A Fortean Conspiracy Of Silence?

gattino

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#1
Just an observation really, masquerading as a "what do you think?" question. As I now earn my pennies being a host to paying houseguests, I encounter far more people and from so many diverse backgrounds than I previously had with just my own social circle.

And though I can't pretend to put any kind of percentage figure on it I can say with some confidence that I've never once started a conversation with anyone anywhere in which I told them about one or more of my brushes with the paranormal/psychic/whatever you want to call it, without them responding with stories of their own..stories that would never have been volunteered without me starting the conversation. At least some examples of psychic dreams, deathbed phenomena and after death communication seem to be in the unpublished back story of almost everybody you care to ask. Yet collectively we seem unaware of the fact.

It struck me that the whole world..or at least the english speaking western world..is in some kind of unspoken, unwritten collective agreement not to mention these things to each other in daily life. The dominance of the "disbelief = clever/educated discerning; Belief = gullible/uneducated/sad" equation in the mainstream media and the culture of comedy has left people too fearful of ridicule to realise their own experiences aren't remotely unusual after all.

Is it possible that we're as a species going around not acknowledging collectively what almost everyone is experiencing individually?
 

stu neville

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#2
It's a social / cultural thing, in the Western world at least. I suspect it's a hangover from the strong church line on anything supernatural being ungodly and thus unspoken of in unfamiliar company: whilst the role of faith has diminished hugely today it's within many people's memories that even atheism was seen as somehow aberrant and frowned upon, and socio-cultural attitudes resonate unconsciously for decades, so professing an interest in Fortean subjects is still seen by many as a crank pursuit.

That said, you're of course right, in that few will have lived life without something weird happening. This comes down to context and reaction though: everyone will have had the "think of someone, the phone rings, it's them" thing happen*, or seen an odd light in the sky, or seen someone fleetingly in the street you know passed away 10 years ago, that sort of thing. Reaction comes in when the person experiencing, say, the phone thing dubs it a coincidence, as coincidences are two edged. Either you see them as a statistical likelihood that such things will happen, and are thus just a natural occurrence, or that they have deeply imbued meaning. Or you may believe in a combination of the above is possible, which is where context comes in. If you texted said friend a few days ago saying give me a ring and we'll meet for coffee, then a) they're likely to be floating about in your mind anyway, if not at the forefront and b) it's likely they will call you. If however it's someone you haven't seen or had contact with in five years, you happen to be on holiday in Slovenia, for some reason you think of them and then, that instant they ring you, then that is decidedly Fortean.

Ditto, lights in the sky. A lot of people will think meteor / plane / satellite, and in fairness 99.9% of the time they'll probably be right, and thus think nothing more about it. Others however see any form of aerial illumination - even within three miles of Heathrow - as undeniable proof of alien life. So if you asked one of each camp whether they'd seen a UFO one would say no, because it had never occurred to them that lights in the sky were anything but mundane, whereas the other would probably tell you all about it at length (actually scrub 'probably' - they will. I know this.)

So yes - it depends on your audience. Ask a fundie Christian and they may well recoil at such demonic references: ask someone who reads Nexus and they'll tell you all about how they saw the doppelganger of a man they work with in the car park, and then the man himself walked into the office wearing exactly the same clothes!! Most people do have a story though, yes.

*waits for "It hasn't happened to me" reply from someone or other
 

gattino

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#3
Although that may be true I didn't actually have what you may call the "trivia" of the fortean world in mind (thinking of someone before the phone rings) but actually the more dramatic stuff (Nan reached out her hand on her death bed and said her mum was there//I dream the future//I saw an apparition once...that kind of stuff)
 

stu neville

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#4
I was just giving examples. Again, trivial is a matter of perspective as meaning is subjective.
 

escargot

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#5
I've always made a point of bringing up the subject of the paranormal when I've known someone for a while. They often jump straight down my throat with their own weirdness! If they don't it's the end of the convo, no harm done.

It happens on'ere!

In one of the 'Dreaming of the Dead' threads I described a dream of being in a white fog or mist, out of which emerged a friend whom I knew to be dead. I began asking him what he thought he was doing there as he was dead and he laughingly argued with me about it.

Another poster later mentioned exactly the same scenario in their own dream. You sometimes see this scene - a dream with the white mist where someone who's dead appears - in fillums and on TV so it's probably like one of those universal archetypes.
 

Min Bannister

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#6
At least some examples of psychic dreams, deathbed phenomena and after death communication seem to be in the unpublished back story of almost everybody you care to ask. Yet collectively we seem unaware of the fact.

