Brendan D. Murphy
[SL: You can immerse yourself in an enormous databank of similar material in what I consider to be a genuine masterpiece, THE GRAND ILLUSION: A SYNTHESIS OF SCIENCE & SPIRITUALITY.]
The Myth of Objectivity & Impartiality
Doesn’t science state that paranormal occurrences are impossible? Philosophically, the world of science can no longer maintain that position—not if it wants to appeal to today’s evidence. Evidentially speaking, many so-called paranormal phenomena have been irrefutably scientifically proved. The body of mainstream science has a history of becoming quite hysterical in the face of information seemingly competing for its “target demographic,” or even just information that doesn’t conform to the dominant paradigm in operation.
It is organized science that has often proved and continues to prove to be the biggest adversary to impartial discussion and consideration of novel data—an alien concept to many people due to the way science, particularly in the mainstream, has been mythologized as a totally dispassionate and objective enterprise that only cares for so-called truth (though the anthropogenic “global warming” scandal no doubt helped undermine that myth). We think of the man in the lab coat as impartial and analytical, but he is just as motivated by emotion as the next person, whether it be greed, fear, malice, love, pride, or ambition. Degrees and PhDs don’t suddenly make someone utterly impartial and free of emotional or intellectual prejudice or immune to other forms of corruption.
Consider the Nazi-like book-burning and persecution of pioneering scientist Wilhelm Reich in America—an allegedly free country—in the 1950s. Had Reich hate-mongered? Had he called for the torture and killing of baby seals? Had he conducted Satanic rituals and conjured hordes of demons? Taken candy from a baby? Voted Republican? No. He merely published his research into an energy he called “orgone,” which challenged scientists’ indoctrinated preconceptions and psychological imprinting about the nature of reality. Therefore, the only logical course of action was a book burning and jail for this dangerous lunatic. Of course. While the book burning was sanctioned by the government, it was supported by various scientists who were not capable of approaching his material logically and open-mindedly. Had Reich made his discoveries today, his material might have received a fairer treatment.
Author, philosopher and playwright Robert Anton Wilson—also a man ahead of his time—expressed his “horror and considerable indignation” at Reich’s politically, ideologically and corporately inspired persecution in 1957: “I was astounded and flabbergasted that the US government was imitating its former [Nazi] enemy to the extent of actually burning scientific papers it found heretical.” The Catholic Church of yore would have been proud. The great Indian physicist JC Bose had himself noted the presence of an “unconscious theological bias” operating within the institution of science. This is a theme that may be returned to repeatedly, for science provides many examples of the worst kind of religious thought when it follows in the “arrogant and authoritarian footsteps of the Papacy,” as Wilson put it. He further quiped that “someone who knew only recent history and was unaware of the past might come to the conclusion that Science, not Theology, is the main enemy of free thought and free enquiry.”
Science tends to be a more diverse area than orthodox religion and it is not as easy to generalize, but they certainly have their similarities. Kuhn wrote that an education in normal science is probably more narrow and rigid than any other except perhaps one in orthodox theology. It is noteworthy that “heresy” derives from the Greek hairesis, “choice.” “To be a heretic means to have choices, to opt for another way of believing, another kind of knowing, another channel of perceiving, another course of experience. Heresy is about having options,” writes John Lash. One thing any good dictator loathes is competition. More disturbing is “official” corporate science’s aversion to it when such competition takes the form of psychical and consciousness research—a widely lamented theme—though the situation is even worse in other areas (such as alternative health or overunity technology/free energy).
Here we will not be getting into the story of just how badly organized “skepticism” has lost its way—that’s another story. Suffice it to say that the term “skeptic” comes from the Greek skepsis, which means examination and doubt, and not knee-jerk denial. Somewhere then, organized skepticism and enthusiastic debunkers went wrong. Somewhere along the way, some people began to unconsciously mistake closed-minded cynicism and arrogance for skepticism—and the one thing the best known “skeptics” never seem to doubt, of course, is their own set of ontological or existential assumptions.
