ONCE in a while I get comments on the Internet or cell phone texts expressing skepticism or doubt about some of the incredible things I write about in this column.
Some are polite, but a few are nasty and border on the ad hominem argument, attacking my motives instead of arguing about the ideas presented.
I don’t really get bothered by such negative comments. A certain degree of skepticism is good, and must be welcomed when we talk about things which may run counter to conventional beliefs and commonly accepted scientific assumptions.
However, not everything can be subjected to scientific analysis or proof. After all, the physical sciences were devised or intended to study only physical things which can be observed or measured by our senses or by scientific instruments. They were not meant to study non-physical things, which are what psychic and spiritual phenomena are all about.
So, how do we go about proving that a psychic, paranormal or mystical phenomenon is real or not? Essentially by consensus, consistency of occurrence and preponderance of evidence.
The scientific community in general and the medical sciences in particular frown upon and ridicule the anecdotal or testimonials as “proof” of the reality of a phenomenon or efficacy of a health remedy or modality. That’s because, they say, these have not undergone rigorous, repetitive, double-blind tests favored by conventional science.
No self-respecting, intelligent and educated person will accept anything unless science has proven it. Science, therefore, has become the new religion. Scientists have become modern priests, dispensing ex-cathedra (infallible) pronouncements.
A scientist’s word is regarded as the last word in accepting the truth of anything.
But as psychologist Arthur Koestler of Stanford University pointed out in “The Roots of Coincidence,” his enlightening book: “It is in the very nature of parapsychological phenomena that they are not repeatable at will, and that they operate unpredictably. Repeatability and predictability are valid criteria in the physical sciences, but less so on the frontiers of medicine and even less in those branches of psychology which involve unconscious processes and the automatic nervous system.”
Sometimes, anecdotal testimonies may be the only evidence available when determining the validity of things that lie outside or beyond the current paradigms of the physical sciences. How then do we know if a testimony or anecdote is to be believed or accepted?
The 18th-century French philosopher Voltaire has provided us with some logically acceptable guides or criteria for accepting the truth or validity of things. He said that “a testimony (or an anecdote) is sufficient when it rests on:
“First, a great number of very sensible witnesses who agree in having seen well;
“Second, who are sane bodily and mentally;
“Third, who are impartial and disinterested;
“Fourth, who unanimously agree;
“Fifth, who solemnly certify to the fact.”
Such testimonies or anecdotes are circumstantial and not direct proof. But they are not necessarily useless, untrue or illogical.
For example, suppose every time somebody rings your doorbell, your dog barks, and this has happened many times already, and been witnessed by several people in your household, from your two-year-old grandson to your 85-year-old grandfather. Don’t you think it is perfectly logical and reasonable for you to assume that next time the doorbell rings, your dog will bark?
When proving the reality or validity of a physical phenomenon or cure, we cannot improve on the accepted scientific methods of proof. They are already perfect.
But such criteria cannot and should not be applied to non-physical and unpredictable phenomena. There must be some other way of proving them.
One way is by experiencing the phenomenon itself. I call this the “phenomological method,” in contrast to the empirical, statistical method.
I have, for example, experienced getting out of my physical body and seeing it from above, seeing spirits of the dead, telling the future accurately, reading another person’s mind, bending a spoon through telekinesis, walking on fire without being burned, being hacked six times in several parts of the body with a very sharp 21-inch double-bladed sword without getting wounded, undergoing successful psychic surgery of my prostate gland before and after ultrasound tests, receiving messages from the dead, dreaming past, present and future events, and psychically diagnosing and healing a person’s illness.
If you have not experienced any of these, my advice is: Don’t believe them!
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