Reader Route66News asks a good question on one of the supernatural/paranormal discussion threads:

I’ve never had anything happen to me like those stories, ever, in my nearly 50 years on Earth.

Serious question: Are some folks more prone to have allegedly supernatural experiences? Sorta like weirdo magnets?

And if nothing happens to you for a long time and you thus become more skeptical of such stories, do the lack of them become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy?

This is a fascinating question. Are some people more open to paranormal experiences than others? It makes sense that they would be. A hardcore skeptic would say that to believe such things are possible is to open yourself up to suggestibility. But given what we know about how easy it is for people who don’t wish to believe something to refuse (unconsciously) to see it, it is also reasonable to think that people who do not believe in the possibility of such things will not recognize the phenomena should they present themselves. It’s hard to know.

To me, the most interesting stories come from people who are not predisposed to believing in such things or having such experiences. Twenty years ago, when ghostly activities in my mom and dad’s house started happening, I was the first to experience them, but I said nothing to anybody, because I wasn’t sure what was happening. I do tend to be a magnet for this sort of paranormal or spiritual experience (both good and bad; I’ve had a handful of mystical experiences that were clearly from God, in my judgment). My father is a Christian, but absolutely not the sort of person who spends a single moment thinking about the woo-woo aspects of Christian belief. The ghostly activity centered around him, though; he had buried his father the day before. That most things were happening to my dad, and it was rattling his view of reality pretty seriously, made it more authentic to me.

It’s interesting to me how my mother and I, who are a lot alike, are both much more susceptible to these kinds of things than my father and my late sister, who are (were) just like each other. My mom is not as engaged with religion as I am, but things like this happen to her a lot. I’ve thought hard about why these things happen to her, and I don’t really know. But they do, even when she doesn’t want them to. I have read that some people who have near-death experiences emerge from them with a much heightened awareness of spiritual and paranormal phenomena. My mother nearly drowned as a child. Could that be a factor? I really don’t know, and probably never will know.

But I do know that I strongly take after her, and have had some of the experiences she has, even though I have never sought them out. A couple of weeks ago, my son Matt revealed to me that they often have dreams that come true, but not in a useful way (e.g., dreaming about significant future events, like a famous person’s death, or a war, or lottery numbers). Rather, he will be in an unfamiliar place and wonder why it feels so familiar, and then remember that he’d had a recent dream about that place. I told him that happened to me constantly from about the age of nine until my teenage years.

Another odd thing. Look at the video posted above. It was taken five years ago in my Dallas backyard. We were talking about dowsing on my old Beliefnet blog. I was demonstrating for my readers how it works, at least how it works for me. Whenever I stand over a water source, the two rods turn outward. Works that way for my mom too. Whenever my father and my sister would stand over a water source, the wires would turn the opposite way, and cross. Daddy used this method all the time to find underground pipes that were leaking on property he owned. I don’t presume a supernatural explanation for this, but it was, and is, an odd thing — and I don’t know why it would work one way for my mom and me, but not for my sister and my dad (everyone my dad has shown this method to and who was able to do it watched their wires cross; my mom and I are the only ones who experience what you see above). And as you see from that video, my son Matt has exactly the same experience I do. I don’t do this much because it kind of creeps me out, even though I expect that there’s a naturalistic explanation for it. I know that it works, though, because I have seen it happen many times.

I don’t suppose we’ll ever know why any of this exists, but it’s interesting to think about. Decades ago, I was spending an extended period of time in an old mansion owned by a friend, and finally told her I would have to leave early, because I couldn’t sleep in the upstairs bedroom I had chosen. I told her I kept sensing a presence in that room, watching me. I conceded that it was probably just me being frightened of an old house, but whatever the reason, I couldn’t get any sleep, and was going to leave. She kind of rolled her eyes — she’s not religious or spiritually inclined — but her husband told me he’s never been able to sleep in that room for the same exact reason. He suggested taking another bedroom in the old house. I did, and slept like a baby for the remainder of my stay. The husband and I had a conversation later about our mutual sensitivity to such things, and other events that had happened to him in their house. His childhood Catholicism may have lapsed, but he still retained a belief in and sensitivity to the spirit realm, because of his own experiences.

So, yeah, I’m a mild magnet for the paranormal, but I don’t know why — and it seems to run in the family, a bit. Are you? Any idea why this might be? It’s certainly not because I have more religious faith than others. Most everybody I know who is more prayerful, devoted, and morally upright than I has had no experiences like this. You can’t make them happen on demand, either.