“IS THERE scientific basis to the things you talk about in your column… those psychic and paranormal phenomena, psychic healing, reincarnation and the like?” readers and radio listeners often ask.
I have answered this question several times before, but I think an elaboration of the basic points will help clarify the issue.
First, we must define what we mean by science. One definition I remember from my college days is: “Science is a systematic body of proven knowledge.” Often when we talk of science, we mean the physical sciences–physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, etc.
People often forget that science was developed to study and explain the material or physical universe. It has established strict and foolproof rules and procedures for determining the validity or genuineness of a physical thing or event, such as germs, bacteria, solar eclipse. Science was never meant to explain or prove non-physical reality or phenomena, like spirits, astral projection or reincarnation.
As far as the physical universe is concerned, principles and procedures established by science are perfect. One cannot improve on them. One must go through procedures like repeatability, consistency of results, objectivity, statistical validation, peer review, etc. to prove that a physical event or phenomenon exists, or is valid and genuine.
The problem is people try to apply the established laws of the physical sciences to non-physical phenomena. That’s when they get into all sorts of logical dilemmas. We have no room to maneuver or a valid paradigm to use to explain through science what is clearly outside of its scope.
Science has defined what constitutes physical reality and set laws governing such reality. If I let go of a piece of stone and it falls to the ground, that’s a normal natural occurrence. Gravity pulls it to the ground.
But what happens if the stone rises or floats with absolutely no means of support? No electricity, magnetism, etc. Science calls such things “paranormal,” or beyond normal state of things. Logic fails to explain it.
Trickery or deception
Scientists are likely to conclude it cannot happen and, if it does, it must be a product of trickery or deception. It could very well be, we do not discount that. But suppose it is proven that it happens without trickery and can be repeated any time? What then will the scientists say? They will say it must be an “anomaly” of nature, and will completely ignore it or set it aside.
But is the case really closed? I understand that in India (I don’t remember now exactly where) there is a big rock or boulder weighing several tons. If 11 people were to place their hands on top of this rock and chant in a certain rhythm and pitch, the rock would rise by itself several feet above the ground until the chanting stops or somebody removes his hand from the rock. The rock would then fall with a loud thud and pity the man with his foot underneath!
Several years ago, I talked to an Austrian researcher who had seen this phenomenon every day in India and who even participated in the mysterious process. He told me it really worked but could not explain how it happened.
He said he could find absolutely no wires or magnets or anything around the rock. Yet scientists have completely ignored it.
Another physical phenomenon science has ignored is fire walking. How can barefooted natives of Fiji, Brazil, India, Indonesia and, to a certain extent, the Philippines, walk on red hot coals without being hurt, defying all known laws of physics, biology, chemistry and medicine?
There must be something that science has not taken into account in its explanation of how the universe really works. Current scientific principles cannot explain all phenomena, much less psychic and spiritual phenomena.
To use science to explain non-physical phenomena is like trying to solve a “new math problem with an old math mind,” as the cartoon character Charlie Brown pointed out years ago.
We must perhaps await the development or establishment of a new science to help us understand the invisible universe. Meantime, physical scientists cannot insist that such phenomenon as paranormal healing or ESP should conform to their norms, otherwise it would be fraudulent. Some things clearly do not fall within their previously set paradigm.
But, in response to the earlier question, some paranormal and psychic phenomena do have scientific validation. And the scientific data on them are voluminous.
I can cite the massive scientific data collected by Dr. J. B. Rhine of Duke University to prove the existence of telepathy and clairvoyance, the 20-year experiments conducted by physicists Dr. Russell Targ and Dr. Puthoff of the Stanford Research Institute on remote viewing, and the highly controlled studies of Dr. Robert Jahn of Princeton University proving the existence of telekinesis beyond reasonable doubt.
But most critics have never really bothered to look at these scientific proofs and evidence.
Jaime Licauco, Philippine Daily Inquirer