Paranormal Sectors – Where do you fit in?

Over the years whilst I have been interested in the paranormal I have attended many paranormal events, even as a Team Leader on a few occasions. I have also attended a few paranormal conventions too, participating a couple of times as a speaker. Although I have not attended something which would be seen as paranormal tourism, I have spoken to some that have attended and even a couple that have ran such tours. All in all I find this concept of dark tourism or paranormal live entertainment quite interesting, especially when it could be argued that all this evolved from the seance room or perhaps the age old city ghost tours. One of which I attended on an old route master bus just over a year ago now. That particular tour certainly included a great deal of drama baked into the experience, with our rather eccentric guide pulling out all the stops to entertain.

Which is where I think lines may become blurred when it comes to the paranormal, some take these tours or join these events with the hope they will have a personal experience. Some of course do, but equally some of these experiences are left without even trying to explain them away. After all if someone does have a paranormal experience it would be good for business and future events or tours, as it would be delivering exactly what they can not always guarantee. Something I totally understand, as these are not proper investigations, they are more aligned with a taster of the subject that fascinates us all. It is only after such experiences that you may push forward to find out more and understand how this paranormal field may work. So, it could certainly be argued that paranormal tours and events have their place helping to grow the numbers of people interested and serious about the paranormal field. Some remain routed firmly in what I call the ‘Entertainment Sector’ which basically includes anyone in the paranormal who consumes paranormal content or produces it, anywhere from YouTube to TV Shows. I suppose even my blog fits in there somewhere. This would also include the tours, events and conventions; as they are interlinked.

Often it may seem as if the paranormal field is split simply in two; the ghost hunters who spend their weekends at darkened purported haunted properties and those academics experimenting at Universities to discover more about psi. However, I feel the split maybe a little more than this, perhaps providing us with more division. Although you could say perhaps all these areas are actually connected. It all begins with someones initial interest, which could come from a personal experience of some kind. This could lead to reading or watching something on the subject. As there is so much of this content out there and available nowadays, this makes up that ‘Entertainment Sector’ from earlier. This reaches from the books, to YouTube, to TV and to attending events, tours and conventions. Individuals may remain in this sector, as they simply prefer the entertainment.

However, for some simply watching paranormal content or attending events is not enough; they have questions they need answering and they begin to search for them. These are in the ‘Ghost Hunters Sector’ and we are probably most familiar with this sector as its where many in the paranormal field are happiest. Still when individuals push beyond this and become more serious about their investigations, looking for more than a few EVPs or odd photo’s; then they enter the ‘Paranormal Investigators Sector.’ Individuals in this sector dig deeper into their investigations, capturing more information and asking more questions than their Ghost Hunter counterparts. There is a clear separation between ghost hunters and paranormal investigators in my opinion. For me, a ghost hunter is hoping to capture something, like a photo or EVP relating to a possible ghost. Whilst paranormal investigators look to gather data and information relating to a report of a paranormal experience. Whilst the approaches seem very similar, they are widely different. I know some in the paranormal field probably identify themselves as ghost hunters, but in reality what they do is more aligned with the work of a paranormal investigator. I am neither discounting this identification or stating there has to be a segregation, but there are differences which need to be at least recognised.

Finally, we have the ‘Academic Sector’ in which academics research the paranormal and perform various experiments to understand more about psi. Their work appears in journals and requires the use of qualitative and quantitive methods to decipher the oddities of psi.

The initial problem that people see here with this classing within the paranormal is that it places people within a group they do not believe they are in. Whilst many will not claim to be in the academic sector they do believe themselves to be investigators more than ghost hunters. Equally those that primarily create paranormal content also would class themselves as investigators when their focus is creating content. However, the confusion is not really recognising which sector you may belong to on a day to day basis, its understanding that this applies to the work you do at the time. Rather than trying to fit into one sector day to day, its the work you do within the paranormal that defines which sector it is associated to, not you yourself. So, if you create a YouTube Video or even a blog post like this one; then that piece of work could be seen to fit into the paranormal entertainment sector. However, if the next piece of work is an article that is published is an academic journal then that would be something related to the academic sector. Just like a less serious ghost hunt of a purportedly haunted public location fits the ghost hunter sector, whilst more serious investigations of spontaneous cases such as a poltergeist in someones home, could be considered to be something for the investigators sector. As long as its approached correctly.

It is also important to note though that in some circumstances a piece of work may cross through all sectors. For example; you may watch or read something on a particular location. You may even attend an event at said location. Then you may return with your own team for a ghost hunt to see if its as active as you have been led to believe. That ghost hunt may leave you with an experience or desire to know more, as such the same location becomes the subject of a long term investigation for you to gather more information on. This may lead you to write a research note article for a journal on the location bringing all your work together. This would be how one piece of work may evolve through the various sectors allowing you to be present in each.

The point here being; that we should not seek to divide ourselves as individuals within the paranormal field. Paranormal celebrities are no more important than academics or anyone else. We all have our opinions and angles on the paranormal. All of which have different elements and provide us with more in the field. We could even claim to be at a point in the paranormal where we have a huge amount of sources to draw from, ranging from the fiction inspired by fact to the fact inspired by fiction. All of which is readily available thanks to the internet. In fact it was the internet that allowed me to connect with like minded people. It was the internet that helped me find the SPR and the internet that has helped me read more. Not to mention the fact it also helped me collaborate with Sarah Chumacero to create Supernatural Synchronicity, a book we wrote together.

So, regardless of what your personal goal is within the paranormal, we are all a part of a larger community. Whilst the work we do or our involvement in that community may be defined, it is likely only related to that piece of work. I could write a blog post today and a journal article tomorrow. Try not to judge a person by who you think they are; just because you’ve seen them on TV or they create a lot of YouTube content, does not mean they are only focussed on that. These maybe things they do to help fund their greater passion and even a way to capture more information for serious research. The obvious is not always the answer.

However, equally be aware of what you are consuming as not all thats out there is fact, some is literally produced for the scare factor.

Where do your paranormal contributions sit?

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