Monday, January 20, 2014

Preaching to the choir but I still like the song

Book: Science and the Paranormal: Probing the Existence of the Supernatural

Editors: George O. Abell and Barry Singer

Published: 1981 (Scribner’s)

Pages: 362

The conclusion of all these essays about how science has been able to objectively comment on the paranormal can be summed up by a sentence in the conclusion by Philip Morrison: “…but like everything we know, they are not too wonderful to be true.”

If you’ve taken a college-level science course over the past twenty years or so, none of these experimental results, observational data, or methodical dissections of “conclusive” proof of the paranormal will surprise you. It’s not there, guys. Science is like 99% sure, and I’m sure since this has been published it’s crept way closer to 100%.

I did enjoy reading these essays, though. It’s a collection of some great scientists who can write well, and they’re more obsessed with their paranormal subjects than the people who believe in the supernatural – they kind of have to be to test the phenomena so rigorously. But their loyalty to objectivity gives us confidence of their findings and how easily the human brain can be tricked, especially when it wants to be.

I don’t mean for this to sound snobby or anything, and I do think people should believe whatever they want to believe unless or until it starts to hurt other people – but it does, so I’m all for books like this that might save people some physical or emotional harm or disillusionment without the kneejerk emotional assault that a lot of disproving material goes for.


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