How to Evaluate the Authenticity of an Observer’s Supernatural Encounter

Tonight I wanted to share an article written by David Almeida, a fascinating person who I’ve had the great opportunity to chat with online recently. You can catch his bio at the end of the post. After some discussion, he directed me to this article. He has kindly given me permission to share it with you. It just happens to fit in with discussion I’ve had with a few of you in the comments to some recent posts. Thanks, David!


I wrote this article to address the use of objectivity in evaluating a witness’s account of a supernatural event.  In a sense, almost all of our judgments are based on our experiences.  They may also be grounded (in part) in what other people have told us about the world.  For example, there are endless degradations of color and sound.  If a person says “The apple is red.”  What shade of red is it?  For this reason, I believe that an objective statement can be construed as opinion.


This article is only addressing certain kinds of paranormal experiences such as hauntings and physical paranormal manifestations.  It’s difficult to assess out of body experiences and other psychic or mental occurrences using this method.


Before asking the reporter (observer or witness) a slew of questions, I let the person tell his or her story with minimal interruption.  Constantly breaking into the reporter’s story can lead the person losing his or her thoughts, which can result in the unintentional omission of important details.  A witness will typically give the investigator all of the answers he or she requires during the interview process.  In fact, I’ve found that most witnesses give more information than they need to. 


If the investigator chooses to use this interview method, it’s essential to ask the reporter to start at the beginning of the story and guide him or her through it.  You have to keep the reporter focused.  A person will often become excited and jump all over the place while relating his or her story.  This leads to confusion and pertinent details may be inadvertently skipped over.


It’s advisable that the investigator ask the reporter to use descriptive (objective) words to relate the experience.  You don’t want the reporter making subjective statements like “The shadow person was big, bad and scary.  That description doesn’t help anyone, although the investigator may want to get the observer’s impressions at the end of the interview. 


A person may describe a flower as beautiful.  Everybody has their own conception of a beautiful flower.  It would be better for the person say “I saw a flower.”  It is helpful if the person can identify the type of flower.  “It was a rose.”  If that is not possible, the person should describe the qualities of the flower.


Whether the investigator is interviewing a witness to a crime or conducting a paranormal investigation, the interviewer will find information that appears false or contradictory.  These discrepancies need to be clarified before the interview is completed.  An investigator might ask questions such as the ones that follow if the reporter has not provided this information in his or her statement:


How long did the incident last?  “I saw it for about two seconds.


How far away were you?  “I was ten feet away?”


What did it look like?  “The thing was approximately six feet tall.  It had a round head and a broad boxy build.  It looked like a dark shadow.  It made no sound, and it moved quickly” Etcetera. 


“Where did you see it?”  “I was in bed sleeping, and I saw it in the doorway”


“When did you see it?”  “It was last Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at midnight.”


Some other questions you might ask would be:


Are you taking any medications or illegal substances?


Do you have a medical condition?


Have you been sick recently?


What is your opinion of the supernatural?  The answer to this question is significant to the investigation.  The reporter may say “I feel that the Exorcist was the best movie ever made!”


Have you ever had a paranormal experience?  Here again, the answer is important.  “I am visited by the shadow people at least twice a week.”  “When the moon is full we have a party.”  I’m just kidding.


I have learned through personal experience that when two or more witnesses to a crime describe a suspect, each witness will provide a different description.  That’s why we have lawyers and jury trials in this country.  Does anyone remember the movie, My Cousin Vinny?  It’s essential to get to the bottom of things and determine what happened.  It does little good to tell someone that you saw a ghost without elaborating on the event in a rational manner.  


On the other hand, it’s difficult to describe something that a person has never seen.  I saw something in an out of body experience once that I cannot describe at all.  It’s hard enough to describe an out of body experience.  It’s easy for a skeptic to say that I was just dreaming.  When we listen to these stories we have to keep an open mind.  I can tell a person that I observed my body from outside of myself while it lay sleeping.  Once again that’s easy to refute.  If five million people have had a similar experience, does that mean it is true?  Maybe not.  Most people also dream.  Hundreds of thousands of people thought that the Earth was flat at one time (I realize this is a widely used example).  Are there really shadow people, or is this phenomenon a mass hallucination?  Maybe people want to believe in it, so they conveniently see it. 


In my own mind, I can confidently state that the shadow people exist.  I had no prior knowledge of shadow people when I observed it.  Not to mention that two people saw it at the same time.  Does that fact change things?  I don’t know.  It may make the event more credible.  If I could have caught the thing in a net for scientists to examine, that would have made the encounter much more conclusive.  Unfortunately, such events rarely have such an outcome.


