Paranormal Phenomena: Media bias when covering the paranormal

Friday, March 24, 2006

Media bias when covering the paranormal

Does any other subject get so misrepresented in the media as the paranormal, I wonder?

The attitude of the media to the paranormal is either to be sceptical, take it at face value or simply use it as a source of entertainment. The one thing it never does is take the subject seriously.

We have a number of TV programmes currently running that apparently show investigations of haunted houses. Any viewer would quickly form the opinion from these (despite the presence of the token sceptics) that hauntings are all about spirits of the dead. And yet, when serious investigations are undertaken (without mediums!) the results are quite different. It may surprise you to know that experienced researchers have come across little or no evidence of any link between hauntings and 'spirits of the dead'!

A typical haunting consists of someone reporting odd occurences in a building. These may be odd noises, apparent object movement ('apparent' because it only noticed afterwards, not seen in motion), strange lights and smells and, rarely, apparitions. Properly conducted research vigils frequently produce no additional evidence of anything paranormal. However, investigators often find natural explanations for some of the reported effects. There is usually a residue of unexplained effects after a full investigation but this rarely, if ever, points to any 'spirit' explanation!

As you can see, this is nothing remotely like what you see reported in the media where the evidence is either sensationalised or ridiculed. I can't think of any other subject which is so distorted by the media.

There is great public interest in the paranormal, which the media feed, but it is not at all helpful to any serious understanding of the subject. Instead, the subject is portrayed more like its fictional representation in novels or Hollywood.

I doubt there is much we can do about this as I doubt the media see it as their job to portray our subject seriously. I just hope this blog can help make people see there is another, serious, side to the subject.


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