If You’re Angry At The Paranormal Community & You Know It…

hulk

Clap your hands! Or don’t! It’s your choice!

As is the way you vent your anger at the “paranormal community”. Believe me when I say that I’ve been there… I have scrutinised other ghost researchers through judgemental eyes, felt anger rise within at their pseudo-scientific and/or unethical behaviour, written angry blog posts criticising people, fallen out with other researchers over silly disagreements, been the one who cries ‘why do these people act in this way and make all of us look bad?!‘ and I’ve felt the frustration that comes as a result of all of that…

…and then one day I had an epiphany. I realised that people have to do what people have to do and some people just have to run around in the dark with some EMF meters and stuff and nothing is going to convince them that what they’re doing is wrong and silly. Especially not your angry diatribe about how daft they are and how they’re ruining things for everyone else.

Dude! Run!

Some people will never stop to question if what they think is right is right and some people will take their irrational beliefs to their death-bed… but guess what? That isn’t my problem and you don’t have to make it yours either.

I recently saw a long “woe-is-me” rant posted on the ‘Worst Paranormal’ Facebook page by the Admin that reminded me of how I used to feel about the “paranormal community”. I won’t post it in its entirety here but I’ll share a bit that struck me most:

‘I find the paranormal community to be full of dim-whitted [sic] people who can barely spell their own name, let alone construct a coherent sentence. I am not here for your respect. I am not here to make friends with you (although that does happen often). I am not here to be “popular”. To assume otherwise is just nonsense. While this seems as though I am some rude asshole that doesn’t care about your thoughts and feelings, understand, it is not personal. Nothing I say or do is personal. Some people have a hard time keeping their emotions in check, but I try to keep my emotions out of the paranormal community. It is, after all, just a silly hobby.’

It’s quite patronising to presume that other people in “the paranormal community” owe you anything by way of their behaviour. There are no rules that apply to everyone who researches weird stuff and everyone is involved for their own reasons and Reason isn’t always one of them. Some people need to find ghosts for their well-being and they’re not going to give a crap if you think they’re ruining the paranormal community for you. To assume that people are dim-witted simply because they believe in something supernatural is also pretty patronising too and shows a lack of awareness of how complex belief systems are.

Of course, there are those who approach their personal belief systems in a way that harms others or has a negative effect on society and these people should be criticised. However, it’s possible to criticise ideas, counter research and claims of a pseudo-scientific nature, and debate people without being confrontational and doing it just for point scoring. I often write about the behaviour and methodology of others on this site, but do so in a way that (I hope) engages third parties as well, rather than just suggesting people are idiots.

It’s also important to remember that the average person who believes in ghosts isn’t doing anybody any harm. Over a decade of dealing with people who believe all of sorts of weird things has taught me that hardly anybody enters into these beliefs half-heartedly.

What’s the point of ranting about stupid ghost hunters if people aren’t listening? Or if the only people who are listening already agree with you? What does that achieve? It gains you a dozen people who agree with you and it reaches nobody who disagrees… or if it does reach them they ignore you because you’re being confrontational (even if you do claim that you’re not being emotional…)

Ghost hunters are the worst. Ghost hunters are stupid. Ghost hunters are selfish. Ghost hunters are the worst. Ghost hunters are stupid. Ghost hunters are selfish. Ghost hunters are the worst. Ghost hunters are stupid. Ghost hunters are selfish. Ghost hunters are the worst. Ghost hunters are stupid- Nobody likes a broken record.

You can continue to rant about how stupid people are ruining the Paranormal Community and how beneath you it all is, or you can re-evaluate the way in which you share your thoughts and the way in which you focus on a subject and the way in which you are a part of the community around you. I did the latter and it makes everything so much easier and nicer for everyone.

The “paranormal community” is ambiguous, complex and not at all well-defined or definable. It is bigger than any of us and it is older than any of us and it is weird and strange and irrational and rational and holy shit was that a fucking unicorn?!

I’m not sure what the paranormal community is, just that is something that we all have in common. I’ve learned that you have to accept that you are not the first person to feel offended by the irrational behaviour of others within the community, but if you want those irrational people to listen to you, you have to learn to co-exist with them in this unicorn infested community.

I try to explain why I don’t agree with people rather than just explaining that I don’t agree with people. I turn my attention on the claims and not on those making them as much as I can but I don’t care too much if people don’t agree with me because I refuse to have an ego that demands others agree with me and I refuse to reduce people to abstract ideas when they are much more complex than that.

If you truly give a shit about other researchers you have to accept that for many people you are insignificant and your opinion is even more insignificant and if your method of engagement is “it’s my way or the high way” then you’re going to get angry a lot, and I’m not talking about the good anger that drives progress. I’m talking about the anger that makes your head hurt.

