A paranormal non-believer has a positive experience at a pro-paranormal conference. This is the crowd we need to be reaching.
On a beautiful Saturday morning, I attended an event called the Paranormal Journeys Expo. This was the 2nd year for the expo, as well as the 2nd year I had been invited to participate as speaker.
The expo was a typical pro-paranormal event - vendor tables hosted by many ghost hunting teams, psychics of various types, authors of paranormal books (fiction and non-fiction), a photographer with a flare for the morbid, and several jewelry makers – all of which lined the interior of a large wedding tent. In a separate tent, paranormal themed lectures were scheduled throughout the day,
And then there’s me - the “skeptic”.
The lecture was well received, and most of the audience followed up afterwards in a positive manner. The feedback was great. People wanted to know more about my approach and what they can do to improve their work. Instead of hostility or annoyed looks towards “the skeptic”, there was curiosity, interest and a desire to understand. I engaged in several great discussions and was thanked repeatedly for the information I presented, and for bringing a skeptical viewpoint to the conference.
A panel discussion followed in which I was seated with five other individuals who represented a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs, including a trained archaeologist.
One of the questions directed towards me was, “What’s your take of skeptics, believers, and skeptical believers”? I took this opportunity to explain how skepticism was a process of asking questions, of defining terms and meanings, of evaluating the evidence, and applying science in order to achieve the best possible understanding of the events claimed. I explained that we’re not out to just “debunk” believers (and that I actually dislike that term), and we do not simply dismiss paranormal claims with laughter and a wave of our hand.
The same question was presented to the remaining panelists…and they were in agreement with me. It was a refreshing moment: when a discussion panel at a pro-paranormal conference was all in agreement with “the skeptic”, and openly supported my comments to the audience! There was a bonus at the end, when a panelist (who runs his own paranormal team and televised series), expressed his gratitude for helping him figure out several events they were unable to explain – adding that he had learned a lot from me.
At the close of the expo, I was met with several friendly goodbyes and inquiries of where I could be found online and what events I’d be attending next. The people were genuinely interested about learning more about the skeptical side of things. I’ve attended dozens of such conferences over the years, and I can say from experience that a skeptical viewpoint has not always been welcomed. This expo, and the people in attendance, has demonstrated a positive shift in that mentality.
I look forward to attending the event next year.
For more information on the Paranormal Journeys Expo, click here.