I’m Okay, You’re Not: the Practice of Labeling in the Field of Paranormal Investigation
Labeling is the practice of stereotyping or typecasting individuals based on their appearances, beliefs, or practices. Such a practice is not only troublesome; it can be both extremely limiting and even detrimental to the subjects of labeling. So, what has the practice of labeling have to do with ghost investigations? Unfortunately quite a lot; we see it all the time, as ghost investigators we are often ridiculed for our beliefs and practices. Even worse, is when our religious beliefs come into play and people stereotype us based on fixed ideas formulated from misinformation. Sadly, stereotypes are prejudiced points of view that can even lead to personal or religious persecution.
There are so many stereotypes used to label people that it would be virtually impossible to cover every kind of stereotype created in one article. Here, we will cover a few of the common labels that arise within the paranormal field and will additionally try to dispel the false impressions that form the erroneous labels in the first place!
Myth Number 1
"You believe in ghosts therefore you must be crazy!"
Rebuttal: No, we are not crazy, we just believe in life after death and that spirits can communicate with the living even after death. When considering how many religions in existence that embrace the idea of life after death, it is not a stretch in understanding that as ghost investigators, we embrace the same idea. That does not make us crazy, it makes us firm in our concepts pertaining to life after death, and sometimes, it makes us firm in our faith.
Myth Number 2
"Rational individuals do not believe in the nonsense of ghosts and spirits."
Rebuttal: Nothing could be more incorrect. Many rational human beings believe in life after death and the existence of spirits. Such beliefs are often based on their own religious concepts or even on personal experiences. Whether or not an individual believes in the existence of spirits has nothing to do with their ability to think logically. In fact, most individuals who believe in the existence of spirits keep their rational thinking in check by repeatedly questioning and testing their own beliefs.
Myth Number 3
“People who study the paranormal often spread corrupt ideas to otherwise uncorrupt or innocent individuals who are easily swayed, and fragile-minded."
Rebuttal: As students of the paranormal, (and we stress the word students because we deal with the unexplained and we are forever involved in the learning process) we do not sermonize our teaching and then spread the word as far as our ability allows us. Rather, we offer to answer questions and when questions arise we do not hesitate to address them. Our philosophy is: "if you don't really want to know what we believe, then you shouldn't ask!” We are not out to alter anyone's point of view as everyone has the unique and inherent right to believe as they choose. We are, however, willing to educate those who desire to know about the paranormal.
Myth Number 4
"If you are affiliated with the occult, you are not a trustworthy or reliable individual and/or group. Further, people should avoid individuals who either study or partake in occult principles or practices because they are dangerous individuals with dangerous affiliations."
Rebuttal: The statement above is not an uncommon belief behind the veil of the paranormal community. Some members of the paranormal community feel that if an individual practices the occult in any way, shape or fashion, they are troubled individuals who have little or no regard for other people. Such a contention is so far off the mark it is frightening. Besides Christianity, there are numerous religions that are spiritually fulfilling and wholesome for the individuals who partake in them. The practice of Wicca is one such example. As Wiccan practitioners, various members of our team often hear gossip and other such nonsense pertaining to who we are and what we do and believe. The occult is actually a term that refers to esoteric studies and is often misinterpreted as meaning the same thing as the word "cult.” Wiccans practice the rule, "if it harm none do what ye will," and we are not affiliated with Satan, demons, and/or devils. We do not deliberately set out to hurt people and it is almost absurd to know that in this day and age, many individuals are still under the impression that Wiccans are some sort of evil breed that is out to hurt every individual they encounter. Just remember, we study the occult and we are NOT members of a cult. Likewise, we do not condone individuals who suggest that their point of view or religion is the one true path to enlightenment. Finally, Wiccans do not partake in the practice of necromancy (invoking the dead), nor do we curse individuals or purposely set out to hurt anyone. Not now - not ever.
Myth Number 5
"Only a minority of individuals believes in ghosts, spirits, or the paranormal, and that minority bases their belief on false information and false hopes."
Rebuttal: First, approximately fifty-one percent of Americans believe in the existence of spirits. We would hardly call that a minority. Secondly, much of what individuals believe are a combination of societal influences, personal experiences, and personal exploration. To make a judgment about the validity of someone's beliefs without knowing how they have grown up, how they live and what they have experienced is to make extremely wrong assumptions.
Myth Number 6
"Ghost investigators are nothing more than scam artists out to make a buck."
Rebuttal: Unfortunately, there are individuals that exist, and have existed and worked in the paranormal field and in all fields historically, that have committed fraud in an effort to profit from their fraudulent dealings. Even more unfortunate is the fact that such individuals have marred the credibility of paranormal investigators everywhere. What must be remembered is that not every individual is trying to scam people out of money, and many researchers are involved in the paranormal field because they love the research, they firmly believe in what it is they are pursuing, and they want to help other people. Finally, they, do it as a way to fulfill their insatiable desire to know more. Not all of us are cons and frauds and to apply such a label is to cut off the opportunity to meet many fascinating, unique, intelligent, and wonderful individuals.
In short, the practice of labeling is something that should be avoided, not only in the paranormal field, but everywhere. People should not make judgments about other individuals based on appearances, personal and/or religious beliefs, and/or assumptions or fixed ideas. Bear in mind that the world is certainly a big enough planet for every individual to live in and believe as they choose. Remember, only when you approach the world with an open mind, will the world open up to you.
Original Posting at Suite101.com
Article written by: Dayna Winters and Patricia Gardner
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