Senator Rand Paul ridiculed small grant to study indigenous supernatural beliefs

In the paranormal news feeds today is a rehash of a story from 2016 where a nonprofit research organization, serving the people in the Bearing Strait region, received a grant of nearly $150,000 to study and document the supernatural beliefs of the locals. Rand Paul, in his “Waste Report” rants, hit on this grant from the National Park Service in March of 2016. Sen. Paul’s news release does its best to mischaracterize and ridicule the study and the NPS, remarking on their backlog of services. I wonder what he would say if this was a study about religion? That is more or less what this is. Such beliefs are part of the culture of this region of America that deserves to be preserved. Many people fail to understand the value in preserving cultural information and supporting arts and humanities. Remember when Sarah Palin ridiculed “fruit fly research”? It exposed her as being clueless about how science works. Paul stepped into the same pile of crap with his demeaning characterization:

Honestly, we did not make this up and we did not find this one in the Onion; but someone must have been really excited about Fox’s reboot of the X-Files because the National Park Service is spending $150,000 of taxpayer money to investigate supernatural events in Alaska.

Nice spin. The actual study objective is as follows:

The objective of the project is to document, in a serious and meaningful way, Bering Strait residents’ knowledge about, experiences with, and beliefs about supernatural phenomena. We think that this information is important to understanding how people relate to their environment and that there are culturally-specific understandings of these phenomena which have not been previously documented.

In the three-year study, researchers from Karewak, Inc. will encourage community storytelling and sharing, document native words related to the phenomena, and ultimately produce a book from the project. Sure some people might think that’s a waste of money but I’m sure we can dispute their pet projects too. Sometimes a small investment in nonprofits who give back something to the community will pay back much higher dividends. There is certainly something positive in encouraging community pride – more of America can use this. Sen. Paul’s characterization of it is shallow and ignorant and could be construed as prejudiced against the native culture.

Bigfoot proponents and Forteans like it. But they have also tended to suggest it is a study that will shed some light on the reality of supernatural events such as those given as examples in the study summary: “sea monsters, little people, wild babies, unexplained lights, animals that can change into other things and invisible sea birds”. But the only intent seems to be documentation and preservation. I’d read this book when it comes out!

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