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Suggested Rules of Investigation for Unusual Claims

by Christopher O'Brien*

Controversial subjects generate polarized responses.

Record or write down everything as soon as possible, no matter how inconsequential or insignificant it might seem at the time.

Always credit your sources and respect requests for anonymity.

Always be ready for anything, anytime. Look for coincidences when investigating claims of the unusual. Often, there may be a synchronistic element at work.

It is impossible to be too objective when scientifically investigating claims of the unusual.

Always assume there is a mundane explanation until proven extraordinary.

Appearances can be deceiving. There may be more happening than meets the eye.

If you publicize claims of the unusual, choose your words wisely, for your "spin" may have tremendous influence.

Media coverage of the unusual, because of its sensational nature, is often inaccurate and cannot be accepted as totally accurate by the investigator.

RULE #10
The human mind, when faced with the unknown, reverts to basic primal symbols to rationalize its experience.

RULE #11
When investigating claims of the unusual, one cannot reach conclusions based on intuition alone.

RULE #12
There is a possibility that the (sub)culture itself may cocreate manifestations of unexplained, individually perceived phenomena.

RULE #13
We must be extremely careful not to perpetrate our own beliefs, suspicions, or actual experiences into the minds of those who desperately want to have a "special" event happen in their lives.

*Reprinted with the author's permission from The Mysterious Valley by Christopher O'Brien, St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1996.