It’s all that a lot of ghost hunters go on about these days and it gives me a headache because on the surface it’s presented as a movement to bond the diverse people involved in paranormal research but underneath the happy surface lurks something not so pleasant.
If “para-unity” was just about getting on with one another I could probably get behind it, but more often than not I see “para-unity” requested at a cost. Those who promote “para-unity” want mutual respect for all of those involved in paranormal research in one way or another but not everybody involved in paranormal research is deserving of respect.
If you use a bad methodology then your methodology isn’t worthy of respect, if you are unethical in your research then that isn’t worthy of respect and if you use pseudo-science or make outright nonsense claims in your research then that isn’t worthy of respect. You do not gain the respect of somebody else simply because you share something in common with them, and all too often I see paranormal researchers acting as though they shouldn’t have to deal with any criticism or questioning because “we’re all in this together”.
No. We are not all in this together, and to pretend that comradery should somehow absolve you of the responsibility for your actions and your claims is a weak position to take. So many paranormal researchers hunt for evidence that ghosts are real and I think that is a completely flawed methodology. I am not your ally because we’re both interested in ghosts, and as harsh as that may sound it’s the truth.
It’s great to work with other paranormal researchers and to share resources and information but you are only lying to yourself if you think that “mutual respect” dissolves your responsibility to back up the claims you make with evidence.
Believing in different things is absolutely fine as long as you’re willing to accept that those who disagree with you are going to counter your points or challenge your claims. If something you claim to be true is not true it is not okay to just say “well that’s how I do it, that’s what I think and I believe in para-unity so we should respect one another’s decisions“. There is a big difference between having the right to believe in different things and having the right to have your beliefs go unchallenged.
As an atheist I see too much cross-over between those who use para-unity as a tool that enables them to not listen to criticism, and those who censor atheists and critics of religion. Sure, nobody has hacked a skeptic to death because they challenged their belief in ghosts. But there are similarities in other concerning ways. In the last few years there have been a concerning number of incidents of censorship in British universities of atheists who criticised or mocked religion because religious students felt as though they were entitled to not have the things they believed in criticised.
The para-unity folks also remind me somewhat of those students who sat with their fingers in their ears or walked out of a lecture by Susan Blackmore in Oxford rather than listening to her thoughts, but what irks me most is that instead of conflicting with their critics as many who protest outspoken atheists do, the folks who promote “para-unity” pretend to be your ally…
…and something I have learned very quickly in this world is that anyone who will do anything to stop you questioning their claims is not an ally.
You don’t need to create a special term for respecting other people regardless of what they believe. Para-unity serves only those within the paranormal research fields who seek to go unchallenged and that’s just not cool.