

Where Have All the Credible UFO Sightings Gone?

How-D paranormal peeps! It's been ages since I've been able to visit my paranormal blog and a brief reprise from work has allowed me to bounce out here and look to catch up a little bit. While catching up on some of the other paranormal forums I typically cruise I came across the discussion as to why we're not seeing as many solid, credible UFO cases and sightings, these days. I thought I'd chime in with a few observations on the matter.

Since the late 1940's, into the 1950's and 1960's, reports of UFO's were fast and furious. Thousands of reports were made every week or month from all across the country.  Skeptics and debunkers state that America was in a state of "flying saucer hysteria", and that everybody wanted to see a UFO. As a result the predisposition of witnesses to see flying saucers and aliens from outer space allowed them to see just that while staring up at the skies, mistaking conventional aircraft or common atmospheric phenomenon for alien space craft. Now that could be true, but I'll avoid the discussion of cause and effect for now (Did people see more UFOs because there were more UFOs, or did the UFOs make more appearances back then because there were more people giving attention to them?), and let's focus on the cultural shift  between that time frame and today's age.

The Atomic Age - Fighting the Red Invasion!

Watching the Skies

In the 40's and throughout the 50's and 60's America was in a state of paranoia and war-alert, driven by the arms race with the Soviet Union and inspired by the events of the Korean War, later the Vietnam War. Although confidence and patriotism towards the U.S. government was at an all-time high, there was an underlying current of fear from invasion by Communist forces back in that day. Top that off with the fact that radar technology was in it's infant stages and there was no such thing as satellite observation of our skies and what you have is a condition were manual observation of America's atmospheric territory had to be conducted. Specifically you had trained volunteers sky watching for suspicious activity by potential Soviet planes. Often times members of the general public would watch the skies for any sign of the Red Invasion, and if anything out of the ordinary was seen it was there duty as American citizens to report it.

Just the Facts, Ma'am

And where would they report such sightings? The knee-jerk reaction to report something suspicious back then boiled down to one of three general institutions; law enforcement, military, or the press. Very often UFO reports streamed into the local sheriff or news paper office, but if there was a military office nearby they may get the occasional, panicked phone call as well.

Can You Tell Me What You Saw?

UFO investigators through out the 50's and 60's operated entirely differently, too. They scoured the newspapers, listened for word-of-mouth stories, or even monitored their local law enforcement reports for UFO sightings. Then, those investigators would do something completely unheard of today; they would travel to the witnesses home or business, knock on the door, and actually talk to the witness face-to-face about the sighting. Now as unheard of as that is today, that was the best way (and still is) of getting a clear perspective on not only what the witness experienced, but the witnesses reaction and credibility to the event. Often times the investigator would ask the witness to revisit the scene of the event and explain what was experienced. Then said-investigator would interview law enforcement, military officials...anybody else who could shed some light on what the witness observed, and when the UFO investigator had enough material and sightings, typically they would sell the story to a paranormal magazine or write a book.

The Modern Era

Fast forward to today; first, very few members of the general public are observing our skies. Technology has taken over the invasion-resistant sky watcher, and people are far too distracted by their smartphones and tablets to look upward.  Even when people do experience something unusual in our skies they're very resistant and reluctant to report it to any official institution for fear of ridicule or from the (well founded) belief that 'nothing will come of it anyway.' In general the public no longer cares what's in our skies. Law enforcement might make a report, the press may publish something in a swarmy, sarcastic fashion, and the military will flat-out ignore the more common UFO sightings reported to them while writing off the witness as a nut job. In short, even if someone has a compelling sighting, no one from an official standpoint will care, and worse, the witness risks ridicule and mockery. It's because of those potential ramifications that even the most solid UFO encounters, these days, are not reported through official channels and are, typically, just told to family or close friends of the witness, instead.

And the UFO researcher? Well UFO 'research' has now been confined to the Internet. Full-out investigations are conducted via YouTube videos, interviews granted via email, and conclusions are drawn based on electronic review and World Wide Web perceptions. I read a book just the other day regarding a haunted road here within the United States and listened to an interview with the author on a popular paranormal podcast during which the author freely admitted that he had not actually visited 90% of the locations he wrote about. He had done nearly all of his research for the book online. 

Why? Well it's cheap and easy. How expensive is gas these days? A plane ticket? Why get up and walk out your front door to actually ask someone about a paranormal story or experience when you can email them from your computer, iPhone, or tablet? It's so much easier that way and you avoid the hundreds of dollars spent in travel.  But I think anybody can see what's lost; the personal experience. The face-to-face contact with the witness, seeing the actual location where something truly astounding may have occurred, and being able to measure and gauge the witness to see if they're telling the truth, embellishing, or even making it all up.

Witness faith and confidence in law enforcement, the military, and the local press is gone, scattered to the wind by ridicule and disbelief on the part of those organizations. The art of the interview, observation, and experience, even if it's second-hand, by the paranormal researcher is lost. In short, it may not be that people aren't seeing as many UFOs, these days, it may just be that when they do the tell no one. Couple that with the fact that so-called 'investigators' of these phenomenon do little more than fire off a few email messages to witnesses and you have a serious degradation of investigation and reporting being performed. The next Roswell, the next O'Hare , the next Bentwaters could occur and it's a sad fact that no one may genuinely care in this day and age.