This blog is dedicated to the conceptual and empirical development of parasociology, a sub-discipline of sociology studying how societies and paranormal or “psi” phenomena interact.
It looks into phenomena like UFOs, Marian Apparitions, Poltergeists, and Parapsychology.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Parasociological methodology – a first approximation
After investigating at length the parapsychological literature (particularly the one about spontaneous macro psi effects like poltergeist phenomenon (RSPK)) and explored in detail a number of UFO wave cases, I found a few methodological criteria that appear particularly useful to explore parasociological hypothesis. These criteria still remain, of course, wide and allow competing analyses to emerge without being able to determine firmly which one is the most accurate. However, it should be seen as a step forward in that it provides some rigor and discipline to parasociological analysis, and can open the way to find additional criteria that would narrow down the number of possible competing analyses to explore the genesis of UFO events.
It is important to remember that these criteria for investigating possible parasociological effects (or social psi effects), are all attempting to circumvent the significant problem of absence of observable causal relationships between the social and the physical realm. They are:
1.The observation system is social.
This means that the UFO phenomenon received enough attention from the general public to be noted. This is usually done through the mass media, but it can also be done through governmental agencies collecting data about UFOs, in which case the observation system would be the state. This criterion is based on a number of findings and theories emerging from parapsychology, where a psi phenomenon is considered to be the outcome of an emotional intent, which are making psi activities meaningful events. The key question is meaningful for whom? The range of visibility of psi phenomenon can be a good indicator to assess to whom is destined the psi effect, i.e. to whom the information is destined. Hence, a social psi event should be destined to society at large, or its governance if the state is the observation system.
This means that a UFO event or series of UFO events should occur around the same time as a meaningful social event. It can be a few days before or after a particularly meaningful action or event that would carry an important emotional charge. But such event is usually not known publically at the time. Chronological proximity can only be found out after the fact. This criterion is based on a number of findings and theories emerging from parapsychology where psi effects are believe to be emerging from the unconscious, which is by definition not observable; like the feeling of “something will happen” but not knowing what it is. At the social level, there are individual actions that will have a significant social impact, but their scope and nature cannot be known yet, but can be “felt”.
This means that a UFO event or series of UFO events should occur in a geographical area that is around a particularly meaningful action or event that would carry an important emotional charge. Like in the case of Chronological proximity and for the same reasons, such event is usually not known publically at the time. This criterion is based on the same notion that psi effects are information destined to “someone”, and that “someone’s” attention needs to be grabbed.
The UFO event or series of events carry symbolism that can be related to particularly meaningful action or event that would carry an important emotional charge. Such symbolism, however, is the one of the unconscious and can be quite subtle in nature, oftentimes only comprehensible through lateral forms of thinking, and usually much after the fact. This criterion is based on a number of findings and theories emerging from parapsychology where psi effects are the outcome of unconscious processes, and that the language of the unconscious is fundamentally symbolic.
Internal validity through mutually reinforcing criteria
These four criteria should reinforce each other. The yet unknown meaningful action or event that would carry an important emotional charge should be considered as being such (i.e. meaningful and emotional) by the people who are part of the social observation system. The symbolism found in the event can also be found in the geography (e.g., name of the place where observations are made) and the chronology (e.g., a particular anniversary in the same timeframe). The “message” carried through symbolism is meaningful for the observation system if it can decipher it. Etc.