Paranormal Vs. Supernatural – What’s The Difference

Before we can explain the difference between Paranormal and Supernatural it is necessary to correctly define the two terms.

We will start with Paranormal and then move onto the Supernatural.

This is a really complex topic as most people use the terms pretty much interchangeably.

There is a difference though and in this article, I am going to lead you through a complex journey of discovery, which will ultimately lead to a simple statement that explains the difference.

What’s The Difference between Paranormal and Supernatural? Paranormal can not be explained by science at some point in time but may be explained by science at some point in the future. Supernatural can not be explained by science and it will stay like this forever.

What is Paranormal?

Paranormal events are classified as being beyond everyday experiences and are unable to be explained scientifically.

The basis of belief in a paranormal event is an anecdote, testimony, and suspicion.

This basis would not be acceptable in scientific hypotheses or speculation.

In science, a hypothesis is grounded in empirical observations, which are then backed up by experimental data.

This data must be gathered using the scientific method.

The word “Paranormal” has two parts.

The “normal” refers to the everyday world which can be explained by science, the “para” refers to things that are outside that scientific definition.

It may be possible, as science progresses that something may move from being paranormal and move into the normal.

The study of the Paranormal may be regarded as a branch of pseudoscience.

Pseudosciences are studies that claim to be scientific but they are talked of as if they are factual, but in reality, the methods used are not scientific ones and are based on anecdote and suspicion.

The explanations for Paranormal events are based on phenomena that are not within the boundaries of what science says is possible.

These phenomena may include:

  • Extrasensory perception (ESP)
  • Telekinesis
  • Ghosts
  • Poltergeists
  • Life after death
  • Reincarnation
  • Faith healing
  • Human auras

This is only a partial list of phenomena.

Major areas of Paranormal Studies are:

  • Ghost Hunting
  • Ufology
  • Cryptozoology

Ghost Hunting

Ghost Hunting or the belief in ghosts is based on anecdotal stories of paranormal events which are attributed to ghosts or the spirits of the dead.

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No acceptable scientific proof of the existence of ghosts has been discovered.

Methods used by ghost hunters are good examples of pseudoscience.


The potential for extraterrestrial life is not a paranormal topic.

There is ongoing research into identifying and locating simple life that may originate from elsewhere in the solar system or from passing comets.

This research used scientific methods and is not the same as the belief in Unidentified Flying Objects and the belief that they are vehicles belonging to extraterrestrials who have visited the earth.

This belief is once again anecdotal and there is no verifiable proof that such objects exist as extraterrestrial in origin.

There is a subtle difference between scientific study and pseudoscience investigations.


Cryptozoology is the pseudoscience that is built around proving that creatures such as Bigfoot actually exist.

Once again there is no verifiable evidence that such creatures exist and the belief is based on anecdote.

Public Beliefs in the Paranormal

In the early 2000s, there were three major polls carried out on belief in the paranormal.

The first in 2001 was carried out by Gallup in 2001, the second was carried out once again by Gallup in 2005, and the third by Farha-Steward in 2006.

The 2005 and 2006 polls were fairly consistent with their results so it is safe for us to look at just the 2006 poll since it was the latest.

Topic BelievedPercentage of People
Psychic, Spiritual healing56%
Haunted houses40%
Demonic Possession40%
ESP (Extra sensory perception)28%
Clairvoyance and Prophecy24%
Extraterrestrials visited Earth in the past17%

*Polls were conducted by Bryan Farha at Oklahoma City University and Gary Steward of the University of Central Oklahoma in 2006

We can see from these poll results that a sizeable portion of those questioned were believers in various kinds of paranormal topics, which is why there is an ongoing interest in the subject.

Despite this interest, nobody has managed to prove scientifically that they have paranormal powers.

Current Paranormal Challenges

Would you like some free money?

Then all you need to do is prove to these people/organizations with scientific proof that you have paranormal powers.

Some of these challenges have been open for many years and have still not been claimed.

