Tkay and I have been reworking some of our older articles about 'certifications' in the paranormal. Recently, there have been some very unstable people harp on and on about their certifications from places that are known to be bogus (hello, Flamel College). This was a bit I wrote a while back about another organization that claims to certify.
At this time, there is no governing body in the paranormal community, and no accredited universities that give out paranormal degrees or certifications. And yet, 'certified paranormal investigators' abound throughout the community, which got me to searching just exactly who it is that accredits these people.
In all these cases, it is completely bogus, with online degrees that have very little requirements. One is a college known as Flamel which claims to be able to certify, but has no affiliation with any accredited university. There was one organization that used a lot of science-sounding jargon, which of course made me want to look further-- The International Metaphysical Practitioners Association. According to their website, they now include paranormal investigators as one of the practitioners they will certify.
This organization was created in December of 2010 and is a division of the Metaphysical Church of Humanistic Science Inc. It is headed up by Rev. Douglas R. Kelly, who holds a certification in hypnotherapy and claims a PhD in 'metaphysical science' as well. Since no such doctorate exists in the academic world, this is likely an honorary doctorate.
What bothers me and in my opinion is misleading, is the fact that it IS presented as professionally as it is when there is no real academic accreditation to the courses that are offered, and certainly no accredited courses in 'paranormal education', 'paranormal science', and other such phrases used liberally on their site. And yes frankly, I am put off by anyone who finds it necessary to add academic sounding titles to their names.
The facts: The paranormal scene is fueled by conjecture, subjective experiences, and opinions. That does not negate it--that simply says that there is a long way to go before being able to certify something that has even its participants disagreeing over methods and what is considered paranormal evidence. Douglas R. Kelly does not have a cornered market on how the standards should be set. The hugest drawback to anything like this..it leaves the door open for anything to call itself 'certified'.
Saying that someone is certified gives an impression of more advanced knowledge. It indicates that the person has years of classes and training on the field in question. It indicates that they are more professional and reliable. In many cases, paranormal certifications are nothing more than pieces of paper that can be received by hitting the paypal button on the website. However, even for the ones who require classes and training, even for the ones that are actually teaching something worthwhile..the word 'certification' is misleading. It doesn't mean anything other than this investigator spent money for information that can be found for anyone who wants to take the time to research.
The bottom line is..there is no need to spend the money on getting these certifications. They are not accredited, they don't make you any better than a team that has no certification. There are many good, educational sites that care about getting the right information out there. There are paranormal investigating teams that promote education and they do it for absolutely free. They claim no certification nor do they claim to be experts..but they care about getting the right information out there. It's my opinion that the paranormal scene will not advance by creating titles that try to make someone sound more credible. Anyone serious is going to care more about honesty and real research than they are titles.
I hardly know where to begin....
Bullies. We've heard about them since we were kids--the cyber-world has kept some people right in that mentality. I've also thought for a long time that the word is misused, over-used, and advertised to the point where it has lost its true meaning. In my opinion, the paranormal scene has taken the word 'bully' and redefined it to the point where it is barely re cognizable.
And yet..who are the real bullies?
I have had conversations with people in the paranormal that have blown my mind, and not in a good way. I read the drama on some of the pages set up to call out the BS and wonder if I didn't step right back into the junior high cafegymatorium. I see paranormal people begging daily on cyber-panhandling sites for anything from equipment, to a car wreck, to traveling the country on everyone else's dime. And yet when any of us DARE to question ones who are putting all this crap out there...we become the bullies. The paranormal seems to have a group think mentality and anyone who questions is a perceived enemy.
A conversation yesterday with someone in the paranormal scene who claims to be against bullying really brought it home for me. An anti-military post was being shared and it was obvious from the wording and the images used that it was propaganda based misinformation. I did what I always do when I see crap like that--I questioned it and called it for what it was. Simply because another friend of mine had questioned her about it earlier, she deflected and said that I was there to start trouble. As she went on to defend the post, I realized that she either had not really read it--or she didn't understand its true context. How truly bullying it was toward the military and the soldiers. The bloody images and still shots, the words calling soldiers horrible names, the propaganda video..all of it was the textbook definition of bullying. In her mind it was 'controversial' but she agreed with what it said--her words.
This is the kind of person that should be giving advice on how to deal with bullying? Someone who can't even recognize it? Not in my opinion. And yes, that is just an opinion--take it or leave it as you wish. But as long as this person continues to promote the cause of getting the whole of the paranormal community to join in and help educate on the subject of bullying, I will continue to question her ability to recognize it when seen.
Name and Shame..But Why?
As the years go by and things in the paranormal scene get more mired in bullshit, I have to wonder what good pages like this have done. Not to say we are going to stop--but we have certainly seen where calling people out has done very little to dissuade them from continuing the outrageous claims and in some cases outright lies.
