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They're Coming For Your Kids!

We all like to think of ourselves as perfectly rational people able to offer reasoned, fair opinions and make equally sound decisions. From time to time we are all capable of getting it wrong, using flawed reasoning that is off the mark, whether accidentally or otherwise. When applied on a paranormal investigation, such logical fallacies can ruin fieldwork before it has even begun. In this and future articles Trystan Swale will explore some of the most common fallacies to be encountered on investigations...

It may sound very wordy and aloof, but the argument from personal incredulity can be illustrated in a very simple manner. It occurs when something is dismissed simply because a person feels it is unlikely to be true, regardless of the evidence supporting or opposing it.

The best example of this fallacy I can recall occurred whilst a member of another, now defunct, group in England. An individual pointed their camcorder towards a wall and noted how it would not auto-focus upon the plain surface. Another team member consulted the camera’s manual and noted the equipment required a defined point to focus upon. This most likely of explanations was immediately laughed at by the camera’s owner, ‘that can’t be right, I know my camera and it has never done this before!’ Instead, this individual preferred to apportion blame to the paranormal even though they lacked anything resembling a shred of evidence to back this. They just assumed their explanation was the correct one, something I consider a little arrogant.

The major problem with use of the argument from incredulity is that it places feelings of disbelief ahead of evidential analysis to reach a decision. Of course, there are occasions where use of an argument from incredulity may mirror the right choice. But if you are not considering facts and likely, compelling explanations then these correct decisions are the product of little more than chance. Acting upon a hunch is no substitute for reasoned decision making.