Singular Cerebrations: Narrative Nonsense
These past 10 days have got me thinking a lot about narrative, and how it shapes our perception of an issue and thus our opinions. Don't worry, this isn't a political blog, and the issue is endlessly applicable to fortean phenomena. I honestly can't tell you how many times as an investigator I've encountered a severe narrative bias in a witness, but it's a huge number. Oftentimes a witness will already have determined precisely what they saw before even contacting me, and all they want is confirmation. They're very disappointed to find that I do not follow any particular dogmatic belief regarding the paranormal, and I absolutely do not think that their picture of dust particles and insects is indicative of anything other than a dirty house. I try to take each incident that crosses my desk for what it is--even if what it is is absolutely banal.
I understand the value of narrative, I think, when it comes to the unexplained, and it is this: a consistent framework that can be applied to many associated events allows us to conveniently categorize them. And that's very useful, indeed. But we simply cannot allow it to describe more than we understand. A UFO simply must mean an unidentified flying object and nothing more, until such time as extraterrestrials land on the proverbial White House lawn. The moment we allow an unexplained light or craft in the sky to mean something else without any real understanding of its nature is when investigation ends and speculation begins.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love to speculate. I sit and stare up at the sky and wonder as much as the next guy what witnesses must be seeing. But speculation is only as useful as the curiosity it creates, and we simply must not allow it to replace deduction. One man's UFO is another man's ghost light, after all, and who's to say who's right? Certainly not me, but I will say that they're both wrong until we find out for sure.
Yours in Impossibility,