I’m not for one moment suggesting that nobody should criticise ghost hunters who make irrational claims, I’m just suggesting that perhaps it would be more proactive of some people to move past the repetitive criticism that Ghost hunters are the worst. Ghost hunters are stupid. Ghost hunters are selfish. Ghost hunters are the worst. Ghost hunters are stupid. Ghost hunters are selfish. Ghost hunters are the worst. Ghost hunters are stupid. Ghost hunters are selfish. Ghost hunters are the worst. Ghost hunters are stupid. Ghost hunters are selfish. Ghost hunters are the worst. Ghost hunters are stupid…

gif of a record player

Am I Wasting My Time?

yolo

Sometimes I’ll encounter skeptics and non-believers who think that I waste my time when trying to engage people via my blog and providing insight into paranormal subjects where others would simply state “there’s no such thing as ghosts” and be done with it. Perhaps, it has been suggested in the past, I should just move on and do something more useful.

spongebob gif - staring at coffee

I can see where they’re coming from with that opinion but I have to completely disagree because they’re completely wrong. When somebody makes a paranormal claim it is non-believers who demand ‘evidence please!’ but when the shoe is on the other foot and non-believers are countering a claim it is acceptable to dismiss it a priori with generalised dismissals and it just doesn’t sit right with me. I understand and agree that as non-believers we cannot prove a negative and that a lack of evidence speaks for itself, but personally I’d rather provide some insight into why I don’t agree with a claimant so that they can properly consider my points (if they wish to) and understand that I’m not being dismissive but that I have good reasons to not agree with them.

If that’s not your cup of tea then I’ll completely understand if you do not start a blog on which you do that very thing.

Me? I’d rather share the knowledge I’ve learned over the years in the hope that it  might help others if they find it, and I know for a fact that my blog posts are regularly shared by people who are trying to explain to other people what rational causes there may be for phenomena that they’ve experienced, and with this in mind I feel like I’m not wasting my time at all.

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about Most Haunted and how it unintentionally inspired unethical ghost hunters and someone left a long rant as a comment (which I did not approve) explaining how I was wasting my time by caring,

any fool that believes in ghosts deserves all they get, imo … The world has bigger problems than some shitty TV show … focus on the real problems in society…

It’s fine to disagree with people and I always welcome good debate in the comments of my blog, but this general lack of respect for people that some non-believers have just because they believe in something that is deemed as irrational is disturbing and it is not welcome.

Does the irrational behaviour of strangers as they react to death, tragedy and fear offend your rational mind that much? Do you take it that personally when someone doesn’t agree with you? Does it really annoy you that I spend time writing about these things?

Then get off of my blog.

It’s that simple.

Huff Paranormal Didn’t Contact Robin Williams’ Ghost…

evp

The tagline on the Huff Paranormal website states ‘Pushing The Boundaries Of Spirit Communication’ so that you know from the start that they’re completely biased in their research which mainly involves the use of ghost box and similar pseudo-scientific ghost “communication” devices.

I visited their website specifically because it is claimed that the spirit of Robin Williams spoke to them via a ghost box.

… I was doing a spirit box session and heard his [Robin Williams] voice come through after I asked for him. For the following week I was able to connect with, what I feel, is the spirit of Robin. Of course, it may not be but some of this REALLY sounds like him, and the last message I was able to receive about the light and being with his Dad was very emotional for me when it came in. After that last message nothing else came in. That was it and for me it sounds like he has crossed over, and I feel 100% that he has.

This obviously raises a number of questions; what evidence supports the claim that these devices allow communication with the dead? Why would Robin Williams communicate with this guy in particular? Do ghost hunters have no shame these days?

Anyone who has attended one of my public talks will likely have seen my own ghost box and how it operates. No doubt you will have also seen me running around the room trying to pick up on a good radio reception for my demonstration because that is what the Ghost Box relies on. It is a pocket radio with a simple scanning function which searches through the airwaves until a broadcasting station is discovered. Most people would stop on that station and listen to it, but ghost hunters disable that function so that the device constantly scans through different stations. The resulting chatter and noise is allegedly used by spirits to communicate.

Essentially it is total baloney and ghost hunters are making sense out of random snippets of noise from various sources, seeking meaningful patterns where there are none. It isn’t at all surprising that while scanning through multiple broadcast channels these ghost hunters heard what sounded like Robin Williams because in the days following his death people were sharing his work left, right and centre in celebration of a man that touched a lot of people with his work… the problem is though that none of their “evidence” of communication with Williams’ sounds very much like him at all.

I’ve embedded the video below – you need to skip forward to eight minutes and thirty seconds in because the first  eight and a half minutes are an at times defensive justification from the Huff Paranormal researcher. There are four alleged communications from Robin Williams and I’ve outlined them below for those who don’t want to watch the video.

