When new ideas challenge established scientific beliefsBy Jaime Licauco
Philippine Daily Inquirer
At a conference on alternative healing held in 1994 in Düsseldorf, Germany, one of the speakers was the world-famous Israeli psychic Uri Geller, who demonstrated germinating a radish seed he had on his open palm by simply commanding or intending it to grow.
Geller did not move his outstretched hand for even one second as he mentally commanded the seeds to grow, and invited the audience to do the same. After a few minutes, one of the 10 radish seeds began to sprout up about an inch and a half. A small leaf even appeared later. I was one of about 1,000 people present during that conference.
If anyone says that what Uri Geller did was mere trickery or sleight-of-hand, he must be able to clearly show how the trick or deception was done. Otherwise, his position is no more credible than the opposite view, namely, that it was a genuine act of mind power that made the radish seed grow within minutes.
This is, of course, completely against all biological and physical laws as currently accepted, and is therefore considered fraudulent. One cannot accelerate a biological process simply by mentally commanding it.
But human knowledge advances only if somebody dares to defy or go against conventional wisdom and commonly held beliefs. As the saying goes, “Behold the turtle; it makes progress only if it sticks its neck out.” How true!
Before the Italian astronomer Galileo (1564-1642) came along, it was a scientific and theological belief that the sun revolved around the earth, that the earth was the center of the universe. (This was known as the Geocentric Theory.)
Galileo came along and said, “I don’t think so. I think it is the other way around, that is, the earth, as well as the other planets, revolve around the sun.”
This was considered at that time not only a scientific but also a theological heresy. So Galileo was promptly arrested and tried by the infamous Holy Inquisition and made to retract his heretical view, or suffer a painful death by being burned at the stake.
A century earlier, Joan of Arc (1412-1431), who could foretell future events with great accuracy, was arrested and tried by the same Inquisition for “being in league with the devil,” among other false accusations, and was burned at the stakes at the tender age of 19. Later, the Church declared her a saint.
At a time when the whole world believed that the earth was flat, one Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), thought otherwise and proved the earth was round. It almost cost him his life. But after successfully sailing around the world with the help of Spain without falling into the abyss, he forever changed the way people thought about this planet.
In the early 20th century, physicist Albert Einstein introduced his revolutionary Theory of Relativity, which shook the very foundations of modern science by suggesting that everything is relative, that there are no absolutes, and that the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line but a curve.
Einstein’s heretical ideas paved the way for the development of quantum mechanics or particle physics, which came out with the scientifically unthinkable idea that “there is no such thing as objective reality,” and that “an object comes into being and changes as it is observed, and that matter is ultimately made up of empty space.”
Quantum physicists discovered that we can never tell what objective reality is, but only what we know about objective reality, thereby affirming what ancient mystic Buddhists have been saying, that “everything is maya,” or an illusion.
Science and religion seem to be slowly but surely converging. They are beginning to agree with each other about the ultimate stuff of the universe. Scientists are sounding like mystics, and vice versa. Of course, there cannot be any conflict between them for “truth is one and cannot contradict itself.”
Nowadays, individuals who propose or expose ideas or beliefs contrary to science or religion are no longer burned at the stakes or put to death. They are only either ridiculed, ostracized or considered crazy. Therefore, the world owes much of its progress to these crazy individuals.
Robotics for stroke victims
I received the following reaction to my column last Thursday about a new medical approach to help stroke victims, from well-known physical rehabilitation medicine specialist Dr. Tyrone Reyes, who was my high school classmate in San Beda College:
“Hi Jimmy! I read with interest your article on brain neuroplasticity. This concept has considerably altered our practice in stroke rehabilitation. Now we know that if you want to get motor recovery on the affected side, you have to use that side repetitively and intensively. This stimulates the brain to make new connections.
“The newest technique in stroke rehabilitation that uses the principle of neuroplasticity is the use of robotics to help patients repeatedly move those limbs. The results have been rewarding even in patients who had a stroke more than five years ago.
“I am pleased to inform you that robotic therapy for stroke patients is now available for the first time in the Philippines at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center. By using this device, stroke survivors can often relearn arm movements and strengthen the brain pathways that govern these movements. It has given stroke victims new hope.
“Your article on neuroplasticity was both timely and educational. Regards.”
Attend the next Basic ESP and Intuition Development Seminar on June 8-9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the next Soulmates, Karma and Reincarnation seminar on June 15, from 1 to 7 p.m., at Rm. 308 Prince Plaza I, Legazpi St., Greenbelt, Makati City. Call 8107245/ 8159890 or 0908-3537885. E-mail email@example.com or visit jimmylicauco.com.