Politics of the Paranormal
As our country begins to ramp-up for perhaps the greatest of all truly American traditions; a Presidential Election cycle, it is difficult to avoid the comparisons that can be made between American politics and the politics of the paranormal community. In the realm of politics we have:
Red vs. blue
Liberalism vs. conservatism
Tree-huggers vs. tea-baggers
Then, within the paranormal community, we have:
Orbs are evidence vs. not evidence
Science vs. Pseudoscience
Paranormal unity vs. disunity (???)
Like it or not, ours is a culture of labels that identify us into discreet classifications within the greater population. Of course, whether those labels or classifications are accurate is another matter all together. Our tendency to “classify” every aspect of the world around us is a unique expression of how we as humans, view and understand the complex world we live in; one of those wondrous and driving elements of culture. Though the practice of labeling and classifying everything under the sun goes back to the time of the ancient Greeks, it was not until 1757 and Swedish botanist Carl Linneaus, who established what is known as the Linnean Taxonomic System for plants and animals. You remember: Kingdom (Animala); Phylum (Chordata); Class (Mammalia); Order (Primates); Family (Hominidae); Genus (Homo); Species (Homo sapiens).
Of course classifying a species of fish and ones political beliefs are two very different things. Though blonde haired humans and black haired humans neatly co-habitat the same line on a chart, their views on gun-control, abortion, or how to address the turmoil in the Middle East are as wide and diverse as a wide swinging pendulum.
We; within the paranormal community, do not live in a bubble and as our knowledge and experiences with ghostly phenomena increase, those committed to serious investigating have followed a similar “labeling” path. Our collective knowledge and experiences, particularly over the past decade have us identifying and classifying phenomenon we have observed and/or documented, most notably: residual vs. intelligent, and EVP classifications ( Class A, B, and C). Personally I think this is fantastic, and though these rudimentary classifications may not seem like much in the here and now, I believe they reflect the gradual establishment of a foundation in which present and future ideas and theories will ultimately be tested, rejected, or incorporated. Of course, this is how science works… or is supposed to work.
This is where the politics of the paranormal begins to seep into the discussion. For example, there are those among us who believe orbs have a legitimate place in the growing body of evidence. Are you a liberal and include all orbs as evidence of a phenomenon, or are you a conservative and scoff at all orbs that appear in photographs and video? Again, the pendulum swings.
And what about this concept of “Paranormal Unity”; a concept I personally find rather squishy. There are those who define Paranormal Unity as a kind of behavior or practice within the field of paranormal inquiry that essentially subscribes to an over arching concept that investigators “should” support all methods, practices, points of view, and interpretations of paranormal phenomena.
If my understanding of this term and concept is wrong, someone kindly enlighten me. If however, my understanding is even close to the mark, I find the concept problematic. Speaking for myself and my team; we deal with all people, regardless of beliefs, perspectives, and/or possible biases with courtesy, respect and professionalism… as we believe all teams should. Of course whether we agree or not is another matter completely. It is at this line of demarcation (agreement/disagreement) where political controversy begins to swirl.
Though everyone is entitled to their opinion(s), everyone is NOT entitled to the facts, and as more and more evidence of paranormal phenomena accumulates and our understanding of phenomena likewise increases, clear and objective thinking must sometimes “trump” (~lol) the niceties suggested by this concept of paranormal unity. In other words, sometimes you have to call-out bullshit for what it is. After all, how else do we advance the discussion?
Of course there is wide gulf that separates legitimate disagreement and discourse, and the paranormal bullies; loathsome creatures who, for whatever reason or motive, are typically the first ones to stifle thoughtful dissent with their rude, crude and socially unacceptable rants. Personally, I have no patience for bullies and bullying, and do not suffer them. Their behavior is more a reflection of social and psychological issues rather than the subject or people they rage against.
Though I whole-heartedly agree with the now clichéd concept, “can’t we all just get along,” I equally reject any principle that requires me to support methods, practices, even beliefs simply because we share a mutual interest in paranormal inquiry and investigating paranormal phenomena. And so the pendulum swings.
What do you think?