Of Age and Experience...
from Matthew Didier This was on our message board but I thought I'd move it here for those folks who don't go to the board that often.
Not too long ago, I was having dinner with some researchers and was chatting with a psychic about various phenomena.
I voiced my opinion on children being more psychic than adults. (For those that don't know, I often say that I don't think kids are more psychic than adults, just less likely to automatically write off what they see as "tricks of the light" or other 'natural' phenomena. Kids, unlike adults, will mention the weird shadow they see and will also examine it closely whereas adults tend to very quickly ignore or "explain away" brief glimpses of unexplained visions.)
As opposed to healthy debate, I got "Oh, you are WRONG!" and the argument was, "When you've had as much life experience as I have..."
Now, I realize my opinion on kid's psychic abilities is an arguable point and I do LIKE hearing peoples counter points, to be dismissed because I was about 15 years this persons junior without getting a valid point or even getting a "Well, I've looked into 'X' cases and I've noticed that kid's..."
Next, this person tried to tell me that ghosts are mostly caused by construction and renovations. Needless to say, I started to argue that although that CAN be one reason, it certainly is not the ONLY or even really the main reason for "ghostly activity", once again, I got "Oh, you are WRONG!" and the argument, again, was, "When you've had as much life experience as I have..."
To add to the insult, after the dinner (where, those who know me well, did get a bit "heated" as I started to get very upset with the 'logic' being used to shoot down my arguments,) I did thank the psychic and suggested that if the person would like to write an article with their opinions, I would be HAPPY to put it on the site unedited, they said "Oh, I don't really do ghosts." and then they asked for help with a little girl who apparently appears in a park and asks people to help her find a lost shoe.
Sucking back the obvious nastiness flowing through my brain and slipping quickly into "work" mode, I suggested that the person who told her this and was apparently quite upset by the apparition/ghost buy a pair of child's shoes and leave them somewhere in the park for the kid. My logic, if it didn't pacify the ghost, it would at least make the person feel that they had indeed assisted.
Once again, I get "No, that's not right."
At that point, luckily, my friends lead me away and we left the parking lot we were speaking in.
My point? Well, maybe it's because I work (real day job) in high technology and it's normal for me to meet much younger folks who are far more learned than I in my chosen profession that I NEVER dismiss someone's advice or thoughts based on age or actual experience. I repeatedly said to this person during our meal, that the study of paranormal phenomena has no "absolute" answers and everything is conjecture and educated guesses. This means, in my eyes, anybody's thoughts and ideas are valid regardless of age or education.
So, although I definitely admire and respect life experience and also heed the words of someone who may have more insight that I based on experience, I really have an issue with those who discount thoughts and close their mind simply based on an age or other "physical" attributes. Using that logic, I guess Mozart, yes - the composer, sucked when he was 12 years old and should never have been given a chance and Einstein, a failure in math, should have been ignored.
I could also point out that this person also ruffled my associates feathers by pontificating about other concepts and in hind sight, I should have simply excused myself from the conversation and left well enough alone and trust me, from now on, I will but that would be too much. Let's just say, that dinner taught me something. Chalk it up to life experience!
ADDITION: July 9th, 2001
Another point I'd like to make about this kind of thing... I've seen two fellow researchers get publicly raked over the coals by a certain media person because of their "lack" of scientific credentials.
For the record, and I've personally never hid this, I have a limited post-secondary education and none of it is in any of the disciplines that may assist in my own research in the paranormal.
Although people can certainly take physics, theology and other courses which may be of benefit to paranormal research, not one non-profit, post-secondary educational facility in Ontario offers parapsychology as a major. Most don't even offer course in "pseudo-science". How can a resident of Ontario become an "expert" in the paranormal without heading to the states?
Even then, if you send SOME places enough money, they'll "certify" you as a "ghost hunter". One church offers instant "reverend-ship" and easy-to-obtain doctorates in theology online (for a small fee,) and the worst are some "colleges" in the US that will literally ship you a Doctorate in Parapsychology for a couple of hundred dollars.
The best I can offer is that I'm well read, have a good pack of notes, loads of "on-site" experience and I think I'm rather literate... maybe. Should we stop doing our work because I'm not a scientist or historian with loads of credentials?
When asked, I do tell people that I'm sorry I didn't complete my education in physics. Here's what I recommend people to study to become "accredited" to people like this media fellow's standards.
- History (pertaining to the area you're going to look into)
So, YES, schooling is important and helpful BUT most importantly, READ, READ, READ! Don't look at things from only one perspective but from all! I read not only things from absolute believers but I also read through CSICOP and everything sceptical too.
Also, GET OUT and SEE places and make your own judgments but accept everyone else's too!
So, if you are interested in trying to do this on a more than "hobby" level, STAY IN SCHOOL and READ! If you think that "Torontoghosts" is successful, keep in mind that I've managed to overcome some of the hurdles caused by my lack of formal education only by three years of VERY hard work, expenditure and more than my fair share of ridicule along the way.
The long and the short of it, do credentials help? Sure they do but for me, I'm looking for people with experience, working knowledge and the ability to look at all possibilities.
Oh, and for those that haven't read through the site thoroughly, we don't use psychics in our work so that's something I won't pretend to know too much about.