Psychology and the Paranormal

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”

So the well-worn saying goes.

Are there? If so, what are they? And how does one obtain solid evidence? These questions have taxed human beings for millennia.

A zetetic approach

I approach psychology and the paranormal  in a spirit of enquiry, wondering where it may lead. I hope it might lead to new knowledge and theory.  I have no fixed ideas on the subject. My previous skepticism has relaxed somewhat.

How can that be?  Surely, a so-called ‘expert’ must already have an opinion one way or the other? Wrong!

The truth is that I have no fixed ideas about which direction the evidence will lead.

One thing I know – it is necessary to step beyond old assumptions, seek new objects of knowledge.

If we already KNEW the answer, the TRUTH, why would we bother to read, write or even THINK for that matter, because the truth must already be determined, already written by somebody, somewhere and all that would be left would be to pick up established learning.

Believers vs. Disbelievers

It is apparent to any observer that the paranormal field is divided between two armies of believers (so-called ‘sheep’) and skeptics (so-called ‘goats’, who are actually dis-believers) battling it out with no holds barred.

The stakes are high. The fight is not about empirical studies, observations and anecdotes.  The very nature of science, life and reality are being contested.

There are ‘dead bodies’ and ‘unexploded land mines’ all over the place and one would be lucky to leave the field in one piece. One can surmise that there can only be losers, never winners, in this futile type of war. In the end every soldier in the affray is a loser. It’s an intellectual version of World War I with permanent trenches and barbed wire fences that has been waging for over a century.

I know this because I have been there on the battle field.  I entered the field and did several tours of duty. Then, battle-weary with the affray, I walked away.

Recently I returned to see if anything has changed.

As I stuck my head over the trench top waving a white flag of peace, a few warning shots were fired. The same old battle is raging but with the difference that many new foot soldiers have been recruited and there have been scores of  new studies over the last 20 years. These studies have been weaponised to provide increased power, precision and impact.

The army of non-believers now possesses a stockpile of findings consistent with scientific explanations of the paranormal. The believer army, meanwhile, has accrued an equally large stockpile supportive of paranormal interpretations.

White Flag of Neutrality

Offering the white flag of peace and neutrality causes no small amount of trepidation. One risks being a target for both sides. In the battle of the paranormal, nobody is permitted to be neutral?  It’s a ‘do or die’ scenario like no other in science.

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The blog posts here are written from a dispassionate point of view. My purpose is to create a balanced and even-handed review based on the best contemporary evidence on paranormal claims in science and medicine.

I present here the evidence, both pro and con, explain the relevant psychological processes, present scientific arguments, and eventually produce a final balance sheet.

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