by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground Magazine
I was waiting to blog today until I was feeling less sleep-deprived. Sadly, having a puppy with a newly broken leg is not conducive to remedying that situation anytime soon, so I guess I’ll blog in my sleep deprived state. Read on at your own risk.
One of our members posted a link to a “commercial” for a paranormal investigator “certification program.” A Google search for paranormal investigation certification yields page after page of results on programs that would gladly take your money in order to certify you in this exciting and popular field. I suppose with Ghost Hunters Academy now in the annals of paranormal television programs, it was a fruit ripe for the picking – training and certifying a new generation of ghost hunters.
I actually have no problem with established teams taking newbies under their wings. As someone who is relatively new to paranormal investigation (although not new to the paranormal), I have been very lucky that I have the position I do, where experienced and established groups have been willing to take me under their wings and show me what they know. I’ve been lucky enough to investigate with more than one established group, which has given me access to different investigation styles and techniques.
As a matter of fact, I strongly recommend that novice ghost hunters and paranormal investigators pick as many brains as they can and, if at all possible, follow around as many investigators as they can asking questions. It’s what I have done, and I can assure you that I am as annoying as any three-year-old who frequently employs the use of the word, “Why?”
There is much to be learned from all kinds of people in the field – from parapsychologists like Loyd Auerbach to psychic mediums, to experienced investigators. Heck, you can even learn something from the “TV people.” Zak Bagans, for instance, frequently points out that their show just may be a how not to investigate primer for many by showing them what can happen if they engage in the confrontational tactics of guerilla ghost hunting. If you arm yourself with as much of the collective wisdom (and cautionary tales) as you can, you just may learn a little something about the field in which you are engaging.
Which goes to show you – paranormal education need not be formal. As a matter of fact, I am unaware of any national standard of certification for paranormal investigators. And since every bit of my paranormal education has been free of charge, I might also suggest that paying for certification may be a waste of your money for so many different reasons. Sure, it’s your money and you are free to spend it as you wish, but for the cost of some of the paranormal investigator certification programs out there – heck, I’d rather have a really nice new pair of shoes.
It all sort of reminds me of when I was a brand new aerobics instructor. This was a few *koff*25*koff* years ago when the aerobics craze was still in its infancy. There were all sorts of “certifications” you could get to teach aerobics. Pretty much anyone who felt like teaching instructors advertised certification programs. It wasn’t until I’d been teaching a few years that the American Council on Exercise (ACE – although I believe it is called something else now) came out with a standardized, broadly accepted certification program that involved training standards and continuing education. Before that, people learned the trade as I did – by being taken under the wing of an established instructor. Sound familiar?
As Kim Kowalczyk so aptly pointed out in his Guest Blog the other day, the field isn’t standardized. That seems to me to render certification sort of a moot point – more of a vanity move than anything meaningful.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for people learning as much as they can. I’m also all for experienced investigators sharing their knowledge. Because right now, short of forking out a small fortune for a certification that won’t stick, it’s what we have. We could go on and on about whose methods are right, whose methods are misguided, and whose methods are flat-out insane, but the truth is that is a conversation we have altogether too much in this field – and not in a constructive way. Instead of using those conversations as a tool for learning and growing as a field, they are often used as an attack on those who may work from a different set of assumptions or use different methods.
As a field, we all have knowledge that begs to be shared. Each of us has come across a unique situation or experience that, if shared with the collective and looked at constructively, just could be key in figuring this whole paranormal thingie out. Or maybe not. But if you really, really feel you must have a certification, I’d be happy to design one for you. And the best part? You can save your money. I work for shoes.
Enjoy reading Karen’s blog? Her new book, Avalanche of Spirits: The Ghosts of Wellington> is now available. Click here to buy.