Explaining a metaphysical theory is different from a scientific theory in that researchers are using known scientific principles.  It’s difficult to positively answer a metaphysical and philosophical question such as: “What is consciousness?” We only know that consciousness exists by the fact we that we are animated beings, who have an awareness of our existence.  Then again, I’m not a proponent of the big bang theory (I don’t mean the TV show).   I feel that this theory has no more basis in fact than some of my own theories.  I say this with the understanding that scientists claim that they have reasonable evidence to support their theory.  I am more inclined to accept the unfashionable steady state theory of the universe, which states that the universe is continuously expanding. 


I claim that Arthur Edward Waite contributed to my theories.  Is that reasonable statement?  It depends on who you ask.  The six or seven mediums who evidently communicated with him might lend their support to my claim.  If a person does not believe in mediumship, then what I say about A.E. Waite would be of little value to him or her.  A metaphysical theory is one of those things that a person accepts because it strikes a chord in his or her inner being.  Such theories typically have insufficient (if any) evidence to lean on.  This does not mean that the theories are devoid of truth.  It’s just that humans have not discovered the necessary tools to conduct a proper examination of these advanced theories.  Metaphysical theories generally involve arcane mystical principles, unknown energies, and references to strange dimensional locales that we cannot verify using modern scientific protocol.  That day will come.




David Almeida is a Spiritualist and researcher of Rosicrucian philosophy and esoteric knowledge. David is a past article contributor to the Sedona Journal of Emergence. He is also a Board Certified Hypnotist and Reiki healer. David is the author of The First Truth: A Book of Metaphysical Theories and Illusion of the Body: Introducing the Body Alive Principle. Both books can be purchased at Visit



About Patrick Keller

Patrick Keller is an educator, blogger, and the host of the Big Séance Podcast, which is a place for paranerds to have an open discussion on all things paranormal, but specifically topics like ghosts and hauntings, paranormal research, spirit communication, psychics and mediums, and life after death. He’s the founder of the now inactive Missouri Spirit Seekers and has spent a lot of time experimenting with spirit communication tools and techniques, such as EVP. Patrick also has a passion for spending hours at a time in cemeteries and loves cemetery photography. Visit! View all posts by Patrick Keller

8 responses to “How to Evaluate the Authenticity of an Observer’s Supernatural Encounter

  • Gary Leigh

    Interestingly enough, this echoes a half finished blog I’m working on.

    I believe it’s certainly important to be skeptical but at the same time open.

    Don’t make things into what they aren’t and don’t dismiss things that clearly are.

    Good post.

  • davidalmeida23

    Thank you Gary. I appreciate your comment. I think it’s difficult for most of us to keep from getting overly excited about a person’s convincing account of a supernatural event. It’s easy to get drawn in by their enthusiasm. We shouldn’t believe everything a person says until we have taken the time to consider whether or not it is reasonable.

    I have had personal encounters with “supernatural beings.” The two I incidents I am thinking of occurred with my eyes open and in the presence of a rational witness. Even with full knowledge of this, I still have a hard time believing they occurred. One was with a shadow person. The article is on the Internet somewhere. My other supernatural encounter was with an “evil spirit,” for lack of a better word. I am told that they are no longer called evil spirits. They are now called “negative energies.”

    In this last encounter, I learned that negative entities have personalities, not unlike humans. I found that these creatures have egos. They are malicious as other people have reported. One of them left a distinct mark on my face. Another person was available to verify that the scratch was not there prior to the assault. However, it was visible to her immediately afterwards. I felt this thing physically scratch me on my face, even though I could not see anyone do it.

    I suppose the most obvious explanation would be that I did it to myself. I can only say that I did not. I don’t believe I wrote an article on this. I guess I’ll get the full story out eventually. By the way, the shadow person was not threatening. My wife was literally inches from it. Maybe Patrick will share this story. I know he liked it by his comments. That’s how I came to know him.

    I wasn’t frightened by this incident. In a way, I felt privileged to have had the experience. I realize that most people to do know that this side of life exists. I believe that many people are afraid to face this reality. We need people who have the courage to explore the unknown universe. That’s why I admire people like you and Patrick. I can see that there are investigators with integrity, working in an intelligent manner, to expose the truth.

