Paranormal State: My Journey Into the Unknown by Ryan Buell

My interest in this book was based initially on my own interest in the paranormal and paranormal experiences I have had. I did not have any pre-conceived notions of what the book was about. I had seen the show and while I was skeptical about the show, I viewed for purely entertainment purposes.

This book was a pleasant and unexpected surprise on many levels. I know there has been some issues with Ryan Buell in terms of missed shows or unreturned refunds, I feel that while Ryan may be a good paranormal investigator, he is probably not a very good businessman. I would add to that my belief that the overwhelmingly favorable response to the show, overwhelmed the team and Buell. I don’t think he is shady – but he is probably under skilled in running business side of show biz.

That being said, the book is an excellent look into the formation and structure of the Penn State group. It is equally as enlightening into the way reality tv, regardless of network, machinates events into 22 minutes and leaves out huge chunks of what actually goes into reality.

Buell is a skeptic. The first order of business for him is to debunk or explain rationally any event that a client is reporting as paranormal. A lot of work goes into that process and its interesting how willing the producers were to make the leap to demonology when regular old mental health, electrical causes or grief were the root problems. Buell and his team did a great job of pushing back in an attempt to keep it real.

The investigations took weeks, and sometimes months. All of this was condensed and cut to what the producers deemed the best 22 minutes. Buell points out that there were events and occurrences that provided much more substantial proof and belief than what made the cut.
There is a lot of really great information about the first season of the series and Buell takes great pains to share the accolades due the team as well as people he brought in like Chip Coffey and Lorraine Warren.

For fans of the paranormal who have an interest in going into investigations, this is a great primer for how it should be done. There is a healthy respect for and work with the Church, psychologists and other mental health professionals, research both current and historical to confirm or deny facts as well as a look at what electronic equipment is worth using and what is merely money making scams.

Paranormal investigation is an imperfect science. There are so many things we simply cannot measure or quantify through the scientific method. Belief is a personal measure of any individual and Buell does a nice job of leaving the information open to all kinds of interpretation.
A surprisingly thoughtful and direct book on the subject.

**I thought it was necessary to add a note to this posting in light of Buell’s recent arrest and legal troubles. I wrote the review prior to the arrest of Ryan Buell and while it is unconfirmed by any credible news source, the mug shot was worth a thousand words.

It would appear that drugs have played a part in scamming individuals out of ticket money and online offers by Buell. Whatever the facts around these activities, I stand by my opinion of the book itself. Still a worthwhile read about the paranormal and investigations into the unknown. 




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