Darwiniana

History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Blindness of scientism on the paranormal

December 31st, 2012 · No Comments

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/quote-of-the-week-peter-atkins-on-woo-and-faith/
This passage is a good example of the complete failure of current science as scientism to get out of the straightjacket of reductionism. Beating one’s head against the wall as to the paranormal, for example, simply digs the hole deeper. The public confusion over the paranormal is distracting: that’s not the place to deal with the issues. The reality lies elsewhere. Almost the entire reality of buddhism, and sufism, lies within a zone of occult shadow phenomena, the public manifestations being misleading entirely. So how do you contact this dimension. You can’t. Maybe if you meditate for a decade, that domain will contact you, or filter through consciousness. But the reality stands that the dimension which science wishes to make the whole fails as a paradigm.

True scientific revolutions are utterly distinct from the revolutions proposed by those who hanker for the paranormal. Real scientists have no time for the reports of such phenomena. Indeed, they scorn the reports and regard all practitioners as contemptible charlatans. Although such scornful attitudes are seen by some as politically incorrect, and at worse a conspiracy of the scientific establishment to trample underfoot the green shoots of unorthodoxy, there is good reason to believe that all claims of authentic paranormal observations are hogwash. First, there are no authenticated, reliable observations of phenomena that cannot be explained by the principles of conventional science. Second, whereas true scientific observations are like a canvas stretched over a frame of theory, purported paranormal phenomena are isolated pimples of whimsical speculation that are not grounded in a coherent corpus of knowledge. Third, were purported paranormal phenomena ever to be authenticated, they would devastate the whole structure of science, for most of them strike at two of its great foundations, the conservation of energy and causality. It is simply silly to assert in opposition to this remark that because there is a conspiracy among scientists to preserve these two pillars of rationality, intellectual police are sent to exterminate the first sign of the paranormal. If either foundation were overthrown by careful experiments on elementary particles, then there would be a Nobel prize for the overthrower; but to suppose that these two principles are best tested in the equivalent of the gambling halls of Las Vegas is frankly absurd.

One aspect of the paranormal versus real science should not go unremarked. As in other forms of obscurantist pursuit, such as religion, it is so easy to make time-wasting speculations. The paranormal is effectively unconstrained whimsicality. Original suggestions in real science emerge only after detailed study and the lengthy and often subtle process of testing whether current concepts are adequate. Only if all this hard work fails is a scientist justified in edging forward human understanding with a novel and possibly revolutionary idea. Real science is desperately hard work; the paranormal is almost entirely the fruit of armchair fantasizing. Real science is a regal application of the full power of human intellect; the paranormal is a prostitution of the brain. Worst of all, it wastes time and distorts the public’s vision of the scientific endeavour.

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