The Paranormalist Community
Think of a community as a collection of people who share an interest in one or more ideas. If you have more than a passing interest in the ideas related to the paranormal, then you are automatically a member of what I refer to as the Paranormalist Community.
For sure, skeptics have an interest but all who outright reject things paranormal are so far off the rational chart that their negative-only approach must be ignored if we are to make progress. The same can be said for those skeptics in paranormalist disguises who claim to study these phenomena while actually only seeking proof they are delusion.
My focus here is on we who have an affirmative interest in these phenomena. We must all deal with the same facts and the same misconceptions. And even though some of us reject the Survival Hypothesis, we are like the fabled blind men trying to describe an elephant with touch alone. If we do not work together as a community, it is likely we will not learn the actual nature of these phenomena.
Probably the most important unifying idea for the Paranormalist Community is the existence of a subtle field that permeates reality. This is referred to by parapsychologists as the psi field.
A second unifying idea is that it is possible to access information by way of the psi field. This can be thought of as psi sensing or being psychic.
A third unifying idea is that a person is able to affect objects of reality by way of the influence of intention on the psi field. This faculty is known in parapsychology as psychokinesis. (1)
There is considerable discussion about whether mind is a product of brain or if it is independent of brain. The idea that mind is a product of brain but is able to interface with the psi field is generalized as the Super-Psi Hypothesis. (2)
The idea that mind is independent of brain, and therefore existed before this lifetime and will exist in a sentient form after this lifetime, is usually generalized as the Survival Hypothesis. (2)
A Divided Community
While everyone in this community is a paranormalists, there is little agreement about how to explain paranormal phenomena, and so, there are divisions in our community. The most obvious division is the mind-body debate. That is, is mind a product of brain or is it separate with brain functioning as a transmitter-receiver for physical senses and motor controls?
From the paranormalist perspective, brain and mind being separate would seem to require that mind survives death of the brain as a still-living personality. Information thought to be coming from discarnate loved ones via mediumship and ITC would be coming from them as they now exist in a different environment. This idea is generally modeled as the Survival Hypothesis. (2)
If mind is a product of brain, then there is no survival. The information thought to be coming from discarnate loved ones would necessarily be coming from memories of them held by still living people or from the loved one’s residual memory theorized to remain in the psi field (aka Akashic Records). The idea of the information via mediumship and ITC coming only from survived energy or living memory is generally modeled as the Super-Psi Hypothesis. (2)
Parapsychology has three primary division:
The Physical Hypothesis point of view holds that paranormalist phenomena are delusion, fraud or are mundane, mistaken as paranormal. In this view, the necessary science-based supporting mechanisms for paranormalist phenomena are not established, and therefore any reference to them must be pseudoscience. This is being addressed these days as Anomalistic Psychology. (3) Consciousness is a product of brain and ceases to exist when the brain dies.
For conversational convenience, I refer to this point of view as Normalist.
The Super-Psi Hypothesis is the Physical Hypothesis modified with the contention that the physical universe is permeated by a psi field. (2) From this point of view, if not mundane, delusion or fraud, anomalous access information is produced via psychic access to residual memory or the mind of still living people. This is beginning to be addressed as Exceptional Experiences Psychology. (4) Consciousness is a psi field phenomenon originating from the brain.
For conversational convenience, I refer to this point of view as Psi+ Normalist.
The Survival Hypothesis represents the point of view that we are immortal Self temporarily entangled with a human for this lifetime, that our conscious self existed before this lifetime and will continue to exist in a sentient, self-aware form after this lifetime. (5)
For conversational convenience, I refer to this point of view as Dualists. For my personal study, I refer to the study of survival as Etheric Studies. (6)
A Community Divided Cannot Stand
Roy Stemman wrote an excellent essay about how Spiritualism is contracting while the skeptical community is becoming better and better organized. In “Skepticism: The New Religion,” (7) he noted that organizations such as the James Randi Foundation have developed a unified message and are producing abundant literature aimed at casting all thing paranormal as pseudoscience, and therefore, a danger to society.
The skeptical message is having the desired effect because some governments, including the US Government, have adopted the skeptic point of view, even to the extent of quoting skeptical literature to support policies concerning funds allocation for research grants.
The skeptical community maintains a list of experts in the skeptical point of view who are available for interviews. Their experts need not be experts in a particular science, only in the talking points about how things paranormal are illusion and paranormalists are either ignorant, delusional or frauds.
In comparison, the paranormalist community has no such focus. Most of us shudder to think what supposed experts in our field might say. There are no talking points that many of us have discussed and on which we agree. Consequently, even if the person conceptually correct, it is probable the person’s version will be misleading and technically flawed.
Also, because of the super-psi – survival divide, there are too few widely respected people in our community to legitimately represent the survival perspective. It is common for an interview of a specialist in one aspect of paranormalist phenomena to be asked about other phenomena about which he or she has little experience. The response typically leans toward the skeptical perspective.
From the mainstream perspective, there is little distinction between ghost hunting by a club and entanglement research by a doctorate in electronic engineering. Without a well-considered public face, the paranormalist community will always look like ghost hunting television programs and meaningless noise passed off as Electronic Voice Phenomena. People remember the most outlandish and the silliest.
