Often people so much want something to be paranormal when
it isn’t they will convince themselves of the paranormal activity. As medical
doctors are more and more realizing, the body can do what the mind believes.
That is why a positive attitude can sometimes make all the difference in
treating serious illnesses.
However, applied to the paranormal, what if sometimes
people want so much to believe in a ghost or spirit activity they create it
themselves? Philosophers and scholars for centuries have argued that our
thoughts make up the world so why not make up the paranormal as well?
This was tested in the 1970’s by a group of
parapsychologist researchers based in Toronto, Canada. What has become known as
"The Philip Experiment" is now a classic study into the potential of thought and
it’s affect on paranormal activity.
Briefly, in 1972 Dr. A.R.G. Owen (a mathematician) lead an
group of eight people from the Toronto Society for Psychical Research. None of
these people were known to have any particular abilities in ESP, psychic,
channeling, or other physical or mental specialties. They proceeded to create a
person on paper, giving the person the name Philip Aylesford. The group created
Philip’s entire life story: He lived in 17th century England, was
married, had a love affair, and ultimately died by his own hand in 1654. Someone
from the group even traveled to England to photograph the area it was said
Philip had lived. Another group member sketched a drawing of Mr. Aylesford. The
experiment began with the entire group meeting frequently to discuss the life
and times of Philip as they would any interesting real person. Much time was
spent in deep concentration, meditation and séances as a group about Philip.
For the first year nothing happened. Then, in 1973, Philip
began to make "his" presence known. Beginning with simple taps and raps the
quickly becoming yes/no answers. He even gave factual answers to known historic
events of his time. Soon after Philip manifested physical abilities. He was able
to shake and move a table the group used.
Dr. Owen repeated his experiment several times with
different groups of people and was able apparently to create other persons
including: Lilith, an 18th century French Canadian spy; Sebastian, a
medieval alchemist; and very curiously Axel, a man from the future! All
manifested very quickly after the experiment started and also communicated via
raps and taps. Inspired by these experiments a group from Australia conducted
“The Skippy Experiment” in which they created the persona of Skippy Cartman, a
14-year-old Australian girl.
From the paranormal point of view this opens many potential
lines of thinking.
First, since they were using meditation and séances it is
possible Dr. Owen and his groups did in fact contact some kind of spirit that
was impersonating Philip (and the other personas). In this case, it’s more
likely the entity was inhuman (possibly
demonic) and was trying to trick them to
ultimately gain a foothold in their lives.
It’s also possible that someone in the group or perhaps
outside the group but aware of the experiment, was purposely making these things
happen in order to trick the group. Some kind of very elaborate hoax. Similarly, it could also have been just
coincidence with the raps and taps. The structure of the room/building they were
in could have just been a noisy place.
But it’s also possible their deep collective thought and
concentration did in fact create a "thought being". That is, the groups
subconscious minds collectively concentrating on this fictional person was able
to somehow manifest activity to make the person real, at least to some extent.
It is this latter possibility that is most interesting to a
paranormal investigator. Other studies have shown a definite link that somehow
people’s thoughts can influence random events. Therefore, with this in mind and
recalling Occam’s Razor, this opens a new direction of possibility for
paranormal activity: What if much of paranormal activity is simply the physical
manifestation of the collective hopes/wants/desires/excitement/etc. of people in
the home, at the location, or on the investigation?
This would tend to support reasons why some very frequently
(nearly daily in some cases) visited locations have more activity than others.
It’s not just that more people are there to witness the activity but their
collective thoughts are in fact making it happen (or perhaps amplifying what is
It would also explain why groups of staunch believers in
ghosts, spirits and the paranormal seem to get more evidence than those who have
greater skepticism and criticality of the paranormal. And it may further explain
why paranormal activity might be found in a home or location that previously had
no reported situations of the paranormal.
This is all a fascinating possibility with in the
paranormal field. Future research and experiments may yet find greater cause &
effect relationships to people’s thoughts and hopes, and perhaps fears, to
paranormal activity. Someday it may be concluded that tests like The Philip
Experiment are closely related to philosophic principles of simplicity like
Occam’s Razor in that what we think does influence the world around us and
therefore makes it even more a challenge to collect good paranormal evidence.
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