On the weekend of April 29-30 I spoke at the annual Kent Paranormal Weekend in Ohio. My subject: the history of the Men in Black. When all the lectures were over, there was a lively question-and-answer session. It was overseen by Jim Harold, of the Paranormal Podcast. During the course of the Q&A, the issues of what amount to facts, evidence and proof in the field of "the unknown" - such as Cryptozoology, Ufology, and ghost-hunting - surfaced. What facts and proof do we have? Is there any real, hard evidence? They were interesting questions which provoked equally interesting answers. I thought I would expand on my own observations (addressed at the gig) on this issue here at Mysterious Universe.
If there is one thing that can be said with certainty - on matters relative to the paranormal - it's that definitive facts and undeniable evidence are most assuredly lacking. We'll start with those aforementioned MIB. Since my first book on the issue (On the Trail of the Saucer Spies) was published back in 2006, I have received hundreds of reports of encounters with MIB - mainly spanning the last few decades, but some significantly older. I'm as sure as I can be that the vast majority of those who have contacted me are honest, truthful people who just want to share their stories, or who are hoping to get answers regarding their encounters.
The problem, however, is that securing hard evidence and proof of the MIB is woefully lacking. That's not the fault of the witnesses, though. Many such encounters seem to occur when the people who encounter the MIB are in altered states (see the account of Peter Beckman, as a perfect example). It has been suggested that MIB encounters are somewhat "visionary" in nature, that perhaps the phenomenon behind the MIB plunges the person into something akin to a Matrix-type "reality," albeit briefly. Of course, if, when it comes to the MIB, there is no physical encounter at all - just something having a profound effect on the human mind - then finding hard evidence for the MIB may be 100 percent impossible.
People have sent me photos of what they believe are MIB. Or, are they just men who happen to be dressed in black? Yes, the photos exist. Unfortunately, they don't prove they show a real MIB. I believe that the MIB phenomenon is real. I also recognize, however, that witness testimony and photos are not proof. Nor are they evidence - in terms of what the word "evidence" actually means.
The same applies to Bigfoot: a huge amount of reports exist from equally huge numbers of people. As with the MIB, the vast majority of those who have seen and reported Bigfoot are level-headed. In addition, they are baffled by what they have seen. They may well be concerned and disturbed about their encounters. And, with Bigfoot, yes there are footprints, photos, footage, audio-recordings, personal testimony and more. But, for all the data, there's no corpse, no specimen in a zoo. In short, no evidence of the kind that would 100 percent stand up in court. As with the MIB though, there's no doubt in my mind that - in some form or other - Bigfoot is real.
Ghosts? Well, that's not really my thing. But, as was noted in the Q&A at the Kent Paranormal Weekend, despite who-knows-how-many ghostly encounters being on-record, we are still unable to firmly prove that (a) life after death is a reality and (b) the dead return and visit us. But, I have to admit to having such an experience that I find very persuasive. Did it leave any solid proof behind? Nope. But, I do believe. Unfortunately, even I have to admit that's not enough.
Now, in some way or another, we all have belief-systems. But, if those of us who investigate the world of the paranormal are to make a case that goes on to make history, then it will require more than belief and testimony. Unfortunately, when it comes to the paranormal, undeniable evidence is always elusive. Always. Maybe there's a reason why the evidence is always out of our reach; a reason we cannot fathom. Or, maybe we have just been consistently unlucky. I don't know if proof of the MIB, of Bigfoot, of ghosts, or of what really happened at Roswell (and the list goes on) will ever be found. But, despite what some might say, we definitely do not have any proof yet.