Skepticism is Relative
Each of us is potentially a skeptic. As a general rule, the least deviation from mainstream thought is skeptical of the greater deviation, so that a psychologist studying remote viewing will tend to be skeptical of anything to do with survival. In the same way, a person who accepts the evidence of mental mediumship may be skeptical of the evidence for physical mediumship.
Of course, there is such a thing as healthy skepticism, but the term skeptic has been taken over by the zealous, faith-based skeptics who practice a form of scientism more than anything resembling critical thinking.
While we seldom actually refer to our fellow paranormalists as skeptics, the fact remains that some rather well-studied phenomena have been denounced without examination by people who should know better because of their study of less controversial phenomena. Behind the facade of academic authority too often lurks scientism, even in our community.
A better term for critical thinking is discernment which promotes suspended judgment until more is known. This change of perspective from skepticism, even veiled skepticism, to the suspended judgment of discernment is perhaps one our first lessons in community building.
Cultivating a Common Culture
Here I argue that the physical is an aspect of the etheric. If that is true, it must be argued that the psi and survival-related phenomena we experience share the etheric as a common attribute. That is the same as saying that all physical experiences share the physical as a common attribute.
If we tried to study gravity, for instance, without considering the attributes of mass and momentum, we would always come up with theories that only addressed part of the equation. It is probably true that those theories would necessarily, always be wrong.
That is exactly what is occurring in parapsychology. Some parapsychologists (Normalists) strive to prove all phenomena are physical. Others (Psi+ Normalists) try to show that some may be physical, but many have a subtle-energy attribute they call psi. A very few honestly seek to show that survival-related phenomena are actually evidence of survival.
We are very much like the five blind men trying to describe an elephant. From my experience, it is not possible to study transcommunication without finding an alternative form of space to act as a propagation medium for thought. The psi field satisfies that requirement. Except for the hand waving Psi+ Normalists have to do to explain how information is somehow stored in the psi field, the Super-Psi Hypothesis is technically part of the Survival Hypothesis.
When a Normalist researches exceptional experiences, while deliberately and admittedly ignoring evidence provided via transcommunication, the result must always be wrong in the same way the blind man deciding an elephant as a snake is wrong.
Where to Begin?
The Survival hypothesis is based on the premise that we are immortal self temporarily in this lifetime to gain understanding. To explain that point of view, it is necessary to include consideration of virtually all paranormalist phenomena. Thus, the Dualist definitions for these phenomena are a useful place to begin developing a common culture.
Dualist Concepts Common to the Larger Community
One need not believe in survival to benefit from the more important implication of survival. The lessons learned listed here are pretty high-level, but the conceptual models that suggest their validity apply to the human condition in general, as well as the metaphysics related to the psi field.
Mindfulness: The possibility that we survive beyond this lifetime offers profound implications for how we might live this lifetime to the fullest. The most immediate implication is that what we do now matters now, and if we do survive, certainly hereafter. This translates into a need for mindful living that benefits anyone by teaching good citizenship and ethical values for life.
Living as if life matters: We continue to exist, if not actually, at least through our legacy. Memory is modeled by Psi+ Normalists as a simple thoughtform of residual energy. Memory is modeled by Dualists as worldview as it is part of a sentient life form. Either way, we continue to have a presence in the psi field that can be sensed by others. With only slight modification, the metaphysics of how that might be applied to both Super-Psi and Survival.
The consequences of our actions during this lifetime unavoidably affect our community now, and represent our legacy which we can have substantial influence even after we are gone or transitioned.
Personal responsibility: Personal responsibility means learning to live as a good citizen of the greater reality, but more important, it means learning to make our continued existence as meaningful as possible.
The idea of personal responsibility is important to the entire Paranormalist Community, because even if your view is that only memory survives, the unifying idea that we are all connected via the psi field means that your actions affect the larger community on both sides of the veil.
A good citizen of the paranormalist community is one who seeks to be a contributing part of the community, rather than an accidental bystander. The idea of being a contributing part of the community is pretty vague, but I think it is reasonably well-described by the meaning of spirituality.
An excellent definition of spirituality is offered by Deepak Chopra in his Huffington Post blog: (8)
“Spirituality is the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality. This domain of awareness is a core consciousness that is beyond our mind, intellect and ego. In religious traditions this core consciousness is referred to as the soul which is part of a collective soul or collective consciousness, which in turn is part of a more universal domain of consciousness referred to in religions as God.”
Spirituality is about being aware that you are an important part of a universal community, what you do matters here and hereafter and that your every action affects the rest of reality. Yes, most of us are accustomed to thinking of the kind of spirituality traditional religions seek to evoke, but the kind of spirituality I am thinking about is the kind that, when personally realized, leads to greater understanding and the desire to be a good citizen of the collective (the community on both sides of the veil).
If you are familiar with the idea of mindfulness, you will understand that mindfulness is a roadmap to better living. Spirituality can be thought of as an eventual product of mindfulness done right. The characteristics of a spiritual person and a mindful person converge on agreement with the actual nature of reality. (You might like to read the Mindfulness Discourse: ethericstudies.org/mindfulness.htm.)
