Anthropology and the Paranormal: Engaging The Anomalous with Dr. Jack Hunter

195 – Anthropology and the Paranormal: Engaging The Anomalous with Dr. Jack Hunter

Since the last time we talked with paranthropologist Jack Hunter, he’s become a Doctor. So congratulations  to this hard-working academic! His new book, Engaging the Anomalous: Collected Essays on Anthropology, the Paranormal, Mediumship and Extraordinary Experience is coming out this week and for those of you who are interested in learning about the universality of paranormal experiences across cultures, this is the book you want!

engaging the anomalous

Seeing that there was a lack of academic resources that brought together the anthropological approaches to paranormal beliefs and systems (and indeed what I remember from my university days is that we just talked about it in Folklore class), he came up with Paranthropology which is an awesome (and free so you can read it right now!) online academic journal dealing with it. 

Things we learned from our latest conversation:

  • The world’s most famous anthropologist Margaret Mead was instrumental in getting the Parapsychological Association into the American Association for the Advancement of Science (we mention her in our track “Cannibal”!)
  • Sir E.B. Tylor, thought of as the founder of anthropology, had his own paranormal experience (but was ashamed to admit it, because he was a hardcore evolutionist!)
  • Anthropologists have been reporting paranormal experiences for centuries now but that never seems to come up in the discussion
  • There is many ways to explain supernatural or paranormal occurrences and everyone seems to think their explanation is right, but Jack’s more interested in looking at all of them and how they intersect
  • What we think about paranormal events has more to do with the environment and the planet’s ecology then we often think of. We think of the spirit world as “supernatural” but maybe we can think of it as just another part of nature and our environment.
  • Allison brought up the Kogi people, who raise their Shamen in dark caves for nine years to make their senses more attuned to the spirit world (even that maybe something dramatized for a movie…)
  • There’s lots of talk about the universality of these experiences. What is it about spirituality that makes it so fundamentally human across all cultures?

Jack has also started an educational podcast that you can enjoy on YouTube that connects some of his philosophy on ecology and permaculture (which is the idea of creating agricultural systems that are sustainable and self-sufficient). It’s called “One School One Planet”.

You can also find Doctor Jack Hunter’s latest work, blogposts, and appearances on his website.

Something that really struck me from his book, is having to deal with an academic community that treats the paranormal as hokum. As the forward of Dr. Hunter’s book, Engaging The Anomalous says, there are probably only less than 5 people in the Unites States who make a living as a parapsychological researcher at a university. As someone who dreamed of that as a young man (parapsychology was always my backup plan in case the band didn’t pan out, yeah, guess I was thinking ahead<cough>). the idea that there’s no universities in the United States that are going for parapsychological research while there were several working labs in the 80s shows that we’ve gone backwards when it comes to open minds in our academic communities instead of forwards.

We thought this might be the perfect opportunity to breakout  our song about what it feels like when you go up seemingly immovable objects, sometimes it’s hard to try to be the irresistible force, which we sing about in “Path of Most Resistance”.

I should’ve been an athlete,
but my knees were too weak.
I should’ve been a scholar,
instead of a pubcrawler.
I should’ve moved to California,
like the Chili Peppers said.
I should’ve read more Tony Robbins,
and tried to get ahead.

Every time I try I fail,
I’m Jonah and I’m stuck inside this,
Whale of a time we’ll never have together.
Oh, woe is me.

On the path of most resistance,
Carry on banging my head against the wall.
Keep the world at shouting distance,
There’s no safety net and I’m in freefall.

I should’ve been a rocker,
but never took my chances.
I’m finally on my own now,
like I broke Piggy’s glasses.
Somedays I’m just miserable,
and others I feel boned.
I should’ve been something special,
but instead, I just got pwned.

Every time I try I fail,
I’m Jonah and I’m stuck inside this,
Whale of a time we’ll never have together.
Oh, woe is me.

On the path of most resistance,
Carry on banging my head against the wall.
Keep the world at shouting distance,
There’s no safety net and I’m in freefall.

It’s unacceptable.
It’s unreliable,
in@#$%ingcredible,
unjustifiable.
I’m in crisis mode,
and always on the run,
Starbucks to wake up,
pass out to Ketel One.
Have you tasted loco?
Your mind won’t let you go,
you can’t sit still, you can’t think,
worst-case scenario.
I *HEART* MELANCHOLY.
I love to curse my luck.
My finger’s on the button,
that says self-destruct.

Every time I try I fail,
I’m Jonah and I’m stuck inside this,
Whale of a time we’ll never have together.
Oh, woe is me.

On the path of most resistance,
Carry on banging my head against the wall.
Keep the world at shouting distance,
There’s no safety net and I’m in freefall.

I love to flirt with failure,
I love to make it tough.
Take the hardest way,
close but not close enough.

On the path of most resistance,
Carry on banging my head against the wall.
Keep the world at shouting distance,
There’s no safety net and I’m in freefall.

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2 thoughts on “195 – Anthropology and the Paranormal: Engaging The Anomalous with Dr. Jack Hunter”

  1. As a first time listener to your podcast I enjoyed this exploration into the farther reaches of possibility with your guest Jack Hunter. Likewise the interviewers asked and interjected interesting comments regarding our inquiry into a variety of anomalous experience. The song at the end (that I’m guessing is your theme song) summed up quite well the difficult path associated with investigating uncanny events and phenomena. I look forward to hearing future programs.

    1. Thanks very much for listening and for your comments, Dr. Rock! We were really excited for the opportunity to talk with Dr. Jack Hunter and we’re glad that you also enjoyed his thought-provoking ideas. I hope you enjoy the future episodes (and songs) as well!

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