The unexplained has, for centuries, held fascination for us. A decade into the new millenium, that hasn’t changed. The paranormal researcher is still at large, hopping from location to location in hopes of capturing evidence of some kind for the existence of what might be called spiritual reality. But modern parapsychologists have at their disposal an array of equipment that their predecessors lacked. Paranormal research has become more sophisticated, utilizing the latest technology to record, measure, and ultimately prove (or disprove) the theories that have made their discipline so controversial. Parapsychologists can no longer be accused of being glorified shamans. With their arsenal of video cameras, audio recorders, electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors, and the like, they have made the leap into serious science.

Modern ghost hunters seek concrete, tangible evidence, evidence that will lead to a reasonable conclusion about the phenomena they investigate. The biggest hurtle they face today is the same one they have always faced: acceptance. Many within the scientific community still regard this branch of psychology as a pseudo-science. The nearly total rejection of all things spiritual among scientists has left many who conduct paranormal research struggling to gain credibility for their work.

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But that is beginning to change, due perhaps in large part to the increased exposure and popularity that paranormal research is enjoying in popular culture. Television shows and mass market books on the subject have seen a boom in recent years, and, while some of these have sensationalized (and even, unfortunately, theatricized) the paranormal, the end result has been an increased interest in the subject. And, whether scientists are willing to admit it or not, the fact is that such an increase in interest invariably creates a ripple effect within their own specialized community.

Science is, after all, as much at the mercy of the laws of supply and demand as any other discipline. The increased interest among the laity inevitably creates a demand for answers from those they deem to be the experts. It should be no surprise, then, to see many “serious” scientists slowly starting to reverse their views on parapsychology, particularly with paranormal researchers now offering more naturalistic theories to explain the unexplained—such as the influence of the electromagnetic field on personal perception or the effect of color on human emotion.

With this barrier starting to fall, the possibilities of paranormal research seem limitless. And there is no better evidence of this than the varying methods of investigation in use today in this field. An internet search of various paranormal socieites reveals several diverse, often contradictory, approaches being employed. One group’s aim may be to prove the existence of ghosts, while another may seek to disprove them, to find a definite physiological or natural cause to such incidents. Conflict and controversy abound in this ever-growing field, but, like other areas of scientific study, the sometimes volatile climate of debate will ultimately keep paranormal research alive. Its future looks promising.