by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground e-Magazine
The influx of television shows about paranormal investigation has been both a blessing and a curse to the paranormal field.
On the one hand, it has helped to bring the paranormal and paranormal investigation into the public eye. People are less likely to look at you funny if you share a paranormal experience. Others who are having difficulty with unexplained phenomenon now realize that there is someone they can call to come in and help them find out what’s really going on. These are good things.
On the other hand, the entire field is now being evaluated by what is seen on television. The paranormal teams on television are set up as the gold standard of how to conduct an investigation, how to analyze evidence, and they set the standards by which “proof” should be judged.
Certainly, these shows have inspired numerous fledgling paranormal investigation groups across the country who know only that you go in and wave an EMF meter around. Or provoke in hopes of getting EVPs.
And so, there is great wailing and gnashing of teeth. There are no standards! Where is the science? Where is the critical thinking? Where is the PROOF?
And then there’s the issue of the paranormal newsmakers. Like TAPS Con (which explained in the title what was about to happen. The only better name for it would have been TAPScrew). Or a convicted sex offender is found to be going into people’s homes as part of an investigative group.
These things all cast a bad light on a field that makes people just a little suspicious anyway. After all, the spiritualist and paranormal movements have been historically laced with charlatans and con artists. Certainly, the paranormal is a fringe filed, at best.
That seems to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. There are paranormal investigators out there doing good work. Legitimate work. They are investing their own time, their own expense and their own energy into helping terrified, desperate people. They don’t charge a dime. They do it because they believe in the field, because they want to help, and because they believe that they have ideas can help further the understanding of the paranormal.
There are paranormal groups out there that are nothing like what you see on television. They are trying new methods and searching for the science behind the phenomena. They have excellent critical thinking skills. They call nothing proof – only unexplainable evidence.
Yes. There are charlatans in the field. There are people pushing personal agendas. There are people emulating poor investigatory techniques. All of these things are true. But these people don’t cancel out the ones doing the good work to advance the field.
There will always be differences in quality. There will always be differences in integrity. But the paranormal world isn’t the only place where this is happening. It is everywhere. Can you say Bernie Madoff? Does Bernie Madoff render every other asset management firm a Ponzi scheme? Okay – I get that in today’s economy, many of you might answer yes, but I hope you see where I am going.
How can we raise the standards of paranormal investigation so that more teams are doing the good work? By taking new teams under our wings and allowing them to learn from someone other than on television. By an exchange of information and ideas among groups. Through education – both of the public and of other teams. By participating in groups and discussions where a free exchange of ideas is encouraged – such as Paranormal Science and Assistance, Truth in Paranormal Science, DeadScience or our humble little magazine and forum.
Its up to each and every member of the paranormal community to take the responsibility to hold themelves to the highest standards and help others do the same. In doing this, there’s no telling where the field will go.