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How Does the Skeptic View Paranormal Folk?

I’m going to go ahead and safely assume that the vast majority of readers or even one time visitors to this blog are somehow interested in or involved in paranormal or spiritual topics (unless they landed here on accident while trying to search for something cool like a Snuggie for their dog, although those people tend to be paranormal folk too… I think.) So it is this group that I would like to direct this post to. But I want to make it clear, skeptics and Snuggie people are welcome to read and respectfully comment as well.

There are several things that I have not been shy about discussing since I started Big Séance. One of them is that several years ago I began experiencing what I’ve called a “spiritual shift”. That’s the spiritual side of me. At about this same time I started to be fascinated with the paranormal, specifically ghosts and spirit communication. That’s the paranormal side of me. Sometimes I have a hard time bouncing back and forth between the two, fitting into discussions or conversations online, etc. But the one thing that makes me the awkward guest at both parties is the fact that I’m often the more skeptical (a naughty word in both parties) person there. Obviously that doesn’t mean I am out to prove the paranormal doesn’t exist. I’m convinced life doesn’t end at death. I know that sometimes spirits don’t move on and stay with us, and perhaps visit us on occasion. No one needs to tell me one way or the other. But I do think that there are many in the paranormal field whose behavior and reckless claims about things make us look a little… hmm… childish. Inexperienced. Dumb. There always seems to be that Class A EVP that CLEARLY says “Hey thanks for stopping by but I want you to GET OUT!” even though I hear a cough and 4 investigator footsteps. There’s the orb that has 50 possible natural explanations, yet someone decide’s it’s the ghost of Matilda because look, you can see two eyes a nose and a mouth. I try my best to not criticize the theories and beliefs of others, and feel like often I examine and take a hard look at my own. I don’t go out there trying to pick fights. I just think that as investigators or “ghost hunters” (ugh), we need to be as honest and responsible with what we’re saying and what we’re putting out there.

I know I’m not a scientist or parapsychologist, or an expert in either of these fields, but I have bravely referred to myself as a “researcher” who seriously studies and works with the paranormal… and even though there is a lot I still don’t understand, up to now I’ve felt good about that. Perhaps that’s silly. I follow and learn from smart people, many who truly are deserving of the “expert” or “researcher” title. I realize that people who know me in the real world probably get a kick out of this time-consuming and expensive hobby when they find out how I spend my time when I’m not at the day job. Perhaps some of them snicker when they see my posts, and maybe decide that it’s a shame that I’ve gone off the deep end. But honestly, most of the time I don’t even worry about what people think, because I get so excited about it! I plan my blog posts out in my head at work sometimes and can’t wait to come home to get them started. When an investigation is in the works or when someone asks for help, I put all of my effort into that. I get really excited to jump into my next non-fiction book. I want to learn… I want to discover… and I want to share.

Am I still talking????

Sharon Hill - Geologist, Author, Skeptic

Photo Credit: Sharon Hill – Geologist, Author, Skeptic

Anyway… So I find this skeptic and her blog and I think… “Hey, I like to be skeptical. I want to be balanced and see what I can learn from this.” Sharon Hill, the skeptic, is also a geologist. According to her bio at The Huffington Post, where she is a contributor, she “is a researcher specializing in the interaction between science, the media and the public. She is an advocate for scientific skepticism and the editor of DoubtfulNews.com — a critical thinking weird news blog.” Sharon is also the author of another blog, Doubtful (idoubtit.wordpress.com) which I now bravely follow, that caught my attention and is the reason you’re hearing from me today.

Promise me that even if you stop reading now you’ll watch this 35 minute video that was shared in her latest blog post.

It is your homework. This is her speaking at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS), in which she discusses her examination of paranormal groups and paranormal people, our beliefs, practices, equipment, our black t-shirts, our self published books with no references or citations, and our “sciencey” words because we want to sound professional and serious. It will open your eyes and mind to what we as paranormal folk look and sound like to the skeptic. I’m not going to lie… I was scared to death and worried that she was going to pull up a screenshot of my paranormal group’s outdated website… or even this blog. I found myself agreeing with her at times. She hit paranormal TV pretty hard. But I’ll admit I was hurt (didn’t shed any tears) because in parts of her talk I saw and heard myself in a lot of what she was saying. I’ve watched a few videos and I’ve heard her in an interview, and I really do think she is making an effort to understand us. She seems to be respectful about her opinions, even though she’s clearly relaxed and in front of her own crowd in this video. But still… I’m a bit bothered by it all. She feels that most of us “value science” but we “don’t have a clue how it works.” At one point she talks about how we tend to want to help, and we’re serious, we just don’t know how to do it. We’re simple folk who are just “invested emotionally” in our beliefs. 

Here are several questions that popped in my head during the two times I watched this video.

  • Is she talking about me?
  • Am I just so “invested emotionally” in my beliefs about the paranormal that my eyes are closed to anything else?
  • Am I “fooling the public”?
  • Are her views and opinions a reflection of the average scientist?
  • Am I seen as dumb or ignorant?
  • Should I even care about science? Do we have to have their approval?
  • Does my involvement in the paranormal have any worth at all?
  • Have I helped anyone?

The video from her latest Doubtful blog post.

If you’ve made it through this incredibly bi-polar and emotionally invested post, please share your thoughts. I know you want to! Share away before I wake up tomorrow and decide to delete the whole thing!

 

Related:

The Skeptical Perspective (Jim Harold’s Interview with Sharon Hill on The Paranormal Podcast)

No Scientists (Voices Podcast)

Coming Out of the Paranormal/Spiritual Closet (Big Séance)

 


One-Year Anniversary and 173rd Post! Thank You!

I am excited to announce that today is the ONE YEAR anniversary of The Big Séance! One year and 19,000 views ago, I decided to step out of my box and try my hand at blabbing away on the topic of the paranormal. I really had no idea what I was doing or even what I wanted the blog to end up being (I still don’t know, actually). I figured the blogging fad had come and gone but I’d give it a try. I just knew that I had been learning so much about spirit communication through my reading and paranormal investigation, and I really needed a place to get it out of my system… I needed a place to talk it through.

With my first post on Spirit Guides, I challenged myself to blog once a day. With a full-time job and paranormal investigations (another full-time job) on the side, this is nearly impossible… but I’m a little bit crazy and so for several weeks I succeeded. I kept hearing about how “consistency” in the blog world was really important, so I worried about my transition to an every other day post. I have since adjusted to a nice and comfortable (and more realistic) “whenever I can” schedule… but readership is growing every month and you folks are still with me.

Since that first post, my loyal readers have supported me through book and movie reviews, meditation and channeling, dream discussions, paranormal investigations, vacations, and debates on pareidolia (just to name a few topics).  You’ve followed as I took a journey through the early days of Spiritualism with the Fox sisters, and the famous Scole Experiment. We’ve strolled through the Stanley Hotel, the Lemp Mansion, and several cemeteries together. You guys even put up with me as I shared my obsession of 100 year-old yearbooks from my hometown.

By far, my most popular post has been Thomas Edison and the Phonograph. It has been shared so many times and gets multiple hits every day. I’m curious to know how this post gets around so much. If I knew it was going to be so popular, I probably would have spent a little more time on it. The post that comes in second place is Communicating with Dead Celebrities and the Famous.  

You’ve supported me through several major experiments, including some of my first detailed EVP experiments, spirit box and other radio sweep experiments, and more recently, Ouija and séance experiments. Many of these experiments are ongoing, including joint experiments with Randall Keller and Marilyn Painter.

Through this experience of blogging I’ve met authors, investigators, researchers, and you… the readers… who have shared so much, allowing us all to learn from you. And yes, I’ve gained friendships. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing the experience with me. And by the way… Ash is still the top comment leaver, followed closely by Maria Laing. Let the competition continue!

 

To give back, I’d like to share some of the blogs that have given me inspiration and an education in many ways.

paranormalogistically.wordpress.com (Paranormalogistically)

The Voices Blog, The Voices Blog Unplugged, and The Voices Podcast (Randall Keller)

channelingerik.com (Channeling Erik: Conversations with my son in the afterlife)

buildingthebridge.wordpress.com (Building the Bridge: Moving Consciousness from Here to the Future)

paranormalhousewives.wordpress.com (Paranormal Housewives)

karlpfeiffer.wordpress.com (Karl Pfeiffer)

newsfromthespiritworld.com (News from the Spirit World)

deborahjhughes.com (Ghostly Dramas)

wheretheindigosare.wordpress.com (Where the Indigos Are)

ahtahsanctuary.org (Mystic Ascension Memoirs: Journey Into the Experiences of a Mystic)

holisticwords.com (Holistic Words: Inspirational Words for the Holistic Mind)

samanthacangelosi.wordpress.com (Green Eggs and Sam)

thenomadicangel.wordpress.com (The Nomadic Angel: Daily Thoughts, Ponderings, and Things that Inspire Life)

creatingwithin.com (Creating Within: My Inner Journal: On a Personal Journey “Creating-From-Within”)

thedawnoffire.wordpress.com (The Dawn of Fire: Connection to Heaven)

augustgoforth.blogspot.com (The Risen: Dialogues of Love, Grief, & Survival Beyond Death — 21st Century Reports from the Afterlife through Contemplative, Intuitive, & Physical Mediumship)

notsofancynancy.wordpress.com (Notsofancynancy: How the hell did I get here?)

crystalmoons.wordpress.com (Into the Heart: Awakening Dreamer)

 

I can’t believe it has been a year already! I’ve learned so much… and I’ve enjoyed the journey!

 

 

What have been your favorite posts? And what kinds of posts will likely keep you coming back to the Big Séance? 

