I’m a pretty hard skeptic but retain a touch of the Fortean. When I was kid I loved reading ( yes laugh, but it seemed important then!) all about the J.B.Rhine et. al. . Thing is, if we just keep blowing it all off we may miss something. That something may be a wonderful and mundane explanation for things which cause a lot of people anxiety or fear.
There was a psych. prof. at one of the universitys I taught at who (on the side, hush, hush) collected information on a particular type of ‘psychic’ phenomenon. It made facinating reading and there were a number of people ( few, it’s true) who could and did correctly locate a certain something when there was no chance of cheating .
I hate the term ‘paranormal’ because it immediatley brings up spoon-bending fools and ooky-spooky bullsh_t. I do think there is a place for studying this kind of thing. Let’s face it, *millions* of people allow such things to effect their lives, we should be able to say something other than ” you’re hallucinating over there’ about it. But no prof. in their right tenure-seeking mind would publicily announce such research ( unless they had independent funding and a few big name collegues ).
I don’t happen to believe in the ‘paranormal’ but I’d sure like to find out , even if it’s just some kind of social semiotic, what the heck people are on about. If people were having mass delusions of T-Rexes stomping around , we would at least try to find out what they have been imbibing. I’m not concerned with the people who choose to willfully disregard empircal evidence that makes hay of their claims. But there are many people who unwilling experience odd phenomenon that is disturbing to them but are afraid to mention it and I think it’s worth investigating by actual scientists rather than those sorry publicity-seeking ‘ghost hunters’ and aught. We should not infantalize sincere people by simply saying ’ you didn’t * really* experience such and such’. How much better it would be if one could explain what it was they experienced and so calm the fears.
But then I’m always interested in those things which effect human perception and behavior . I have no problems in stating I think ‘religions’ are a crock but at least I have a place to start from.