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When looking for “evidence” to support one’s personal theory/theories, what constitutes personal proof? I mean, a lot of us cite many reasons for why we believe what we do with respect to our “true natures,” but just how valid is the evidence we site?

We cite things like phantom limbs—a phenomenon that can be explained by brain chemistry and has been the subject of many a scientific study. We say we feel things like wings, animal parts, etc. Are we truly feeling the remnants of a lost limb? Are these sensations symbolic? After all, wings have been a long-standing symbol of freedom and many of us “feel” them (not to mention symbolism that could be attributed to other limbs). Or are can what we believe to be phantom limb sensations be explained away by science?

Are mental shifts, our beliefs that somehow our thought process changes to that of our kin-type, just that? Or are they once again a product of abnormal brain wiring and in no way associated with our personal beliefs? Do we all just suffer from some version of the same mental illness? Are they truly what we believe them to be, or is it a case by case basis? How can we be sure one way or the other?

Past life memories could very well be products of our subconscious. What makes us accept them as anything else? If they’re repeated? If we find strangers who provide us evidence that they share our memories, thus validating them? Or do we just accept them immediately as “true memories” and leave it at that?

Current tendencies are often a way that some people explore the possibilities of their kintype. They cite things like an affinity for meat for further proof that they’re wolf therians, feelings that one doesn’t fit into humanity are very common, blood lust is something that many people say led them to think that they’re a vampire, demon, or some other “dark” race. Surely physical things are a product of our humanity and nothing more. Some people, ‘kin and non-kin alike, have longer canines, heightened senses, etc. We are all part of the same vast gene pool and capable of the same “abilities” like energy work, empathy, and the like after all. When can we accept something as being beyond the scope of normal human tendencies? Can we ever?

Still others cite their gut instincts and what they are just drawn to out of nowhere as “evidence”. Is one’s gut ever a reliable source? Do some of us ignore this potential source of confirmation too much? Or are those who heed their gut just giving in to wishful thinking and delusions of grandeur? Can the gut ever be heeded as something other than an organ which often leads us to believe what we most want to?

How should/do we analyze this “evidence”?

Many of us seek a purely scientific approach to the phenomenon of otherkin. We try to apply the scientific method—forming a hypothesis, then looking for evidence to support or refute the hypothesis. We tweak the hypothesis or throw it out altogether, repeating the first few steps until we come to accept whatever personal gnosis as a theory on our inner selves. Are we too skeptical of ourselves? Do we ignore “evidence” that shouldn’t be so easily tossed aside? When does scientific thinking hinder instead of help?

Others seek a purely spiritual approach to otherkin. We analyze our affinities, our phantom limbs, the aforementioned personal “evidence” for our beliefs. We look into our souls and see what does and does not lead us to whatever personal identification. But like the scientific approach, the purely spiritual approach has its downfalls as well. When does this approach lend itself to indulging our innermost wishes and desires? At what point does it enable self-delusion? Is a purely spiritual approach, taking everything that could be construed as “not entirely human” as proof of one’s kinship, healthy?

If you ask me, we need to seek a middle ground. We need to meld the scientific and spiritual, for the phenomenon we call “otherkin” is neither one nor the other in its entirety. Where some people reference their soul/spirit/fundamental energy as the cause of the phenomenon, still others point at their psychology and mental wiring. One explanation will never be agreed upon. So what should the middle ground be? At what point does one cross into the dangerous territory of too spiritual or too scientific?

Personally, I try to meld the two as best I can, but if it wasn’t for friends who are more than willing to proverbially smack me upside the head when I lean too far in one direction, who’s to say I could maintain a balance and not fall dangerously close to self delusion or ignoring “evidence” because it isn’t scientifically acceptable? How can/does/should one make sure neither extreme becomes favored?

Do we always seek out others to run our beliefs by? Do we do our very best to take the current hypothesis or theory and apply spiritual thinking and then scientific scrutiny? How can we be sure we aren’t just indulging in wishful thinking and how do we make sure that we don’t lose ourselves in our skepticism and analysis?

Well, we can’t prove our beliefs one way or the other. If only there were some physical indicator that we could test for to once and for all prove that we are what we believe ourselves to be. Since there is not, what do we do?

What is the evidence that you gather and how do you process it? How do you decide on a theory/hypothesis for your “inner nature” and how do you then analyze it? Do you analyze it? Or do you give that shady organ, the gut, the benefit of the doubt? Is your approach scientific, spiritual, or some combination of both?

To answer my own questions, I try to keep my approach a combination (as I said above). I cite a mixture of introspective and meditative experiences, past life memories I’ve had confirmed by two outside people, phantom limbs and mental shifts, the most benefit of the doubt. That much doubted organ, the gut, has taken the backseat. Lately, though, I’ve wondered if I’ve been ignoring my gut too much or if the gut is never a reliable source of information. Have I hit a wall because I have ignored it for too long, or should I be ignoring it?

So what do you all think?
evidence =/= proof...

there's no such thing as 100% conclusive proof in these matters, but we can choose to gather all the evidence we can and come to a conclusion that we can live with.
Seraphyna Wrote:When looking for “evidence” to support one’s personal theory/theories, what constitutes personal proof? I mean, a lot of us cite many reasons for why we believe what we do with respect to our “true natures,” but just how valid is the evidence we site?