Remember the team that used the "madonna of bachelor grove" picture on their site and got the whole community in an uproar? Yeah--they still continued on and they still got on TV. Remember the one just recently that showcased pictures standing in an open grave to 'help' a spirit cross over? Everyone wanted that person named over at the Worst page and as soon as people realized who she was--you could almost hear the crickets chirping. Sad thing is, we had already done a page about that one on our site a couple of months ago.
Another team we called out here was brought up over on the Worst Paranormal page as well and it seems that once again, very little difference was made. They still charge for EVP sessions and they still claim that 'suggested' donations are acceptable to request. And of course the team that claimed a crying baby was possibly possessed by something evil and working the parents up into a frenzy until they were called on it--still running around all over Facebook telling people to 'stop by their page and like'.
People get outraged at some of the things going on in the scene for all of five minutes and then it is forgotten. Yet how many are whining that the 'bad ones are giving the good ones a bad name'? Really?? No. The acceptance of bullshit is what is giving the whole scene a reason to be scoffed and satirized. The more people blame the 'bad ones'..the closer they get to becoming what they hate.
Again, we're not going to stop what we do. The main goal of this page has been to share what we have learned in regard to the non-paranormal and to encourage people to question everything. As we have seen on the Worst Paranormal page recently, those questions NEED to be asked. There are people out there who want to go into homes that have no business doing so. The more that is allowed to continue, the worse things are going to get. Naming and shaming won't work unless people are more careful in picking and choosing. That starts with questioning everything someone claims.
What Gives Us The Right?
I would say that one of the most over-used arguments against getting evidence on the paranormal scene questioned is "what gives you the right?" It is said if we go to their pages and comment--it is said when their pages are shared and critiqued. Essentially, they are saying that since we weren't there and we don't know the team, then we do not have the right to say anything. (of course, it's different when people are praising them for their 'brilliant captures').
The fact is, many teams out there are claiming to help people and offer 'services', free or otherwise. Those people ABSOLUTELY have the right to know that there is better information out there in regard to explaining photo anomalies. They have the right to hear the non-paranormal explanations so that they can make an informed choice about who they are letting in their homes.
So quit whining 'what gives us the right' when YOU are the ones who did that by putting it all out there publicly.
A question on the Paranormal And Supernatural Claims Review page earlier inspired the following blog. The question was "what do you find most frustrating about the paranormal scene today. Indeed, a loaded question.
The frustrations I have with the paranormal have nothing to do with what might be unexplainable. It is the majority of the people who promote the scene. I have seen everything from blind belief to out and out untreated mental illness and personality disorders. I have seen opinions stated as theories when they often don't even qualify as hypotheses.
First, the "unity movement" That whole thing is a 'movement' alright. I will NOT hold hands with bullshit, nor will I ignore it in favor of "no drama". One person responded that all these teams are clones of each other, which is dead on. THAT is what unity has caused--teams who liberally use 'non profit' and science words without knowing what any of it means. And they want to go into people's homes and "help" them. They can't even help themselves learn.
Second, the blind belief. I have seen ghost apps proven to be fake and people will still hold on and justify their commenters "feeling" something from the picture. Just yesterday, there was a page that had a ghost app. People were commenting with what they "felt". When it was shown to be an app, they backtracked of course. When asked about people commenting with what they felt, it was said that "sensitive people are feeling the spirits of those who are truly there". daFUQ?? And they didn't see an app for what it was?
Lastly, the hypocrisy. I read all the time where people are all for debunking and explaining photos until it comes to their own. Then the excuses come out for how their orb/mist/long exposure was different. They will fight it to the death and will either lash out at those who offer explanations--the very explanations that they were agreeing with on another picture--or they will ignore the information.
I will say I have met some very good people through all of this bullshit and I have not lost my interest in the unexplained. I have however all but given up on the paranormal scene as a whole. Very few want to learn and no one wants to let go of what they think they can do or prove with unproven methods. Now I am just here to encourage everyone to question these people. Everyone. That most definitely includes potential clients.
A few weeks ago, one of the pages we follow (Paranormal & Supernatural Claims Review) posted a question relating to our beliefs about the paranormal and what, if anything, about them had changed over the years. It was a question that inspired a more detailed response than Tkay or I could give in a discussion thread.
Both of us began all of this as enthusiastic believers in ghosts and felt we were open-minded to other possibilities regarding the paranormal. After several years of seeing more bullshit than a cow pasture (and not just from newbies or enthusiasts), we've become a bit more jaded.
