Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In praise of George Hansen

One major regret that I will have for the (apparent) pending demise of Paratopia will be the lost opportunities to hear George Hansen again, at least in this type of forum. He's been featured on Paratopia three times, and each time, his ideas seem to make more sense to me. Perhaps if I were in my mid-20s, I would have "gotten" him more quickly, but I'm glad that Jeremy has had the foresight and patience to stick with this line of inquiry for three very good episodes.

Lately, I've decided that theories of the paranormal don't really work. They fall apart on scrutiny. The whole field is like this, be it crop circles (no pun intended), animal mutilations, ghosts, leprechauns, hybrids. Instead, what I've decided is that the best paranormal theorists offer, instead, models of reality. Some models are more encompassing than others. Others work in a very limited way, and seem to explain some of the phenomena, but not all. The ETH might explain a few UFO sightings, but not most; whereas the "inter-dimensional-time-shifty" ideas don't explain the arguably very nuts-and-bolts sightings (and crashings).

In a nutshell, however, George Hansen's trickster model just fits. It fits it all. It acknowledges the reality of paranormal phenomena without feeling compelled to explain it; it predicts the phenomena's behavior; it predicts (and explains) our reactions to it; and it explains the chaotic effects such phenomena have on the lives of those who pursue the paranormal. Perhaps it's because Hansen is a sociologist, not a psychologist, a physicist, or a psychic; he is a true outsider, looking in. It would be really cool if a paranormal researcher took Hansen's trickster model and ran with it.

BTW, I was glad to hear Hansen acknowledge academia as the most status-conscious hierarchy there is. I dropped out of academia as a youthful 24-year-old, disillusioned by the cut-throats and the back-stabbings, the compulsion to succeed at any cost. And I was just a lowly English major at a land-grant university. He reminded me of why I left. Or perhaps, why I never had a chance of fitting in to begin with.

So, I have two and a half more episodes of Paratopia left on my iPhone, and I should finish them just about when I get my new iPhone 4th gen. While I expect to hear more from Jeff and Jer in the future, I will not be surprised if it's not soon. In a little over a year, they have smartly cleaned UFOlogy's clock while extending their line of inquiry about as far as it can go, for the time being. I can truthfully say that there hasn't been a paranormal podcast that has been as enjoyable. As partial payback, I am still planning to write about my modest paranormal experiences / sightings. although finding the time to do so has been difficult lately. So Jeff and Jer, if you're reading, thanks for all that you have put into the show. Have a good one.

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