Paranormal, What Does It Mean?

August 15, 2013 on 4:59 pm | In Article | No Comments


If I had a nickel for every time someone asks what exactly is “paranormal”?  Most of the general public refers to paranormal as simply being the unexplained. Any time we have an experience that we can’t explain away we refer to it as paranormal.

In truth the explanations are wide and varying.  According to Wikipedia here is their take on what they list as paranormal.  Paranormal is a general term (coined c. 1915–1920[1][2]) that designates experiences that lie outside “the range of normal experience or scientific explanation[3] or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science’s current ability to explain or measure.[1][4] Paranormal phenomena are distinct from certain hypothetical entities, such as dark matter and dark energy, only insofar as paranormal phenomena are inconsistent with the world as already understood through empirical observation coupled with scientific methodology.[5]

Thousands of stories relating to paranormal phenomena are found in popular culture, folklore, and the recollections of individual subjects.[6] In contrast, the scientific community, as referenced in statements made by organizations such as the United States National Science Foundation, maintains that scientific evidence does not support a variety of beliefs that have been characterized as paranormal.[7]

According to Wikipedia the paranormal includes the afterlife, angels, astral projection, auras, clairvoyance, close encounters, cold spots, conjuration, cryptid, cryptozoology, demons, demonic possession, demonology, ectoplasm, electronic voice phenomenon or evp, exorcism, extrasensory perception, fear of ghosts, forteana, ghosts, ghost hunting, ghost stories, haunted houses, hypnosis, intelligent haunting, magic, medium ship, miracles, near-death experience, occult, Ouija, paranormal fiction, paranormal television, parapsychology, poltergeist, precognition, psychic, psychic readings, psychokineses, psychometry, reincarnation, remote viewing, residual haunting, shadow people, spirit photography, spirit possession, spirit world, spiritualism, stone tape, supernatural, superstition, telepathy, UFO, UFO sightings, ufology, urban legends, will-o-the-wisp.


Percentage    of U.S. citizens polled


not    sure


not    sure

Farha-Steward    (2006)

Gallup (2001)

psychic/spiritual healing 56 26 54 19
ESP 28 39 50 20
haunted houses 40 25 42 16
demonic possession 40 28 41 16
ghosts/spirits of the dead 39 27 38 17
telepathy 24 34 36 26
extraterrestrials visited   Earth in the past 17 34 33 27
clairvoyance and prophecy 24 33 32 23
communication with the dead 16 29 28 26
astrology 17 26 28 18
witches 26 19 26 15
reincarnation 15 28 25 20
channeling 10 29 15 21


For each of us our culture, religion, and environment can make a huge difference in how we perceive the unexplained.  Many back-woods cultures believe anything odd or unusual is paranormal.  From a child born with an abnormality to seeing a shadow roaming ones property, anything different may be seen as paranormal.  Many religions believe anything other than angels are always dark or evil.  It is basically our own personal take that defines what is paranormal to us.


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