PSICAN - Paranormal Studies and Inquiry Canada

Created: Monday, 05 January 2009 17:36
Written by Matthew James Didier

After a decade plus of doing this study, I have had more enemies and more people trying to figure out our "angle" then you can possibly believe. What's sad is, as opposed to asking, they just make suppositions...

They assume we're trying to make a fortune from paranormal phenomena... or we're out to "control" everyone... or we want fame... or heaven knows what.

They also tend to place their own "reasons" for why they're interested in things on us... and get mad when they find out it's not why we're here and indeed, their thoughts about our passions are not what they assumed.

People think we've already "decided" on what causes paranormal phenomena... and when we admit that we have no clue, they think we're lying... or covering things up to "hide" our true reason for existence in the study.

They get mad at us because they think we're out to stop others from looking into things because we put "rules" on what we do... or, because they set up a website and haven't received invitations to visit the UFO sighting location - the haunted house - to test the world's greatest psychic, we must be responsible for the lack of communications they have from the outside world.

When we question them... when we read a report or see an article and say, "Hey! that doesn't make sense!" or "Wait a second, do you have evidence for your conclusion?"... they scream, rant, rave, and yes, even call us names.

What's odd is we've received FAR more kudos and congratulations from sceptical groups and people than the "true believers". The former likes us because we admit we don't know why things are happening and we will debunk ourselves and often find good and repeatable evidence for some things... the latter hate us because we're not afraid to debunk ourselves, we won't cave in to faith and belief without evidence, and we do try to keep things very honest about what we find...

Both hate us a little... and sometimes a lot because we do say We don't know... which is apparently not acceptable in so many people's books as everything must be known.

PSICAN, ParaResearchers, and Toronto/Ontario Ghosts have been around a decent amount of time... and have plenty of content on the sites... and yet, people assume there must be some kind of jiggery-pokery to our work...

...and what's sad... what has quite literally brought us to tears is... there isn't.

Why have we lasted?

Easy... we don't have a set goal like fame and fortune. So many others who do seek this, when the goal of a million-dollar TV contract doesn't appear, just abandon things. We have watched this happen over, and over again, which is why there are so few groups that are older than a few years and still very active.

We aren't "thrill seekers" only out for a faux sense of fear. We study things... try to find answers... and we've never had a moment where "thing's didn't work out how we wanted them to" because we have never entered anything with a preconceived notion of what was supposed to happen.

Do we want answers? Yes... but we're painfully aware that answers will only lead to new questions. We're also very prepared for the idea that no answers may ever come... more importantly, we are learning that there may be no "single answer" to everything.

In the acceptance of this, we are soundly loathed by many. They want us to have an agenda... They want us to support their hypothesis... They want us to support their faith... and we can't... because we're prepared to say we don't know why these things happen.

Sue and I are both "experiencers"... witnesses... we have had odd things happen to us that we can't explain yet... and we know we may never explain.

That said, we try to learn... to understand... and we aren't "married" to any one concept of what these things are.

This upsets and annoys some people... and yes, we're really hated.

I suppose it doesn't help that we see what we do as a viable study. Something that could be important and deserving of proper academic help... and as such, when we do see charlatans trying to make a buck... or people ONLY interested in fame... or people trying to use the study to buff-up a faith without proper investigation, it angers us... actually, no... that's not right... we're not angry... we're sad.

We're sad because weird things DO happen and ARE experienced... and thanks to petty jealousies, odd cravings for fame, willingness to do fraudulent efforts to gain fiscal advantages, and the complete and utter disregard for everything from proper data collection and legitimate review are negated for some odd quasi-popularity contest.

We're sad because we have precious few true colleagues. People willing to examine things and learn... and share properly.

I often rant about the lack of ability to credit and downright theft of work... and it's not for the reason you'd think.

It's not because "I" or "we" want our names in lights... it's because if "I" or "we" come up with something, we want to be consulted... we want people to say, I read your stuff on {blank} and thought, what if... and perhaps teach us something... and be willing to debate and come up with better questions... or even those elusive answers.

We do this constantly. We attribute thoughts and ideas to the originators when we find them and try to ask them... to talk to them... to discuss with them alternatives, evidence, data... and understand better.

Sadly, in the "paranormal community" at large, this is seen as a weakness. Everyone seems to need to be the original... the "one"... the group or person that's so magnificent that all worship their is rare to find someone who cites their sources.

Look through our notes... do you see us doing that?

Ask yourself why... Why AREN'T we like so many others?