A favorite saying of mine is that you should “Believe what you wish but understand the implications of what you believe.” Being mindful of what is in your worldview determines the world you live in. See James Carpenter (9) and (10)
There has been a lot of discussion about how our expectations tend to determine what we experience. For instance, the Sheep-Goat Effect, so named in 1942 by Professor Gertrude Schmeidler, implies that people who allow for the possibility of new ideas (believers or sheep) are more likely to experience new ideas. (11) The inverse of this can be seen in the concept of incredulity blindness, a term I use to describe how some people are inexplicably unable to see or hear examples of paranormal phenomena (goats).
In research sponsored by the ATransC and conducted by Mark Leary, Ph.D., listeners were more apt to hear what was expected in ambiguous sound streams when told what to expect. (12) In practice, it is known that the mostly unconscious mind colors what is transferred to conscious perception based on worldview and expectation. (1)
If perception is the dominant factor in how we experience phenomena. Discernment is the key to seeing phenomena as it really is. That is a skill you can learn.
Our mostly unconscious mind process information with the intention of characterizing it based on familiar references. Once a decision is made, it is very difficult to change our mind. Thus, learning to intentionally postpone making an agree or disagree decision until more information is available helps keep the mind open to new ideas. It also helps avoid making the wrong agree or disagree decision. See the Conditional Free Will Essay for more information about how we think.
Cooperation is a little more of an abstract concept. Read Deepak Chopra’s definition of spirituality again, especially noticing the way he uses the term, collective. “Universality,” “collective soul,” “collective consciousness” and “universal domain” are all terms that describe interconnectedness amongst people.
A common factor in transcommunication is the implication and sometimes outright admission that the communicator is a group consciousness which presents a representative personality to facilitate our body-centric comprehension. Much of what is brought to us via deep trance channel, even our dreams, is the hint that we are part of a collective of personalities. While we experience a lifetime with a body-centric focus, our etheric personality, which is the intelligent core of who we are, is cooperating with fellow personalities to assure our continued education.
This idea of being an etheric personality, temporarily entangled with our avatar body to gain understanding, is admittedly more hypothesis than objectively known. The one persistent message in this concept that you will likely recognize is that we are ultimately a collective under one source.
The way that manifests in practical terms can be seen in how people mature, first as students and then as teachers. Many of us have the compulsion to share lessons learned. For instance, the reason for essays like this is specifically to promote cooperation in the community. People like me write them in the spirit of “those who have come before you pausing to help you achieve even greater understanding.”
The idea of a collective of likeminded people cooperating to promote further understanding involves the idea of rapport which is the link of attention/intention that develops between two people as they share ideas. (13) A community is formed by a sense of rapport which integrates many people and only marginally related ideas into a community of common interest. In such a community, educational resources, standards and a common voice to speak to mainstream society can evolve.
But only if we cooperate.
- Carpenter, James. “First Sight: A Model and A Theory of Psi.” James Carpenter. 2014. drjimcarpenter.com/about/documents/FirstSightformindfield.pdf.
- Sudduth, Michael. “Super-Psi and the Survivalist Interpretation of Mediumship.” Cup of Nirvana. 2009. michaelsudduth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/SurvivalMediumship.pdf.
- APStaff. “What is Anomalistic Psychology?” Goldsmiths, University of London. 2015. gold.ac.uk/apru/what/.
- Simmonds-Moore, Christine. “What is Exceptional Psychology?” Journal of Parapsychology (#76 supplement, 54-57, 2012).
- Butler, Tom. “Trans-survival Hypothesis.” Etheric Studies. 2015. ethericstudies.org/trans-survival-hypothesis/.
- Butler, Tom. “About Etheric Studies.” Etheric Studies. 2007. ethericstudies.org/about-etheric-studies/.
- Stemman, Roy. “Skepticism: The New Religion.” Spiritualist Society of Reno. (Origionally from Paranormal Review) 2010. spiritualistsocietyofreno.org/skepticism-new-religion/.
- Chopra, Deepak. “Only Spirituality Can Solve The Problems Of The World.” Huffpost Healthy Living. 04/26/2010 (Updated: 11/17/2011). huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/only-spirituality-can-sol_b_474221.html.
- Joshi, Sheila, “James Carpenter’s First Sight model and neurological damage-induced psi openings,” Blog: Neuroscience and Psi. August 11, 2012. neuroscienceandpsi.blogspot.com/2012/08/james-carpenters-first-sight-model-and.html.
- Butler, Tom. “Perception.” Etheric Studies. 2015. ethericstudies.org/perception.
- Storm, Lance. “The Sheep – Goat Effect.” Psi Encyclopedia (SPR). 2016. parapsych.org/sheep_goat_effect.htm.
- Leary, Mark. “A Research Study into the Interpretation of EVP – Three parts.” ATransC. 2013. atransc.org/radiosweep-study2/
- Mügge, Kai. Society for Research in Rapport and Telekinesis (SORRAT). Felix Experimental Group. felixcircle.blogspot.com/2008/09/sorrat.html.