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Paranormal Investigators Professional Body?


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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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I recently had a conversation with a friend about Professional Bodies and got to wondering whether there was one, or should be one associated with Paranormal Investigators.  I took the following description of a Professional Body from Wikipedia and it has got me wondering whether it might be a good thing.

Baring in mind that Paranormal Investigating is not as such a profession (....or....given the rise of paranormal entertainment companies perhaps that could be contested):

Does anyone know of one currently operating?

Is it a good idea.  Would one benefit paranormal research or indeed your group?

If there was one, how would you expect it to operate and what should it be involved in?

A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organization, or professional society) is usually anon-profit organization seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession, and the public interest.

The roles of these professional associations have been variously defined: "A group of people in a learned occupation who are entrusted with maintaining control or oversight of the legitimate practice of the occupation;" also a body acting "to safeguard the public interest;" organizations which "represent the interest of the professional practitioners," and so "act to maintain their own privileged and powerful position as a controlling body."

Such bodies generally strive to achieve a balance between these two often conflicting mandates. Though professional bodies often act to protect the public by maintaining and enforcing standards of training and ethics in their profession, they often also act like a cartel or a labor union (trade union) for the members of the profession, though this description is commonly rejected by the body concerned.

Many professional bodies are involved in the development and monitoring of professional educational programs, and the updating of skills, and thus perform professional certification to indicate that a person possesses qualifications in the subject area. Sometimes membership of a professional body is synonymous with certification, though not always. Membership of a professional body, as a legal requirement, can in some professions form the primary formal basis for gaining entry to and setting up practice within the profession.

BaronIveagh's picture
BaronIveagh
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Re: Paranormal Investigators Professional Body?

That actually sounds like a good idea, if, perhaps, it extended to professional licensing.  This way frauds and other paranormal hucksters could be censured while legitimate researchers could gain an air of respectability.

Summum Nec Metuam Diem Nec Optima

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Paranormal Investigators Professional Body?

In theory it is a good idea, but I fear given the nature of the Paranormal community it may prove a fools errand.

I posted a link to this on the FB group PSICAN and one of their directors, Matthew Didier made the following observation which illustrates the problems perfectly:

In North America, this has been suggested and even tried by many... Back in 1999, we even toyed with attempting something like this ourselves in our home province...

As opposed to being met with, "Yes! Peer review and a statement of ethics and whatnot to let people know we're honest and honourable!" we were met with "You're trying to control us!", "You're trying to tell us what to do!", and of course, "You're trying to keep us down so you can be (fill in the blank here)!"

The other groups that have tried or thought about this met with resistance from us... because they would refuse to acknowledge the right to have any opinion other than "I BELIEVE!", or they seemed more interested in putting their logo or link on other people's sites than actually whacking out a list of appropriate 'legislation' as to why the overall group is better/different, or worse yet, they were more interested in collecting some sort of dues or gaining personal media exposure then any sort of organising. (TAPS started this way, to be 100% truthful... which is one of the many reasons I am not and will not be a "fan"... I should tell you sometime of the bullying tactics attempted when they wanted Torontoghosts to be a "TAPS Family Member" and, pre-TV show, I said no because Toronto is not on the Atlantic (the "A" in TAPS is for Atlantic) and at the time, their site featured things like "Names for Common Demons" and "How To Tell if Your Orb is a Benign Ghost or Evil"... it was not good.)

The issues also stem from things like saying "non-profit" or "not-for-profit"... does this include being paid for media appearances? What about tours that might be run? How about "swag" from t-shirts to books?

Would you accept someone who was MOSTLY about media, tours, and swag?

If not, what kind of ratio would you expect?

Who would govern the group? Who would "police" it to ensure there's no abuse? Who would appoint these people and would others be comfortable about that?

To be honest, especially in Canada when PSICAN was formed, there was a plethora of less-than-honourable or less-then-academic or only-thrill-seeking or only-media-whoring or only-out-for-the-almighty-dollar types of groups, PSICAN was meant to be an outlet for those escaping that and looking for honest academic study into things  considered/perceived to be "paranormal" in nature... limited to ghosts, ufology, cryptozoology, psychical abilities, and Fortean events... with no slant towards belief/faith, or non-belief... with never a "charge" to a witness or interested party for the data we collect or produce... and one of the first things we did was this...

http://www.facebook.com/l/9fe41hlmEhwyRkal7z2ddHXuXkA/www.psican.org/PSI...

