So, I'm a bit behind the times. I barely watch television anymore, so I'm ignorant when it comes to the latest show episodes... though I usually try to keep up-to-date on what is actually out there. Finally on Thursday evening, I had a chance to watch the new A&E series, Paranormal State.
All I had known of it was heresay. Positive remarks. Negative feedback. Praise. Bitching. I reserved comment until experiencing it for myself, and just like many other shows I do have positive and negative views of it. Overall, though, I do think it's one of the better paranormal shows on television.
I truly wish I had taken the initiative and created a paranormal student group at Kent State when I was attending there. Kudos to these people for making the bold step. Their main goal is helping people, as it should be. They occasionally use psychics, though the group leader Ryan Buell admits he's very skeptical of psychics. He also combines religion with his work. These are my points where I skew in two different directions.
Psychics: everyone has an opinion of them. From Miss Cleo and Sylvia Brown to John Edwards and Chip Coffey. They're everywhere. They sometimes make bold statements. And often, there's a lack of definitive proof behind their statements (not by all of them, mind you... though no psychic has more than 60% accuracy on average). It's a touchy subject and I try to remain neutral on matters of psychics. I'm open to their thoughts and ideas, yet I need something firm to grasp on to before trusting any one psychic at their word.
And of course, the ever-debated religion. Buell wonders why so many paranormal investigators shy away from religion. I can't speak for all of them, but personally I have many reasons: my own questioning about who is right about what (I don't think any one religion has all the right answers), past interactions with different religions (mainly religious jealots who attached certain stigmas in my mind about some religions, though I never allow that to turn to hatred or closed-mindedness), and sensitivity. The latter is my main concern when I've done my own investigations. Different people (be them group members, clients, ghosts, etc.) have differing religious views. I don't like to step on toes or offend people by using one denimonation over another. Sure, religious beliefs may come in to play. They may explain why a spirit acts how he or she does or why a client is upset. But if there's no religious affiiation (or a client is athiest), is it right to enforce a view? Must everyone have a label? A scarlet letter?
Aside from this, I think the show is truly worth watching. Bringing in counselors and psychologists is an astounding step that more groups should consider. There's more than just the spirirual world being effected and it takes different approaches. It's not just about gathering evidence, praying, and going home. Some people need other forms of help. Help outside of the supernatural realm. We aren't here to make people feel better by hearing what they want to hear: we're here to make things right how they need to be put right.
Of course, the good folks at Penn State PRS welcome dicsussions and debates. More of us need to be open to these things. How can we ever expect to learn if we don't converse more and let our differences mingle? Does anyone know the whole story? Isn't sharing information and experimenting what this profession is really about anyway?