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Grey Matter


I Believe this is Grey Matters

Recently Lisa Shiel had a post called Belief: Not a dirty word, at her Backyard Phenomena blog.

She touched on something that has bothered me for a long time. Here is a bit of her post:

Often people complain that I use the words "belief" and "believe" when talking about the paranormal. They say belief has nothing to do with it, and using those words insinuates that people interested in Bigfoot or UFOs are religious wackos. This complaint baffles me.

I have heard that complaint as well. One would expect that from skeptics, but it isn't always from skeptics.

There are several different definitions of "belief" and "believe", one of those is "to hold an opinion." That is the way in which I normally mean it and I have a hard time thinking that anyone really thinks otherwise or fears that someone else may.

I just can't imagine that if I were to say something like I believe in Bigfoot that someone could mistake that for anything religious, or even just some sort of blind faith that Bigfoot exists.

Long ago, I worked with a lady who went to some sort of New Age type retreat in Sedona. When she came back she was telling me about it and I don't remember what the exact subject was but I said something like "I believe that could happen." She took it the opposite of being some sort of religious conviction and told me if you say that you "believe something could happen" it means you aren't sure and therefore you don't really believe in it. She was mostly right because when I use to word believe it is normally something that I am not totally sure about, it is more of an opinion.

I can say I know UFOs exist and I can say that because I have seen them. On the other hand, if you were to ask me if there were spacemen flying them, I would probably say something like "I believe that could be true, but I also believe there could be many answers." It is why I believe in Bigfoot. I can't know Bigfoot exists because I haven't seen one, but I do think there is enough evidence that I can hold the opinion that Bigfoot exists.

I don't understand why, in every other aspect of life, people seem to know perfectly well the meaning of "believe", except in the paranormal. If I say "I believe my computer is getting ready to crash", nobody takes that as a religious conviction. They say something like -- "oh poor you, maybe you just need to check this or that." They know perfectly well that I am unsure and hoping it is something else. You can't convince me that most humans are too stupid to know the context that believe is being used in.

Over time, I have heard many skeptics make a big deal about people who believe in UFOs and try to connect that word to some sort of religion. What does that say when they have to concentrate such effort on a word? Especially a word that most 5 year olds easily understand in the context it is being used and do not, the least bit, connect to religion. In fact, I would bet that most people who use the word believe, which we all pretty much do every single day, do not think of it in the least as being religious or even a conviction of any sort. Unless you say something overtly religious like "I believe in Jesus", nobody thinks of that word in that way, except skeptics and a few others.

There are those in Ufology who don't like that word being used. I don't know if that is because they fear the skeptics making it into something religious or if it is something entirely different. But it doesn't matter. It is silly, 99.9% of people understand the word "believe" and how it is being used.

So, bottom line, I will use the word "believe" whenever I feel like it. I will say "I believe in Bigfoot" and whatever else and I really feel or believe and I presume that people are smart enough to know exactly what I mean.

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