The Paranormal Tourist

Recently I met up with my good friends Brian J Cano and David Parry at the SPR in London. Peter, the SPR’s Secretary was also there attending to SPR work as ever too. This meeting was one that has been long awaited and I am a little ashamed that I did not advocate such a meeting sooner. As it seems the last time we were all truly together, yet not quite, was at a convention many years ago now. However, it was not long before all three of us were bouncing ideas and stories off one another in regards to the paranormal.

Both Brian and David are without doubt large characters within the paranormal world, with the obvious ability to command a room with their knowledge and ideas on the subject. I am probably a little quieter in person, often listening, assessing and picking the right moment to speak. However, I have always preferred that approach, even if David has tried to have me step up a little into the lights.

It was during our meeting that Brian used the term; ‘Paranormal Tourists,’ several times and this struck a chord with myself. Personally I don’t believe I have heard the term used elsewhere, so on this occasion credit must be attributed to Mr Cano. However, form what I understand the term does help to frame many ghost hunters out there based on their circumstances.

The interesting thing about life and indeed where we may fit within it, is that its colourful and its fluid, constantly moving just like the stars above our heads. So, within the paranormal you can be all types; from a serious parapsychological researcher in a laboratory at university, to an investigator that seriously looks at spontaneous anomalous events, to a ghost hunter using the latest gadgets at purported haunted locations, to a paranormal tourist attending ghost hunt events at darkened locations. One night you could be that serious investigator the next a paranormal tourist. In fact, I have been exactly this, picking up cases to document from the SPR’s Spontaneous Cases Committee to attending Ghost Hunt Events as a Paranormal Tourist.

In my personal opinion the paranormal field in general has two major issues; 1) being unable to determine or identify what their level of interaction with the subject is at any given time; and 2) often wanting to be constantly identified at a specific level of ‘expert’ within the field. These are not really anyone’s fault as the sources of information on the subject are often masked and lack clear line of sight for many; especially those that are new to the paranormal field.

With many more television shows out there than my day, there is a clear boom in media influence on the general paranormal field these days. That influence often miss-informs or is miss-understood. I personally have always been cautious of such influences, which has meant that I have often made sure that I tried to understand the individuals from those shows to comprehend if their paranormal interest was deeper than what the shows portrayed. Often there was a lack of information to make such a judgement call, but once in a while I was pleasantly surprised. Oddly Brian was one such individual, as I had seen him on TV and known of his involvement in shows, I was cautious; but when I first heard his talk on the subject he provided something that was deeper and more interesting than simply talking about past episodes of Haunted Collector.

The point here being, whilst the phenomena we all seek answers for is confusing enough, we should also be considering the human factor too. The investigation of a purported haunting will often rely on an individual or small group that are open minded, but equally not overly influenced, as they need to be realistic and honest about what they find. Which can often be nothing! The sensationalising of lesser events and presenting them as evidence of the paranormal may only lead to the continuous disparity between those seeking true facts from paranormal and those paranormal tourists that may just be in it for a personal experience.

However, this is where honesty may play an important part in our approaches to the paranormal. If we can be more honest about our own experience and capability, but equally our intent in any given situation then we are more likely to be able to provide more valid information on the subject. It will make the understanding of a witness of a spontaneous anomalous event and a witness during a ghost hunting event be presented in simpler terms. The first being an event that has occurred without the individual seeking some kind of paranormal activity and as such becomes interesting as we could then begin to question it in many ways. The latter, in my opinion could more likely be related to psi; as the group could unknowingly be generating the activity. Both are important for research, but need to be understood as events occurring in very different circumstances.

Rather than simply suggesting that we had a certain experience at a particular location; we (those truly interested in deciphering the paranormal) need to be establishing more of the back story. This goes beyond the when, the where and the what; to establishing more about the who and the why. Whilst often paranormal activity that may occur during a ghost hunting event to our paranormal tourist; is considered to be disregarded. I would argue that perhaps in the right circumstances (not all) the activity is actually genuine psi activity, that the paranormal tourist experiences due to a suspension of belief. However, given the circumstances in which this may occur, this would be very difficult to prove. So, the obvious approach would be to disprove it as simply as possible, Occam’s Razor.

Paranormal tourists make up a large part of the paranormal community in my opinion. Especially as many of us likely switch between being a paranormal tourist and serious investigator, one night to the next. However, it feels like few may admit their visiting a purported haunted location for the chance of a personal experience. There’s no harm in presenting yourself as a paranormal tourist, serious investigation is more in-depth and can be less fun too. Sometimes you just want to wander around a haunted location in the dark in hope of encountering a personal experience.

There is nothing wrong with being a paranormal tourist, but I feel that we all need to be a little more honest about where we stand within the paranormal field. We do not have to be forever one type of person within the paranormal, we can be many wearing many hats. As long as we understand who we are and when; then we can be a paranormal tourist whenever we like.

Are you a paranormal tourist sometimes?

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