There is quite a fascination with the paranormal field lately and I think it’s safe to say there are more and more investigative teams appearing literally every day. The field is saturated with them. Television and the internet have made this field incredibly accessible, which are both a great and major pain at the same time. Television and the glamorization of ghost hunting has made it more mainstream and acceptable among the general public which is nice, but the internet has made it possible for any Tom, Chris, or Harry to start up a team whether they have any knowledge of the paranormal or not. I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to learn, I just begrudge people that fail to use common sense and do a little bit of research. There is a plethora of information available these days and sadly some of it is not good information. I would suggest anyone wanting to get involved in this field be very particular about what you take from the veritable candy dish of ghost hunting – you could very easily end up with that pretty purple piece that tastes like black licorice instead of grape and ruin your whole experience.
When it comes to the paranormal, there are several types of beliefs. There are those that believe every mote of dust, drop of moisture, and trick of light that cause those pesky orbs are indeed signs of the afterlife even though science has proven otherwise. How many orbs did you see before digital cameras? There are those that believe everything paranormal has to do with religion – that every supernatural being is an angel or demon sent to do God or Satan’s bidding. There are people that refuse to believe anything paranormal could possibly happen at all. Then there are people like me and my contemporaries that believe there are things that are unexplainable yet have the discernment to use some very basic common sense. We got the memo about orbs when somehow so many others missed it. We understand how a basic radio works and don’t accept the fact that the dead talk through AM radios that only one guy and his selected friends a/k/a “Spirit Communicators” can translate while charging you enormous amounts of money to do so; we also understand that sometimes there are more voices on our tapes than there were people present but we have the wherewithal to admit we don’t know how it happens.
A lot of people believe in the paranormal because they have had an experience they cannot explain. People that refuse to believe in it have likely never had that same kind of experience and are often not highly spiritual people. They are science minded and thus refuse to accept that ghosts may exist because science hasn’t proven the existence of the afterlife. They fail to accept there could very well be gray areas or even areas science hasn’t discovered yet.
The group I am affiliated with is known as trouble makers and mean girls that don’t respect other peoples’ opinions. We’ve gotten this reputation for a very silly reason – because we ask people to be accountable for what they put in front of the world. Being Pagan, this is simply a way of life for me and it frustrates me that more people don’t “get it.” Being responsible for your actions is a large part of the Pagan lifestyle yet it seems to go right out the window when it comes to paranormal investigating and/or beliefs. People seem to think just because THEY believe it’s so, it is – whether science proves them wrong or not. Just because someone believes something doesn’t make it so – not when there is science proving it! I am not talking about the simple question of whether ghosts exist or not – I am talking about things such as orbs that are proven to be caused by using your flash incorrectly or the fact that you really captured highway noises and not voices from the grave on your tapes. These are the kinds of things that CAN be proven and if someone really wants to be taken seriously as an investigator, they need to be willing to accept that every little thing is not paranormal and not put crazy things on the world wide web claiming you’ve captured a ghost at the gas station when you’ve really captured a moth on a security camera.
According to the definition on Wikipedia, critical thinking “employs not only logic but broad intellectual criteria such as clarity, credibility, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance and fairness.”
If paranormal investigating is something you are truly interested in, employ a good dose of common sense, read the skeptics as well as the believers and glean from them both. Use basic critical thinking skills. You will be much more credible and you will be able to actually intelligently discuss your position.
Right now we may be known as radical and mean, but hopefully one day we’ll be known as those people that made some sense in this crazy world of paranormal research. It seems to me the founding fathers were once thought to be a bit radical and crazy, too…
Three years ago we deemed June as National Paranormal Clean Up month. We go to several abandoned and historic places every year and in order to give back to our communities that offer us these jewels, we give back by choosing a location to clean up. It can be something as simple as volunteering at your local museum or adopting an old cemetery to clean up. Our group has a local cemetery where we pick up trash and this year we are helping to clean out and renovate an old theater with a haunted history. Choose a location in your area and participate in Paranormal Clean Up month and give back a little bit.
Wikipedia. (2009). Critical Thinking. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking