Saturday, June 1, 2013

Regulation in the Field of the Paranormal - Why It Will Never Happen.

There's been a lot of discussion in another paranormal forum I engage in about regulation within the field of UFO research. A lot of so-called UFOlogists flounder around the field of UFO research, stating un-substantiated claims, selling books, promoting expensive videos, and essentially saying anything they want without fear of retribution. This is done because the field itself is only self-regulated, which really doesn't mean much at all. As a result you get people like Phil Imbrogno who falsified his educational and military credentials and background for credibility, and no one caught him for 30 years because there is no form of regulation or vetting within the field of UFO's.

Standardization - What is "Paranormal"
So, why aren't investigators and organizations who research paranormal phenomena regulated? Why isn't there a watchdog group out there holding people accountable for such research? Well the first problem is that any field within the realm of the "paranormal" is not standardized. There are no scientific laws and aren't even any true theories within any branch or discipline of paranormal study. All we have are a multitude of hypotheses that people cannot demonstrate much less validate through any scientific measure. Here's an example... what's a ghost? What is an alien? What are UFO's? Everybody reading this blog post will have a different answer, and not a single person can prove their answer, regardless. And even if someone had a semblance of evidence to support their answer, they wouldn't be able to replicate that evidence under identical circumstances, an edict of the scientific method and the only way to graduate a hypothesis to a theory...and after much more experimentation, theory to law. No one has successfully done this within paranormal research to the point that it holds up to scientific that someone from within the field of paranormal research can duplicate the results. Here's an example -  I may know nothing about chemistry but I can read a book and learn to build a volcano with common house-hold contents. Ta-da! Chemistry. 

But that doesn't exist in the realm of paranormal research. Not everyone can go see a UFO, or get abducted by an alien, or even see a least not on command. Believe me, I've tried. There is no step-by-step formula, or experimental process, to do these things, and so there can be no standardization.

Get Out of My Sandbox!

Without standardization there is no community direction. Without community direction there is no community cohesion. Without cohesion, anybody can say or do anything they wish within these fields of paranormal study. Take the dispute over orbs, for instance, within the Ghost and Hauntings paranormal discipline. There are those people out there who literally believe every orb caught on camera, film or digital, is paranormal in nature. I, myself, believe that 99.9% of all orbs are dust, moisture, or insects, and, as anybody in this field of research knows, this argument has created quite a fracture amongst it's members. Similarly, when myself and a few friends did not like the direction our ghost hunting group was taking we did what countless other ghost hunters did....we split off and formed our own "more serious" group. 

The message her is; don't like the 'flavor of the month' your paranormal group is selling? Break away and join another UFO/Ghost Hunting/Psychic group, or better yet, start your own.

Respect My Authority! Or not.

Lastly, with no standardization and no community cohesion within any discipline of paranormal research, you cannot have an authoritative body, either. In every other field of scientific research, chemistry, physics, matter what it is, there are typically many bodies of authority that govern and maintain standards and protocols within those fields. Members of those organizations agree to recognize the authority of these organizations and, in turn, tend to reap a pile of rewards for such. For example a well-founded and respected chemistry organization can convey respect and admiration upon it's members. Those members may be offered higher-paying jobs within chemistry, or pristine opportunities in research, government grants, or industry funding. Additionally, if members of said-organization act out of line, morally, ethically, or otherwise violate the 'code' and behaviors of the organization, they can be kicked out, disciplined, fined, or, at times, even criminally charged. What these organizations offer is a series of rewards and punishments, and such organizations range the gamut of origin, from private, industry, or even government led originations. Government regulation of the pharmaceutical industry is a prime example. If I become a pharmaceutical technician and violate government laws, say I disagree with a drug dosage and change it on my own for a patient, the government will come down on me...either fining me or sending me to jail. I can't just start practicing medicine within my own framework of belief or ideal concept.

And yet anyone can become a ghost hunter, or a UFO hunter, or proclaim to have psychic ability. There are no organizations or governing bodies enforcing educational standards, vetting wanna-be researchers, setting standards of experimentation, or rewarding exemplary researchers for their work. Anytime an organization comes up and tries to do such things they fail because there are no standards, no community agreement and, thus, no community cohesion to stand behind nor respect any such organization. Example - if I join MUFON and do something to somehow 'violate' their code, they kick me out. Who cares? What does that mean to me and the rest of the UFO research field? Typically very little, in fact there are some UFO researchers who would applaud me for getting kicked out of MUFON. It would really not harm my 'career' as a UFO researcher at all if MUFON disavowed me. I could just join another one without fear of financial or even reputational refute...or I could even start my own UFO organization with my own standards and direction.

Final Thoughts.

So there you have it. Without standardization or community cohesion, and no respected authoritative, governing body, the disciplines of paranormal research are left to their own devices and, in my opinion, always will be. No standards and no sense of accountability lead to a pelithera of problems when looking into claims of ghosts, UFOs, and all other manner of high strangeness, but the bottom line is, despite the grumblings, nothing can be effectively done about it. As researchers into such things we're just going to have to strive to be as professional as possible and lead by example. No one is going to MAKE us do otherwise.