The word “paranormal” has become quite common and fashionable in recent years. We see it in the titles of horror movies, we hear it on radio and see it on TV shows.
A radio announcer asked me recently what the word means. I told him, I don’t really know what it means, because that word is defined in terms of what it is not, rather than what it is. Webster’s New International Dictionary defines “paranormal” as “beyond the range of scientifically known phenomena.”
It is like somebody asking another person, “What is this flower?” and being given the answer, “It is not a rose.” You still don’t know what that flower is.
The same thing is true with paranormal phenomena. Mainstream scientists have certainly heard of paranormal happenings but do not have any interest in taking a closer look at them. They would rather avoid the subject than try to know what it is, which by the way, strikes me as a very unscientific attitude.
As far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as paranormal phenomena, meaning “beyond what is normal.” Everything that happens in the universe is normal and natural.
Scientists consider certain phenomena to be paranormal only because they have accepted a limited definition of what is real and normal, which exclude such occurrences. If a phenomenon obeys the known laws of nature, it is normal and natural. If it goes beyond the accepted principles known to science, it is considered to be paranormal or even supernatural.
For example, if I am holding an ordinary stone in my hand and I let it go, it falls to the ground. That’s considered normal because the law of gravity pulled the stone down. But suppose, instead of falling down, the stone in my hand goes up for no apparent cause and without any visible instrument or device to pull it up? Then it would be considered a paranormal event.
Spirits or ghosts are not considered real; neither are telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, astral projection, angelic creatures, nature spirits. They do not exist from the point of material science.
Paranormal phenomena are studied by the science of Parapsychology. The word parapsychology was coined around 1889 by the philosopher Max Dessoir, which means “alongside psychology.” The term was adopted by Dr. J.B. Rhine in the 1930s to replace the word psychic research.
Parapsychology is studied today in some 30 countries and is part of academic subjects in universities. Several American, Eastern and European universities offer masteral and doctoral degrees in parapsychology.
Parapsychology was accepted as a full-fledged science in 1969 by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science mainly through the advocacy of anthropologist Margaret Mead. But it was a controversial decision and many scientists are still opposed to its being accepted as a true science.
Critics call it “pseudoscience.” Such critics may have to eat their words, because advances in quantum physics tend to prove the existence of paranormal and psychic phenomena at the smallest subatomic particles.
Human knowledge progresses only if some brave individuals dare to defy the commonly accepted laws of science. For example, it was an accepted law of science that nothing heavier than air could float or fly. Then the “crazy” Wright Brothers, as they were called, came along and invented the first airplane.
It was once also an accepted scientific fact that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Then Copernicus and Galileo came along and said it was the other way around. Galileo was arrested and tried by the Catholic Church’s Inquisition for heresy.
It was also an accepted “fact” at that time that the world was flat and anybody that ventured toward its edge would fall into an abyss. Christopher Columbus thought otherwise and proved the “accepted fact” to be wrong.
One could go on giving numerous examples of accepted scientific laws that were proven to be wrong eventually. This is because science has focused only on a very small percentage of what constitutes reality and completely ignored 90 percent of it.
That’s why scientists and skeptics can never accept the existence of paranormal and psychic phenomena. Perhaps we cannot really blame these critics, because there are no scientific norms, criteria or scientific theories that could explain them.
But, as Dean Radin of the Institute of Noetic Sciences pointed out in his fascinating book “The Noetic Universe: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Phenomena,” “the existence of so-called miracles merely indicates the present state of our ignorance.”
As has been said, “Miracles do not exist in defiance of natural laws, but only of what we know about nature.”
If we include consciousness, the spirit world and other things beyond the physical, then there will be no more supernatural or paranormal phenomena as we understand it. Everything then becomes natural and normal.
Develop your sixth sense by attending the next Basic ESP and Intuition Development seminar on Dec. 7-8, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The Soul mates Karma and Reincarnation seminar is on Dec. 14. Call tel nos. 8107245, 8159890 or 0908-3537885 for details. Both seminars will be conducted at Rm. 308 Prince Plaza 1, Legaspi St., Greenbelt, Makati City.