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Why Try? A Take on the Modern Obsession With the Paranormal

by Alesia McNeal 7 months ago

What Began as an Adolescent Interest Grew Into a Full-Blown Adult Obsession

Why try? I remember being asked that question as a teenager. My parents would walk in on me watching my favorite ghost hunting show and scoff. They’d ask me why I focused so much of my time and energy on such a pointless topic. They used to say that the interest would pass and I would move on to more important passions.

And, in a way, they were right. What began as an adolescent interest grew into a full-blown adult obsession. And I’m not alone. By some researchers' estimates, 65% of adults in the United States believe in the supernatural, nearly 50% claiming to have a spiritual experience themselves. And even outside of the United States, research claims that more adults in the United Kingdom believe in the supernatural than in a religious creator.

With so many people believing in the paranormal, and on such a global level, you would assume that the paranormal research community would be welcome in the scientific field. This, however, isn’t the case. Most scientists agree that the paranormal and supernatural research is nothing more than pseudoscience, used as a money-making ploy. And while history is on their side, the modern practice of paranormal research is a multifaceted field that, I believe, is inspired by discovery, rather than greed.

The rise of Spiritualism in the late 1800’s saw the first wave of paranormal researchers arrive in the United States. Mediums and psychics, claiming to be able to speak to the other side would con the wealthy out of absurd amounts of money. As the movement grew, the tricks used by these cons grew more and more complex, and while there was good money to be made, it was too good to be true for most practitioners of the otherworldly. The movement was brought to a grinding halt in the 1920’s, as people began to realize these people's lack of credibility and motivation by money. One of the large opponents of this movement was a famous trickster in his own accord - the famous Harry Houdini. Houdini believed in the potential of speaking to spirits, but saw right through the con of spiritualist practitioners. He would pay for events and expose the con in front of his wealthy and famous circle of friends.

The Séance that Changed Harry Houdini

So what does this have to do with the modern practice of paranormal research? A lot has changed in the past century, on top of technological advancements, there has also been a rise in skepticism towards those who claim psychic abilities. An entire field\ has been dedicated to the study of supernatural abilities. Parapsychology is a growing research field, and brings together those of the scientific and paranormal research communities. Abilities such as being a medium, hypnosis, telepathy are all called into questions and individually dissected.

Paranormal research, though not acknowledged by a large group of scientists, has been brought to the forefront of American culture due largely to the rise of ghost hunting reality television. But aside from the entertainment aspects of the paranormal, there’s more to this particular field. The University of Virginia has even opened a lab to study paranormal phenomena. At this lab, credible and credentialed scientists lend their expertise to the understanding of the supernatural and the field of parapsychology.

University of Virginia Paranormal Research Lab

So with all of this research, all of these people who believe in the otherworldly, why isn’t there more evidence? Why don’t we know for certain that there are spirits who inhibit this world from the other side? I don’t have a straight answer to that. In my opinion, scientific exploration isn’t an overnight process. There have been countless technological advancements in the field of paranormal research that have made capturing evidence of spiritual activity so much simpler. Not to mention the plethora of ghost hunting groups from around the United States, and globally, donating their time and resources into uncovering more about unexplainable phenomena. All that being said, there are videos and photos that have been captured in recent years that do provide arguable proof to the theory of paranormal activity. But with nothing concrete…

Why try?

I ask myself this question a lot. Ever since being called into question by my parents so many times, so many years ago, I’ve contemplated it on a daily basis. I spend almost all of my free time writing and researching the paranormal and I’ve come no closer to an answer. Sometimes I feel like such a moron, wasting my time on such a frivolous topic. But I can’t stay away.

And so many people would just call me weird and move on, but there are also a vast amount of people who feel the exact same way. They’ve spent countless hours and energy trying to uncover the truth with nothing to show for it. Something people will work their whole life for and still come up empty handed. So why do they do it? What drives people so mad that they need answers to an unanswerable question?


In my opinion, as a paranormal and cryptozoological researcher, there is nothing that drives a human to do crazier things than fear. And I’m not talking about the fear of what happens if there are ghosts or monsters, I’m talking about fear of what happens if there isn’t. What happens after we exit this world? If there aren’t earthbound spirits, then who will we go to for answers about the afterlife? Well, that’s a question we’ll just have to answer ourselves. This is an opinion of mine, and a lot of people will tell you a lot of different answers for why they are obsessed with the things they are. I’ve personally never feared death, but I’ve been terrified of what comes after.

So while some people will be made fun of for travelling to unheard of places and dedicating their lives to a thankless field, trying to find any and all answers, others will wonder for the rest of their days, question what could possibly come next. I don’t know about you, but I’m a person who likes answers. And I’ll do anything to find them.

There is Nothing That Drives a Human to do Crazier Things Than Fear

Alesia McNeal
Alesia McNeal
Read next: I See You
Alesia McNeal

An outdoorsy girl with a spooky side

22-year-old blogger and photographer

Follow along with my adventures - Instagram: @livinglikealesia

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