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Demons refer to supernatural beings often defined in the context of religion and other disciplines such as literature, film and cults. Demons depict a paranormal claim since their existence goes beyond normal explanation or scientific substantiation (Smith, 2010). Since time immemorial, claims about demons have been central themes in movies, books and characterize many religions.
In addition, many psychologists have proposed theories in an attempt to explain their presumed existence. While that is true, only few empirical studies have gone ahead to investigate the paranormal claim. Despite lack of succinct explanation of the existence of demons, many people still believe that they exist.
In fact, Oppenheimer (1996) articulates that over 50% of the world’s population believes that demons exist and that they possess supernatural abilities. This paper seeks to give a deeper look into the paranormal claim about demons. Besides, it will explore locations under investigation and forward various theories and scientific explanations of the claim.
Location and Summary
A paranormal claim that has been pertinent in Northern parts of America and Tibet is the existence of a demon famously referred to as ‘The Bigfoot”. Despite the connotation that demons are always evil, Bigfoot is a demon that fits both descriptions of either being good or evil (Smith, 2010).
According to mythologies, the demon descends on earth during specific seasons and possesses great super natural abilities. The abilities allow Bigfoot to resist low temperatures and move at supersonic speeds. In addition, many people believe that the demon has the ability of levitation and of controlling human mind.
According to Tibetan myths and folklores, the demon has been in a position to save numerous children from chilly weather and take them to safety. In fact, villagers say that children come home with many stories about their encounters with Bigfoot particularly during winter.
Despite such allegations, no one has witnessed the demon but tales have been rampant that it leaves footprints behind. The paranormal claim about the existence of Bigfoot only adds to many other claims about existence of demons.
Past Research on the Existence of Demons
Due to the nature of demons and other paranormal claims, it is difficult to conduct a scientific research on the subjects. The rationale is that the claims about demons go beyond what people consider being normal and as such, it would contradict the meaning of paranormal if ‘normal’ scientific approaches would attempt to investigate the claims (Farha& Shermer, 2007).
Subsequently, only a handful of literature is available on the paranormal claim about demons. Mainly, Smith (2010) asserts that the literature revolves around ancient mythologies and religion without involving empirical studies. To that end, it is important to analyze various models that scientists have used in investigating paranormal claims.
First, anecdotal approaches have been apparent within the field of paranormal science and psychology. The approaches involve gathering of mythologies and stories regarding the claim. Among the most outstanding works of collection of such stories is that of Charles Fort.
After the collection of over forty thousand articles and stories (although the number is only an estimate), Fort compiled various books that explain the existence abnormal events, levitation and other extraterrestrial hypotheses (Oppenheimer, 1996). To him, there are many unexplained phenomena about ‘paranormalism’ in the world.
Second, parapsychologists have attempted to explain paranormal activities through quantitative experiments. Since 1930’s, there have been attempts to reveal the availability of extra sensory perceptions among individuals. Though the initial experiments elicited applause from different corners, the results were hugely inconsistent and gave rise to criticism.
This implied that the field had failed to achieve its objectives and many parapsychologists left the discipline. To this end, the available literature about paranormal claims as documented by the scientists was inconsistent and unreliable and as such, it did not provide the much-needed information especially regarding the existence of demons (Oppenheimer, 1996).
Third, many people attributed the failure of parapsychologists to over reliance on quantitative information rather than interpreting data from a qualitative perspective. As such, participant-observer model of investigating the existence of paranormal activities became a new model of research.
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Qualitative research involves the immersion of the researcher into the contexts of the demons and ghosts as an objective observer (Smith, 2010). As such, there have been a growing number of individuals and organizations seeking to visit the locations, which the paranormal claims exist.
In estimate, over 300 organizations in the United States have emerged to explain paranormal claims using the qualitative approaches. Essentially, the current research suffers extreme deficiencies in explaining the existence of demons.
It is important to notice that the above approaches and research on the existence of demons have faced numerous criticisms owing to their weaknesses. At the outset, many critics argue that it is impossible to ascertain the existence of paranormal claim owing to the fact that they represent misconceptions and misinterpretations of natural phenomena.
This implies that numerous people who have made such claims may have suffered from insufficient knowledge about their natural world and as such, they tend to misinterpret them. The critics say that the seemingly supernatural activities can have scientific and natural explanation only that people tend to exaggerate their presence (Farha & Shermer, 2007).
Another weakness of the available models of investigating paranormal claims is their inability to provide empirical study that is coherent and reliable. While Chris Fort’s work reflects a literature review, other models have fallen short of consistent and empirical research that can inform wide array of skeptics.
Nonetheless, it is notable that paranormal activities deviate from the norm and as such, it is difficult to substantiate their origins, nature and form.
Hence, an alternative hypothesis on the existence of the demons would draw inspiration from the field of pseudoscience and psychology. Existence of demons as many people allege is partly because of their psychological makeup and conditions.
The rationale is that no substantive research and scientific study has revealed the existence of the paranormal claims associated with demons. To that end, they remain fictional and they inform many films, stories, mythologies and literature.
Recommendations for future Research
According to the above-mentioned alternative hypothesis, there is the need for increased empirical research on the field of psychology to uncover the rationale behind paranormal claims. This will demystify the claims by analyzing the psychological status of the people who make such claims.
Second, there should be increased aggressiveness in the field of science to explain the natural world to numerous societies and groups. In particular, many people who believe in paranormal activities suffer from the inability to understand the forces of nature and their roles in shaping human life.
African myths are full of paranormal claims owing to insufficient knowledge on the scientific world. As such, they tend to misconceive and misinterpret some phenomena that occur naturally attributing them to supernatural beings and powers.
In reality, the past researches have failed to hold any significance due to inconsistencies and unreliability of the models they utilize. In conducting a research about a paranormal claim, it is important to adhere to all principles of research such as objectivity and utilization of the appropriate data analysis tools.
Further, research ought to be informed by previous researches and capitalize on the perceived breakthroughs that such scientists as parapsychologists had made. This will help them to avoid the apparent mistakes that past researchers made when investigating the phenomenon.
Finally, it is important to increase funding directed towards paranormal research in order to yield accurate and precise results. Many researches fail to achieve their objectives due to lack of sufficient resources and funds. This way, the contemporary research on paranormal claims might be successful. Nonetheless, paranormal activities are beyond normalcy and should remain as such.
In essence, demons are supernatural things that people associate with religion, folklores and myths. In the medieval world, the existence of demons was so profound that the governing authorities hugely depended on them. Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece are among countries in the world that have believed in demons.
Depiction of demons in such movies as ‘Angels and Demons’ and in books have reinforced the belief of the existence of demons in the contemporary world. Although there have been many researches regarding the existence of paranormal claims, substantive information remains elusive even in the modern world.
It is therefore important for researchers to embark on reliable and objective studies and attempt to demystify myths and misconceptions.
Farha, B. & Shermer, M. (2007). Paranormal Claims: Critical Analysis. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Publishers.
Oppenheimer, P. (1996). Evil and the Demonic: A New Theory of Monstrous Behavior. New York: New York University Press.
Smith, J. (2010). Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A critical thinker’s toolkit. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.