Some people have a rather casual approach to the concept of truth; something that influences them not to think for themselves. Consequently, there are so many individuals out there who believe in weird things. This means having unreasonable and irrational beliefs that are not supported by any proof or scientific evidence. Having respect for religious beliefs is one thing, particularly when it influences moral and ethical behavior. However, believing in paranormal and metaphysical concepts such as spirits, ghosts, miracles and witchcraft is another totally different matter. The same case applied to conviction that certain physical notions exist for which there is little evidence or none at all; the likes of aliens and UFOs. It would be unfair to dismiss individuals with such beliefs as delusional or stupid. Hence, understanding why they have such thought patterns is crucial. This essay looks at why people believe in weird things.
A top reason as to why people believe in bizarre things is to seek purpose even in instances where none is present. There is no denying that we are living in an uncertain world full of confusion. This spurs people to desperately look for some sort of explanation for certain happenings and events. A good example is the bubonic plague epidemic popularly known as the Black Death which wiped out half of Europes population back in the 14th century. At the time, people could not understand why it happened. This made them come up with a wide variety of weird conclusions as to why it happened, ranging from witchcraft to punishment by the gods. Today, people accept that it was just a case of an uncontrollable epidemic, and that there was no purpose behind it. A modern example is HIV/ AIDS which is killing millions of people. Some people have fronted some bizarre explanations for the disease, a notable one being that it is Gods way of punishing people for their immorality. These are the same people who believe in the notion that there are no coincidences and all occurrences happen for a reason.
Issues with perception can mislead people into believing weird things. Individuals are usually more convinced that something happened or is real if they think they witnessed it with their own eyes. However, this is not always reliable since the mere fact that a person saw something is not of itself solid proof. For instance, there are always some regular reports of people seeing flying saucers, alien spaceships and other UFOs. In all these cases, a more credible and straightforward explanation of what has been seen is usually present. Another example is that of individuals observing spirits or ghosts although clear photographic proof of such observations is never there. It is not that these individuals are telling lies. What happens is that they have been misled by problems with how they perceive things.
Another reason people believe in weird things is because of their religious and divine backgrounds. This is particularly the case when individuals experience strange occurrences involving good fortune and whose explanation is difficult. They are then tempted to attribute such occurrences to a certain supreme being, spirit protector, guardian angel, or answering of prayers directed at that being. Take for example an airplane crash that results in the deaths of everyone except an infant baby. Religious people may be quick to state that the God they worship was looking over that baby and thus spared his or her life. However, this would not explain why the same God was not watching over the other passengers and spare them too. A supreme being may have infinite power and wisdom, but he does not make it obvious to his followers as to what specific actions will make him intervene on certain matters. If that is the case, then these followers will not have a logical basis for attributing certain events to him and not others. All scientific tests carried out to test the effectiveness of prayer have not shown any link between prayer and effect. Despite this, people who pray on a regular basis are more likely to recall the few instances when their prayers were answered, but cannot remember the many occasions that they were not.
Some people have weird beliefs because these beliefs have been there for a long time. What such individuals should know is that longevity does not translate to validity. For instance, considering that most of the worlds civilizations have always believed in life after death, then people will conclude that it is true. However, for thousands of years before it was rebuffed by science, everyone thought that the earth was flat: something that is not true. Some people may state that certain remedies to diseases are effective just because they have been used for centuries. Taking an example of bloodletting, it was applied for eons but often did more harm than good.
The fact that individuals enjoy feeling empowered or special would influence them into believing weird things. The notion that an individual might possess a special power is quite exciting. someone thinking that he or she can predict the future, read peoples minds, communicate with God, and so on, can give him or her notable status in their own eyes as well as those of others. However, it does not come as a surprise that individuals who think they have such powers are often reluctant to provide a more lucid explanation about how they acquired them, or admit that such powers do not exist.
When people have weird experiences, it can spur them into adopting weird beliefs. Almost everyone has had an experience of pictures, words or tunes emanating from his or her mind. At first, the individual cannot figure out why something like that happened. After sometime, he or she remembers having watched a certain film, read a certain article or listened to a certain piece of music. Such experience is often referred to as deja vu. While almost each individual has had such an experience, there are various possible ways to explain them scientifically without having to resort to supernatural theories. It is even possible to explain the so-called out of body experiences in medical terms. This means that as much as weird things usually happen to people all the times, they do not have to be justified by weird explanations.
In conclusion, people will always believe in things that do not have a scientific explanation or compelling evidence simply because those beliefs provide them with comfort. For instance, individuals may not see any evidence of a god or life after death. However, they may find the notion that a god or an afterlife exists appealing because it gives them comfort.
Ruggiero, V. R. "Beyond feelings: A Guide to Critical Thought." (2012).
Shermer, Michael. Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time. London: Macmillan. 2002. Print.
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