May 10, 2014 by kittynh
Skeptics often bemoan the popularity of the paranormal.
There are ghost hunting shows, Bigfoot hunting shows and UFO/alien hunting shows. For every paranormal show on TV I am guessing there are 10 in development. I have to admit to watching some of these shows, if just to gain insight into the mind of the believers.
Also, the ghost hunters I have met, as well as Bigfoot hunters, all think they should have their own show. This is because they believe they do things “the right way”. Often those seeking everything from ghosts to the Loch Ness Monster are more critical of these shows than your average skeptic.
The news media is not much better, as they will gladly post stories about the Shroud of Turin or possible Bigfoot corpses, because people will either click or tune in. I know I am guilty of this. If there is anything “new” in the world of the paranormal I want to know about it. I know there will not be “proof” given, but I have to click or listen. Has any skeptic ever clicked on a “Bigfoot Body” story and expected to read about a confirmed DNA proven Bigfoot? I’ve been hopeful, but never really expected confirmed proof.
I’m a huge fan of Sharon Hill’s “Doubtful News” as she lets me read my paranormal news, while giving me the truth behind the news. It combines all the fun of the weirdness that is reported, with the skepticism other news outlets lack. Often the media is quick to report “Bigfoot Found?”, yet does not report “Bigfoot body found to be hoax”.
Some skeptics may claim they don’t pay attention to these paranormal stories. However, I remember one of the biggest celebrities I “met” at TAM (the Amazing Meeting).
I was in the hallway when I noticed a crowd of people surrounding Joe Nickell. I thought “I know Joe is popular, but he’s been here the entire time. I wonder who is there with him?”
I noticed there was a film crew. People were pulling out their cameras as they rushed over. I’d never seen such a crowd. Usually at TAM people are very polite. I’ve seen Penn and Teller, Christopher Hitchens and James Randi walk around and be undisturbed except for someone asking for the occasional autograph. I decided I had also better rush over to see who this celebrity was in our midst.
I joined the mob, only to find the celebrity wasn’t a skeptic. It was a toasted cheese sandwich that looks a bit like the Virgin Mary. I’m not sure what the Virgin Mary looks like, but the sandwich did have a vague look of a woman. Obviously, since this was a “supernatural sandwich” it was the Virgin Mary.
I have to admit, I was thrilled to have my photograph taken with the holy sandwich. When I returned home, my friends were happy to see photographs of me with skeptic and science leaders, but they LOVED seeing the toasted cheese photograph.
Let’s face it, the paranormal is rather fun. I would go to see the Shroud of Turin and I know it’s a fake. I admit freely that when I was at Loch Ness I spent the entire time looking for Nessie. I even risked life and limb to jump out to take a photograph of an odd wave. I’ve been ghost hunting. I even enjoy helping out the local Bigfoot group with suggestions and “snow scanning” for Bigfoot prints.
Skeptics need to admit that part of the popularity with the paranormal is it’s fun. Science can also be fun and interesting though. The important thing about skepticism is that it does give a “fun” side to science. Skepticism is about asking questions and education. Why can’t that stuffed body be a Bigfoot? Why do we see images in toasted cheese sandwiches? Why can’t aliens travel the vast reaches of space to visit Earth and mutilate cows? (And why cows?)
Many people don’t think skepticism should waste their time on questions like the above. I believe asking and answering these questions can directly lead to learning critical thinking skills. These skills can then spill over into topics such as vaccination and medical fraud. Things that save lives.
No one seems immune from the lure of the celebrity paranormal object of the moment. I would pay $20 to see Dyers new Bigfoot doll, if only to confirm reports I’ve heard. I would pay another $20 for a skilled taxidermist to go with me and give an opinion.
The important thing to remember, everyone is going to be interested in the paranormal on some level. Skeptics can use this natural interest and curiosity to educate.