Brian Baker

What the paranormal means to me, as a journalist

As a kid, the supernatural captured my imagination like a fox captures a vole under the high north snows.

I would dig deeper and continually absorb anything and everything paranormal. Still, it was only a morsel.

I was acquainted with every episode of Unsolved Mysteries — the one with Robert Stack — and In Search Of … and once The X-Files aired on Fox, it was game over.

Fate Magazine shared shelf space with my hockey annuals and I was desperately in search of Time Life Books’ Mysteries of the Unknown series.

Nostradamus. Edgar Cayce. Ed and Lorraine Warren. Loren Coleman. Whitley Strieber. I read them all and what they spoke of fascinated me. Fiction or non-fiction didn’t matter. Perhaps my hunger for the cultural touchstones they spoke of led me on my university path to archaeology.

When I entered university, I hit up the World’s Biggest Book Store (now an empty lot) and hauled in as much as I could. John Robert Colombo was one writer, in particular, I would keep my eye out for. I also tracked down books on the moa, various cultural beliefs of demons and angelology. I think I picked up a copy of the Book of Enoch too.

High school classmates, and even friends in university, probably thought I was a little nutty. And yes, I got carried away sometimes. But as a person who loves to write, and lives in my imagination, there was no better fodder than the supernatural, paranormal, Fortean or downright bizarre.

Perhaps it stems from a strange experience I had as a toddler. I’ve been looking for answers ever since. I’ve also had many dreams where I was helping people who were being haunted.

Those dreams – or nightmares in some cases — would be written down upon awakening and become the foundation for many fiction pieces. I wish I’d actually followed through with them, but let’s not lament that.

After graduating from university with an Honours B.A., then 13 years’ worth of journalism and acquiescence that my interests in the paranormal were more for shits and giggles — I am after all a horror movie fan — I’ve yearned for further exploration. I may be agnostic, but the curiosity that makes me tick as a journalist is ever-present.

For a brief moment in time, I was involved with a ghost investigation group, and unfortunately, I blew that opportunity up a la Bridge Over River Kwai. Still, it taught me something, there are some pretty extreme people out there, and I was more interested in pursuing my career in journalism at that time.

Journalism has fulfilled my love of social anthropology — people watching, character sketches and different viewpoints. Pop culture is what I’ve most enjoyed writing about as a columnist and placing it under the microscope has allowed for the context to reveal itself.

Ergo this venture. I’m combining the story-gathering qualities of a journalist, with a little bit of science and a little bit of anthropology, to bring Canadians a snapshot of their supernatural culture.

I’d like to thank Colombo for that story-gathering quality. Often, people just want to be heard – and reassured they’re not losing their grip on reality when experiencing any of the topics we’ll report on The Superstitious Times.

I give credence to knowledge gaps we have in our world. We still have a long way to go. Now, I don’t put much credence in conspiracy theories, as they have blown up into golems of misinformation. I believe there are some fascinating things out there that need a thorough examination, though. And by thorough, I mean Maud Lebowski’s doctor, thorough.

You can expect pop-cultural references in my editorials. Those and frankness, and some sort of tether to the social sciences.

The Superstitious Times says it all. It’s driven by our beliefs, our culture and our need to share stories. There is a hint of skepticism — we need that to keep ourselves balanced. There is also that need to stimulate our imaginations. To scare ourselves. We’ll also do reviews of media as well.

On that note, if you want to learn why we like to scare ourselves, watch Tal Zimerman’s Why Horror?

I hope you enjoy that documentary. I know I did, and I hope you enjoy this site.

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