A Day in the Life of a Paranormal Investigator

I just wrote this on the UK Skeptic’s forum, in response to this article by Chris Sherwood here on the same subject. I think mine is closer to the truth 🙂 And before you panic, it’s not autobiographical – these days!  🙂

A Day in the Life of a Paranormal Investigator

A Paranormal Investigator is someone who can’t get a real job or any PhD funding. They wake up in the morning to a stack of unpaid bills, and then sweet talk the lovely bailiffs at the door. After a discussion with said gentlemen they pay some cash and mentally cross out their food budget for the next two weeks. They also note the recording they need to finish their lecture review for deadline today has still not arrived. Huzzah!

A paranormal investigator picks up the clothes they wore last night off the floor, hurls a book on Attachment Theory at the cat and wonder if SPR journals burn nicely once the gas has been shut off. They then dedicate four hours to grounded analysis of carefully collected accounts of spontaneous cases – or reading peoples ghost anecdotes to you and me. They code, construct categories by hand because they can’t afford QSR software, and after a hard mornings work with black coffee cos they have no milk they decide they have not made any advances over what Sidgwick and co had in 1894.

So they pop on the JREF for a morning of playful abuse, and after lunch (noodles, with noodle sauce, 12p a bag from oriental supermarket) they wonder why MAcDonalds, Wilkinsons and WH Smiths rejected them. So they spend couple of hours filling in application forms so they can be anything but a paranormal investigator.

The afternoon is busy, busy, busy! Reading the EJP in the bath as the nice shiny paper is not effected by splashes, they realise they are still after all these years useless at the level of stats required to check the articles validity. They wish they could afford a netbook so they could consult SPSS in the bath, but they would only drop it.

After a refreshing bath they set out to track down someone who reported a spontaneous case to them to verify certain questions arising from their account. The email will be ignored, they nearly always are. Wishing they had chosen a better paid career, like say leaflet distributor, professional philosopher or non-affiliated theologian who sells 5 books a year, they start work on a piece on the development of fairy lore in the early modern period, because they have nothing better to do. Then it hits them – they have no food for tea!

But huzzah! they have a call – and the phone is currently connected because their girlfriend paid the bill. And for once it’s not a debt collector! Nope, they are invited to give a talk to a local group. They start drafting it, becoming more and more depressed as they realise no one is actually interested in theoretical work or the parapsychological literature, so it end up as “adventures in ghosthunting”, a comic tale of sitting around in the dark in rooms filled with other hopefuls, while absolutely nothing happens. The difference in being a pro is you don’t have to pay for the privilege.

Suddenly they decide to reach for their handy EMF meter. They can’t hear the washing machine from the basement but long experience shows this device can pick it up – have they washed their pants, as girlfriend coming tomorrow? They dream of the day they can afford a second pair.

Afternoon brings email: another studentship rejection, disturbed family members wondering how you became so unemployable, and a coffee break dedicated to the lesbian mediumship of Eva C – less exciting than it sounds – from an old PSPR. They decide to kill Cousins, Braithwaite, Luke etc for being so much better looking and better funded than them; but then reject the notion, and return to the Spud-U-Like application.

Wasting an hour on wondering why no one seems to be participating Alex Tsaris’ Jaytee the Psychic Dog replication the earnest paranormal investigator returns to their grounded analysis, struggling with methodological issues.

Evening: a bitter ex-wife accusing you of leaving her in poverty, hungry cats yowling for food, and your mother sadly asking how work went? You set out to meet a veteran investigator of mediumship who will buy you lunch,and an enjoyable hour of salacious gossip about the misdeeds of contemporary physical mediums later, well fed, you feel the strength to once again face writing up a study you performed eight months ago. Finally even you are bored with it, so you start work on looking at the geological maps of Gloucestershire, and a water table plan of Cheltenham from Severn Trent, trying to work out if GW Lambert really was on to something.

You get another call – there is a vigil in a haunted house, a local tourist spot, can you attend only £30? Muttering to yourself a Noel Coward lyric

The Stately Homes of England,
Though rather in the lurch,
Provide a lot of chances
For psychical research-

You politely enquire who experienced what and when? It seems a tourist thought they saw something in 1982 in the East Wing, and a the under gardener swears he saw the dead master in 1963. On and a cleaner heard a voice call her name last Wednesday but six.

So you suggest that rather than taking 50 people to sit in the dark all night, festooned with electronic gizmos, while a lovely lady reconts the sad tale of the spirit girl who starved to death on Christmas Eve, it might be worth actually just interviewing and recording what the witnesses said, and having a look at that? The person trying to sell you the ghost night hangs up.