 

THANKS AGAIN! PEACE OUT!

 

 


Getting the Spiritual Story Straight…

If you’re like me, you think of yourself as a pretty spiritual person. Though I have many flaws, I am one who likes to work toward being as enlightened as possible. I’ve written many times about the “spiritual shift” that I went through around five years or so ago. Since then, along with the topics that you read about frequently on this blog, I’ve read about and tried my hand at things like channeling, meditation, astral travel, automatic writing, manifesting, etc. 

I mean no disrespect to some of the blogs I read or to spiritual leaders and authors out there, and I kind of feel funny posting this at all. But… let’s all be honest with ourselves. Do you get frustrated when you read material by psychics or spiritual leaders and realize that many of them have conflicting beliefs, stories, or statements? For example, one may say that I’ll see all of my former pets on the other side. Another says no. One says we can reincarnate as an animal. Another says no. One says when I die “the light” stays with me for a certain number of hours after my funeral. If I stay too long and miss my light then I’m doomed to be earthbound until I catch someone else’s. One says there’s a bridge in that light, but another says it’s a tunnel. And yet another says there is no light at all. When we pass, is there one big afterlife or are there different levels that we’ll be placed in according to how enlightened we are? Do we have 100% free will in this life or did we plan and script it all before we got here? And this next one drives me nuts. There is a popular book about auras and chakras out there. Well… the author no longer supports the information in the book, or even the idea that auras and chakras exist at all. 

And here is the inspiration for this post. Many wise and spiritually enlightened people refer to themselves or others as being “lightworkers”, “mystical travelers”, or “mission-life entities”. I’m not sure if these are just different names for the same thing, but there is a book that I’m reading now that tends to be aimed toward people who accept the mystical traveler role. I’m not feeling the call to accept these positions so I feel a bit guilty. Or maybe since I feel I could never live up to or fit the description of a “mystical traveler” I  just feel like I’m not a member of the club… and so why finish the book? Also, I’m confused. Do you accept these positions in life or on the other side before an incarnation? How does one know if they have been granted one of these titles? (Clearly, none of these belong to me or I wouldn’t be asking.) Is this something you choose to be? And if so, does one make this decision in life or before getting here?

Alright, I know there are too many question marks in this post, but bear with me for just a few more. There have been a few times in the last year or so where I’ve been in conversations with spiritual people, many who I respect and look up to. Sometimes I get corrected or told how something is or isn’t, even though there is clearly conflicting ideas out there. Is all of this spiritual wisdom coming from the same place and just interpreted differently? Or… is this wisdom just strong beliefs and opinions that are formed like anything else?

Even though it’s sad for me to think, my ego sometimes wonders if some of this information is just made up. 

Okay, rant over. I need to get rid of this nasty aura and meditate. 😉 

 

Peace!

 


Updates to the EVP Experiment Page…

 

My EVP Experiment page has been updated, including the “what I learned” portion that I promised was coming. I would sincerely like to thank those people who followed the experiment and helped with moral support. A summarized version of this page just might be published in a journal this summer. I’ll keep you posted.


Randall Keller’s There Is No Silence…

Randall Keller

Okay so Randall Keller (again, no relation… but a REALLY good last name) has been mentioned in my last several posts. I promise he’s not paying me. I also promise I’m not a stalker. 🙂 But I have kind of lived and breathed Randall’s books and his The Voices Podcast and The Voices Blog in the last few months. And as I’ve said before, he has been a really great mentor, he’s supported this blog, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know him through e-mail and his The Voices Podcast Facebook group. There are some pretty cool folks that hang out there… and plenty of really nerdy conversations.

My excuse for this post is that I finished There Is No Silence, which is Randall’s second book. After this post I promise to do a Randall Keller detox… at least for a day or two… 😉 

“All the things we truly know about EVP and the paranormal don’t mount up to very much – we’re not as smart as we think. And yet we keep pressing on because there is such earth-shattering potential. This book represents my attempt to understand the mystery behind EVP, and speaks to what we can truly learn from them. They are as far away from us as the ages, and still we hear their voices reach out across our lives and deep into our souls. We are meant to hear them, and the time has clearly come for us to focus beyond the old suspicions and tired stereotypes. There is no silence – it’s time for us to listen. And learn.”

Randall Keller, 2010
(from the back of There Is No Silence

As I mentioned in my review of his first book, Voices From Forever, Randall is such a fresh voice (no pun intended) on the subject of EVP and Spirit Communication. I’m finding that I probably agree with more of his feelings and opinions than any other author or expert on the subject. He is very down to earth and isn’t afraid to be honest, nor is he afraid to admit he doesn’t know it all. And no one does. 

If it’s true that the majority of my readers are interested in spirit communication, then I absolutely recommend these books to you. In my opinion, Randall is headed for the pioneer club with Friedrich Juergenson, Konstantin Raudive, and Sarah Estep.  

 

Word!

 

 


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