I've gotten my fair share of weird looks when I tell people I'm doing my high school research project on lucid dreaming. It feels that people associate sleep science with palm reading and the like...
Have you ever had anyone react negatively or oddly to the revelation that you practice lucid dreaming? If so, why do you think there are so many misunderstandings about lucid dreaming?
Rebecca says: I encounter this a lot, when people ask me what I do for a living. I tell them I write a website. About what, they ask. About lucid dreaming. Then I pause and wait for their giveaway reaction.
Generally smart people already have a good idea of what lucid dreaming is. The term is becoming more of a household phrase, and these people realize it's something real. It sparks some interesting discussions, and I find more and more people I know already naturally lucid dream (but just don't call it that).
Some people just ask what it is outright, and I explain as best I can without sounding like a broken record. This can be hit or miss. On the plus side, what starts out as polite small talk quickly becomes quite deep and you get to know complete strangers on a more meaningful level. On the downside, some people just don't get it. It's hard to explain lucidity when they don't understand the difference between conscious and unconscious awareness... so that ends in an awkward moment and I quickly move on.
A few times I've had people give me funny looks and say things like "do you really believe in all THAT?" as if it literally means invading other people's dreams or psychically dreaming of the future or some other hocus pocus. Again, these are the ones who just don't get it and though I'll try to explain, it's difficult to teach people whose minds have already been made up about something, especially when you know their belief completely lacks any reasonable foundation. It's like trying to argue Evolution to a Creationist, you have to change their whole belief system just to define the concept to them.
So, why the misunderstanding?
We live in a world where the scientific method is not as widely revered as it deserves to be. Science gives us every single piece of technology in the world today. Yet when you apply science to people's personal beliefs, they suddenly want no more of it. Many people believe in angels, ghosts, the afterlife, mediums, telepathy, psychic energy, chakras, auras, the list goes on... These are all beliefs based on wobbly "I-want-to-believe-it-so-I-will" theories which have not been backed by observable evidence, and so science rejects them until such time that they do.
This creates a whole lot of uncertainty for people stuck in the middle. These are people who were never educated properly in the scientific method, and so have no system to decide what is and isn't real - yet feel we should draw the line somewhere.
So at one end of the scale you have people who believe anything if it suits their philosophy. In the middle the uncertain ones who have no way to measure what's real and what's not and so flip-flop on their beliefs. And at the other end people who trust in the scientific method to find objective truths.
The middle group, who flip-flop over their beliefs, are the ones who will potentially label you crazy for believing in lucid dreaming. Partly because they are uneducated and don't know what it is nor the science behind it, and partly because they don't know how to categorize what's real even if the evidence hit them in the face.
If that all sounds pompous, then forgive me. I don't have all the answers, but I do have an educated opinion. And I place a huge amount of importance on education. This doesn't mean you have to have a fancy college degree, you just need a thirst for learning. The day you stop learning and caring about finding answers, settling instead for whatever you are spoon fed by your local spiritual / religious group, then you have officially given up on meaningful intellectual progression in life.
Don't worry about what these other high school students think. They're too immature at the moment. When I explained the OBE vibrational state to my friends in school, they said "Haha. You used a vibrator." :/ QED
One of the best things I've found about getting older is you and your peers get wiser, and you can have more meaningful discussion of these things. So I think it's pretty awesome when teenagers ask questions like this, because it suggests you're already ahead of the game and actively applying your intelligence. Don't let your school friends put you off this method of thinking - because it really does serve you well.