Why get involved in the study of the paranormal...
Every year, literally hundreds of websites and groups are formed to look into the paranormal in some form or another... and, every year, literally hundreds of existing groups and websites die... it's almost like watching the tide come in and out... groups appear, hang about, and then disappear at different times. Precious few have been around more than five years with regular efforts in the study being made.
Now, this isn't entirely odd... how many kids "try" various hobbies to give up on them rapidly, thus causing the storage of a musical instrument or stamp/coin/comic book collection in a poor parents basement somewhere...
Trouble is, we're not talking about twelve year olds here... as a rule, we're talking adults ranging between twenty through fifty... and yet, like the twelve year old that's absolutely certain they cannot live without taking up bass guitar, they start websites and groups... and then, not too long after, they vanish... lose interest... "move on".
After over a decade of online presence with our work, we've watched and noted what's happened and why... and more than a few things have really come to light.
Although these are generalities, I'm going to break down what we've seen started, attempted, left to dust, and eventually to disappear... We entreat anyone who's considering starting into this study to read this... and if you see yourself in here, think hard before getting started... I'll explain why at the end, because by the same token, we don't want to discourage ANYONE from participating in these studies...
#1: The Special People...
Humans, as a rule, have egos... and many people do have issues with their own. It's sadly shocking how many people feel that in order to be "special", they need to display (publicly) special skill sets... and one of the more common ones is psychical abilities. This will to display these things leads to more than a few people claiming to be mediums and psychics... they are NOT hoaxers and frauds... well, honestly MOST of them aren't... but simply certain that they are somehow more "in tune" than everyone else... or, as stated, have that special ability. The folks who start a website or a group based on this usually fade off when the initial excitement over the claim wears off... or, honestly, until they make a mistake of notable proportions.
One of the funny things, to someone who indeed has been impressed and astounded by people who appear to have psychical abilities, is that all of the "psychics", "mediums", and "sensitives" I've known that have blown my socks off... and lasted more than a year or three... do not push their abilities to the front of their lives. They have "day jobs" and social calendars... and their "gifts" are something that, when it happens, they share... and unlike the people mentioned above, when they make a boo-boo, they admit it, point out that they're not perfect, and move on...
In essence, that last bit is why it's obviously an ego thing to the "short-termers"... the admission of mistake or problems might remove that "special status" and that worries them... whereas those that seem to genuinely have those abilities aren't as concerned.
#2: The Media Made Me Do It 1: The Thrill Seekers...
Remember Blair Witch? Have you seen those reality TV shows with people running scared from "The Unknown"? Most of us have... and this has led to some people trying to do what Freud would say was "compensation" for another shortcoming.
You can spot these folks from a million miles... their groups play up the "dark and scary" aspect of what they "do"... they will elude to the "fright factor" of what they are doing... now ask yourself a question... Why are they doing this?
Go to your nearest amusement park... stand nearest the scariest ride... and wait about twenty minutes. Eventually, a group (usually of teenagers) will approach... one (or a couple) of them will NOT want to go on the ride... and the rest will mock and chide them... and after suitably making fun of the fears of the folks who aren't up for the ride, will get on themselves and when they exit the ride, act as if they'd won a wrestling championship... not because the ride was "that much fun"... but because they are further showing dominance of the fears of their "lesser" counter parts.
I could also add a bit about all the folks that donned those "NO FEAR" shirts a while back... what does that REALLY mean? I have a fear of exposed uranium... I fear it will give me cancer from radioactivity... and I fear getting cancer... Is this a bad thing???
I'll say it... The "Thrill Seekers" in this study are little more than trying to prove just how big their... um... "shortcomings" are.
They don't last long because, after a while as it is with all things, the people who displayed fear get over them... and as we've said time and time again...
FOR most people, the first experience with the paranormal unnerves them.
The second makes them edgy.
The third is almost annoying.
By the fourth, they are running towards the experience trying to figure it out or get a handle on it.
In other words, the "size of the _____" doesn't play all that well when the formerly afraid aren't afraid anymore... so again, these people tend to vanish.
#3: The Media Made Me Do It 2: The Rising Stars...
With the glut of "Reality TV" shows, many people have popped in (and in some cases, BACK in) to the study because any minute now, Hollywood will discover them, they'll be on television, and become a super-star!
You would be ASTOUNDED at how many groups, websites, and even individuals are out there right now expecting the phone call about their show to come through any second!
...although, some of these people are starting to "get it"... by January of 2009, I personally counted five "groups" that started between June and August of 2008 that promoted their "media appearances" and whatnot heavily... they even had "YouTube" channels and shows... that folded. The big networks didn't call fast enough.
For those starting... do a "head count"... now, you can exclude us as we've openly said we're not interested in media (we're in it for the study only, honestly...) and count the number of TV networks... now, remove the number that don't really do regular "paranormal" programs... not many left, I know... now, count the number of shows currently on air... and the number of groups and site desperately trying to get those elusive timeslots... see the issue?
Chances are, you're NOT going to be on TV or the like... sorry... and because of that, many sites and groups fail.
#4: The Need To Be Intelligent: No Higher Education Required...
In many ways, the fact that there is no "overseeing body" in terms of paranormal studies is a good thing... it allows a lot of freedom... sadly, it also allows a lot of crud to come into it as well.
In the very early part of this century, MANY people set up "certification" and "classes" for would-be paranormal investigators... many also tried to say that what they did was "official"... but official to who?