Now, NOT wanting to "control" anyone nor "tell anyone what to do" nor act as some sort of self-appointed executive to everyone (which is what some folks thought we WERE doing,) we've done this...

I am a member of the Society for Psychical Research... as I believe you are... but regardless, anyone CAN be...

Well, anyone CAN be an investigator or researcher for PSICAN... provided they agree to the document linked above and a little extra work... BUT... there's no dues, "we" don't expect anything from you save two initial articles and staying within the guidelines of it in your work (which DOES allow for "some profit" in this work if that's a concern,)... and the clever bit... the bit that will help in the long run, we hope... You can be a PSICAN investigator or researcher and be a member or even form your own group that does not have to be a PSICAN group in any way, shape, or form...

We figure, it's better to have individuals that will hopefully avoid fraudulent or "hoaxing" behaviour, work from the agnostic viewpoint, keep people around them honest (that's really all it comes down to with us,) and generally add to the conversation, discussion, and general data about the paranormal... rather than trying to convince a wide-ranging and far too diverse collection of groups to even attempt to operate out of the same playbook.

So far, we've been more successful then we could imagine with this in this country... BUT... it's taken over a decade to SHOW people we're honestly FAR more interested in the phenomena, the study, and the witnesses then any sort-of quasi-fame or some sort of "power play" with other groups or investigators.

What's a touch sad for us is the realisation that what we THOUGHT was a "localised" (North American) dilemma of would-be thrill, fame, and fortune seekers is not... I now see it's really as bad (if not worse,) in Britain... and has seeped into areas and groups that I hoped would be above it... (I don't want to mention anyone by name, but I recently ran into a problem in an austere setting that was quite... well... not good... and when I researched my opponent -who publicly accused me, falsely, of academic misconduct and then tried to back peddle when the evidence was brought to bear WITHOUT a public apology- and a little research into his background and work made me very unhappy I'd even bothered with this person whatsoever because they are little more than slightly better-educated fame seekers....)

Anyway, if you've toyed with the idea, this model has worked for us...

#1: Write down those things you would like to see a "professional body" adopt...

#2: Start a group, keep it diplomatic and democratic, but initially, it HAS to be a "benign dictatorship"... with the knowledge that those "rules" and ideas will always be adhered to until the group CAN be safely released into a complete democracy...

#3: Invite anyone to join, but make them WORK for it and prove themselves publicly. (We make 'em write two full articles which are peer-reviewed.)

...but you also have to offer something of an incentive to join...

With us, it was being a part of a group that's been effectively "online" since 1997 (and traceable... because I've often said people can CLAIM being a part of the study since 1974 - even though they're thirty-two years old themselves, but you need to show your work!) and a website already brimming with information.... so a head-start, so to speak.

Perhaps doing this might have a good result for you too... and effectively lead to a reputable (and honest) group of people others can turn to for help, information, and genuine discussion.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Paranormal Investigators Professional Body?

Now, just to be clear, although the idea has merit I am not actually putting some plan together to create a Professional Body, which would be a good idea, but possibly an all encompassing Professional Body would be to difficult to introduce with the a diverse community involved in paranormal investigating.  

Is the best we can aim for umbrella organisations such as Psican and ASSAP which like minded groups associate themselves with?  

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Paranormal Investigators Professional Body?

ASSAP has now announced that it has been recognised by the government as a Professional Body and are holding a consultation wich all paranormal investigators are welcome to contribute to.  See here.

Will official recognition help it remain stable?  How will it all work?  How do you want to see it work?

Another question I was asked was, why are ASSAP getting involved in doing this rather than just actually concentrating on serious scientific academic research?  Beacuse, lets face it, this is going to be a lot of work for a group run by volunteers.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Paranormal Investigators Professional Body?
Red Don's picture
Red Don
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Re: Paranormal Investigators Professional Body?
Ian Topham wrote:

Another question I was asked was, why are ASSAP getting involved in doing this rather than just actually concentrating on serious scientific academic research?  Beacuse, lets face it, this is going to be a lot of work for a group run by volunteers.

I assume the members will be doing the research and the management of ASSAP will be left to a core admin staff maybe?

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Paranormal Investigators Professional Body?

Good point Don.

The Morton Report has now also covered ASSAP's announcement.

http://www.themortonreport.com/discoveries/paranormal/uk-paranormal-rese...



 



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