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The D-(emon) Word

The D-(emon) Word

by Jeff Scott Cole

As a writer, classically trained archaeologist and astute observer of the obvious, I am always amazed at the power of culture and its incredible influence on our lives and perceptions. From the perspective of the paranormal, few elements of our culture have the gut wrenching emotional punch as what we think of as the demon. From ancient times into the modern digital age, this monstrous manifestation of pure evil incarnate represents a mysterious element that seems to dance with delight between worlds of fantasy and reality. My goal in this little musing is NOT to pit one opinion/argument against anther as to whether the demon exists, rather to promote an extremely cautionary view when discussing the subject; most especially when you are investigating phenomena that directly involve private-citizens/clients. I’m an educated man; though I readily confess lacking the knowledge and experience my instincts tell me is necessary to be able to call out a demon for what it is… or what pop culture tends to think it is.

From the paranormal perspective, particularly as it relates to the para-celebs and their reality TV shows, who glibly bandy the d- word about with reckless abandon, I say STOP IT! You do an incredible disservice to investigators and the field of paranormal inquiry. In my opinion, there are some simple truths that seem to have been lost in the pop culture paranormal craze. The first of these truths is the simple fact that we simply don’t know enough about the remarkable phenomena we experience and desperately try to document. The second simple truth is this; those who are knowledgeable, experienced and qualified to offer an educated opinion (trained scholars and clergy), aren’t talking… at least not publically and apparently not to the TV para-celebs. The third simple truth is that terms and concepts, like the demon, carry an incredible amount of cultural baggage, religious baggage, and personal baggage. As investigators we have an ethical obligation, particularly to private clients to follow something along the lines of the Hippocratic oath and “do no harm.” That includes speculating on whether a shadow is a beast from the 4th Circle of Hell. I wish I had a quarter for every anecdote I’ve heard or read, of a thrill-seeking ghost hunter freaking someone out declaring, you have a demon in your basement, or validating a distressed clients’ misplaced belief.

To me, the fundamental principal of all paranormal investigating is based in objective inquiry, data collection, and intellectual honesty; knowing what you know and admitting what you don’t. In all seriousness; who amongst us has the academic and experiential training to distinguish the difference between a ghost who is pissed off because he doesn’t like the new wallpaper or a horned fiend from the netherworld?

Though I don’t mean to be glib, and I certainly recognize there are some pretty nasty entities that for their own reasons like to hang around their haunts, I believe we do an incredible disservice to this field if we are not EXTREMELY careful in the way we conduct ourselves and the language and terminology we use, particularly when we are in the company of clients, paranormal enthusiasts, even curious spectators. Actually, I think it makes us all look incredibly foolish.

What are your thoughts?

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