When this page first started, it was with the goal of exposing as many of these outrageous claims as possible. A good number of these amateur investigation teams advertise going into homes and while most do not charge money, we felt it was important to address the ones who were misleading. The more we learned, the less comfortable we felt about supporting the idea of teams going into homes at all. Even when the intent is a good one, the ethics of explaining or helping a person with concepts as subjective as the paranormal are questionable at best, especially when explainable causes are not fully investigated. Unfortunately far too many fall into this category.
To top that off, we have had to listen to the cries of "bully" when we have questioned what some of these teams are doing. We have seriously had it up to here with the self-created, most aggressive "victims" on the planet. We have found it with the teams and we have also found it with others that claim to call out the BS. The excuses and the outright lies that have been told by drama bloggers in attempts to instigate flame wars showcase exactly what is wrong with the entire scene.
These are the same clowns that think we are wrong for calling out teams and not focusing on calling out the more well-known names in the paranormal. Of course, the only ones that say things like that are making sure their own names get associated with these Parawood pseudo-celebrities. We are of the opinion that these types of blogs (and podcasts) are more about stirring the pot and getting site views than they are focused on the truth. Of course big names need called out and they are--but we also feel that the ones wanting to go into homes should not be ignored as 'harmless' when some have shown themselves to be otherwise.
Yes, our beliefs changed, but what has gotten us on the verge of being cynical has nothing to do with explainable causes. The hypocrisy of so many has everything to do with how we view the paranormal scene now. The egos that can't get enough of themselves shit their pseudoscience everywhere and the only time most people take notice is when there is another showing of "As The Para~Crap Churns". It seems once the outrage dies down, so does the resolve to change things.
We will continue to keep watch for teams and psychics whose claims need to be questioned and leave the "big names" to those who so desperately need blog hits. And hopefully, we can once again enjoy the possibilities of the unexplained. As for now, there are still way too many on this scene that have some explaining to do.
I am so deathly SICK of hearing the word 'bully' in this community. It has been redefined to mean telling the truth and sharing education. Umpteen pages have been set up to 'stop bullying'...now we have one wanting to donate money. Really??? This is what we are coming to...not research, not investigating, not seeking the truth.
We have said it before and we will say it again...donating money to causes that are legitimate and are handled through reputable agencies is a good thing. Individuals asking for donations for 'causes' should always be questioned. And I have a lot of questions about this..especially this 'nationwide' organization that I have never heard of before. I will add that this is an organization claiming to educate and assist people in regards to bullying in all walks of life, not just the paranormal. However, I have to wonder why the paranormal connection is there at all..since a good number of people in the community have no idea what the word actually means.
I saw a lot of people posting about Sylvia Brown and her(again) botched job of telling a family that a girl was dead only to have her turn up alive. Sadly, I also saw a few defending her...saying that when psychics are 'put on the spot' (oh you mean the spot they put themselves in?)that mistakes can be made..and look at all the people she has helped! And of course the old 'psychics aren't accurate 100% of the time...it doesn't work that way.'
Here's the problem with that argument..if it doesn't 'work that way', then why take advantage of families grief to get attention in the first place? Why put it out there that predictions can be made and loved ones can be contacted from some mysterious, unproven "other side" only to have to say 'Ooops'
There is no excuse for being a grief vampire. Sylvia Brown was not the only psychic that made a hit and miss guess on this particular case..I've been reading all over facebook how psychics were thriving on any chance to claim a hit or a guess in this case. (after the fact of course). Just because they aren't famous or well known doesn't mean they aren't just as reprehensible for trying to suck in on something that has nothing to do with them.
I'm sure that there are people who wish that 'detractors' would just shut up and stop calling this crap out when it happens. Sorry...it doesn't work that way.
I have some comments regarding some of the reaction to Worst Paranormal and their community peer review of paranormal teams.
The biggest and most over-used comment I have heard is"What gives you the right/authority to claim you can educate anyone on how to conduct paranormal investigation?" Now I may be just a blogger with ahigh school education and hold no 'degrees' or qualifications (whatever those would be?)...but it seems to me that the question roughly translates to"What gives you the right to question us?"
The public as a whole..that includes teams, potential clients, enthusiasts, and your old Uncle Fred that thinks it's all bunk..has the right to question claims and ask people to show where they have found quantifiable data that justifies posting orbs, mists, pareidolia and light painting. I find it very laughable that teams should expect to be able to make whatever claim they want without being questioned about it.
It does not take a degree to use the scientific method..it takes looking up what it means, LEARNING what it means, and employing it. It does not take a degree to learn photography and photography mistakes. It does not take a degree to employ critical thinking and logic.
Who are we to question? We are the community as a whole. If tones tend to lean toward sarcasm and ridicule, that is because we have been told by nearly every person we have questioned or called out on their claims..that we don't have the right. That we are 'jealous'. So yes, there are times when there is no point in taking it seriously because obviously the people who are making the claims don't take it seriously at all.