When someone provides a meticulously researched, quantitative challenge to conventional materialistic dogma, there is often a frenzied and juvenile response from many scientists and “skeptical” laypeople who hide behind the authority of science rather than utilizing its methods or spirit of inquiry to seek understanding. Kuhn explained that, because novelties are subversive of mainline science’s commitment to the status quo, normal science suppresses them. Despite this, as Kuhn also noted, as long as the status quo viewpoint contains an element of the arbitrary, novelty cannot be suppressed for very long. As Wilson observed, “Science achieves, or approximates, objectivity not because the individual scientist is immune from the psychological laws that govern the rest of us, but because scientific method—a group creation—eventually overrides individual prejudices, in the long run.”
We are not going to focus here on the corruption in the world of science that too often prevents scientific progress from occurring and serves to mire civilization in destructive beliefs and behavioral patterns; we merely wish to observe that the decrees of science, in particular “mainstream” and/or corporate science, cannot always be taken at face value, particularly science’s traditional pronouncements on so-called paranormal phenomena.
Letting Emotion Steer the Ship
Like non-scientists, scientists themselves often fall prey to emotions and attitudinal biases. As physicist Brian D. Josephson points out, “Some scientists are especially prone to whip up emotion ‘in the cause of science’ (or so they believe).”
When was the last time that emotion helped you reach a rational and impartial conclusion? Ray Hyman, a career disbeliever in psi, has gone so far to admit that “[t]he level of the debate [about psi] during the past 130 years has been an embarrassment for anyone who would like to believe that scholars and scientists adhere to standards of rationality and fair play.” Dean Radin has quite rightly observed that scientific truth, particularly in the context of psi, is determined primarily by nonscientific factors such as cultural conditioning, propaganda, rhetoric, ad hominem attack, politics, and competition for limited funding.
In fact, it is widely observed that the Scientific Priesthood or “elite” are driven to not perceive psi. Their egos have too much at stake, too much invested in an overarching paradigm that ruled that psi is an impossibility, and too much attachment to pet theories and beliefs that depend on its not existing. This tendency towards rigid dogmatism is incompatible with the fundamental spirit and basic methods of scientific inquiry, and has led many scientists to defend moribund worldviews and theories.
What is the point of further research if you think you already know what is possible and what is not? While hardcore “skeptics” think that the widespread beliefs in psi and paranormal experiences and events indicates the public’s decreasing capacity for rational thought, increasing belief in psi actually reflects just the opposite. But more to the point, it also represents the maturation of science and a fundamental evolutionary trend towards the greater advancement of the human race.
While many think the basic issue is fear of the unknown (part of Rudhyar’s cultural provincialism), the reality that is that all “skeptics” know the truth at a subconscious level. Their hostility and closed-mindedness, I believe, arises from the internal conflict or cognitive dissonance resulting from the clash between the hidden subconscious knowledge that is in conflict with their consciously held belief structures. Often these are imprinted very early in life and remain relatively intact thereafter. “Skeptics” loathe it when portions of their repressed knowledge are presented to them at a conscious level—it is an uncomfortable experience.
As someone who isn’t afraid of playing devil’s advocate occasionally, I have found that many people tend to react like addicts when their beliefs are challenged, even if politely. Rather than a mature, thoughtful response along the lines of That’s interesting, where did you learn that?, many people will go into defense mode and act as if their entire world is under siege: “That’s not possible, science says so! What you’re talking about is pseudo-science!” Of course, such pronouncements are almost invariably preceded and followed with zero devoted, determined, open-minded research.
