I’m just about done making my point about fraudulent science and those that are bad at science. Please note– I am not saying that all medical and science personnel are corrupt/bad. Most, I’m sure, are professional, decent, human beings who do their job right. We’re doing as well as we are because of all the great researchers and healers we have out there, and I admire each and every one of them.
However, because of my own issues with both a chronic but mysterious illness AND paranormality, I’ve unfortunately run into the dark side of bad science and bad medicine, and it’s understandably soured me. I’ve learned the hard way to be wary and I’ve ended up weary…
I’m going to explore some fringe researchers more in a few posts coming up, including Graham Hancock, but I want to end this with a special open letter to those of us who either research and/or experience the paranormal. We want to know what’s going on, and we feel inclined to help those who seem to also want to know.
The trouble is– sometimes researchers have an ulterior motive. I’ve already brought up one example of a survey I took by a woman who wanted to prove that people who “claim“ to have been abducted by aliens are just ego-driven to come up with a silly story to feel special. It was incredibly unethical of her to have used all of us as patsies to weaken our cases– but she’s not the only one to have done this.
You know those ‘scientific studies’ for “False Memory Syndrome”? Some have been done using fake memories suggested during early childhood (a period few people remember well, and so open to interpretation to many), but some have been done using alien abductees as the ‘control’ for ‘LIAR.’ In other words, they used people who claim abduction/contact as the group of obvious liars to compare with others!! This is because “everyone” in the scientific establishment “knows” that aliens aren’t real– or at least they’re not here, right?
Anyway, you see my point. Here’s some great advice from one Tom Butler who has seen too much of it himself:
Its a rather long and in-depth essay, but well worth reading if you are either curious about paranormal studies or considering entering or contributing to one yourself. Its a minefield out there, so watch out!
Some quotes and points to consider:
1. “Science is good. The “science” practiced by parapsychologists is not necessarily good. Much of it is done to prove paranormalists are delusional. You and I know that, to prove we are delusional, they must ignore or falsely represent our evidence.
Scientists are supposed to be our friends. Some are, but the majority consider the average paranormalist inferior in many ways … as second-class citizens that are not as smart, as well educated or as wise as people with a Ph.D. Most people calling themselves paranormalists are retired from unrelated careers and using the study of paranormal phenomena as a hobby. They are likely less informed about the actual nature of these phenomena than you, the practitioners and experiencers.
If you come away from reading this with nothing else, I pray that you remember these points. If you want to see these phenomena properly studied, if you want informed scientists to help you understand your experiences, if you want to see this field of study evolve into a well-understood science, then it is important that you know who to trust, who to believe and with whom it is safe to trust your phenomena.
It is important that you encourage the pretenders to go away so that real scientists will feel free to help.
…While many of us look forward to the day a scientist will want to study our work, few of us realize the potential problems that can come from being studied. In simple terms, science is great, scientists are not always so great. It is for you to be aware of the differences, because many of those who have not been aware of the difference, have regretted ever volunteering to be research subjects.”
I agree 100% that many so-called ‘researchers’ for the paranormal are hobbyists looking for a thrill, and many are not particularly good at collecting and organizing data, or have too much of a bias going in.
I don’t know that encouraging amateurs to ‘go away’ will bring the ‘real’ scientists in, however. They aren’t held back by the quacks and crazies in the paranormal field nearly as much as the scientific establishment, who will pillory anyone who ventures into these areas. Anything not backing the materialist paradigm (except perhaps quantum theorists) are cast out to starve in the hedgerows, forever blackballed out of respect or funds.
Obviously, too, I’m not the only one who regretted participating in horrendous research meant expressly to condemn everyone like me in perpetual ridicule!
2. Next, he goes on to describe 3 ways of viewing reality that affect what science is done in the paranormal areas, which cover many things, from ESP, to consciousness outside of life (reincarnation memories, ghosts, near-death experiences…) to other intelligences (aliens, faeries, demons, jinns…) to time slips, cryptozoology and so much more. (He uses different labels than I do, but I’ll paraphrase.)
