Things That Make Me Go Aarrgghh!

Things that Make Me Go “Aaarrrggghhh”

This one’s a little different…a commentary on some issues that keep popping up from the “Paranormal Community” that get my blood going more than a little.

1)      “There are no experts on the paranormal….”

Over the last 10 years, I’ve often hear this statement made by individuals at events, on blogs, on podcasts and even seen it in their books. They state this because, they say, there are so many questions about the phenomena we are trying to study (they seem to leave out the word experience), and no absolute proof of even the existence of psychic phenomena.

Correct. There are many questions about the phenomena AND the experiences. But clearly people have been having these experiences in some fashion since time immemorial, AND since the 19th Century, researchers and others have been collecting and investigating the experiences, both outside the lab (in “real life”) and under controlled conditions in the laboratory.

However, we in Parapsychology/Psychical Research HAVE learned much about the patterns of the experiences, about alternative, normal (though sometimes esoteric) explanations for some of the reports and experiences, the apparent behavior of the phenomena, and even some connections to environmental conditions. We have models for the phenomena which, if funding were properly available, are at least somewhat testable. We have hypotheses and even theories which can be tested.

So, when considering people educated in Parapsychology – whether via academic work or by participating in actual scientific research (this does not count most ghost hunting, by the way) – how are they NOT experts? Sure, people in my field have various strengths of experience and knowledge. My focus has been on spontaneous experiences (outside the lab), including apparitions, hauntings, and poltergeists, but I know much about laboratory studies and findings. Others of my colleagues have expertise in experiences and research of remote viewing, psychokinesis, mediumship, and so on.

More maddening, however, is the fact that most of the folks stating “there are no experts” are doing it from a platform that somehow denotes “expertise.” They are main speakers at ghost events. They are authors. They are TV stars of ghost hunting shows.  So, there are no experts except “me” – is that what they’re saying?

On top of it all, most of them often deny the need to know anything about Parapsychology – the only Science to actually study this stuff. Most of them denigrate some of the people in my field, or have never even heard of the top researchers/investigators. Or they have clearly misinterpreted or purposely changed the models, methodologies, and such they attribute to parapsychologists in order to make them fit their own models, methods, etc.

Or they tout how many investigations they’ve done (or for how many years), as if that gives them expertise….

It might, but with no understanding of what folks in my field already concluded, the mistakes made and corrected (the mistakes often being repeated by the “newbies”).

And remember: 30 years of bad methodology or bad assumptions is BAD experience. Makes one an expert in bad investigations and false conclusions, not any sort of expert on the phenomena.

2)      I was recently shown an email statement from someone in a ghost hunting group that is similar to those I’ve heard/seen before: “Anyone who tries to sell you on classes or certifications is disreputable.”

Okay, this one I need to take in two parts. First, the “certification” issue.

I’ve made it clear again and again that one cannot be “certified” as a “ghost hunter,” or “paranormal investigator” and especially not as a “parapsychologist.”  Certification implies a level of expertise in a subject or application of knowledge or in an activity, that the individual has passed some kind of testing to get certified, and that the person/body offering “certification” is empowered (legally and more importantly, ethically) to do so.

Most people who have never gone through a certification program (e.g.. in a Microsoft product, or a particular practice method in psychology, medicine, nursing, etc.) might have no clue as to what “certification” implies. In other words, some people offering certification simply are ignorant, not “disreputable.”

On the other hand, there are those who have demonstrated other behavior that might put them in that negative category. Some have been clearly advised that without approval by an established body such as the Parapsychological Association or even the Rhine Research Center or the Society for Psychical Research, or an actual academic source, the “certification” is relatively worthless – especially when it’s for being a “parapsychologist” when the actual materials don’t even have content from the field (more often than one would even believe). They have not corrected this issue, and therefore are doing what they’re doing in a knowing way, no longer in ignorance.

As for me, I continually have to correct people asking me about or referring to my own Parapsychological Studies Program (through HCH Institute) as a “certification.” It’s not, and it’s never been. It’s a series of non-academic courses providing a deep introduction to several major areas of Parapsychology, and completing all the courses earns the students a “Certificate of Completion” (kind of a non-academic diploma). A certificate is not the same as a certification.

As to the second part, dealing with classes …

I’ve heard many say something as the quote above, or more commonly “you can’t teach this stuff.”

To which I have to reply:  Any class in any arena of human endeavor is only as good as the person who put it together and/or teaches it, and the content of the class.

Parapsychology/Psychical Research as an over 130 year history. Courses in the subject have been and continue to be taught at accredited universities in many countries, though sadly the US has fallen behind in the number of colleges offering even a single course due to severe academic prejudice (the UK leads the pack). Courses have and continue to be at the graduate school level, not just the undergrad.

I not only went through a full academic, accredited university graduate program in Parapsychology (JFK University had one from the late 70s until the late 80s), I ended up back at the university after graduation teaching several of those graduate level courses, including a field investigations class.

Others in my field have taught university classes in field investigations, or at least covering the phenomena and experiences of apparitions, hauntings and poltergeists.

“Disreputable?”

Such a statement comes from someone with an agenda of their own (or, if I’m to be charitable, somebody who’d been “taken” by a phony at some point and is too embarrassed to admit it). Perhaps the agenda is to turn people away from the possibility of learning something very real as opposed to what they’ve learned from other ghost hunters (or heaven forbid, from the TV shows). Perhaps it’s because they have been taken in by ghost hunters who learned their “craft” from watching paranormal shows and taught crappy courses (always seeming to miss anything about Parapsychology).