Most of these knee-jerk reactions are nothing more than the acting out of ingrained mental habits. Some people are all too happy to rehash all the hearsay and assumptions they have gathered and lived by throughout their lives, as if that constitutes a valid argument. It doesn’t, but it maintains the apparent safety of a limited weltbild. Their opinions are almost always somebody else’s, but they mistake these opinions as self-evident truth, apparently by sheer force of the number of other people who happen to agree with them. In the words of IK Taimni, “Our thoughts, opinions, prejudices, and predilections are part of our mental possessions, children of our mind, and that is why we feel and show such tender regard for them.”
Raymond Moody has written that “‘explanations’ are not just abstract intellectual systems. They are also in some respects projects of the egos of the persons who hold them. People become emotionally wedded, as it were, to the canons of scientific explanation which they devise or adopt.” After dedicating a lifetime of research to an area, it would understandably be threatening to have your facts challenged, yet this is the response of the pride-filled ego, not of the analytical intellect. Science can only perform its role properly when the ego is removed (or at least tempered) and replaced with an unprejudiced, impartial search for truth, whatever it turns out to be.
One reason so many people make it through life with a fairly closed mind to “paranormal” information in particular is that they never have an experience that forces a catastrophic psychological upheaval upon them, leaving them to reassess everything they have ever assumed to be true. One of the key problems for people who have had these upheavals is that much of the population have not had them and thus have no experience with which they can compare them. Their “information grids” are bereft of any relevant or analogous information.
Sadly, much of the closed-mindedness in the world is engendered by the one entity that is supposed to achieve the opposite effect: the education system. I was at a friend’s house in Sydney one day (some time in the year 2007, if my memory serves me), when his girlfriend’s friend dropped by. She was studying medicine at one of Sydney’s universities. I was just making small talk with her, trying to strike up a bit of a conversation, when there developed an opening for me to mention a friend of mine and her impressive intuitive abilities. For a reason I was unaware of at that moment, I noticed my voice catching in my throat, and a strange reluctance to say what I was about to. In spite of this I forged ahead, saying something like, “My friend is very intuitive …” At which point she suddenly cut me off and blurted out, “I believe in science!”
I was stunned. She did not even let me finish my sentence, yet I had already offended her scientific sensibilities. Notice that I wasn’t telling her what I believed in; I was just making an honest disclosure based on my own repeated personal experiences, research, and observation of fact. She apparently heard me say something completely different to what I remember myself saying. In hindsight, I could see that my own intuitive faculties had kicked in and were subtly indicating that this person would not be receptive to what I was going to say; hence my initial hesitation. I have noticed this on many occasions. I sometimes have an inner knowing about the response I will get that I couldn’t possibly have without some kind of psychic (intuitive) function.
The girl was an unwitting believer not in science per se (her attitude and reaction were anything but scientific), but scientism. Scientism is generally defined as the collection of attitudes and practices considered typical of scientists. In theory, this sounds fine, even admirable, but when you look at official science’s track record—one marred by bias, intellectual snobbery, prejudice, and in many instances, lies, corruption, and corporate manipulation—a different meaning of scientism emerges. At this point, Raymond Moody’s description of scientism is apt (but still too polite): “a value judgement that other disciplines … are worthwhile only insofar as they conform their techniques of investigation to those of the physical and biological sciences.”
If these other disciplines don’t conform, they are “unscientific” by default. Since when does scientific research require isomorphism? This girl had obviously been well versed in what are considered appropriate or credible sources of information in the eyes of the educational establishment, and had, like so many obedient students of science, begun to develop a suitably scientistic attitude towards anything unfamiliar to her, such as psi phenomena. That is to say she was prepared to derogate before investigate. William Tiller, a “hard scientist” and pioneering psi researcher, has succinctly stated that scientism is a corruption of the science craft.
As Kuhn noted in the late 1960s, “Science students accept theories on the authority of teacher and text, not because of evidence.” The same goes for all students. Accepting official doctrine is always an act of faith to some degree, but to precisely what degree most of the indoctrinated never think to check. As for psi research, just as in Galileo’s day, the Scientific Priesthood still refuses to look through the telescope.
