A couple of thoughts more on the nature of science than parapsychology
that were spurred by Craig's and Richard's comments.
It was always hoped that science would become the be all and end all of
human problems, being able to simultaneously explain and provide
solutions for all human suffering (e.g. the rise of the 'atom' and it's
subsequent splitting as an answer to all our energy problems).
Even now science is still viewed with awe by most (such diverse
examples as the proliferation of white coats in washing powder
commercials, and the recent arguement over whether Einstein's eyes
[which were removed without consent in a 'free for all post mortem']
should be auctioned or not spring to mind).
But the conclusion that many natural scientists have come to since the
advent of quantum mechanics is that the only certainty in science is
that nothing will be reduced to absolutely certain, explainable units.
I guess that what I am saying is that science should not be in any way
deified, and that phenomena that cannot be reduced to a satisfactory
level of explanation should not be written off 'because science says
Having said this, formalised systems of researching phenomena are of
course necessary, and data gathering is part of this, the quality of
data and the validity of theories being imperative. Perhaps this is
where research into parapsychology is falling down.
The scientific philosipher Lakatos talks of integrated 'research
programmes' being useful (progressive), rather than isolated theories.
Is there such a programme in this area? He also says that
no programme can be expected to cope with all anomolies, but if it is
in a progressive phase, it is appropriate to ignore such anomolies.
Maybe there is just not yet enough good quality data in this area to
support a 'hard core' of theory that can begin to explain phenomena;
or then again maybe there is nothing to explain.
I don't know. Nick.
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