We went through a plethora of these sites... and people claiming degrees and certifications that meant zilch... and it was quite shocking.
The most notable duo runs what was one of the biggest "ghost sites" online... in fact, the "membership" of their site purchased a nice mobile home for these folks. They claimed to be "Reverend Doctors" as they had degrees in seminary studies and of course, "metaphysical" studies... this is true, they did have these "accreditations"... you can to with NO effort, NO work, and NO studies needed... just send about $60 USD to a website and your diplomas are en route!
This duo then self-published dozens of "text books" on how to do things... which wouldn't have stood up to the scientific reasoning of most grade eight students.
BUT... they were/are DOCTORS... and REVERENDS... and EXPERTS.
The two are "correct" as they purchased their credentials... the latter is "correct" because there is no governing body to say who is and who isn't an "expert"... and since the paranormal is the study of the unknown, who the hell could be an expert on it anyway? It's UNKNOWN!!
Still, thousands still flock to the study... because they can literally hang out a shingle and say, "See! Look how smart I is! I is a paranormal investigator!" and who, sadly, can argue?
...okay, save some of us who are reasonably well read... and will ask questions that if they WERE "experts", they should have an answer for... and when they don't, well, we're the bad guys then... and eventually, like everyone else above... they find that their "special area of super-cool knowledge" doesn't hold a lot of weight in the "real world"... and there are many "smart asses" like us who will bring forth questions and whatnot that they cannot answer or account for... and they, like many others, go "poof" in a quick puff of pixilated smoke.
As an aside, I could also count in here a plethora of people that seem to be around ONLY to criticize everyone else and say how "stupid" those people are... and yet, add nothing themselves to the study... and rarely are able to field questions about their topic above what they know they can harass others about... but that's for another day.
#5: The Need To Be Right: Ignoring All Inconvenient Facts to Support My Faith...
"Don't argue with me! I know what I've seen/experienced/see as true and your facts and evidence mean nothing!"
Many people assume preachers are only in churches... this is incorrect... they are in the field of the paranormal as well.
Many people who get into the study almost because they feel a NEED... a compulsion... a "divine path"... to show us ALL the TRUTH about the paranormal. They KNOW about things and WE must listen.
When questions are posed... when the "faith" and "the word" are put to the test... these people scream HERESY and banish the unbelievers from their flock.
These folks are usually the worst for publishing or promoting untested hypothesis and personal faith as absolute fact... I think of one person who was trying to tell us, their flock, that we must NOT look into ghosts... because there are ghosts of serial killers who will do us great harm!
Evidence to support this?: None. Zero. Zip. Zilch.
...but they said it was TRUE!!!
These people usually get frustrated when their cherished belief and faith starts to show it's wear and tear in light of new evidence and even common sense... they go, shrieking and hand-wringing, into that good night... assured in their own dominance and intelligence... but the strength of their venom soon wears down... and I'm certain they find a new pulpit about a new faith in which they can tell us all about how they are right.
#6: Be My Bestest BFF Evah!
Take any of the above... add a group of friends... find someone who's a control freak or has deep competitive issues... and voila! A paranormal group is born! (Pecking order established!)
These are little more than a social collective with an "alpha human" running things... usually with an iron fist.
Now, I've often said that successful groups by necessity have to be "benevolent dictatorships"... but as a rule, the leaders of these groups care more about their own egos and faiths than much of anything else. They HATE being questioned... and they desperately need acceptance.
These groups have a surprisingly long life span... depending on the "followers" of the alpha person... and provided the alpha person continues to give their followers a social events calendar (cleverly disguised as investigations and whatnot...) but eventually, the flock fades... and like that group of friends in high school, they move on.
Now, these are all the "normal" and most common reasons people get into this study... but what about those with staying power? What about the "successful groups and investigators"? What make them tick?
It was a question asked on our Facebook group... and there is a very simple answer...
They want to know more... and they want to share that knowledge.
Seems simple enough, but that's what it comes down to... because the successful and "full time" investigators and researchers don't necessarily need to be at a "paranormal hot spot" or a lecture given by a true authority... they can be at a book store... a library... or simply thinking... contemplating... and most importantly, asking... always asking...
They don't need a "leader" to show them a path... they're working it out... and will admit mistakes because they want the reality, not simply the advancement of a single concept or faith... so they will re-adjust their path to suit what they have evidence for an move constantly forward.
They never stop thinking... questioning... wondering...
If you look above at that "list", those people never question... never look for real answers... rarely go outside their cherished faith.
Now, why are you here? Do you think you're in for the long haul... or the short term? If the evidence doesn't support your view, will you change it... or push past the facts to continue on your own journey without discovery? If all your friends weren't interested, would you still be? If the million-dollar contract isn't produced, is it still worth the effort? If you can't impress people at parties with your mad paranormal skills, will you continue the journey?
What's sad is to some, the above seems sarcastic... to other's they are genuinely wondering about things after reading this.
If you're in that latter category, this probably isn't the study for you...
All of us intent on doing good work and finding answers (or even better questions) welcome colleagues... we want feedback and input... and even debate. It furthers our progress and the progress of the study itself.
...but that list above... all those people do for the study is give it a black eye in the view of the masses... they make things a "joke" or a "gag". You may not believe this... but it does hurt the study as a whole.
So, why are you here?