Do you believe in fairies?

minstead1Let me tell you a bit about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. He was born in Scotland in 1859 and he studied to be a doctor at Edinburgh University. Medicine took him to the Arctic Circle (on a whaling ship) and Africa before he established a practice on the English south coast.

His first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, became widely read worldwide before he was 30. Throughout his life, Conan Doyle saw the “Holmes” stories as commercial and wished to be regarded as a serious author by his other work (plays, historic novels and poetry – Sherlock Holmes initially gained huge readership in a popular magazine).

A man of principle and courage, whatever his own reservations regarding his creation of Sherlock Holmes, his knighthood and other awards made him one of the most influential and respected men of his generation. But he was not without controversy. He held strong beliefs in the occult and in particular he expounded spiritualism, being able to communicate with the dead.

In 1917, photographs taken by two girls of themselves playing with fairies were published – photo 1, photo 2, Conan Doyle took them as genuine evidence of the existence of fairies. Even at the time, pre-Photoshop!, there was skepticism about their authenticity – despite moving there is no blurring of their wings or consistent lighting. Conan Doyle published pamphlets and even a book “The Coming of the Fairies”, using the photographs as further evidence of another world.

A very self confident man, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle strongly rebutted any argument made against his beliefs. From what I have read, there was nothing that anyone could say that would weaken his beliefs that fairies existed and it is possible to communicate with the dead. Today, of course there are many people who still believe in both spiritualism and fairies. Whether or not you do doesn’t really matter. There are many things that I don’t believe in, that I think are as plausible as fairies, that others do believe and follow.

minsteadWhen someone adopts a particular belief system, it is natural to filter in what supports that belief and reject what undermines. You cannot truly believe and embrace, but remain skeptical. This post was partially inspired by an email I received this week from the author of an ebook on the Law of Attraction. He says he responds to any criticism or to those who say the Law of Attraction is a fraud with “If you say so”.

Do you believe that everything in life is the result of your thoughts? That somehow your thoughts transmit magnetic vibrations that can influence others, influence events, and get you whatever you want – even that elusive car parking space? That people suffering disease or famine just didn’t think right? That the voodoo of the universe, or those elusive fairies, are hard at work making things happen according to all the thoughts of every person on earth?

As I have outlined on several posts, our thinking impinges greatly on both our self confidence and self esteem. Changing our thinking habits and challenging negative thoughts are techniques I go over more than once. I also believe  that if used correctly affirmations can help build self esteem and visualization can help with self confidence.  But in the same way that I don’t believe in fairies, I don’t believe in any Law of Attraction.

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Bruce November 19, 2007 at 2:28 am

You are so PC in writing this. I agree 100%. If you are improving and not at the expense of anyone else, go for it. Largely though most systems are sustaining their founder or their founder’s organization. I believe in being eclectic or what I have heard described as the grocery store method. When I find something on the shelf I want, I take it but I don’t take everything and not the same things every time. I use what works where ever I find it and am grateful to whoever showed the way. Keep up the good work.

gale November 19, 2007 at 5:29 am

wow, extremely informative about the author of my fav books. loved how you integrated historical biography with the topic of confidence. i’ll take the notion of “if you say so” to heart, for bloggers like us in the advice arena are especially prone to criticism, and that’s perfectly fine. great post again 🙂

Karen (Karooch from Scraps of Mind) November 19, 2007 at 9:38 pm

I think the true strength of any belief system lies within the believer not within the system. The system is just a lens to focus the inner strengths of each individual. That’s why the outcomes from each system are so inconsistent.
Some thought provoking stuff here. Let’s give it a Stumble and see what others think.

David Rogers November 19, 2007 at 10:06 pm

Bruce, gale & Karen
Thank you all for your informative comments. I should stress I was trying to avoid saying belief systems are wrong – but I have just come to recognise that I am never going to embrace those that I have looked at. You could argue I am as entrenched as Arthur Conan Doyle, but I accept and am delighted others find benefits from say the L of A.
If people do believe in fairies (or spiritualism for that matter) and it helps their life, again I’m delighted for them.

Mert Erkal November 21, 2007 at 3:56 pm

Great post David. I read his books, but i did not know much about him. Very enlightening…

Mark McClure Coaching October 31, 2008 at 12:42 am

Hi David,

Found this post via your tweet on twitter.com – great way to share great content that lies buried in a blog cemetery (I always think of blog archives as such… sadly!)

For some reason I also found those pictures of his final resting place very moving – fits in my mind what looks like a damp Scottish autumn day (quite a contrast with the crisp, dry autumn days we’re having here at the moment).

A deeply thoughtful post – thank you.

Mark McClure Coachings last blog post..A Tech Career Marketing Lesson From Joe The (Fictitious) Plumber

David October 31, 2008 at 8:04 am

Mark, thanks for your comment. I actually pass within a mile of Arthur Conan Doyle’s grave on my journey to work. His final resting place is actually very much in the heart of Southern England in a village called Minstead in the New Forest.

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