It struck me that the whole world..or at least the english speaking western world..is in some kind of unspoken, unwritten collective agreement not to mention these things to each other in daily life.
I don't think there is anything weird about this. I don't feel the need to tell my entire backstory to every single person I meet and I am sure they are very glad about that. There is a huge amount of stuff I don't mention to people in daily conversation. Almost all of it in fact. :dunno: The fact that people are willing to tell you their experiences when you ask them shows that they are perfectly willing to talk about it and there is no conspiracy of silence IMO.
 

escargot

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#7
I don't think there is anything weird about this. I don't feel the need to tell my entire backstory to every single person I meet and I am sure they are very glad about that. There is a huge amount of stuff I don't mention to people in daily conversation. Almost all of it in fact. :dunno: The fact that people are willing to tell you their experiences when you ask them shows that they are perfectly willing to talk about it and there is no conspiracy of silence IMO.
I dunno, yesterday I was chatting with an old friend about something quite profoundly weird that's recently happened. We agreed that you need to be careful who you tell about stuff like that you in case they think you're mad.

Anyway, nobody's saying I feel the need to tell my entire backstory to every single person I meet. It's just a topic of convo that some find interesting. People talk about all sorts of stuff, especially to strangers.
 
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Min Bannister

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#8
Anyway, nobody's saying I feel the need to tell my entire backstory to every single person I meet. It's just a topic of convo that some find interesting. People talk about all sorts of stuff, especially to strangers.
But in order for the theory to be correct, everyone would have to talk about absolutely everything except fortean stuff so that it would be true to say that they did. I don't talk about fortean stuff to strangers in the same way I don't talk about, say having once seen a live boxing match in 1999. If I found I was talking to a boxer I might, or if someone asked me directly as Gattino is doing.

And I can honestly say that the only time complete strangers have come up to me and started talking about something that might be considered crazy, they absolutely were crazy.
 

chicorea

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#9
@gattino , I don't think it's a conspiracy of silence in general, it's more something conditionned by the environment.

Some exemples : I come from a South-American background (I'm brazilian). It would be rare that we had a family reunion (birthday, Christmas, marriange or funeral) where some member, generaly somebody of an older generation, would pull the subject and suddenly you would have a catalogue of Fortean treats (apparitions, precognistion, dreams, curses, miracles....) opening in front of you, most of them first hand accounts. There was no shame, on the contrary, it was oral history of the family. We regret that we haven't recorded many of them, since most of the generation(s) before ours is gone now. And we are talking about high middle-class in a big town, Rio de Janeiro.

Decades later I immigrated (oh the word...) and now I live and raised a family in France. I live in Paris, so, again, a very specific environment. French, particulary in Paris, are proud of being rational, cartesian. And we are talking about the nation that brought us Péladan, Papus, Jacques Bergier, not to mention Alan Kardec... It changes if you go deeper in the country, but then everything mixes with Catholicism and tends to the right wing. By the way, a magazine like Fortean Times here in France would be a Fortean phenomenon in itsef : we only have stuff inspired by a alleged Templar secret society or the magic powers of the Nazi (anyway, if they weren't magic how would they invade and occupy France so easily...), all of them tending to the Catholic Right. No family gathering around Fortean stories here. :(

People change their attitude towards Forteana according with the environment. But, yes, I believe that the phenomena are always there, somewhere.
 

GNC

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#10
But in order for the theory to be correct, everyone would have to talk about absolutely everything except fortean stuff so that it would be true to say that they did. I don't talk about fortean stuff to strangers in the same way I don't talk about, say having once seen a live boxing match in 1999. If I found I was talking to a boxer I might, or if someone asked me directly as Gattino is doing.

And I can honestly say that the only time complete strangers have come up to me and started talking about something that might be considered crazy, they absolutely were crazy.
Plus you can usually gauge the best people to discuss weird thingies with, and they're usually those you have got to know, message board posts notwithstanding. Maybe people don't like to mention weirdness to some (like Gattino), while others get chatting about it all the time (like Escargot)?

It difficult to say why without meeting them, of course. Might be a vibe, might be their personality (which could actually be at odds with their interest). It's not like the weather, or football, where you're expected to have an opinion (though maybe you don't!). When I knew more people than I do now, I would often get into conversations about Forteana, even sceptical ones, because they would be aware of my interests. I don't think it's a prejudice, maybe more a shying away from overshare.
 

gattino

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#11
There seems to be some contention over my terminology "conspiracy of silence"

I of course do not mean literally a sinister agreement we've all signed up to.

