Image by Peter Shanks
“denoting events or phenomena such as telekinesis or clairvoyance that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.”
This is the official definition of the word paranormal.
For some people, the concept of paranormal activity is ridiculous. To everyone else, they’re being ridiculous. Three out of four Americans believe in the paranormal. People tend to find interest in things they don’t understand, like ghosts, zombies, or clairvoyance. When it comes to special abilities like shapeshifting or flight, things can become even more interesting. Let’s face it, everybody wants to have superpowers.
Paranormal activity in the media
Interest in paranormal activity is often reflected in social media in things such as superheroes and horror films. What’s more common, a horror about a serial killer that eventually gets arrested, or a horror about a serial killer ghost that eventually runs out of victims?
It’s not quite clear what about the paranormal draws people in so much, but that’s not to say there aren’t theories. Maybe people are interested in the paranormal because they want to learn about something new. Studies show that learning is actually pleasurable to the brain. A sharp decline in the urge to learn can be blamed on associating learning with school and work.
Learning for entertainment
So why does one still have a learning crave towards the paranormal? Learning about it doesn’t take any work. Seeing as there isn’t a good way for most people to prove or disprove anything paranormal, it’s easy to learn about without thinking of it as incorrect.
But there are still other potential reasons to be interested. Hearing things go bump in the night is a fear shared by many. However, not having any explanation for it is much scarier.
If you really think about the world around you, you might realize how dangerous it really is. Hearing a sound in the middle of the night shouldn’t simply be attributed to the house settling when you live in a house made of non porous material, like most modern houses. What is the true explanation behind a house settling? Is it the wind? Is it small tectonic shifts? If it were either, then other nearby houses would also experience their houses “settling”. Maybe the real explanation is something paranormal.
Another strong draw towards the paranormal stems from religion. The largest religion in the modern world is Christianity. Christianity is strongly devoted to believing in an all powerful being creating that created the universe. An all powerful being that hasn’t necessarily been proven to exist certainly falls under paranormal.
Of course, that’s not to say God isn’t real. However, ghosts are also believed in by many, yet many others consider the entire idea hogwash. Vampires, although less commonly believed to exist, also fall into the same category. Where does the line get drawn that makes people stop believing something is real, and how can you tell where someone will fall compared to the line?
Intelligence and Insanity
Perhaps the answer lies in intelligence, or perhaps sanity. For example, zombies. Most people will, of course, say that zombies aren’t real. Someone who happens to know more about the subject might disagree. They could argue based on the actual definition of zombie, or they could bring up the herbal concoctions that cause one’s heart to stop for several days. On the other hand, they may literally believe in the form of zombie seen in horror movies by George Romero and the like.
To determine where the line itself is actually drawn, take a look at ancient or even modern folklore and legend. Ghosts are commonly reported by people all over the world, and people often pray to God and say good things were caused by him. How often do you hear about a vampire sighting?
One up and coming paranormal legend is the black eyed kids. Black eyed kids are quite literally kids with pitch black eyes who show up at people’s doorsteps and ask for permission to enter. As legend says, as soon as they’re sighted, the viewer feels intense, irrational fear, and often turns them away. Here is a documentary on shadow people
, a similar occurrence to black eyed kids in that viewing them often causes the viewer to feel fear.
All of this points to the idea that how believable a paranormal thing is can be calculated by a combination of natural instinct and how many people already believe in it. Of course, that raises another question. Why do people have a natural fear of humans with pitch black eyes, or people with fangs coming out of their mouths?
The Mind Knows The Truth
Perhaps the paranormal isn’t learned about, but already known as a threat in some part of the mind, like the natural fear of animals baring their teeth. Maybe the reason so many believe in the paranormal is simply because some part of the mind already knows it’s true.