Recently, I read that our group was not willing to "share" data... the author of the note had never written to us... or asked... and when I called them out on it, they told me there was "no point in trying" because they knew we were elitists and wouldn't answer. Effectively, they shut us down and went on a public forum to say how awful we were without trying... or finding out... and I hate to say this, but let's examine the fact that if sending an e-mail to us was a no-go because they assumed they knew the answer AND they were willing to publish this answer about how stuck up we were, what else don't they bother with? When they go to a location or a witness, do they bother to get their details... or assume they know what's coming and don't?

I also pointed out that if we were so "stuck up", why was I responding to them in that forum?

Of course, the answer was just look at the "rules" we tried to force people to abide by...

Our number one "rule" is that the safety, privacy, and security of a witness who comes forward is our paramount concern... meaning, if someone comes forward and doesn't want to be "outed", we won't publish their information. This isn't just the rule, but where we're based, it's also a law. (The Ontario Privacy Act of March 2003)

Our number two "rule" is to respect a location we work in and the current owners/tenants/management of that location.

Our third and most constricting "rule" is that our people are not allowed to break any civil laws in doing our work... so no trespassing and no other illegal activities. This is a major sticking point.

Our fourth "rule" and another one people don't like is stay neutral. Be agnostic in belief and work. Keep an open mind... not ONLY to the possibility of things "paranormal" existing, but that they may indeed not exist... and our findings must be honest and "down the middle". If we find nothing, we say we found nothing... if we find something, then we explain what we found and what it might be... and that includes ALL possibilities... some of which may not sit well with the "true believers" and others that will not sit well with the so-called sceptics.

That last one also includes occasionally pointing out where history and folklore may part... and where a treasured story may not jive with what's been recorded. Not every haunt is on a Native ossuary... not every Native ossuary is cursed or haunted... not every big hairy creature is a bigfoot... not every big hairy creature seen can be written off as a bear... not all UFOs are alien craft... not every UFO is an airplane misidentified... I can tell you, these truisms do NOT sit well with many.

So, there are OUR rules... and we only "force" them on people we work with... even then, if someone refuses to live by the last one, we still try to work with them and try to make them make us a believer with solid evidence... data... facts.

If they fail or fall back on faith, we do grumble... but that's because if we want the acceptance of academia, we must be able to provide evidence or facts to them.

It's not a lie to say Sue and I have both literally shed tears... because we have so few colleagues... and must suffer the slings and arrows of those who's reasons for saying they are studying the "unknown" and this is their purpose... when they quite obviously have ulterior motives.

I've said it before... many people ask us about our feelings towards a group in the United States that have a television program... who APPEAR to be on the same "wavelength" as us... but we have evidence and correspondence to show that they only adopted our way of doing things after they got their show... in fact, when they started out, they and their followers fought with us tooth and nail... and all the time, we stuck to our guns of neutrality and proper study. They even used to have phony "doctoral" accreditations next to their names...

I'll say it... their producers... or possibly themselves... finally read all our stuff and realised that in order to appeal to some people, they needed to adopt our philosophies... and they did so without a word to or about us.

In some ways, it stung because of the abuse we took because we were doing what they now say they do... and because we would hear of things they tried to adapt and obviously had problems understanding... and yet, never once asked... never once tried to become legitimate colleagues.

This sounds like "sour grapes", and perhaps it is... but it's based on months and years of being told how we would suffer and how stupid we were... only to see our own "suffering" and "stupidity" parroted back at us when they managed to eek out that little bit of fame they wanted...

As a cold comfort, we say that they obviously learned from us... but did they...? ...or is this simply the whim of their producers or "creative" team realising to look "serious", they needed to pretend to be "serious"? We honestly don't know...

...but this study bought them houses.

For us, it's been a struggle just to keep our own efforts going.

...but allow me to get back to why we're here...

At this point, we want to establish a legacy.

Yup, plain and simple... we want to leave a legacy of and for others who genuinely do not have a drum to beat... they don't have a faith they wish to convert us all to... they realise that there are possibilities and maybe even answer... but fame, fortune, or a "good scare" are so off their radar, they honestly are wanting to study these things neutrally and properly... and help others understand them... and in the process, maybe explain something to themselves.

Sue and I are trying hard to stay a course... to try and get the best and brightest involved... to remove the ridiculous trappings placed on this study by those who wish to profit from it or to garner fame and popularity...

To bring a respectability that precious few are willing to even try to bring to the table.

That's our reason.

I remember once being on the phone with another couple looking into things... this couple and us had some fallings-out, but the hatchet had been buried and we were discussing an event that we were going to do with them.

During the course of the conversation, Sue and I ended up off on tangents... citing cases and discussing books and authors... looking up things significant to the conversation (so we thought)... about ten minutes into the phone call, their was a pause from the other side of the phone... and the next comment from our friends was, You guys really do live this stuff, don't you?

We do.

