So many of us seem to fall back on our personal experiences. If a fellow investigator shows us some intriguing evidence, we tend to say; “I didn’t experience it myself so I have a hard time believing it.” All the hard work, late nights investigating, and evidence review comes down to a complete lack of confidence in anything but our own experiences. Next comes the irony, we wish we had evidence to back our personal experiences…maybe then others would believe us. What is the problem here? Our brain is the problem.
Even if we do have scientific data and intriguing evidence to support personal experiences, we still need to get beyond our own biases to accept anything. Our life experiences program us to perceive everything with some level of bias. Most of these biases are difficult to ignore since they serve our survival day to day. In addition to these biases, our brain also has a tendency to lie to us to keep our perceptions within a context we find acceptable. It is difficult to accept that our own brain is lying to us to appease our biases, preconceptions, and to just generally help us through the day. This happens to such a high degree that we have applied names to it; primarily apophenia and pareidolia. Our brain will even fill in the blanks with completely fictitious information if it happens to fit a pattern from a past experience or source of authority. Details that never occurred can become 100% certain facts from our individual point of view.
So, should we stop trusting our intuition? No, absolutely not. We survive because of our intuition. For most of us this happens subconsciously but, every once in a while we are fully aware of that “gut feeling”. Take note of it and everything happening around your at that moment, analyze it, try to understand it. Is it evidence of the unusual events we seek to explain? Probably not but, you will never know for certain if you ignore it.
So, should we stop believe our own experiences? No, absolutely not. These experiences are likely at the root of why we have chosen to pursue investigation and research. Write them down, take note of your surroundings and everything happening around you at that moment, analyze it, and try to understand it. Is the experience evidence of the unusual events we seek to explain? Probably not but, you will never know for certain if you ignore it.
So, what about all of the data and evidence interpretation, do we dismiss it? No, absolutely not. No matter how objective we try to be, our brain is going to choose the interpretation that makes the most sense given our biases. Write it all down, take note of your surroundings and what was happening when the data or evidence was captured, and try to understand it. It is very unlikely to lead to the events we seek to explain but, you will never know if you ignore it.
Sorry to sound so repetitious but, the point is to use whatever information your brain chooses to accept. Our senses overwhelm our brain with vast amounts of input. Our brain does its best to focus on the most important information for a given moment in time. Be aware that your brain is discarding an enormous amount of information. Do your best to understand your biases. If you understand your biases, it will be easier to set them aside and analyze everything more impartially and more critically when required. Accept that what your brain is telling you is carefully crafted to fit within your life experiences.
More about our brains:
Brain Games: http://braingames.nationalgeographic.com/episode/0/
Your Bleeped Up Brain: http://www.history.com/shows/your-bleeped-up-brain
How Our Brain Works: http://www.howourbrainswork.com/
A ton of good info from Psychology today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-sense
Brain Facts: http://www.brainfacts.org/sensing-thinking-behaving/senses-and-perception/
Brain Statistics: http://www.statisticbrain.com/human-brain-statistics/