Or perhaps it’s because they want people to come to them for information, like the people who claim there are no experts.

Personally, I’ve been dedicated to educating the general public about Parapsychology, to helping to off-set the often fearful images of ghosts and such, to educate the members of the media to really look at the questions inherent in psychic experiences (which include poltergeists, ghosts, and hauntings). I push hard against the ignorance of my field in an ever growing “community” that claims to want to study the phenomena, to prove its existence, but seems to be resistant to even considering that there’s a history, literature, and group of scientists who’ve been doing this for more than 100 years longer than their favorite TV shows.

I’ve often felt like I’m beating my head against a brick wall, and statements like the ones quote here just give me more of a headache.

Sometimes I just want to be like William Shatner on the classic Saturday Night Live sketch telling over-the-top Trekkies to “Get a Life!”

There’s more, but this is enough of a rant for now. But one last comment…

Ask questions of the speakers, the “experts,” the “scientific investigators,” the authors and those teaching classes (and certainly those offering “certifications”).

Ask questions of ME. I’m always happy when someone is consumer-smart enough to ask questions like “what do I really get out of taking your classes?” and “why are you qualified to teach these classes or call yourself an expert?”

That leads to a conversation. Conversation is good. Blanket statements are not (hmmm…that’s a blanket statement in itself, so maybe that’s not good….  :-)

This entry was posted in Articles, Education, Ghost Hunting, News, Parapsychology classes by Loyd Auerbach. Bookmark the permalink.

About Loyd Auerbach

LOYD AUERBACH, M.S., Director of the Office of Paranormal Investigations, is one of the world's leading experts on Psychic Experience and Ghosts, and has been investigating and researching the paranormal for over 30 years. He is the co-author of author of the book THE GHOST DETECTIVES’ GUIDE TO HAUNTED SAN FRANCISCO with the late renowned psychic Annette Martin (2011, Craven Street Books/Linden Publishing) and the author of 7 other books, including A PARANORMAL CASEBOOK (Atriad Press, 2005), HAUNTINGS & POLTERGEISTS (Ronin Publishing, 2004) and GHOST HUNTING: How to Investigate the Paranormal (Ronin, 2004). His first book, ESP, HAUNTINGS AND POLTERGEISTS: A Parapsychologist’s Handbook (Warner Books, 1986) was named the “Sacred Text” on Ghosts in the 1990s and has been cited by numerous people as their inspiration for “getting into the paranormal.” He has a graduate degree in Parapsychology and has been teaching courses on the subject since 1983. He is a professor at both Atlantic University and JFK University and is the creator and Instructor of the Certificate Program in Parapsychological Studies at HCH Institute in Lafayette, also available for distance learning or in coaching form. Recently elected President of the Forever Family Foundation (for 2013 & 2014), he is on the Board of Directors of the Rhine Research Center, holds a position with the Psychic Entertainers Association and is on the Advisory Boards of the Windbridge Institute and the Forever Family Foundation. His media appearances on TV, radio and in print number in the thousands, including national programs such as The View, Larry King Live, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Stories, Sightings, Unsolved Mysteries, and specials on A&E, History, Travel and Discovery Channels, and more. He is a professional mentalist and psychic entertainer, performing as Professor Paranormal. He is also a public speaking and media skills coach, and has been teaching those subjects in university and corporate settings since the late 1980s, and currently coaches authors, entrepreneurs, corporate execs and others. As of 2010, he is also a professional chocolatier, producing and selling his chocolate under the business name of Haunted By Chocolate – with a book on the subject coming in 2013.

2 thoughts on “Things That Make Me Go Aarrgghh!

  1. First off, how does one usually become an “expert” in any field, take psychology, anthropology or physics for example?

    Our society presumes there will be some type of formal education involved in the process of becoming a recognized “expert”. As a student of any particular field, we turn to those who have looked into our field of interest before us and learn what they have spent years, lifetimes, writing about ; take what they have observed, learned, and sometimes been in error, we take that knowledge and hopefully absorb it to one day build upon it.

    What one does NOT do (usually) is watch a television show that has plumbers, cops, engineers or cat wranglers playing physicists (but having had no formal education in the field), and then go buy a Geiger counter and say “I’m a real physicist because I saw one played on TV and now I have EQUIPMENT”. Why is that the case with the paranormal?

    These “new real paranormal investigators” (that have been cropping up faster than Zombies at an apocalypse since the TV show GHOST HUNTERS came on the scene) who loudly and proudly proclaim their lack of education about the actual subject then go on to demonstrate by their words and activities that they have no apparent understanding of the paranormal world, while at the same time offering “Conferences” (and asking you for your money anywhere from $175 on up) are led by other like minded uneducated people from such mostly unrelated fields as TV paranormal celeb, engineering and others is for lack of a better word, foolish.

    When it comes to the field of the paranormal we are talking about perception, consciousness and yes, even physics. This is the world of ghosts, ESP, EVPs, PK, etc. And guess what, there are people with advanced degrees who can teach these fields’ and their relevance to the paranormal – they’ve been doing it for over a century! But that takes time, work and effort and, if not taught by parapsychologists, being aware of what they (the parapsychologists) have been doing for all that time.

    To proclaim there is nobody who can provide formal education is often motivated by and for personal (ego) or financial gain. To say “I’ve had no education and I am going to charge you BIG BUCKS to reinvent the wheel with no idea of how to do it” (with their brand new shiny equipment) is what it appears. arrogance compounded by ignorance.

    So who will you turn to for your information? Where will you spend your money?

  2. Pingback: Absence of evidence is not evidence of existence...

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