Perhaps it's unfair to ask other's to do the same... but it would be nice to see a small percentage of the love and passion we have for things invested in what many purport to be their area of interest... and so few do.

Sue and I have amassed an amazing collection of books on the subject by literally hundreds of authors... some good, some bad, but all a little different and we read and learn... and when we speak, we TRY to speak with authority on the subjects...

This intimidates some... it's why we're seen as elitists, I suppose...

They assume we THINK we have all the answers, when they don't understand that we're sometimes saying "X" person looked into "Y" thing and this is what they found... and are hoping and yes, even praying that they will show us something "X" never thought of...

...but that's not how it's seen, as I'm sure you've noted.

Nope, it's seen as us saying You don't know anything! You aren't the first!

New people can bring new things and ideas to a study... but shouldn't they base some of their efforts on what might have come before?

If someone is trying to learn about car engines, I'd certainly expect them to have some understanding of the original concepts of the internal combustion engine as thought of by Sam Brown in 1823.

I know if I talk to someone about "thought form ghosts", I should be somewhat acquainted of The Philip Experiments, The Scole Experiments, and even the Tibetan Buddhist's Tulpas... otherwise, I'm working with only part of an equation and probably traversing old and possibly proven incorrect ground... and therefore, I'm spinning my wheels.

...but apparently, expecting other's to hold the same ideas of study and knowledge is bad, evil, and wrong...

...and yes, we suffer because we are bad.

...but that legacy of ours...

Despite the sour grapes about the US TV group, they have learned a little... and because of them, others are starting to try a little harder... and we do still have a lot of people who do read our notes, who aren't happy with pat answers, who aren't willing to take things solely on faith... and are trying to understand why things happen the way they do.

They're willing to make an effort.

Those people ARE out there... and many DO thank us... and let us know we're on the right track... or help us find that track without name-calling or supposition of some odd personal motivation for us working so hard on things that even we are unaware of.

To those groups out there, and you know who you are... and yes, I know you do read these notes... you want to know what we're about?

We're about learning... understanding... and openness... and we may not subscribe to everything you're doing wholly, but we do try to see why you're doing it... and try to find value in it... and we do want more colleagues badly... and we know we may not see things eye-to-eye, but perhaps we can teach you some things while you teach us some things and we can grow greater for the exchange.

We don't need fame... we don't want "fortunes" from our work...

...we want possible answers... and to learn.

When we make a point, we will back it up to the best of our abilities and try to make sure you understand why we are making that point... when we see a flaw, we might point it out... it's not us telling people what or how to do things, it's us trying to set up some sort of legitimate peer review.

If you can't understand this, you'll never understand us.

...but we will survive... we have for over a decade... and when we're gone, a new crop of people with similar philosophies who want to learn and understand things will take over for us... we bank on that.

We've already met some of them... we will meet more.

Eventually, the study of the unknown will be a legitimate study free of animated UFOs on websites who's main featured link is what TV and newspapers the people that host the site have done. No more "breaking into the abandoned hospital" to look for ghosts that may not exist as there's never been a report from that site.

...and the one thing that will bring literal tears of joy to us... more people reading, communicating, setting aside pettiness, and genuinely doing what needs to be done... so that people who do and have experienced these things have a place to learn and understand what it is that's happening or has happened to them.

We don't want our name in People Magazine... we want our names on a library.

We don't want a "cult" of friends who agree in lock-step with a faith, we want a gathering of colleagues bringing hypothesis to the table, but are willing to listen and learn from others... and even utter the horrible words We don't know or even the most dreaded statement, We were wrong.

We, Sue and I, believe this will be the future...

...and now you know why we're here.

That's our legacy... a legacy of understanding and legitimate openness.

...and now, I'm going to give you the supposed "secret" of our success...

To those groups who DO believe we're holding them down because they aren't getting a whack-load of reports and cases e-mailed or sent to them... the secret is that when people visit our sites, there's content... something for people to read and think about. We have reports, editorials, notes, investigations... We haven't plastered the sites with useless photos, images, animated graphics, or the like... we present what we have been told and what we've learned.

When content has been "lean", we've created opportunities. We've written to people and asked permission to revisit things... We've asked to reproduce important things for other's to find... We've read and wrote... and continued... even when things seemed bleak and yes, even dull.

We've never really stopped.

We've made sure people know they can trust us... and backed up those words with evidence... and we've gone out of our way to help those who have helped us.

In doing this, we HAVE garnered respect outside the "paranormal community"... and yes, it's paid dividends in our work.

So, that's our secret... PLEASE feel free to use it OFTEN.

Currently, as stated, we don't have a lot of colleagues... but we would love that to change... and we hope and are working towards that happening.

Originally published to The Paranormal blog 08/23/08