Huff Paranormal: Are you there Robin?
Alleged response: ‘We’re waiting’

Huff Paranormal: Are you with the angels Robin?
Alleged response: ‘That’s up in heaven’, ‘Fuck’, ‘I must have got it wrong’

Huff Paranormal: Robin, if you’re there can you come through?’
Alleged response: ‘can Robin come?’ ‘I’m dead’

Alleged message: ‘there is light’, ‘I’m here with dad’

Suffice to say I don’t hear anything that much resembles what they are claiming the spirit of Robin Williams said to them and I’m not unconvinced that they’re hearing random sounds and are making sense out of them when there is none to be made.

It has to be said that there is something incredibly selfish abut making the tragic death of a well loved public figure into something that is all about you. I am no longer shocked at this sort of behaviour from pseudo-scientific ghost hunters but it does pull into question their agenda when in their video they talk of Robin Williams perhaps regretting taking his own life.

“maybe he is stating he got it wrong, as in, taking his own life or maybe what he is seeing o where he is…’

Nobody has the right to put that guilt or that regret on a dead person even if they have “four years of spirit work” to their name and are just speculating. That really crosses a line and I think they should be ashamed.

Perhaps their website tagline could be updated to ‘Pushing The Boundaries Of Spirit Communication And Taste’?

Most Haunted Is Scary And Here’s Why

ghost costume

On Thursday evening at 10pm I sat down to watch the return of Most Haunted. My intention was to tweet along with the show and counter any pseudo-scientific claims that they made during the broadcast, and yet I need not have bothered. There was no use of EMF Meters, laser grid pens, thermal imaging equipment, dictaphones or thermometers throughout the whole show. The most “exciting” things to occur were a “strange” humming noise that totally wasn’t a team member (honest), and a roll of cable tape that mysteriously followed the team around the building before vanishing at random moments. No, really…

I’d expected the show to be tedious to watch but when the end credits rolled I turned to those I was watching with and asked “are you fucking kidding me?” and equally baffled faces stared back.

I’ve shared my thoughts on the influence that Most Haunted and similar shows have had in previous posts The Day That Ghost Hunting Died and Television Clones: When Ghost Hunting Goes Bad but to summarise, Most Haunted and its ilk has inspired hundreds and hundreds of fans to start their own amateur ghost hunting teams across the country (me included). These people copy the techniques and methods the show once promoted before it was taken off of the air in 2010. The methodology is unquestioned by fans whose main aim is to speak to ghosts and the influence stretches even as far as the team structure with teams normally having a psychic, a lead investigator, a camera-man, a skeptic and a techie just like pre-2010 Most Haunted.

As silly as this may seem these groups should not just be shrugged off as the ethical behaviour of such teams is concerning and the majority of amateur ghost hunting outfits inspired by the likes of Most Haunted do not have a code of ethics that they base their work around. This should be concerning for everyone.

As a paranormal researcher myself I can confidently say that anyone who becomes involved with paranormal research will come into contact with potentially vulnerable adults, youths and children on a regular basis, and without an ethical framework in place the harm that can be caused by people out to find ghosts in any way they can is scarily unimaginable.

I once interviewed the chairman of ASSAP Dave Wood and respected researcher C J Romer about the ethics of paranormal research and you can read what they had to say on the subject here. Some of the unethical things they’ve encountered from other investigators are horrendous to hear about and match my own experiences with the work of others that I’ve stumbled upon in the decade I’ve been a paranormal researcher.

Every weekend ghost hunting fans enter allegedly haunted business and homes across the country and parrot the bullshit they hear on these reality paranormal television shows as though it’s factual when it isn’t. So although a roll of tape stalking Yvette Fielding through a theatre is laughable the monster that Most Haunted and similar shows have created in their wake rages on. It’s the stuff of nightmares and the worst thing is that there’s no stopping it.

So, mock Most Haunted all you like but I personally eye it with extreme caution because I’ve seen the damage it causes and it is no laughing matter.

Live-tweeting Most Haunted

mh

Most Haunted is back. Tonight. At 10pm on Really (Freeview 17 Sky 248 Virgin 267).

As much as I moan about paranormal reality television I have a secret love for Most Haunted because it is the show that prompted me to become a naive but hopeful ghost hunter when I was Eighteen. I get frustrated at the bullshit they spout as factual, but it also makes me laugh.

With this in mind I will be live-tweeting and countering any nonsense claims they make.

I’ll use #mosthaunted on my Twitter account here.

The problem with such shows develops when people think they are factual and treat them as training when they’re actually just for entertainment.

So… will you be watching?