dictionaryEvery now and then I come across something in the paranormal field that takes me beyond the typical “I disagree” or “That’s just silly” to a rousing “Who do they think they are?”

Let me preface the following by explaining that I tend to be a bit of a purist when it comes to words. Words have meaning. Someone unilaterally deciding that a word should be redefined tends to bug the piss out of me.

Also, at the risk of sounding hypocritical, I get very tired of persons or groups implying that they are authorities in this field without producing the evidence to support such a claim.

I would like to make it VERY clear that I do not claim to be an expert nor an authority in the field of the paranormal. The goal of my writing and speaking engagements is to encourage people in the field to think for their selves, question what they have heard, and to learn as much as they can from as many sources as they can.

Anyhow, without mentioning the group by name, I came across an article linked from Facebook that claimed to explain what the words we use in the field actually mean. This would not normally be a big deal, as most of us tend to fudge the use of certain words a little (i.e. ghost versus spirit) and there are admittedly disagreements in how we define some terms (same example).

But then along comes someone who just makes up his or her own definitions and decides that the rest of the (English speaking) world has it wrong.

Here is their glossary. They state, “…most paranormal investigators will split the paranormal into the following categories.”

Ghost – An image or sound that is comparable to an audio or video recording.  A ghost is simply the residual energy of a person or animal.  There is no intelligence within the energy – it’s a recording that replays over and over.

Did I miss a meeting?

The classic definition of a ghost is “the soul of a dead person”. Now we can disagree whether or not they actually exist, and we can disagree whether or not we should throw around the word “soul,” and many of us even think the condition or maturity of their situation may come into play when defining who or what a ghost is.

But most of the people that I know do not limit the application of the word to what are commonly known as residual haunts. I, as a matter of fact, am agnostic on whether or not residual haunts are even a real phenomenon.

The writer instead prefers the word “spirit” when describing the soul of a dead person.

I don’t have a problem with that definition, except that some of us prefer to use that term to describe those that have passed to “the other side” and then returned, and use the word “ghost” to describe those that have never left. I will admit that I use them interchangeably because it makes for better paragraph structure.

It is also worth mentioning that some of us also prefer the inverse and a few think that everything that presents itself as a ghost is in fact a demon pulling a fast one on us.

The point is, that with all of these schools of thought, stating those definitions without at least a disclaimer saying “our opinion is that…” seems a bit grandiose.

Continuing: The one that really got me was

Entities – This paranormal activity is associated with beings that have never been human at any time.  The entities can be good (angels) or evil (demons).  Most people confuse the intentions of a spirit to communicate as a demon.

When did entity stop being a generic term? I would define it as “anything that shows a degree of intelligence or interaction.” This would include ghosts, spirits, demons, elementals, shadow people, etc.

I looked it up at and that is pretty darned close to what they say if you were to apply it to this field.

And, yes Virginia, some people believe in demons and angels, but some do not. And some of us that do believe in demons and angels (and some that do not) believe in the existence of things that where never human but do not necessarily fall into either category.

The current popular term is “elemental”, but there are plenty of others. Basically, it applies to things that may exist that do not necessarily mean us harm, but usually don’t give a rat’s ass about our well-being either.

Is such an entity evil? Is a lion evil? Ask a gazelle.

Oh, and “most people” don’t confuse the intentions of a spirit to communicate with much of anything. I think “most people” are perfectly happy ignoring them altogether. Even if I am wrong about what “most people” think, I did not grow up hearing the lore of local demon encounters, so I doubt if that many people think the footsteps in their attic are there to steal their mortal soul.

I could go on, but I won’t.

As mentioned before, I am not “calling anyone out”. I do not know anything about the group that posted the article. They may be perfectly fine, reasonable, and thorough in their field work.

I just wanted to take a moment to point out that in a field where so little is known, it may not be productive to post opinion as fact…especially when those facts are widely considered wrong.