    We do not need conspiracy theorists adding to the confusion of the world. There are differences between beliefs, theories, assumptions, etc. Some of them are plausible and reasonable. They are all debatable. I’m even fine with including my theories in that statement. Other stories are complete nonsense like the Illuminati rumors of world domination. Thanks!

    Unrelated Comment:

    I’m throwing the following comment since there may be other investigators reading this post. Investigators are excellent judges of character. The first impressions we get of a person is usually accurate. This only true if we are being unbiased. Reading a book by its cover is a legitimate technique. We all do it. I would just caution any investigator reading this that the first impression is only a starting point. We should never draw conclusions from them without taking our assessment of a person a few steps further.

    When an investigator writes his or her report, it should factual. You should write what the person said. You could use quotes. It’s okay to put your opinions in at the end. If you think the person is not credible, then say so. You should also state why. Choose your words carefully. Don’t say the person is a fruit cake.  You would just discrediting yourself. In that case, I wouldn’t bother writing a report.

    I just wrote a 600 word article. Once I get going, I can’t stop.

  • Gary Leigh

    Thanks, David,

    Just as a point of interest, they are called negative energies because good and evil and strictly relative concepts.

    By that, I mean, what might be evil to us may not be evil from their point of view.

    There are people I’ve met who believe me to be evil, for example. I think the best way to describe it is that if it doesn’t advance your goals, or conflicts with you belief system, it may be considered negative or evil. It’s always a judgement on our part, though.

    I was watching something the other day about a person who got scratched by a spirit. It seemed legit from what I could see. (And interestingly enough, the spirit box they had supposedly said ‘Kill Patrick’.

    Conspiracy theorist annoy me. In my opinion, the only conspiracy is to keep the conspiracy alive. Of course, there are conspiracies out there, but certainly not on the scale and nonsensical level we keep hearing about.
    I’ve noted something about people trying to prove their case.
    I don’t know if there is a name for this out there (if there is, please let me know) but until I find it, I am calling it Leigh’s Law.

    In order to prove their point, people will add or subtract 1 or 2 from the number of times something has happened. For instance, if they tried to make something work, say twice, they will tell you they tried it three or four times. If they did something wrong that they shouldn’t have (like ignoring an error message on a computer) they will reduce the number of times they did it by 1 or 2.

    Generally, I will take that into account when someone is telling me something.

    I’m a purist myself. If there’s any chance of something not being true, then I want to know it. (I’m one of those people who can’t stand movie adaptations of books or animes. (The Last Airbender made me actually want to hurt someone!)

  • davidalmeida23

    I understand the whole philosophy behind good and evil. I know that good and evil is a matter of interpretation like everything else in the physical world. It’s impossible to be completely objective because events have to be interpreted with a limited vocabulary. I have had this same conversation with people on other blogs. I’m not sure if it’s going anywhere. I’m going to finish this conversation because I know it will lead to a discussion of the nature of reality. Metaphysics can be compared to a rat looking for a piece of cheese in a massive labyrinth. I will say that the negative energies are very different from the kind of evil humans commit.

    That’s really odd about the person with the spirit box. I’m sure the “kill Patrick” message is just a strange coincidence. I know Patrick to be a decent a person, as I can see you are from your comments.

    I’m going to finish this conversation because I know it will lead to a discussion about the nature of reality. I left a long comment that should have been submitted as an article. I know from experience that no one wants to read other people’s dialogues on blogs. Thank you for your comments.

    • Gary Leigh

      lol… don’t worry, I ‘don’t have the energy or inclination to discuss the nature of reality or debate it.

      Just glad to meet your acquaintance and certainly would love to know more about what you’re doing as it sounds right up my alley.

  • Patrick

    I’ll say it again. I love that smart people come to visit my blog. 🙂

  • Maria Laing

    I have always been impressed with Patrick Keller’s integrity. Glad to make your acquaintance.

  • davidalmeida23

    Hi Maria. Any friend of Patrick’s is a friend of of mine. I’m a good judge of character. I chat with Patrick occasionally, and I find him to be a genuine person. My articles are distributed all over the Internet through syndication, but I really appreciate it when someone like Patrick takes the time to post one of my articles. It gives me some validation. I’m very choosy with my words. It’s difficult for me to write about supernatural events. I try to be rational in explaining what I’ve seen. The things I’ve witnessed are literally impossible by my way of thinking. I say this despite the fact that I’ve written over 70 articles and two books on metaphysical subjects. The whole thing still strikes me as being a bit surreal. Feel free to say hello via my website sometime. Thanx!

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