Skeptics make fun of paranormal phenomenaBy Jaime Licauco
Philippine Daily Inquirer
I bought two books from the same book store in Makati last week. One was “Paranormality (Why We Believe the Impossible),” by professor Richard Wiseman, and the other was “Handbook to the Afterlife,” by Pamela Rae Heath and Jon Klimo.
These two books are striking because the authors hold completely opposite views about paranormal phenomena, spiritism, and extra-sensory perception. The first book debunks everything involving paranormal experiences, whereas the second records case after case of their reality as reported and documented by investigators in the last 200 years.
Whereas Wiseman regards all reported paranormal events, such as astral projection or out-of-body experiences, psychic powers of animals, telepathy, telekinesis, spirit communication, etc. as mere hallucination, trickery, deception or faulty research procedures, Pamela Heath and Jon Klimo, on the other hand, present a more objective and scholarly discussion of these topics supported by numerous references and bibliography.
The following is a typical example of the way Wiseman presents his arguments:
“Sue Blackmore’s interest in the paranormal dates back to 1970 when she was a student at Oxford University and had dramatic out-of-body experiences…
“Upon her return to reality, Sue became fascinated with weird experiences, trained as a white witch and eventually decided to devote herself to parapsychology. She was awarded a doctorate for work examining whether children have telepathic powers (they didn’t), went on several LSD trips to see if they would improve their psychic ability (they didn’t), and learned to read the Tarot to discover if the cards could predict the future (they didn’t).
“After 25 years of such disappointing results, Sue finally gave up the ghost and became a skeptic.”
Blackmore, according to the author, found no evidence of telepathy among a group of twins, contrary to common belief, and considers out-of-body experience an illusion produced by sensory deprivation. Other investigators say they are a result of “lack of oxygen in the brain.”
Trickery or fraud
Likewise, the author dismisses spirit rappings and knocks as plain trickery or fraud. And he based his conclusion on the dubious confession of Margaret Fox, who was one of three sisters in Hydesville, New York, who discovered spirit communication in 1848. She said such rappings were a trick they played on people for fun. Although Margaret eventually recanted her confession, skeptics have used that “to prove” that spiritism is merely hogwash.
The whole book of Wiseman tried to make fun of believers of paranormal phenomena as intellectually naive and credulous individuals, but never bothered to examine the volumes of scientific research about such phenomena.
In contrast, Pamela Heath and Jon Klimo do not claim to prove such phenomena exist but merely summarized centuries of published reports in support of the occurrence of psychic powers and spirit communication. They let the readers decide for themselves whether to believe their findings or not.
As Jon Klimo said: “There are many other perspectives besides the mainstream scientific one.” And I may add that some scientists are beginning to take a second look at the extraordinary claims of mystics and paranormal researchers in the light of the amazing discoveries in quantum physics.
For those who have not experienced any of the so-called psychic and paranormal phenomena, it is perfectly understandable that they would not believe in them. I myself started out as a complete skeptic. It took many years of research and only after experiencing some of these phenomena myself, like telepathy, telekinesis, astral projection, prophetic dreams, psychic diagnosis, fire walking, spirit communication, and many more, did I begin to believe in their reality. I do not base this conclusion on belief, but on numerous personal experiences which have been verified or witnessed by other people.
There is something in common that I have observed among these who are skeptical and nonbelievers of paranormal, psychic and spiritual phenomena. They all begin with the conclusion that if something cannot be explained scientifically, it does not exist. If it seems to exist, it must surely be a product of trickery, imagination or faulty research methodology.
On the other hand, those investigators who are open-minded about such phenomena begin with a sense of wonder and do not make hasty conclusions about them. They allow the evidence to speak for themselves and do not limit themselves to opinions of mainstream scientists.
As Shakespeare wisely put it: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Join the next Basic ESP and Intuition Development Seminar on Dec. 8-9, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Soulmates, Karma and Reincarnation seminar on Dec. 15, 1-7 p.m., at Rm. 308 Prince Plaza I, Legaspi St. Greenbelt, Makati. For seminar details, personal consultancy, and past life regression, call tel. 8107245, 0920-9818962 or 63. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.jimmylicauco.com.