What is paranormal

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The paranormal is ‘beyond the normal’ – phenomena for which there is no generally accepted scientific explanation.

It is usually easier to think of examples of the paranormal rather than state a satisfying definition. For instance, a ghost is obviously paranormal. Or is it? If one assumes that a ghost is the ‘spirit’ of a dead person manifesting in our reality than clearly it is paranormal. There is no scientific evidence of the existence of such ‘spirits’ so it must be ‘beyond normal’.

Much of what people believe about the paranormal derives from fiction and tradition. When real cases are examined, they often turn out quite differently to tradition and frequently have natural explanations. The reason they are considered paranormal is usually because the witnesses expect them to be.

A paranormal phenomenon is different from hypothetical concepts such as dark matter and dark energy. Unlike paranormal phenomena, these hypothetical concepts are based on empirical observations and experimental data gained through the scientific method

The most notable paranormal beliefs include those that pertain to ghosts, extraterrestrial life, unidentified flying objects, psyichic abilities or extrasensory perception, and cryptids..

Thus, paranormal phenomena include extrasensory perception, telekinesis, ghosts, poltergeists, life after death, reincarnation, faith healing, human auras, and so forth. The explanations for these allied phenomena are phrased in vague terms of “psychic forces”, “human energy fields”, and so on. This is in contrast to many pseudoscientific explanations for other nonparanormal phenomena, which, although very bad science, are still couched in acceptable scientific terms.

Given the difficulty of dealing with such philosophical problems, most paranormal investigators confine themselves to researching actual cases. The practical definition of the paranormal then effectively becomes, ‘something for which normal explanation can be found’. So, if a trigger object is found to have moved in a sealed room. It is assumed that it was due to paranormal phenomenon if no other explanation can be found.

Of course, there are problems with this definition. What if there is a natural explanation for the phenomenon but the investigator just didn’t find it. Or maybe there is no current explanation but scientific progress might produce one in later years.

Thus, the ‘no normal explanation’ definition of the paranormal can only ever be provisional. Further information can always render the paranormal normal.

One of the major problems with defining the paranormal is that the term comes loaded with cultural baggage. Many people simply assume that ghosts are ‘spirits’ without even thinking about it. Such ‘spirits’ are certainly not recognised by science (primarily due to the lack of convincing evidence). Many believers in ‘spirits’ automatically assume that they cannot be measured or understood by science. By this reasoning, the ‘paranormal’ is, by definition, permanently inexplicable. However, this is only a problem created by an assumption.