What im suggesting - or asking, whichever it is - is that is it possible, as it seems increasingly to me, that there is this particular aspect of human nature which ALL individuals have experience of while somehow, collectively, remaining ignorant of the "ALL" part of that sentence?
 

Schrodinger's Zebra

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#12
There seems to be some contention over my terminology "conspiracy of silence"

I of course do not mean literally a sinister agreement we've all signed up to.

What im suggesting - or asking, whichever it is - is that is it possible, as it seems increasingly to me, that there is this particular aspect of human nature which ALL individuals have experience of while somehow, collectively, remaining ignorant of the "ALL" part of that sentence?
I think it's certainly possible, yes. It's an interesting theory.

The internet perhaps should have made it easier for us all to have that knowledge, in a way, what with all the various paranormal forums, websites and videos. Or at the very least allowed a person to know they're not the only one who has experienced a particular odd event and perhaps even give a name to something they couldn't understand before.

But, there are so many people who are either mistaken, very badly educated, or deliberately posting false videos etc, that people are afraid of ridicule, as you said in your opening post. All the good encounters/sightings/experiences/what-have-you are in danger of - if they aren't already - becoming lost in the noise of all the falsehoods.

So I think your conspiracy of silence, sadly, might be here to stay.
 

Kingsize Wombat

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#13
I think the subject is a bit taboo these days, because it isn't "scientific" and therefore sneered at by many. But if people talk to a trusted person, they usually open up on these subjects. I'll give you an example.

I was recently sitting in my local coffee shop with my back to two elderly ladies who were having lively conversation. I overheard the usual snippets about grandchildren and the like, when one of them started talking about her late husband, and said something that made my ears prick up. It was something like "He still used to come for visits, switched on the TV in the middle of the night and pottered around downstairs like he used to. And one night I just told him that I knew it was him, but to please stop as I needed the sleep. Hasn't been back since." :wide:

Definitely not a normal coffee shop conversation in my experience, but the two ladies seemed to be old friends.

Now, would she have said something like that in a different context? I doubt it.

So I think people open up about "these things" once they feel safe.
 

James_H

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#14
In some cultures (some native american cultures spring to mind) talking about supernatural events is tantamount to inviting them to happen. So people have the incentive not to discuss ghosts or skinwalkers in case they accidentally bring themselves to the attention of those supernatural entities.
 

escargot

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#16
"He still used to come for visits, switched on the TV in the middle of the night and pottered around downstairs like he used to. And one night I just told him that I knew it was him, but to please stop as I needed the sleep. Hasn't been back since." :wide:
Techy's father died 20-odd years ago. His mother reckons Techy Snr used to pop back for visits from the Other Side until she too got fed up and told him to do one!
 

escargot

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#17
But in order for the theory to be correct, everyone would have to talk about absolutely everything except fortean stuff so that it would be true to say that they did. I don't talk about fortean stuff to strangers in the same way I don't talk about, say having once seen a live boxing match in 1999. If I found I was talking to a boxer I might, or if someone asked me directly as Gattino is doing.

And I can honestly say that the only time complete strangers have come up to me and started talking about something that might be considered crazy, they absolutely were crazy.
It's not like that though. It is natural to talk, even to strangers, and people chat about what they have in common. A person might meet someone who's getting divorced like they are and commiserate with them. Someone on the bus might be on way to collect their car, had the clutch done AGAIN! and you had the same model so you know how they go...

Strangers tell each other personal things that they haven't discussed with anyone close to them. They won't see each other again so they feel safe. It's normal human behaviour.
 

gattino

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#18
And one night I just told him that I knew it was him, but to please stop as I needed the sleep. Hasn't been back since." :wide:

Definitely not a normal coffee shop conversation in my experience, but the two ladies seemed to be old friends.

Now, would she have said something like that in a different context? I doubt it.
As it relates to one, that's my cue to detail the recent incidents that prompted this thread. They contradict the idea that we suss out only the "bound to be into it" types.

A middle aged successful businessman who was staying with me. I had told him where I'd been the day before - taking my mum's ashes to be scattered - and, knowing he'd lost his wife at a young age I was wary of upsetting him by saying without qualifcation how I had no sentiment about the ashes at all, so the ritual had meant little to me. My qualifying remark has been simply "I don't know what you think about these things.." which he clearly misunderstood as out of nowhere and to my complete surprise he told me with confidence about how when you're dead you get to choose whether to reincarnate etc...and went on to explain the phenomena that happened at his wife's deathbed (which he said he hadn't told anyone about for a long time afterwards) and , in addition, the evidence as his family saw it that one his grandkids was said wife reborn!

