Thursday, January 21, 2016
Know Your Normals
What is normal, anyway? Normal is boring! Luckily, we live in a weird, wacky world where 'normal' is a subjective state of mind! We're also lucky to have a great vocabulary in which to accurately describe all that weird, wackiness around us.
These three definitions represent three different ways to describe the phenomenon that we as paranormal researchers and enthusiasts deal with. Is it truly paranormal, or is it something else?
Paranormal---Dictionary.com defines 'paranormal' as "of or relating to the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific explanation,as psychokinesis, extrasensory perception, or other purportedly supernatural phenomena." The key here is the phrase, "without scientific explanation." So, the paranormal is something that is beyond the normal range of science.
Perinormal---Scientist Richard Dawkins uses the term 'perinormal' to refer to events and phenomena previously thought to have been paranormal, but having since been scientifically verified as natural.
Xenonormal---According to the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomenon, 'xenonormal' is "a term for events that, in certain circumstances, resemble the paranormal, even though they are not. They can be called 'xenonormal'. This means 'foreign normal'; in other words 'the unfamiliar but natural'. In many cases, witnesses to apparent paranormal events (and sometimes even the researchers!) are simply unfamiliar with a purely natural phenomenon. The xenonormal covers not only rare, exotic phenomena but also some common ones (that were simply unfamiliar to particular witnesses)."
So as a quick summary, very rarely is any phenomenon truly 'paranormal.' More often than not, what we perceive as paranormal is actually xenonormal---it might seem paranormal to us because we simply aren't familiar with the natural explanation for the phenomenon. That is where continued education, lots of reading, and lots of studying of multiple disciplines really comes in handy for this field. Finally, historically there are lots of examples of phenomenon that would now qualify as being perinormal---before modern science, our ancestors had to try to make sense of the world around them as best as they knew how. What was once considered divine intervention, witchcraft, hoodoo, etc. is common scientific knowledge.
I personally believe that ALL paranormal phenomena will one day be recognized and explained through science, thus reclassifying it as 'perinormal'. But, that doesn't make it any less interesting or any less valid of an area of study. I just hope that this happens during my lifetime.