~ The purely materialist viewpoint. No energy outside of the physical dimension exists in any way.
Essentially, what most scientists and many mainstream educated people tend to believe. Machine universe– dead and automatic, with nothing beyond things and biology. Stories to the contrary are either delusional mistakes or outright lies.
~ The materialist with a twist– that a living brain can sometimes use energy to create PSI effects.
There is still no soul that survives death, nor are there intelligences/spirits– but people, in this outlook, CAN be psychic and create the appearance of things like poltergeists. It still discounts most of non-material reality, but leaves a little wriggle room for there to be more than just the material, sort of…
~ The spiritual model– that says other realities cross with ours, that we have souls that survive death AND have access to psi abilities that tap into that more than normal at times. Other intelligences like spirits or other-dimensionals are possible, and all the stories that EVERY culture has told in this direction bears examination. Humans have been having these experiences always, and science/education/consensus against these types of phenomena have NOT made them go away. They happen at about the same rate all over the world. People still have run ins with ‘Other’ that don’t fit the Materialist paradigm, despite the best efforts of Materialists.
What model of reality is being used creates the research that studies paranormality. The first is most scientists, the second is the focus of parapsychologists– who study how psychology and some odd energy combine to create anomalies. The third is where ghost hunters and reincarnation and other-dimensional studies focus.
Of course, some bigfoot hunters want to be materialists, they think Sasquatch, phantom panthers, and Dogmen are all real, physical, and should be able to be captured like any other living being. Reports say there is more to all these strange creatures, but avid hunters ignore those in favor of believing they’ll discover a real species.
Likewise, some UFO hunters, what some of us call the “nuts n’ bolts” guys, are okay with the idea of UFOs being craft piloted by robots or even aliens, but refuse to believe ANY abduction or contact reports because… uh… I don’t know, maybe because they think aliens should act differently? Other UFO hunters will say that UFOs are plasma, or weird energy– and fit into the second category.
Those are my own explanations, but HIS point is that understanding the reality bias of the researcher explains much of where their own studies will be focused.
3. He then goes on to discuss the scientific method and what good research is all about. His major complaint is that we need qualified and trained scientists to be looking into paranormality, and sadly many researchers are just bumbling around, and that just muddies the waters more.
I get his point, but if no scientists will risk these studies, except to ridicule experiencers, then I guess the only way forward is with amateurs. But yes– watch out for bad studies by people who don’t know how to actually conduct a proper study! LOTS of complex discussion surrounding these points, and using examples, etc.
4. Under pseudoscience:
“The study of the phenomena we are interested in is officially branded as pseudoscience, meaning false science, belief in which is said to be a danger to society. Studying the phenomena can cost a mainstream scientist his or her career. Perhaps that is why it is mostly retired professors who are brave enough to study these phenomena. To be sure, it has historically been professional suicide for an academic to be associated with paranormal phenomena. We all should honor that possible sacrifice.
At the time of this writing, the current point of view dominating the Federal Government makes it more possible today, than it has been for many years, to actively suppress unpopular science. The Federal Government has already adopted the skeptic’s lead and officially maintains that belief in pseudoscience is a hazard to the public welfare. This is important to all of us because our ability to work with and study these phenomena is not guaranteed.”
5. He then goes on to describe the issues between academics versus lay people, and how few paranormal researchers do well-documented studies, etc. The credentialed scientists see themselves as having superior reasoning skills, and often scoff too easily at witnesses who are seen as– well, stupid or lying.
6. To top it off, even some paranormal hobbyists are actually out to prove its all bullshit…
7. The essay ends with some suggestions regarding how to make this work better. We all need to be more mature and adult and stop attacking one another. We need to understand that witness statements are just a start, not science by themselves. And ethics and reporting need to be held to higher standards.
Its worth a read, and though I don’t agree across the board, I think Butler brings up many issues that are worthy of consideration!
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