Friday, October 19, 2012

How your emotions affect your paranormal investigations

This article was found on

It was written by Jennifer Shipp

Created on: July 21, 2009 Last Updated: July 27, 2009

Paranormal activity has not been officially indoctrinated into science yet. Because studies into the paranormal have not yielded consistent, replicable results (paranormal events are, by nature, unpredictable, after all), paranormal investigation has not been given the same scientific status as physics or geology in the world of science. But, if there is ever to be any hope for paranormal investigations to gain credibility among the general public and among scientists , it is imperative that investigators put the scientific method into practice to the greatest extent possible in their investigations. As such, emotion must be quelled during paranormal investigations.

On television, paranormal investigators are primarily entertainers. Producers choose people for television shows based much on their personality and their ability to produce drama within the show's format. And ghost hunters or paranormal investigators on TV work in groups to produce interesting social dynamics that are worth tuning in to watch each week. Often, these shows can and do arguably record paranormal activities within the context of a real-life social drama. But the fact is, these television shows include an emotional element in their paranormal investigations that lead the study of the paranormal further and further away from science. The emotions that come out during paranormal investigations on TV often obscure the events themselves. And some would argue that emotional outbursts may even fuel so-called paranormal events.

Paranormal researchers are typically not willing to accept occult theories about the paranormal. Typically they are also unwilling to be constrained by the scientific method. Which, again, leaves them to work only in the realm of entertainment. A paranormal investigator who dabbles even superficially in occult lore knows that emotions can affect all sorts of unexplainable phenomena. People in primitive societies ritualistically will work themselves into different emotional states in order to achieve certain spiritual and material goals and effects. In psychology, we know that transference or the feelings that are transmitted from client to therapist can have important effects on the progress of treatment. Emotions drive social relationships of all kinds that take place right under our noses, every day, at work, at school, at home . To the extent that paranormal investigators are seeking to study paranormal events that often appear to involve a human or human-esque consciousness, it is rather daft to assume that our emotions, as investigators will not cause an important, if not dramatic, shift of events during an investigation.

As one who primarily studies folklore as it concerns the paranormal and new trends in paranormal phenomena in various communities throughout the United States , I find that the way people describe what they've heard or what they've seen or experienced or heard about other people experiencing is often strongly affected by the overall tenor of the community's acceptance of the paranormal. The way a person describes their personal opinions or experiences of the paranormal is even more strongly affected by the social dynamic that surrounds their storytelling in real time. If they are surrounded by people who are mostly against the idea of the paranormal, the storyteller will usually be very quiet and succinct as they tell their tale. In contrast, if the storyteller happens to be surrounded by one or more supporters or people who have heard similar stories or had similar experiences, the tales told will become more wild, harder to believe, and seemingly more subject to the imagination of the storyteller.

On location, investigators are subject to the same phenomenon described above. By going into a supposedly haunted location with a group of believers or people who will automatically believe the investigator if they have a personal or recordable experience, investigators are skewing their own results. Indeed, the fact of having someone support a personal experience can seriously affect the investigators own memory of the personal experience, making it difficult for the investigator to think about the event objectively at all.

And yet, there are stories, that I've found that have features that suggest that they are true stories of actual paranormal events. For example, experiencing a paranormal event that took place while a person was on location for some reason other than to investigate paranormal events, lends credibility to a tale. The mere desire for a paranormal event to occur can activate selective perception such that every sound or shadow moving seems to be a paranormal event to the one who is seeking to experience a paranormal event.

Scientists are required to create null hypotheses in their scientific experiments and seek to disprove their hypotheses. By creating a null hypothesis, the scientist is theoretically inclined to be more objective in their experimental endeavors. But paranormal investigators are not required to set out to not find paranormal activity, per se at haunted locations. Some paranormal investigators do try to debunk paranormal activities, using the null hypothesis as their starting block during investigations, but often, the null hypothesis and debunking enthusiasm will wax and wane for television ghost hunters and for ghost hunters who are unskilled in the use of scientific methods. This waxing and waning of debunking activities and enthusiasm has to do with an ebb and flow of emotion on the part of the paranormal investigator. Unfortunately, this ebb and flow and wax and wane destroys in many ways the credibility, reliability, and validity of the scientific endeavor to collect information about that which is paranormal. When emotion becomes involved in an investigation, we are no longer studying the paranormal, we are studying psychology.

And so, in summary, although it is difficult to pin down precisely the way that emotion effect paranormal investigations, it is fairly easy to say generally that is does have an impact on the results of an investigation. It would be nearly impossible to remove all emotion, as an investigator, from a paranormal investigation. Indeed, removing emotion from a paranormal investigation would require us to remove humans from paranormal investigations altogether. Rather, paranormal investigators must learn how to control emotion as a variable in paranormal investigations. They must acknowledge that emotion is a variable and seek to control it or control for it or both in order to produce the most rock solid evidence possible for scientists and for the general public to observe.

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