That would depend on who besides the individual is privy to their personal reasons. Obviously the evidence is going to be highly personal and believable to the individual experiencing said things. But present those same pieces of "evidence" to someone else and they might not see it the same way or believe the reasons at all. I was secure in my beliefs enough so to post my specific reasons for believing what I do in a LJ entry a few months back. And the people who commented thought I had done my homework and come to an intelligent conclusion. It was hard to share it publicly, since it's such an intensely personal thing, but I thought it was necessary so that if any of my so-called evidence was flawed, someone would point it out to me.

Seraphyna Wrote:How can we be sure one way or the other?

Simple. We can't. There is never going to be 100% proof one way or another if Otherkin exist, let alone if personal experiences are valid or not. We can only go on our own intelligent, well thought out, conclusions that we've drawn on our experiences.

Seraphyna Wrote:How should/do we analyze this “evidence”?

With a lot of time and scrutiny of constantly analyzing and researching as to why and how we believe what we do. We never stop learning so we should never stop searching for the answers, whatever they may be.

Seraphyna Wrote:Are we too skeptical of ourselves?

Sometimes, yes. And there comes a point after all the research, meditation, thinking, criticizing, re-analyzing, etc. where belief is all we have left to go on. So we can either believe that yes, with all the above we are something other than human, or no, we're not.

Seraphyna Wrote:One explanation will never be agreed upon.

*nods* I agree with that. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->

Seraphyna Wrote:How can/does/should one make sure neither extreme becomes favored?

By asking others for help and their opinions for holes in the beliefs or theories. I'm of the mind that the more the merrier so when I have a question or a problem, I tend to ask people that I trust to help me. And, of course, to keep questioning ourselves and our personal beliefs.

Seraphyna Wrote:How can we be sure we aren’t just indulging in wishful thinking and how do we make sure that we don’t lose ourselves in our skepticism and analysis?

We can't ever be sure. We could very well all be batshit crazy. <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: -->

Seraphyna Wrote:Since there is not, what do we do?

"Just keep searching, just keep learning. What do we do? We analyze!" (Sung to Dory's "Just keep Swimming" tune from Finding Nemo)

Seraphyna Wrote:Is your approach scientific, spiritual, or some combination of both?

A combination of both for me I think.

After all my years of searching and learning I've still come up with the same conclusion. So either there's at least some shred of truth to why I believe what I do, or else I've really fooled myself (which could still be just as likely) but I'm more inclined to believe my personal "evidence" is valid.
Everything is evidence.

The two key issues are:

1 - Is the evidence credible
2 - What is it evidence of.

Evidence is credible if it is reasonable, coherent, logical, and consistent.

There are two big problems I see with evidence issues in otherkin groups today. First is not knowing if evidence is credible: it's the "I made the rain come!" syndrome. Sure, maybe you did. But it's a whole lot more likely that wanting it to rain, and it raining, were causally unrelated. Huge swathes of what "otherkin" and mystics of all kinds take as evidence lack credibility of the most basic kind.

Second of all, a great many people attracted to spiritual groups, when they find evidence - be it credible or otherwise - take it as evidence of something "remarkable", non-mundane, instead of evidence of perfectly normal and ordinary psychological processes.

All the observation and reason in the world won't help if someone wants to believe.
I think I tend to blend my gut and scientific reasoning. My gut had always told me that the body I was in was the wrong sex. When I had started awakening I had a fragment of a memory surface in a dream which was later corroberated by another person. Another dream of mine showed my astral grandmother, astral mother, and myself though I had thought my astral grandmother was my astral mother and my astral mother was my astral sister. This too was confirmed by someone else (my astral grandmother who happened to be my girlfriend in this life at one point). My gut pretty much tells me when something either seems right or not. Right now my gut tells me that there's more to me than being a human, elf, demon, vampire mix. I guess in the end though my gut tends to take precedence

Seraphyna, it may be that you have hit a wall because you haven't listened to your gut as much as you should. Scientific method is good but it's nver good to ignore your gut. Your gut can give you hints that something isn't right with something in the scientific method and visa versa.

Well I think I'm rambling so I'll stop now.

First of all, I have accepted (for the most part) that I will never know and have decided that (for the sake of my sanity) my therianism is not something that I need to confirm. I question myself because that is my nature, and, since I am a LOT happier when not "suppressing" what I call my therioside, therefore I don't worry that by "accepting my therioside" that I will join a suicide cult in which we worship the yaoi pairing of Gimli and Aragorn.

Sanity, as I have come to personally conclude, is relative and can only be decided as lacking through a severe lack of functionality. Therefore, if I accept this one idea as a very shaky personal truth and it does not cause me detriment, then I won't go panic over it.

I just enjoy questioning myself and I enjoy my periods of painful doubt, because, as I said elsewhere on this board: I get bored easily.

Now, that will make as much sense as a flock of turkeys driving a white mercedes at noontime on the 30th of February, but that is all part in parcel with me. <!-- sBig Grin --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- sBig Grin -->
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