The number one search term that has brought people to this site is “parapsychology jobs”. This intrigues me as I’ve only mentioned the idea in passing, but the sad fact is… there are very few paying jobs in the field worldwide. Most legitimate parapsych jobs you’ll find are in academia or small, private foundations. In both cases, funding is scarce and dwindling.
It might be because of early reports from Project Stargate, a CIA study of Remote Viewing, which revealed that the technique, though intriguing, yielded no actionable results. (Later declassified info showed that it was somewhat more successful.) It might be any number of factors, but I attribute it to two factors: flakes and debunkers.
First of all, the science of parapsychology has evolved faster than its public image. Fictional movies like Ghostbusters, Dreamscape, and a slew of horror films haven’t helped things. Web sites putting parapsychology in the same bucket as the occult, various religious practices, and such hurt some more. But bad science is the worst. Science, like logic, needs to follow a progression: miss any connection and it ceases to work. Many who study the paranormal miss major points they need to pass first. For instance, is a ghost the spirit of the departed? Well, first, in science and logic, you need to define what a spirit is, and then you need to show how a spirit can exist incorporeally. Now, you can move on to trying to show that a ghost is a spirit… then you move on to showing it as the spirit of a dead person. To my knowledge, there has been only a scant few studies even in trying to figure out is a person’s spirit or soul or whatever can exist at all outside a body. One was so long ago that it calls a lot into question and the other was an excellent study regarding out-of-body experiences in patients having near death experiences. Much more research needs to be done here before we can move on to talking about ghosts being dis-incarnate spirits. Add to this all the people mixing mythology, urban legends, folklore, etc. into supposedly scientific work, and it is no wonder parapsychology gets a bad reputation. You can find countless examples on the web…
Second, you have some hard core debunkers who, no matter what evidence is presented, will still never allow for anything resembling what we would call paranormal. They completely discard the thousands of solid studies concerning ESP, Remote Viewing, the remote gaze effect, micropsychokinesis, etc. Some of these studies, when analysed, would be ridiculously difficult to fake, showing chance of being random errors in the one in 10^87 range with a coefficient of correlation around .8 or so, combined over hundreds of thousands of individual trials. These debunkers, usually calling themselves skeptics, will find fault in every experiment, every study. To make matters worse, they often make big stinks publicizing their “findings” so as to show that none of this exists. One has even issued a million dollar challenge which, when you read it, is effectively impossible to fulfill.
Somehow in all this, many of the smaller and a few of the larger research facilities in parapsychology have closed their doors. I don’t know of any legitimate parapsychology jobs in the private sector, because quite simply, there isn’t much of a market for it. Jobs in the paranormal area are generally catering to New Age or religious customers and almost never involve good scientific work. The grey area here is the entertainment industry. Hollywood might have a good place for consultants who can make their movies and TV shows more realistic. There have, over the years, been a couple TV shows where there might be opportunities. Personally, I am a fan of SciFi’s “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Hunters International” because they use a lot more science in their investigations than any other major production I’ve seen. They still aren’t parapsychologists, and they don’t pretend to be. Their work does, however, often cross the line into parapsychology.
So where do I fit in here? I’m an armchair parapsychologist. I have no academic qualifications beyond an Associates degree in Science. I’ve studied the subject on my own, for about 23 years now, beginning in Junior High School, when I took a lab report someone else did and conducted about three years of further research. I have no laurels to rest upon. What you read here needs to be taken in its own context and evaluated on its own merit. While I cannot tell you to believe me because I have a stack of credentials, I do ask that you simply evaluate what I say and write with good, critical thinking and make your own conclusions as my believability, authenticity, and reputation. Outside of my scientific endeavors (which I hope to detail more here at The Arcanorum), I do have religious interests in similar areas. I’m careful though to keep my religious beliefs and scientific ideas clearly distinct. I look at it like a Catholic priest who is also a doctor. He may believe in the laying on of hands, but he isn’t going to prescribe that to his patients without some scientific backup.
So you still want to be a parapsychologist and make a living doing it? Good luck. There are only a couple real accredited programs left in the world, and you’ll probably need a PhD to get one of the jobs out there. Your best bet is to look into post graduate work at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. You should probably have a solid handle on multiple more accepted sciences including statistics and psychology. For some resources, check out some of the links to your right under the Parapsychology label. (Click on the word “Parapsychology in the links section to see the drop down list.)
Feel free to register for an account here and comment away. I’d be glad to hear what you think, especially if you do have a real job in parapsychology… or if you’d like to offer me one. (Yes, I’d change careers to parapsychology if it included a steady pay check…)