Science, Science & Religion, Superstition

Some Thoughts on the Paranormal

Many people today believe that things like ghosts, spirits, hauntings, angels, demons, other creatures, astrology and several seemingly unexplainable phenomena may or do exist. Lets examine those paranormal concepts and ideas in more detail.

Every rational human being must accept the fact that in order to believe something to be objectively true it is essencial that this something is tested carefully and analyzed using contemporary science. Superstitions, traditional beliefs, emotions and personal experiences are not allowed. Now lets suppose we encounter an event that we cannot explain using neither our knowledge nor most of the scientific theories available to us. What do we conclude? We conclude that it is most likely the current scientific facts or theories cannot explain the given phenomenon and that we need to make further testing and experiments always relying on the known laws of nature, with the goal of understanding it with a new addition to the existing theories or with the discovery of a new theory. What we do not conclude? That something like a spirit or other supernatural entities presented to us by tradition are the only cause of the phenomenon and science is limited in not ever be able to understand it. Unfortunately the latter conclusion is often the one taken more seriously by a large number of people.

There are several reasons for humans to choose the latter explanation. One of them is superstition, which is one of the most dangerous viruses to the human intellect. It is the product of our egoistic way of viewing Nature and the events which occur in our daily lives. We humans often seek to find a deep meaning and purpose in the world that surrounds us and often this meaning has to put us is a very important place in the Cosmos. This lust for a deeper meaning can be expressed in various ways. When it is expressed by the general public though, which is easily affected by the media, several incorrect interpretations of reality are created, based on unreliable hypotheses that mainly are a product of our meer feelings. Many people who create these hypotheses often defend their beliefs using the argument of experience: their authentic experience is the source for their beliefs and conclusions. However, is should not surprise us that usually when claims like those are put to the test they are debunked or seriously questioned.

There are some things which are important to understand before something should be labeled paranormal or metaphysical. Science is where our picture of the Cosmos ought to be based on. Over the years we have witnessed a great development in the scientific knowledge. It is easily assumed that every event that occurs in our lives can be explained with the laws of Nature. Even if an event occurs that on first glance cannot be explained successfully with a satisfactory explanation we will need to create a new theory or examine our existing ones so that we will find the exact laws that will give us the right picture of the phenomenon. It is intellectually and scientifically false to assume that the given phenomenon can only be explained by metaphysical theories and that science has nothing to do with it. Everything that occurs in our Universe must be obeying the laws of physics (known or unknown). If some laws and theories might not have been discovered yet, but eventually they will. What we might call “paranormal” will obey laws. There is no exception. We are just limited and used to certain everyday situations and that is mainly why we react to unusual events with a manner of fear or with invoking the metaphysical. What is unknown is exactly that, an unknown. Its not proof of anything else but the fact that its unknown and that it needs further investigation and testing.

Besides, if we take a look at most of the paranormal claims that have been tested, we can see that science has more reasonable answers to those claims. Reason makes the room for the metaphysical more and more narrow as we pass through the centuries. This is an observation which pretty much convinces us that the paranormal, as society defines it, does not exist. Legends have been created overtime in order to produce fear, entertainment and possibly further belief in a spiritual purpose of existence. They themselves are possibly a product of our fear of the dark which has an evolutionary explanation.

It would be more proper if we used the word “unexplained” or “unknown” instead of “metaphysical”. Anything that reacts with our world must be able to be examined, finally understood using a mathematical model and justified with experiments (sometimes this last part might turn out far more difficult than others, or even impossible, however this does not strictly mean we cannot rely on the model or theory). It is time for mainstream media to encourage critical thinking among the general public, but there are obviously plenty of other reasons for which this is not happening…