The Scientific approach.
Most otherkin societies tend to like to think that they favor the scientific method and subscribe to it. For those of you who are unsure what that is, the steps of the scientific method are the following
• Ask a Question
• Do Background Research
• Construct a Hypothesis
• Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
• Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
There are a lot of otherkin out there that (try to) follow this pattern;
• “What am I?”
• Look up past life memories, study phantom limbs, etc
• “I am an X.”
• Ask other Xs for verification of information.
• Conclude they are X.
One of the key ingredients in the scientific method, something that any and all serious researcher does his very best to do, is to distance oneself from one’s subject matter and avoid to become emotionally attached to one’s hypothesis as that is a sure-fired way to create bias. And any serious research employing the scientific method requires one to strive to remove any and all potential for bias possible.
As otherkin we sometimes forget this. Of course we are all human and as human beings we are very susceptible to forming emotional ties to our hypothesizes, sometimes to the point where we might exclude contradicting information, at least until we feel like changing our minds on our own, contradictions or no contradictions, just like any other researcher, but the otherkin society as a whole is not going a good job at trying to prevent this or teach people to avoid doing this. If anything, there are places and people that will advocate the opposite.
These people often mean well and many of them actually believe that what you feel is more important than what you know, understand, etc, but more often than not, people who have entered into the otherkin identity from a purely emotional and sociological standpoint find themselves later in serious doubt of all they felt they knew about themselves. Taking it seriously from day one and trying to work out what you “know” about yourself and expand upon that than simply latching onto the first identity that comes along and clinging onto it as truth without any verification other than that it “feels right” can prevent this.
Another problem is that we put an excessive amount of trust in past life memories, if not our own but those of others. The thing forgotten in that respect is thus; “Just because someone else remembers you, doesn’t mean you were there.”
We have all seen similar themes in children’s literature and other media in our youth and most of us have been raised with the some of the exact same, or at least very similar religious stories. It is very likely to think that this background would make us inclined to accept the same “memories” as real even if they are the result of crypto amnesia and this of course translates to a simple prospect; More people remembering the same thing, does not make it “more” right.
Currently we find subgroups within the otherkin community as a whole that all share a certain set of memories and they tend to cling to them as reality with such fervor that when another person enters the group and goes “hey, that’s not how I remember it” they often find themselves bullied in one way or another to revise their statement or their own beliefs to allow the subgroup to continue their monopoly of the kintype. This means that anyone entering that group, often just by deciding to identify with that kintype, have three choices. A) To decide to agree with the group on the previously agreed upon memories, even if the new member has no memory of these things at all. B) To change their kintype to something else, or wording it differently, thus distancing themselves from the group, allowing them to carry on. And C) To become a villain in the situation. This is clearly not healthy. It does not allow new members who identify with the kintypes in question to do their own soul-searching and imposes upon them an entirely unfair set of “rules” which does make the whole subgroup of otherkin look more like a cult than anything else.
Memories, be they our own, or those of others are unreliable and easily fooled. Reading other people’s past life memories is not a good way to research your own personal beliefs and identity.
We all want reinforcement and support, we all want to be correct and we all want to belong. Human beings are pack animals and we all have a deep emotional need to belong to a pack that we can rely on for any and all support we may need. This need to belong is natural, expectable, and perfectly normal, however, it can cause us to associate ourselves with identities and archetypes out of that need as opposed to associating ourselves with who we really are. This is especially easy to do when you have access to people telling you that they remember you, know you and welcome you. Sometimes the welcoming arms do more harm than good.
So the gathering of information can sometimes be the kind of task that gets in your way, especially if you’re trying to gather information from a number of sources. Thus, it’s probably for the best, to eliminate bias, to distance yourself from others that share your kintype, at least to start with, and work out what it is that “you” really believe and know of yourself, and then after that, you can work on your own past life memories and then, and only then, start talking to others of your kintype and compare notes.
The scientific method only really works if you are able to take into account all of the information available to you at any given time and analyze all the data relevant to the question without prejudice. After all, we’ve all heard of the studies that show the exact answer/result that whoever made it was looking for, and who hasn’t heard the saying that you can always find someone/something to back you up, even if you’re wrong? There are many sciences out there that rely on a study and documentation model of things and do not rightly allow for experimentation per say (sociology for one) and one of the things any scientist or person conducting any study within these fields of research has to learn (and sometimes have a hard time really learning) is to make sure they “see” and document even those things that do not support their hypothesizes.
So when we, after various amounts of time, find an answer to “what am I?” we sometimes latch onto our X and so seek out things to verify X even if two weeks later we find we are more like Y at which point we become just as sure that we are Y as we were that we were X before that. Sometimes this carries on for much longer than two or three kintypes. Each time we make a “new discovery” we feel just as sure we got it right as the last time even if we’ve made two, or ten, or more “new discoveries” before. We become so latched onto the title and tag and label that we choose to associate with each and every time we decide to associate with a new thing that we are capable of overlooking a lot of things about ourselves, after all, how else would be constantly making new discoveries?
Then there’s the question whether or not we are able to disconnect our emotional preferences as to what we want to see in ourselves enough to be able to see ourselves fairly and without prejudice. Who here can truly, honestly, say that they are always 100% honest with themselves? Who here even believes it’s possible?
None the less, if we are ever to be able to say that we’ve applied the scientific method to our beliefs in any shape way or form the key is to try and base our opinions of ourselves off of all of the available information, not just what backs up the identity we want, or the latest identity.
Therein lies another problem of course. How do you know whether or not you “want” the kintype/identity you’ve stumbled upon. Some of us believe that we’re one of a kind, or one of a very limited kin. Some of us believe that we were abused, killed, wronged somehow. Some of us believe we’re powerful beings. Some of us believe we’re just ordinary and average even if different. You’d think some of these things weren’t things you’d expect to be wanted or desired in identity. It’s easier to see why one would like to believe they are powerful than to see what would make one want to be a victim. And yet, martyrdom is one of the common features of otherkin. Sad stories of the noble being slaughtered at the hands of ignorant humans, or of innocent beings tortured by friends if not enemies. Truth of the matter is that there are several psychological reasons for wanting any of the labels of the otherkin nature even if we exclude the conscious choice to attach to a label that may or may not fit. We can find ourselves compensating for and/or recreating things we may have met in our current lives. Through otherkinism, people have the opportunity to build for themselves the identity that they want, consciously or subconsciously, and some do.
It’s very easy to fail to notice what doesn’t support our theories, it doesn’t have to mean that we are consciously ignoring information, so it’s very important to seek out that information with at least as much drive as we seek out the support for our theories. It is important to remember that just because we’ve found external verifications of our theories from other people that they too are biased and that verification should not be treated like it’s beyond questioning or beyond doubt. We owe it to ourselves and each other to doubt other’s memories of us with every bit as much doubt as we show ourselves, and we must doubt ourselves or we are doomed to cling onto an assumed identity without ever really working out who we really are, who we really were, what we really believe, and so on.
This is why it is dangerous to become attached to our kintypes, and we should all strive to take into account all information available at all times and remember that no matter if we can figure out what we used to be, it doesn’t change who we are today. The scientific method rocks, now lets add the scientific approach.
"Those who can't approach discussion with a basic level of intelligence and maturity shouldn't expect to be taken seriously." ~ Qualia Soup