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Skeptics' Club Sisyfos, Czech Republic$160,671
Sima Nan, China$157,913
Tarksheel Society, India$150,110
Center for Inquiry Investigations Group, USA$250,000
Australian Skeptics, Australia$75,820
Science and Rationalists' Association of India$75,055
Stuart Landsborough, New Zealand Skeptics$70,791
Alfredo Barrago's Bet, CICAP, Italy$60,737
SKEPP Sisyphus Prize, Belgium$30,368
Association for Skeptical Enquiry, UK$16,535
Harry Houdini Prize, Russia$16,096
North Texas Skeptics, USA$12,000
Lavkesh Prasha, Asian Rationalist Society of Britain, UK$13,779
Eesti Skeptik, Estonia$12,147
GWUP, Germany$12,147
Skepsis ry, Finland$12,147
Stichting Skepsis, Netherlands$12,147
Swedish Humanist Association, Sweden$11,550
Les Sceptiques du Quebec, Canada$7785
Sri Lankan Rationalist Association$6341
Fayetteville Freethinkers, USA$5000
Indian Skeptic, Indian CSICOP, India$1501
Indian Rationalist Association, Sanal Edamaruku, India$1501
Daniel Zepeda, Mexico$1074
Tampa Bay Skeptics, USA$1,000
Fayetteville Freethinkers, USAA House is on offer
Md Monjurul Islam Rifat, USA$5000

To win these prizes all you have to do is prove to the organization offering the prize that you have paranormal powers, meeting the criteria they give for proof.

Do this and you get the money. Those prizes total a lot of incentive. What are you waiting for?

What is Supernatural?

Supernatural encompasses a wide range of phenomenon.

Put simply, the Supernatural encompasses everything that is outside of Scientific Understanding and will always remain so.

This will include things like:

  • Angels and Devils
  • Gods
  • Spirits
  • Magic

Unlike the Paranormal, the Supernatural will never be explained in scientific terminology as the nature of them cannot conform to science as we understand it.

The Supernatural violates the natural laws, in that such laws are realistically accountable to what science considers to be possible and the supernatural is not.

The problem of comparing the supernatural with the paranormal is although there is this subtle difference between them, they are frequently used incorrectly in an interchangeable way.

How would you fit the concept of Angels and Devils, Gods, Spirits, and Magic into any scientific framework?

They are so far removed from what we understand that they cannot be compatible with what we understand through science.

The supernatural need an extra dimension called “Faith” that allows the mind to fit them into any reality we understand.

I do not intend to look at all supernatural beings, simply because it is unnecessary.

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If we look at the question of the supernatural and the angel you would get the same answer as you would if you considered the devil.

For example, Angels are seen as an intermediary between God and Man.

That is a concept that is easy enough to understand but in understanding it we have to acknowledge the existence of God.

Trying to understand God is a much more complex task and though while we may have some fuzzy concept in our head, the FACTS about God cannot be established.

We use the term “Faith” to represent that force that has to exist if all other supernatural concepts are real.

This acceptance of something that we cannot understand that is part of all that is supernatural makes it impossible to ever fit the supernatural into any scientific framework.

Paranormal Vs. Supernatural

The Paranormal is something that is not understood within the boundaries of our current science.

Take Lightening, for example, it was once regarded as paranormal as nobody had any idea how chunks of fire were thrown from the sky and we invented stories to explain it.

However over the years as science expanded, the cause of lightning was understood and we were eventually able to recreate it ourselves.

At this stage, this once paranormal event became normal, something that fitted quite naturally into our scientific framework.

If we believe in spirits, which are supposed to be the detached souls of the dead, how can we visualize that ever fitting in with traditional scientific views?

There is a piece missing. To accept the spirit exists, we need to believe in the soul, and God, and that is so far removed from our scientific knowledge that the two cannot operate in tandem.

Supernatural concepts can never fit into the scientific framework we have created.

So, I think we finally have an understanding of the differences between the Paranormal and Supernatural.

The paranormal could fit into our scientific framework at some point, but the supernatural is incompatible with our scientific framework, now and forever.


This is a really complex topic and I have tried to lead you, the reader, through the process of understanding the difference between the Paranormal and the Supernatural.

I hope that you have followed the argument I have put forward and you will appreciate the difference.

Improve Magic

I believe that life is magic. I'm a playing cards collector, I love performing magic tricks and I'm also the owner of a small magic shop. Apart from that I like to explore different kinds of supernatural magic that we all have in our lives and I like to share what I learn... I'm great fan of Harry Potter...

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