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Psychics, Skeptics & Scientists

Much skepticism exists around the subject of psychic phenomena,
and this is probably not a bad thing, given its very checkered
past. Fake mediums, bogus mind readers, magic tricks passed off
as the real thing. The list goes on.

Hence, the use of science should be welcomed in helping to verify
some of the psychic community’s claims.

However, this can also become unhealthy for several reasons, and
it is equally important to stand guard against these flaws. They
too are all too common.

(1) Biased scientists.

The sad fact is that the field of parapsychology, with extremely
rare exceptions, does NOT attract the finest minds or the best
scientists. It is extremely poorly funded, is almost impossible
to make a reputable career in, and is the source of endless
derision from the orthodox scientific community.

Hence, with the best will in the world, there is an implicit
pressure upon parapsychologists to validate their own existence.
In other words, at the end of the day, they have to find
something, somewhere. If their entire lives consisted of
disproving every possible psychic phenomenon that they were
presented with, they would soon be out of the profession from
sheer boredom or depressed spirits. From a personal standpoint,
why bother? Hence, most of them are believers to start with.

This is not to imply that they would fake results. However, we
must be aware that, by their very existence in this much maligned
field, there is an invisible pressure upon these people to
produce something to validate their own existence. Hence, this
sort of science is extremely difficult to maintain in a totally
objective manner.

Regular academic scientists are always under pressure to justify
their funding through their results. How much worse then for
scientists who, for the most part, have no funding, and who are
often the laughing stock of the scientific community?

For all of these reasons, the profession of psychic investigation
cannot and will not attract the very finest minds, at least not
at the present times. This is not intended to be an insult to
scientist involved in the field. It is just reality. The very
best will tend to gravitate towards fields where their genius
will be recognized, and not derided and scoffed at.

It is a pity, but that is just how the world works at present.

(2) The inadequacy of Science.

The scientific method has served mankind extremely well, but it
has its limits. It cannot do everything.

Hence, we must be wary of trying to apply scientific methods
where they may not work well at all. Such is the manner in which
science has been elevated to a religion in our world, this
statement might seem almost absurd.

Yet, there are clear instances where science cannot measure
anything. You cannot measure the emotions of love or anger with
scientific instruments. Yet, few would doubt that they exist.

You cannot use instruments to provide a printout of what somebody
is thinking. Yet, nobody would deny that they DO think, and they
very often think in words.

You cannot prove scientifically that there are NO toy airplanes
in orbit around the planet Saturn! It might sound absurd, but no
matter how much you search for them and fail to find them, you
CANNOT PROVE that they are not there! You can only say that you
have not found one YET, and that it is extremely unlikely that
they exist. You might be able to say that with 99.99999999%
certainty. But you can NEVER say it with 100% certainty.

Science cannot “prove” a negative.

Thus, in the realm of psychic phenomena, science cannot
categorically state that there is no such thing. You CANNOT PROVE
that ghosts do not exist, for instance. You can only say that, to
date, there has been no conclusive proof that they DO. That is
NOT the same as saying that they do NOT.

In addition, the scientific method itself has limitations that
psychic phenomena would definitely stretch. In science, something
has to be repeatable for it to have any validity. In other words,
other scientists have to be able to repeat your process and get
exactly the same results.

However, this is almost certainly doomed to failure in the
psychic realm. Imagine repeating your experiment in a haunted
house and DEMANDING that the ghost appear on cue, just because
you are performing the same experiment!

If, by its very nature, a phenomenon is extremely rare and
unpredictable in nature, it is very hard to use Science to say
much about it at all.

It is for this very reason that, initially, the theory that a
meteorite collision has caused the extinction of the dinosaurs
was met with hoots of laughter by the scientific community. it
was the very rarity of the event, and the fact that no evidence
could be found, that caused ridicule to be heaped upon the heads
of the theory’s proponents. Until, of course, the crater was

We now also know that the role of the experimenter can
drastically change the results of the experiment. This may
explain why certain famed psychics seem to have their skills
desert them in the cold harsh light of the scientific laboratory.
Yet, only a mediocre scientist would claim that because this is
the case, it proves that there were no psychic phenomena to begin

(3) Psychic Skeptics.

This may, in part, explain the James Randi effect. This is a
psychic investigator who is a total skeptic on the subject, and
who approaches the subject with this powerful ingrained bias. He
has issued a challenge to pay a large sum of money to anyone who
can demonstrate psychic powers to him in a scientifically
controlled environment. To date, he still has his money.

Now, part of the problem may be that, even if somebody is
genuinely psychic, the attitude of the investigator is
sufficiently negative to completely extinguish whatever psychic
abilities exist, as long as he is present. Again, a true
scientist of any quality cannot discount this possibility.

This is a purely human factor we are talking about, a function of
the human brain, and not a measurement of the boiling point of
water. Hence, it is entirely plausible that the negative
attitude of the scientist, plus the undue pressure that the
psychic is placed under as a result of it, could act to diminish
the very effect being measured.

However, the bias of people like Randi and the organization of
skeptics that calls itself Psicop, is worrying for another
reason. These are people who, while claiming to be scientists,
are actually approaching the entire subject with a preinclined
bias that has nothing to do with Science whatsoever.

They are skeptical, because they are skeptical. That’s all. They
are believers in “Disbelief”. It’s just the opposite end of the
spectrum of Belief. That’s all.

There is no scientific reason for it whatsoever. While they
pretend to be scientific, their approach is more akin to a
religious dogma; that of treating Science like a religion. It is
often called “Scientism” for this reason.