The history of science and human psychology shows clearly even into the present day that when the aspiring (or practicing) scientist is met with another person’s experiences that do not conform to the doctrine provided by teacher and text, the vast majority of the time the conscious firsthand experience being related is all too readily discarded in favor of the scientist’s pet theory—usually backed by his or her own absence of experience. Kuhn asks of the science student how s/he could be expected to know any better, since the doctrines and applications laid out in textbooks are not there as evidence, but simply because learning them is part and parcel of inheriting the paradigm that dictates current scientific practices.
It is such a loaded statement, “I believe in science.” Which branch of science? What period’s science? How are you defining “science”? Too often, because people are taught something at school or college, they make the assumption that it must be true—after all, “they wouldn’t teach us that if it wasn’t true!” Officially recognized scientific dogma may be based at least partly in truth, and indeed in some form of logic, but some people mistakenly and unconsciously leap to the conclusion that they have been given the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and that anything that does not fit within their academically defined scientific parameters is simply invalid or nonexistent. (Questioning the logic involved is also something of a no-no.)
Take parapsychology, a field of scientific research into psi that is over a hundred years old. Many introductory psychology textbooks, despite the incredible abundance of verifiable psi research available, have presented flawed descriptions of psi experiments and the field in general. Here we have a prime example (from a large pool of potential samples) of the education system miseducating through both distortion and omission.
In 1991 64 psychology textbooks published between 1980 and 1989 were surveyed for their references and content pertaining to parapsychology. Only 43 included some meaningful mention of it, meaning that a third ignored it completely. The authors concluded that overall these publications—intended for unassuming psychology students—presented a misleading and misrepresentative view of parapsychological research.
A follow-up review of texts from 1990 to 1999 showed the situation had improved little, and a review of 2002 psychology texts found that even a notorious career denialist—infamous for a near-pathological inability to report fairly and accurately on parapsychological and psychical research—was cited in 15 of the texts that mentioned parapsychology (a whopping 45% of that year’s introductory texts). Overall, skeptical coverage was roughly twice as extensive as that in favor of parapsychology and the situation appeared to have worsened from the 1990s overall, with factual errors and misleading reporting persisting. The authors suggested that the poor coverage could partly be attributed to the unfamiliarity of authors with the field of parapsychology and also a continued overreliance on secondary sources written by “skeptical nonparapsychologists.”
Unfortunately, because the assumption with which most students enter into college education is that they are going to be properly informed, it never occurs to many to question what they are presented with in a given field of study. Thus, the education system can be responsible for the perpetuation of myths and lies, at times serving the propagation of ignorance instead of enlightenment. Such myths usually die hard in the minds of the “educated,” regardless of the field of study. One example would be oncologists who force chemotherapy on people, despite research showing that this “treatment” actually increases cancer growth!
The established scientific worldview is based on centuries-old Newtonian-Cartesian philosophical underpinnings. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the body of “accepted” data in science, and its interpretations, have led to this reductionistic outlook—along with science’s preferred exploratory methods. The officially accepted philosophical credo basically amounts to this: “The world/universe is a gigantic clockwork machine (at least at our macro scale/s) with independent parts or building blocks. It is deterministic and predictable using known math and science (quantum scales notwithstanding). The body is also a machine with different individual parts. If the body parts break down, you ‘fix,’ medicate, or replace them, as you would with a car. When you die, since your consciousness arose solely as an epiphenomenon of your brain, you cease to think, feel, experience, or exist in any capacity. Your life and existence at large is therefore innately meaningless (at least until you imbue it with your own personal meaning). Our collective existence as a species is merely a lucky Darwinian accident.”
I propose that this mechano-materialistic outlook (itself, more or less an 18th-century scientific ontology only slightly modified by 20th century physics) is a faith-based belief system maintained by the calculated and/or unconscious omission of massive tracts of factual data. In the context of mysticism, psi and occult phenomena in general (the “paranormal”), this is the sort of “scientific” attitude one is often met with.
