“Who Ya Gonna Call?” Paranormal Ethics, and the Irony of Same

Here we see a common ethics violation: the paranormal researcher has allowed himself to become emotionally involved with his subject...

Any profession, no matter how strange, that thinks seriously about ethics is to be encouraged, and thus it is that Ethics Alarms gives a hearty shout-out to paranormal investigator L.S. Watts, 8 years a ghost-hunter and the co-founder of Grigori Research Institute of Paraspsychology. She has published a set of ethical standards for paranormal investigators that appear to be serious, thorough and well-thought out, addressing issues of professionalism, candor, honesty, conflicts of interest and fairness. Since her profession is by definition likely to be involved with a lot of people who are, shall we say, easy to deceive, and that must also attract more than its share of con artists, humbugs and frauds, there is an obvious need for a clear and sensible ethics code, for which her work would be an excellent starting point. Back in May of 2010, I noted that there was a planned “Town Meeting” on ethics in the field of paranormal investigation, and it’s nice to see progress has been made.

Ms. Watts seems sincere, so I can’t fairly apply the principle I am itching to state, which is that there are activities and fields like astrology, paranormal research, psychics, spiritualism, faith healing, creation science, loan-sharking and hacking for which the only truly valid Code of Conduct would be an extremely brief one that says, “Don’t Do This.” As long as these professions are with us, however, they might as well try to be as ethical as possible.

5 thoughts on ““Who Ya Gonna Call?” Paranormal Ethics, and the Irony of Same

  1. Great post, Jack. I also applaud what this woman is trying to do in her field, regardless of the fact that it’s, shall we say, out of the mainstream. But now I can’t get the theme song from “Ghost Busters” out of my head.

  2. Everybody loves a good ghost story! The point comes, though, when it becomes obvious that the ”’researchers” are entangled in a massive groupthink that leads them to jump at every little creak and moan that they hear in a “haunted” house in the night. It’s also apparent that some are merely following in a popular TV theme and are out more for the sensationalism than anything resembling serious investigation. That, I guess, reflects the reality of selling and maintaining a TV program! This tends to parallel the endless UFO based programs which, if anything, are worse in this respect. A clueless person can come away from this programming deluge believing that every house has ghosts in the attic and that Earth is a tourist stop for flying saucers from all over the Galaxy!

  3. Love that image and the caption. I too am glad that those outside the mainstream are thinking of ethics, especially paranormal investigators, especially since we ghost sceptics saw something that looked awfully like one in the last house we lived in. (We moved, but if we had known there were ethical ghost busters, well,…..)

  4. I enjoyed your article. And appreciate your candor, considering you are sceptical of the subject. Being a psychic and medium for 30 years, gives me the edge on this one, I guess. But that is why I wrote a book called “Psychic Integrity, The Respected Practice of Modern-Day Mystics”. Not only is ethics important, but integrity in the field is even more important. Ethics generally has to do with the business of, whereas, integrity has to do with the personal foundation and understanding of the paranormal field (how you work with your client, rather than business dealings). It deals with being honest and forthright.

    Another area I would have loved to see L.S. Watts address is the ethical idea of “treating” the occurance. She spoke of the clients being those who owned the property. but what about the potential “etherial” clients? That is another story indeed. And it opens the thoughts of free will, and imposing your investigation on a departed spirit. However, those spirits haunting a location are technically earthbound ghosts, not fully tranformed spirits. These have need for respect as well, along with special procedures for addressing them. (Oops, did I open another can of worms?)

    Thanks so much for your work, keep it up!

    • Thanks for the comment, Melissa, which I have posted as the comment of the day. As a skeptic, I have my own ethical dilemma in making sure that I am fair to those, like you, who give every indication of being sincere, honest, and trustworthy. It is a tough and thin line to walk. Your insight is appreciated, valuable and thought provoking.

      But you knew I was going to say that…

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