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Ryan Buell

Ryan Buell

Imploding Like a Rock Star

The paranormal community has identity problems. We are constantly barraged by skeptics. We all do our homework before we investigate.* We check our facts. We test our equipment. We do a lot to ensure the evidence we gather is the best and most accurate obtainable. Just when we gain a little more credibility, something comes along and sets us back.

As I see it, the paranormal community is divided into 4 categories: 1) Professionals, 2) Professional Celebrities, 3) Celebrities, and 4) Amateurs. The bulk of the people fall into the first category: Professionals. These are the people working in the field. They are investigating, writing, and observing all things paranormal. These are the working-class paranormal peeps. They don’t get paid for what they love; they do it for the love of it. They act respectfully and professionally.

Some move from the first group into Group 2: Professional Celebrities. They are “celebrities” because their education and skills elevated them to experts in the field. They’re on television. Do the conference circuit. Write the better books. They are the “face” of the community.

The third group contains people who are “celebrities” but haven’t a clue what they’re doing. They may have good intentions, they may have gone to the dark side, they may have let “fame” go to their heads. Professionals know who they are and try to avoid them. Unfortunately, the general public sees them as the real-deal. They’re not. This group is very small; however, the paranormal community should be cognizant that it may grow with continued media exploitation.

The final group contains the Amateurs. These are the thrill-seekers. They hunt ghosts because the celebrities make it look easy. These are the people who dabble and get into serious trouble. They are the folks who get their kicks in the black arts. They’re also the fools who get drunk, trespass onto private property, and burn the plantation down. The media loves this group! For them, they represent the para-community. Unfortunately, this group is growing.

Recently, two former television paranormal investigators made the news. Examiner.com broke both stories. Brian Harnois, formerly of Ghost Hunters, is accused of scamming fans by not refunding money or providing products. For those who watched the early episodes with Brian, you should not be surprised. I’m not. I always considered him the drama queen of the show and a distraction. His situation is minor and I hope he gets it together.

The second one is more troubling. Ryan Buell, star of Paranormal State, is accused of booking tours, selling tickets, cancelling the show, and then refusing to refund the money. In addition, there was some confusion as to the actual participants, which could be viewed as misleading. Originally, Chip Coffey was scheduled to appear on the “Conversations with the Dead” tour; however, he withdrew for “professional and personal” reasons. Somewhere along the line communication broke down, and Chip Coffey’s name was not removed from the program. Hence the misleading issue. This has since been rectified. The bigger issue looms. How much are we really taking about? According to Coffey’s post on Facebook, it hovers in the six figure range. Six figures! That’s a lot money. That’s huge. Since the story broke, the “Conversations with the Dead” website has been updated, displaying make-up dates and the removal of Coffey’s name. I hope the tour happens. Until then, Buell’s controversy has become a major paranormal distraction. It’s time he fixed it.

Paranormal people on television have a larger burden than the regular reality TV star. Viewers know that Honey Boo Boo does not represent the State of Georgia; however, the distinction cannot be made for paranormal investigators on TV. They shouldn’t waste the opportunity or blow it. It’s like a rock star imploding. It’s hard to recover from.


*I’m presuming that ALL paranormal investigators do this because they really should. There are professional responsibilities involved. But I’ll save that argument for another blog.