Similarly with a very quiet thoughtful fellow who stayed the other day. He was a bit of a drifter in life having no family since his mum died when he was young. It was it the context of talking about my recent contact with a homeles man (in which i merely made undetailed asides to "because of a lot of really weird coincidences I won't go into" that he told me among other things and matter of factly that he dreams the future a lot. Again I was taken aback a little. It was in fact with him that I agreed the term "conspiracy of silence".

Getting off the bus with some picture frames in a shopping bag I saw a neighbour, I explained one of the existing frames had fallen off the wall and smashed. I added facetiously "perhaps it was a ghost". And she replied, unfacetiously, "My friend's got a ghost"!! Apparently the unnamed friend had twice had the apparition of an old man appearing at the foot of her bed. He did nothing but she - as in kingsize wombat's tale - asked him to go away and he'd not been back.

When my mum died and I had to inform any number of individuals, many of whom I did not know, i would recount the death narrative and had to include the fact she'd talked of having just been "down the road" with my dad "it was lovely.". Not one person, not a single one, expressed surprise, awe or disbelief but to a man and woman each and every one returned a related deathbed incident around one of their own family members. Yet the concept of deathbed visions is confined in society as a whole to a few niche publications and very rare newspaper articles about hospice nurses rather than seen as an established fact about human beings.
 

pandacracker

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#19
Strangers tell each other personal things that they haven't discussed with anyone close to them.
I've particularly noticed this on long haul flights. The enforced physical intimacy imposed in economy makes it very hard to ignore those around you (I know, I've tried!) I have overheard people give incredibly detailed stories about their families, work history, other travels etc.

As to people discussing Fortean subjects, the two people I know who've experienced real unexplainable phenomena (u.f.o. and hooded figure) have been very reluctant to talk about it even to me who is open minded, I had to really persuade them to tell me.
 

escargot

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#20
As to people discussing Fortean subjects, the two people I know who've experienced real unexplainable phenomena (u.f.o. and hooded figure) have been very reluctant to talk about it even to me who is open minded, I had to really persuade them to tell me.
And now we'll have to beat it out of YOU. ;)
 
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#23
I've particularly noticed this on long haul flights. The enforced physical intimacy imposed in economy makes it very hard to ignore those around you (I know, I've tried!) I have overheard people give incredibly detailed stories about their families, work history, other travels etc.
Oh Jeezers yes that! Two months ago I flew several hours for business. A guy in his mid-to-later 30s sat in the seat immediately in front of me. As soon as he sat down he started gabbing with the passenger on his right and immediately started into a very, flight-long tirade about his how his parents screwed him up. I couldn’t see nor hear the other person so I couldn’t tell if they were participating in that conversation or not.

Zoom ahead a couple of weeks, I’m just seated for another business trip and the same dude boards the plane. I used all of my magick wishfulness to repel that guy away. I was like, “Plz no, don’t sit near me. Plz no, not that.”

I think this guy was in real need of a counselor, or a friend, or something. What he didn’t need was to verbally puke all over that other passenger. He probably also needed to have his med dosage rebalanced because he was kind of like a clean and fresh version of a zombie.
 
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#26
I would be ridiculed by other atheists for being interested in fortean and paranormal phenomena if I just mentioned it.
Most people who meet me typically see me as an enthusiastic, nerd which is true. But only a very few know my Fortean side. I am not “out” to my family nor to my four very closest friends. There is a separate subgroup of friends, my ex-GF, and current GF who are experienced with my psychic self.

I don’t feel comfortable discussing the paranormal with strangers because my own beliefs and experiences are so deep that they are the most personal and private thoughts I have. I can comfortably share them in forum as I am anonymous; but, I can’t talk with an average stranger in person about them. I’d feel like I was flashing them :bored:
 
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#29
Is it possible that we're as a species going around not acknowledging collectively what almost everyone is experiencing individually?
Gattino, it is true that thoughts can manifest. Not everyone knows or agrees on that; yet, it is true.

Many people don’t want to talk about things that they don’t want to have happen - I think that is just natural. So purposely ignoring the paranormal is a comfortable tactic for many people. And, it seems to help many of those slightly scared people because the world their thoughts reinforce is one in which the paranormal doesn’t exist.
 

MrRING

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#30
My brother's wife is a Polynesian native, and she speaks of the paranormal stuff in her life culturally as no big deal, and the sort of thing that people just take for granted where she's from as being true because it is an expected part of life.

And I would agree - the vast majority of people will admit to something anomalous when in conversation.
 
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