Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Paranormal vs. Supernatural

I put this together for my writing group blog last month, and thought you guys might find it interesting as well.

Before Paranormal became the genre, Supernatural was usually the go-to genre name for out of the ordinary creatures and mysterious powers. While I personally feel Paranormal and Supernatural should be considered two separate genres, most consider them interchangeable.

Below is the basic description for both Paranormal and Supernatural from Wikipedia, to give you a better idea of how they are different - and alike.

Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation," or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure. Paranormal phenomena are distinct from certain hypothetical entities, such as dark matter and dark energy, only insofar as paranormal phenomena are inconsistent with the world as already understood through empirical observation coupled with scientific methodology.

Thousands of stories relating to paranormal phenomena are found in popular culture, folklore, and the recollections of individual subjects. In contrast, the scientific community, as referenced in statements made by organizations such as the United States National Science Foundation, maintains that scientific evidence does not support a variety of beliefs that have been characterized as paranormal.

What I believe falls under Paranormal: vampires, werewolves, fairies, monsters, aliens, zombies, ghosts, spirits, parapsychology

The supernatural is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature.

With neoplatonic and medieval scholastic origins, the metaphysical considerations can be difficult to approach as an exercise in philosophy or theology because any dependencies on its antithesis, the natural, will ultimately have to be inverted or rejected. In popular culture and fiction, the supernatural is whimsically associated with the paranormal and the occult, this differs from traditional concepts in some religions, such as Catholicism, where divine miracles are considered supernatural.

What I believe falls under Supernatural: anything "religious" - angels, demons, ghosts, spirits

So they are pretty much interchangeable, but can be separated.

What do you think?


  1. That's a really good break down of the two genres. Nice job - more people need to check this out because people seem very confused.

  2. I like the flexibility of the terms, and honestly, until you pointed this out to me, I would have thought to be totally interchangeable as well. Learned something new today!