EDITED: As of this update, the project has collected over $126,000 and has three days left to go... good job, everyone!
We talk a lot in paranormal circles about "important" research, because we feel that certain avenues of inquiry may be more fruitful than others. We think that, when all is said and done, the findings that "prove" the existence of UFOs, or bigfoot, or ghosts are the ones that will be celebrated for all time.
The truth of the matter, however, is that none of it is really important. One of the main reasons that we pursue these subjects (whether we realize it or not) is because we really want to feel closer to each other; an alien invasion would unify us against a common enemy, bigfoot's taxonomy may tell us something about mankind's lineage, and the reality of ghosts could reinforce the universality of mankind, united in the afterlife.
All of this underscores the simple fact that, when the dust settles, what's truly important is each other—and that's why I feel that the Missing 411 work of David Paulides is the most important work in the unexplained.
Paulides, who runs the CanAm Missing Project, has carried out some top-notch investigation in cataloguing the mysterious disappearances of hundreds of people, usually in North America's national parks and wilderness areas.
This is why Paulides' work is important—it stands to bring a sense of closure to the families of the missing and, as an added bonus, also has a better chance of giving us some sort of "disclosure" from the government than anything the UFO community can muster (cue green-eyed envy). If you're not familiar with the Missing 411 series, I strongly advise you to avail yourself of Paulides' work—a great primer is his 2013 interview on Where Did the Road Go? (MP3 download there, YouTube link embedded below):
These disappearances are anything but mundane, reeking of High Strangeness, and seem to be further occluded by a peculiarly blasé coverup (it was nonchalantly revealed early in Paulides' investigation that the National Parks keep no records of those who disappear within their borders). Toddlers are found miles away from where they disappeared in short amount of time, often up impassable terrain; people are almost universally found face down, their clothes in a neat stack beside the body; hikers vanish without a trace mere steps behind their group.
Something is going on in our National Parks, folks. No question about that.
Paulides' research turns into something like a Rorschach test for Forteans. UFO buffs will claim these folks are being abducted, bigfoot hunters say ol' 'squatch is grabbing meals to go, and those inclined to faerie lore (like yours truly) feel like this is just the latest manifestation of an age-old phenomenon. To his credit, Paulides has held his cards close to his chest and not come out strongly in favor of any hypothesis.
Hopefully this work will find a wider audience soon. Earlier this month Paulides & Co. set up a Kickstarter campaign for a Missing 411 documentary, and the pitch video looks fantastic, both in terms of content and professionalism. The good news is that it appears their ambitious goal of $100,000 will be met (it's 84% funded as of this writing with 18 days to go, and projects that make it this far often have little worry of falling short of their goal). Take a look here.
I have no personal stake in this, other than my personal conviction that this research is important. Let's push this project over the edge... visit the Kickstarter page and, if so inclined, chip in for something that could make a difference.