As something of a former materialist (non-dogmatic, thankfully), I reserve the right to point out its inherent silliness. As the noted theosophist JJ van der Leeuw said, “[T]o conclude … that … the living individual is but a byproduct of the body and to exclaim with a triumphant and unholy joy that … we have proved that the body is primary and man in his aspirations and creative effort is but secondary, is as unthinking and unfounded as it would be to say that the artist is but a by-product of his violin since, when a string is missing, the possibilities of his artistic expression are changed forthwith.”
There is no room in this Newtonian-Cartesian worldview for “paranormal” communication between two people, no room for interactive bioenergetic fields, no room for mind-to-mind contact, no room for an afterlife, and no room for virtually all other occult phenomena. In short, the traditional scientific conception of reality and mind allows almost no room for consciousness (and has no way of explaining its existence), unless it is merely a product of electro-chemical processes in the brain.
Yet we need to remember, this is just a belief system. Never in an experiment has consciousness been created from inert matter. Unfortunately, even today, when it comes to “mind,” students of science are, without realizing it, indoctrinated into an incredibly narrow vision of possibility. They mistake this narrow-mindedness for a common-sense view of reality. They are not encouraged to have any sense of subtlety or mental flexibility—such traits largely arise, when they do, in spite of their education, not because of it. This is largely why debunkers and pseudo-skeptics continue to be taken seriously, or worse, as gospel on these matters—because the education system keeps churning out devotees of the mechano-reductionist theology.
Because mainstream science has viewed the paranormal largely with contempt (born of fear), it has not seen fit to study it. Given that it has not seen fit to study it, science in the mainstream has learned next to nothing about it. Can one logically dismiss a topic that one has refused to study and thus knows nothing about? This double-think appears to escape many “rational” scientists, in particular those who subscribe to some sort of materialistic theology.
What Ingo Swann refers to as “real or assumed scientific knowledge” could be loosely referred to as a paradigm. The paradigm’s general principles and tenets, that is, things that are deduced or postulated as being possible, and those that are deemed not to be possible—usually given the status of “laws”—are imprinted into the psyche of virtually all scientists, because these tenets are used to define what constitutes science and “valid” areas of scientific research. The paradigm constitutes a map of sorts: a cartography that the scientist uses as a reference point to decide what areas of inquiry are the most important, the most urgent, and the most “scientific.” The scientist checks where he is, in relation to where the paradigm tells him he should be.
If scientists stray too far into the world of parapsychology or the occult, they become “pseudo-scientists” by default; not because of their methods or their results—these things are immaterial—but because they are no longer operating within the parameters of what is defined as being politically correct and socially acceptable science. Thus, they must be quacks or crackpots, worthy only of ridicule.
Given the staunch philosophical materialism that has for many years been the map-maker and boundary-marker of “science proper,” we can see that the continued maligning of parapsychology and occult phenomena is a hangover from the turf deal Descartes struck with the Roman Catholic church, which arbitrarily split mind and matter: science would deal with matter, while the church would deal with (in the words of David Yurth) “spirit stuff.” This has led to a conceptual impasse and stalemate in which most vanguard scientists are currently mired, emotionally and doctrinally blinded to important yet verboten truths that have re-emerged in the form of cold hard data from fields including parapsychology, mediumship research and quantum physics.
The wholesale dismissal of uncomfortable observable facts as “pseudo-science” is, as Yurth points out, “cult-speak for ‘stuff we can see but cannot explain.’” It’s time to leave the cults of scientism and reductionist materialism behind.
Copyright © Brendan D. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Brendan D. Murphy Co-founder of Global Freedom Movement and host of GFM Media. He is also a certified DNA activator, author, researcher, activist, and musician. His acclaimed non-fiction epic THE GRAND ILLUSION: A SYNTHESIS OF SCIENCE & SPIRITUALITY is available here. Come and get your mind blown at www.brendandmurphy.net.