Sunday, August 16, 2015

Why Study The Paranormal?

After confessing a fascination with "the soft edges of science" biologist Lyall Watson wrote in the introduction to his book Beyond Supernature:

I am not wedded to the proposition that the supernatural must exist. If one defines supernatural experience as - the experience of something unusual, something which exceeds the limits of what is deemed possible - then there is clearly a vast field of experience, of repeated experience, from all over the world, just waiting to be explored. The fact that such reports are, by their very nature, largely anecdotal, has led to their being discarded as unacceptable to science. Which is a pity and a waste, because I suspect that answers to some of the riddles of the paranormal might well lie in the pattern and contents of such reports.

Words such as supernatural and paranormal trouble me somewhat because they often become mingled with an unfortunate superstition to the point of ridiculousness. Perhaps nature and normal are so incompletely and poorly understood that we are drawing false lines.

For my part I collect personal anecdotes of unusual experiences - what some call "glitches in the matrix" - and study them. As suggested by Watson, I look for patterns. Premonitions, near-death experiences, visions, etc., all interest me because they are so common. Drawing too hasty a line between what is natural and what is supernatural doesn't help here.

I have come to accept that mind is primary in the universe. In my thinking it is impossible to start with matter and make sense of the universe and life without acknowledging the primary role of mind and intelligence. Nothing makes sense without sense in the first place. Or else all is a very long string of meaningless coincidences beyond human comprehension.

Closing thought: The unusual really is usual if we are paying attention.