So it's almost 2014 and just exactly what is the state of the paranormal field train and where is it heading. The answers to this two-headed question are a resounding, sad and nowhere, respectively.
It does appear that the paranormal "field" train has been hijacked.
The paranormal has been around a long time and no one knows exactly when the first person exclaimed, "I saw a ghost!", and the next person said, "What the heck is that?", and the third person said, "Let's go investigate". And soon everyone else said, "I want to help too!"
But perhaps it can be compared to the evolution of man, thousands of years of relatively very little progress and then suddenly, in a blink of an eye, man goes from scrawling pictures on a cave wall to stepping out onto the moon's surface. But the difference here is that man has clearly accomplished these goals, with physical proof to boot.
What has the paranormal actually accomplished?
If we go back to a random starting point, say for example, to the early 20th century, one finds scientists and researchers dibbling and dabbling, trying to scientifically make sense of many paranormal questions. Alexander Graham Bell for example.
But the paranormal "field" has gone in a different direction somewhere around the start of the 21st century.
Paranormal investigators went from being composed of academic researchers to just about anyone with two eyes and a mouth. And in all actuality, that's OK. Many discoveries often come from the amateur. The problem, however, became the direction that some of them pointed the train in.
With the influx of TV shows, radio shows and books, the paranormal jettisoned itself from the back of the line right smack to the front. It was no longer someone's dirty little secret. In fact, the universal acceptance of chasing the paranormal appears to have become the status quo.
Of course not everyone is up to date with the status quo, as evidenced in an investigation performed a few years back at the Resort on Mount Charleston, in Las Vegas.
Baseline readings that were being performed throughout the hotel complex, had to be done in the resort's bar as well, which was still operating during the investigation setup. The team was met by a bar patron turning from his 9th or 10th drink, hard to tell, to demonstrate what he thought of them and the paranormal.
"I've got your ghost right here", he uttered belligerently while imitating the act of pulling down his pants and proudly presenting his "moon".
But with that being said, this universal acceptance and the inclusion of people from all walks of life are two of the best things, and perhaps, two of the worst things, to have come out of the paranormal today.
With the success of some TV shows vigorously stoking the fire, some began to see only dollar signs and fame. More and more entered the" field", not to pursue its rich enigmas, but to imitate the success of those that appeared to be making a happy dollar off the "field". Soon everyone had a TV show in the making while others were doing their own radio shows and writing books.
It became a paranormal gold rush of epic proportions.
If they couldn't get their own TV show, they got their own radio show. If they couldn't get their own radio show, they wrote a book. If they couldn't write a book, they created a Paracon, a.ka. paranormal convention. If they couldn't do a Paracon, they found an alleged haunted place and began charging fees for its use, either to take people on a hunt, or charging other paranormal researchers for use of that place.
In the process, a whole new generation of non-academic experts were hatched who had very little, if any, science background. And it wasn't long until the passionate amateur researcher began to feel the strain, and some of them too, jumped onto the covered wagon and headed West, if you will.
This not only "mucked up the paranormal mud", but it in turn, created a whole new gaggle of para-celebrities. And if one wants a definition of a para-celebrity, then look no further as one has been created for you:
par-a-ce-leb-ri-ty [par-uh-suh-leb-ri-tee] noun: a regular person, just like you, with no more or less educational background, no more or less skill, doing exactly what you or anyone else could do, except that person has been on TV, has their own radio show, has written a book, or any combination of the three.
So the field has gone from scientific researchers and passionate amateur researchers to the scamateurs, who have entered the field to either make money or a name for themselves, and oftentimes, for both, but never really in search of any truths.
The paranormal "field" clearly has found itself being driven in the wrong direction. Interestingly, people appear to be more interested in the fake TV paranormal investigators' looks and petty lives than the actual paranormal mysteries that these para-clowns are supposed to be investigating.
And to make things just so much more ridiculous, there are awards being handed out, in pseudo Paranormal award ceremonies, manned by those with no qualifications whatsoever, determining who and when an award should be given.
And even more incredulous, the people who created these ceremonies amazingly have won awards in it. How cool is that? Make your own Paranormal ceremony and win an award! Oh, the life of the paranormal expert in the 21st century.
"Et tu, brute!"
The paranormal "field" train is currently being commandeered by fools. Although there are still academics and passionate amateurs searching tirelessly for the truth, they are being squashed into oblivion by the Media's new cash cow. And it seems like no one cares. Probably because so many are too busy chasing that dangling carrot of short-term pseudo-success.
And back to the question of what has the paranormal accomplished thus far? Absolutely nothing, other than bringing the paranormal to mainstream acceptance along with the introduction of scamateurs.
All those TV shows, all those radio shows, all those books and all of the nonsense that has streamed endlessly throughout mainstream media in the last decade or so, still has not proven, at least scientifically, a single thing.
Does this mean ghosts do not exist? Does this mean some people have not had genuine experiences? Of course not. It simply means that no one has proven anything despite years and years of so-called investigations and experts. And isn't that the main objective of paranormal investigators? To find tangible proof? Or, is it to be on TV or write books?
In just the last ten years, the amount of information concerning the paranormal that has streamed out to the general populace via TV, radio, books, the internet and more, is staggering. And yet there is still not one single piece of scientific evidence. Why is that? The lure of money and fame of course.
Hidden somewhere in-between all of this for-profit-only garbage is some good worthwhile information published by academic and passionate amateur researchers. But it's so hard to find it. It needs to be the other way around.
So...so confusing is the paranormal "field" today.
Yet, it doesn't have to be this way. There may be some things that can be done to get the paranormal "field" train headed back on track. Perhaps this is a good place to start:
First, people need to put down the paranormal TV show crack pipe. Stop being led aimlessly about like "sheeple" and accept these shows only for what they are, entertainment. Perhaps they need a new genre in which to place these shows other than Reality, because they are nothing like reality. Or better, put them in the Comedy genre or list them as paid advertisements.
Second, people need to take their pride and quietly, but quickly, insert it back into its sheath. The paranormal is not about any one person or group. Any statues that have been built glorifying any one person should be dismantled. It's time to view this "field" not through certain individuals' eyes, but through many.
Third, investigators need to educate themselves not just in the basics of paranormal investigations, such as how to capture EVPs, but in the science behind it. Find out what normal causes may lie behind certain phenomena. Find out how to accurately gather and analyze data. Learning the scientific method is a great beginning point. Doing so will lend more credibility to the data and help the "field" progress.
Fourth, investigators need to discuss openly and continuously about the paranormal, theories and the like, to anyone that will listen. It is through the open exchange of thoughts and ideas that opens new doors to understanding, and perhaps, new plausible explanations to the strange phenomena that exists all around us. They need to keep an open mind and not be afraid to explore opposing ideas and theories. An open forum is critical.
Fifth, for this "field" to become credible, it needs a governing body with a certification process of some sort. It requires people with established academic backgrounds, in many different disciplines, to form a council that establishes the rules and regulations; lays the foundation on how to do scientific investigations into the paranormal; accumulates and dissects the data that comes in, making it available for all to see; and certifies individuals and groups who will be doing these investigations. This includes peer reviewed articles.
In short, the sandbox, its toys and its contents need to be clearly defined, and all the investigators certified that will be playing in it.
Thus, it's time to change the paranormal "field" train from its current direction, reclaiming it from those who have hijacked it. In doing so, the "field" can get back on track in the search for truth and head towards the desired destination which is ultimately, the acquisition of verifiable and reproducible tangible proof.