Psychic Reading & Science

December 3, 2006

Much skepticism exists around the subject of psychic phenomena, and this is probably not a bad thing, given its rather dubious past. Fake mediums, bogus mind readers, magic tricks passed off as the real thing. The list goes on and on forever.

Hence, the use of Science should be welcomed in helping to verify some of the psychic community’s claims.

However, this can also become unhealthy for several reasons, and it is equally important to stand guard against these flaws. They too are all too common.

(1) Biased scientists.

The unhappy truth is that the field of psychic investigation, with only very rare exceptions, does NOT attract the finest brains or the most excellent scientists. It is extremely badly funded, is virtually impossible to make a solid and respected career in, and is the source of endless mockery from the mainstream scientific community.

Thus, despite the best will in the world, there is nevertheless a huge pressure upon parapsychologists to justify their own existence. At the end of the day, they have to find something, somewhere! If their entire careers consisted of merely disproving every possible psychic phenomenon that they were presented with, they would rapidly give up the profession from sheer boredom or depressed spirits. From a personal standpoint, why bother? Hence, most of them are inherently believers to start with. In other words, there is likely to be an in-built bias.

This is not to imply that they would fake results. However, we must be aware that, by their very existence in this much maligned field, there is an invisible pressure upon these people to produce something to validate their own existence. Hence, this sort of science is extremely difficult to maintain in a totally objective manner.

Regular academic scientists are always under pressure to justify their funding through their results. How much worse then for scientists who, for the most part, have no funding, and who are often the laughing stock of the scientific community?

For all of these reasons, the profession of psychic investigation cannot and will not attract the very finest minds, at least not at the present times. This is not intended to be an snub to scientists involved in the field. It is just reality. The very best will tend to gravitate towards “safe” fields where their talent will be recognized, and not derided and scoffed at.

It is a pity, but that is just how the world works at present.

(2) The inadequacy of Science.

The scientific method has served humanity extremely well, but it has its limits. It cannot do everything.

Hence, we must be careful of trying to apply scientific methods where they may not work well at all. Such is the manner in which science has been elevated to a religion in our world, this statement might seem almost absurd.

Yet, there are clear situations where science cannot measure anything. You cannot measure the emotions of love or anger with scientific instruments. Yet, few would doubt that they exist.

You cannot use instruments to provide a printout of what somebody is thinking. Yet, nobody would deny that they DO think, and they very often think in words.

You cannot prove scientifically that there are NO toy airplanes in orbit around the planet Uranus! It might sound absurd, but no matter how much you search for them and fail to find them, you CANNOT PROVE that they are not there. You can only say that you have not found one YET, and that it is extremely unlikely that they exist. You might be able to say that with 99.99999999% certainty. But you can NEVER say it with 100% certainty.

Science cannot “prove” a negative.

Thus, in the realm of psychic experiences, science cannot categorically insist that there is no such thing. You CANNOT PROVE that ghosts do not exist, for instance. You can only say that, to date, there has been no conclusive proof that they DO. That is NOT the same as saying that they do NOT.

In addition, the scientific method itself has limitations that psychic experiences would definitely stretch. In science, something has to be repeatable for it to have any validity. In other words, other scientists have to be able to repeat your process and get exactly the same results.

However, this is almost certainly doomed to failure in the psychic realm. Imagine repeating your experiment in a haunted house and DEMANDING that the sprite appear on cue, just because you are performing the same experiment!

If, by its very nature, a phenomenon is extremely rare and unpredictable in nature, it is very hard to use Science to say much about it at all.

Science has very little to say about rare and unrepeatable events. Yet, these are the very things that life itself is full of. The Scientific Method has little or nothing to say regarding rare or unrepeatable events. Nevertheless, these are the very things that life itself is filled with.

It is for this very reason that, initially, the theory that a meteorite collision caused the extinction of the dinosaurs was met with hoots of laughter by the scientific community. It was the very rarity of the event, and the fact that no evidence could be found, that caused derision to be heaped upon the heads of the theory’s proponents. Until, of course, the crater was discovered.

We now also know that the role of the experimenter can radically change the results of the experiment. This may explain why certain famed psychics seem to have their skills flee them in the cold harsh light of the scientific laboratory. Yet, only a mediocre investigator would claim that because this is the case, it proves that there were no psychic experiences to begin with!

(3) Psychic Skeptics.

This may, in part, explain the James Randi effect. This is a psychic investigator who is a total skeptic on the subject, and who approaches the subject with this powerful ingrained bias. He has issued a challenge to pay a large sum of money to anyone who can demonstrate psychic powers to him in a scientifically controlled environment. To date, he still has his money.

Now, part of the problem may be that, even if somebody is genuinely psychic, the attitude of the investigator is sufficiently negative to completely extinguish whatever psychic abilities exist, as long as he is present. Again, a true investigator of any caliber cannot discount this possibility.

This is a purely human factor we are talking about, a function of the human brain, and not a measurement of the boiling point of water. Hence, it is entirely plausible that the negative attitude of the investigator, plus the undue pressure that the psychic is placed under as a result of it, could act to diminish the very effect being measured.

However, the bias of people like Randi and the organization of skeptics that calls itself Psicop, is worrying for another reason. These are people who, while claiming to be scientists, are actually approaching the entire subject with a deep bias that has nothing to do with Science whatsoever.

They are skeptical, because they are skeptical. That’s all. They are believers in “Disbelief”. It’s just the opposite end of the spectrum of Belief. That’s all.

There is no scientific reason for it whatsoever. While they pretend to be scientific, their approach is more akin to a religious dogma; that of treating Science like a religion. It is often called “Scientism” for this reason.

They might claim that there is no proof that psychic phenomena exist. Yet, it can be stated with equal validity that there is no proof that they do NOT. That is a totally equivalent statement. As we have seen earlier, Science cannot PROVE a negative statement. It can only talk about probabilities and likelihood. And, as we have discussed, many psychic experiences are intrinsically rare or fragile in their very essence.

Like any good fanatic, these skeptics like Randi and Psicop have a hidden agenda in “proving” that the world functions the way they think it does. Frankly, a major motivation is FEAR. More people than would like to admit it are terrified of the possibility of psychic phenomena. What if someone really COULD read your mind? Every dirty little secret. What if YOU too could develop psychic powers?

What sort of world would THAT be?! Hardly the predictable, ultra-conservative, clockwork “scientific” universe that these people like to live in. For them, it’s a possibility too terrifying to contemplate.

In summary then, we have to be very careful in being too credulous in examining scientific phenomena, or in jumping to believe the claims of the “professional” researchers in this field. However, we have to also be careful of the skeptics who, while purporting to be scientific, are frequently better viewed as ideological evangelicals than even mediocre scientists.

Copyright 2006 Asoka Selvarajah. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author
Asoka Selvarajah is a writer on personal growth and spirituality, and the author of “The 7 Golden Secrets To Knowing Your Higher Self”. His work helps people achieve their full potential, deepen their understanding of mystical truth, and discover their soul’s purpose.

Visit to learn more…


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