You sigh and stare out the window, and regret ever becoming a paranormal investigator. And then you wake up the next day and post this on UK Skeptics. 🙂

I think this is a bit closer to the truth actually :

cj x

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About Chris Jensen Romer

I am a profoundly dull, tedious and irritable individual. I have no friends apart from two equally ill mannered cats, and a lunatic kitten. I am a ghosthunter by profession, and professional cat herder. I write stuff and do TV things and play games. It's better than being real I find.
This entry was posted in Dreadful attempts at humour, Paranormal, Science, Uninteresting to others whitterings about my life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A Day in the Life of a Paranormal Investigator

  1. Tom Ruffles says:

    “wonder if SPR journals burn nicely”

    Derek has done this experiment, with I think positive results.

    “not made any advances over what Sidgwick and co had in 1894.”

    If it’s any consolation, the Sidgwicks didn’t have any qualitative data analysis software either, and look what they managed to achieve. You can do it too.

  2. Chris Jensen Romer says:

    Yep. Becky has hit on a methodology that while rooted in sound theoretical social science (qualitative research) does seem to actually be better than Sidgwick & co’s – who practically invented modern QR in that census. Then I stumbled upon a really interesting way to come close to the original Census methodology, and we ran an initial trial – I’m trying to write up the results with her this weekend. At that point I take a bow and she will get on with her PhD with only m checking the coding as an associate.

    Actually to be fair to Derek when we took possession of the SPR journals from Frome they had a mould issue on some, and the ones he burnt were actually covered in green icky stuff. More were burnt when my storage facility at what is now the university of glos was burned down by H&SE types in white protective gear after a virulent pigeon disease outbreak – but the majority survive, and i gave Melvin’s wife my email at conference so I could send copies to anyone from the SPR who requested them, as I always have. IN fact I think it’s fair to say that large numbers of PSPR have been distributed by me over the years to people actively publishing or lecturing in parapsychology, and at considerable personal expense in term of postage and storage. 🙂

    I don’t mind at all, but it is one of those bits of the story of the CPRG’s legacy that often gets overlooked! Certainly Andreas Sommer still seems grateful for my efforts form when he came from Germany as a young student to stay with me a couple of weeks, and for providing him with his set and encouraging him to join the SPR etc? I like to think I have had a positive influence in a tiny way.

    cj x

  3. Tom Ruffles says:

    I’ve just had a look at the description by Mr Sherwood (eHow Contributing Writer, rather than psychical researcher) on “eHow: How to do just about everything (but not necessarily very well)”, and I have to say it adheres pretty closely to my working practices. For example, I am writing this while on stakeout, and I shall shortly be performing some background checks before writing up my report. Alas what seems to be missing from his account is how he gets the cases in the first place. That would be worth sharing. To do this properly though, Chris, you do need more than one pair of underpants, otherwise those stakeouts get a bit, er, sticky.

  4. Chris Jensen Romer says:

    yeah it’s a pretty good article – and I was confused till I discovered it was a different Chris Sherwood, a US journalist. Mine was meant to be a humorous response: a slightly cynical account of yesterday,after which I think I may be better off on the dole, if I claimed it…. 🙂

  5. Chris Jensen Romer says:

    Actually Tom I have what sounds like an interesting lead in London/Kent, but I’m not sure what to make of it. I was going to refer it to the SPR Spontaneous Cases Committee, and London is about as feasible as Arizona for me to get to. Care to have a look at what I know?

  6. Tom Ruffles says:

    I’m sure the SCC would be delighted to have the lead, Chris, and I would certainly be happy to have a look as well.

    I wasn’t really typing that earlier post while on a stakeout. I only drink coffee and eat doughnuts while doing those.

  7. Chris Jensen Romer says:

    Hi Tom, I don’t have your email address but if you drop me a line on chrisjensenromer@hotmail.com I’ll let you know what it is all about… and I guessed that! (though not about the coffee and donuts.) If life was like that article the SPR conference could outfit a Maplins store 🙂

    cj x

  8. WendyC says:

    Great post! Although can I say that 1) the lesbian mediumship of EvaC is *every bit* as exciting as it sounds 2) Braithwaite and Luke are probably easier to kill than me and better funded (although obviously less good-looking 😉 3) The name “Chris Sherwood” threw me a little- for a moment I thought that Chris Roe and Simon Sherwood had finally had a baby/cloned themselves in a lab…..

  9. Annalisa says:

    Hilarious! But could you spare Luke for us, at least until his PA presidency is over?

    Wendy – I thought that same thing when I saw “Chris Sherwood”. Lol!

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