They might claim that there is no proof that psychic phenomena
exist. Yet, it can be stated with equal validity that there is
no proof that they do NOT. That is a totally equivalent
statement. As we have seen earlier, Science cannot PROVE a
negative statement. It can only talk about probabilities and
likelihood. And, as we have discussed, many psychic phenomena are
intrinsically rare or fragile in their very essence.

Like any good evangelical, these skeptics like Randi and Psicop
have a hidden agenda in “proving” that the world functions the
way they think it does. Frankly, a major motivation is FEAR. More
people than would like to admit it are terrified of the
possibility of psychic phenomena. What if someone really COULD
read your mind? Every dirty little secret. What if YOU too could
develop psychic powers?

What sort of world would THAT be?! Hardly the predictable,
ultra-conservative, clockwork “scientific” universe that these
people like to live in. For them, it’s a possibility too horrible
to contemplate.

In summary then, we have to be very careful in being too
credulous in examining scientific phenomena, or in jumping to
believe the claims of the “professional” researchers in this
field. However, we have to also be wary of the skeptics who,
while purporting to be scientific, are frequently better viewed
as ideological zealots than even mediocre scientists.

Copyright 2006. Asoka Selvarajah. All Rights Reserved.

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About Asoka Selvarajah

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  1. I have interested in Psychic phenomenum for 40 years now. I have studied J.B. Rhine of Duke Universit;the energy medicines of Donna Eden, read the mysteries of Shirley Maclane and have scores of books on every kind of “other world” and hidden philosophies.
    Of course you are correct when you say that one can never prove negative ideas. Nevertheless, I believe we are born into this world without the abliity to conceive our creator or the mysteries surrounding our creation. It would be like trying to relate to gravity, string theory, electicity, thought, light or any other incomprehensible idea.
    We are made to interface with this world and have been given 5 senses in which to do this. All other is perception of belief and make no mistake about it, belief is all powerful. But what is belief? Only perception made real to our mind’s eye. The existance of which is promlematic.

  2. Dear Asoka,

    I have read your article and wish I could submit a reply that would take us a little further or, at least, give some opinion about it. Unfortunately, everything you said I have been preaching to many over the last few decades. Therefore, all I can say is: Thanks for putting all I ever thought about this topic in such a nice and logical parcel.

    I might add that, to believe in psychic phenomena, one has to experience such an event. I had a number of those. One particular event made me think that it seems sometimes we act like puppets on strings. We seem to be directed by an unseen and unknown, unrecognised force.

    To go into details would take us beyond this fast reply. So I just remain as Yours Truly, one of those other individuals who certainly have convictions like the the one you expressed in the above article.

    Best Wishes

  3. Hi Asoka,

    I like the comment re the sceptics being believers in Disbelief.

    For some it is so much more comforting to feel in control of the mind – theirs and others’ -than to take a leap of faith into the unknown ie Belief in a greater force than what we experience with our 5 senses. Science treasures it’s revered position at the forefront of humanity’s development, but more and more, as people are discovering the spiritual side of their nature, it’s pedestal is being rattled by phenomena that just can’t be explained by pure science. I Believe the reason for this is that we are not just physical we are also spiritual in nature. As our spiritual nature develops we become more attuned and aware of these psychic phenomena!
    I have a friend who is a hypnotist and he has great faith in modern psychology and his own understanding of the human mind; how it works and can be manipulated. He completely ridicules and reduces anything slightly paranormal and intuitive to mere conjecture or coincidence.

    He makes me question and I welcome these opportunities as I am one who looks for proof in all things.

    A simple example: I was reading about creative visualization and manifestation. So I decided to put it to the ‘test’.

    We had been waiting for overdue funds to be deposited for almost 2 weeks. Each day my hubby would go to the ATM machine and come home disappointed.
    So I thought, ok, there is no way of knowing when they are going to pay this outstanding money (we were at that stage when our phone calls were not being returned or answered) and we need it right now so I creatively visualized hubby walking to the ATM machine and drawing the money. Simple.
    The first day nothing. 🙁
    So I repeated the visualization, keeping my mind in check against despondency and disbelief in the process. The next day, as he was approaching the ATM another client phoned his cell phone and told him he had just deposited an amount for an order we weren’t expecting for a while. So, when he was at the ATM the overdue funds were there plus the other client’s money!
    Coincidence ? maybe, or just plain luck?
    My friend would say it was pure coincidence that the funds happened to be deposited at that time.

    Is this a psychic experience or mind control? And if mind control, whose mind was I controlling?
    Definately my own as I was blocking negativity and looking forward to the positive outcome of my visualization. Other than that, I can personally claim no influence.

    Now because I believe in the psychic realm / the spiritual realm, i believe that my need was responded to and with interest. 🙂 Regardless what my sceptical friend would say, my way of approaching this situation harmed no one, and brought a much needed influx of cash into my life at a time when it was needed. It also confirmed again for me that Belief is a very powerful ally in a world full of sceptics and Disbelievers.

  4. In my openion, muhammad, buddha, confucius, krishna, jesus are all about the same. In that they were people, either myth or real and the spiritual representatives of their respective civilization.

  5. Hypothetically, just as there are “fake” psychics out there, there could also be public naysayers who are unduly MOTIVATED to discredit psychic phenomena.

    Some people may want to discredit psychic ability merely because such conflicts with their rigid religious beliefs. Someone else might have paid for a psychic reading and when it exposed how they had purposefully HARMED someone, they might suddenly fear having their dark secret get out.

    Fortunately, such motivated naysayers are far and few between! Most people who consume psychic readings do so because they know the feedback they receive will utterly feed their soul and provide them with emotional comfort and peace.

    I really like the on-line psychic sites that offer a customer feedback system (e.g., a comment section) where feedback gets posted about the reading they received. I also like to see the 5-star rating system — which makes it obvious which psychics are really top notch (and which ones are NOT)!


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