Some pretty weird things are going on in laboratories that study the tiniest of things.
"In the quantum world there is a sense that things don't like to be tied down to just one location or follow just one path. It is almost as if things were in more than one place at a time. And what I do here can have an immediate effect somewhere else even if there is no-one there. " ('The Fabric of the Cosmos'by Brian Green, Columbia University)
For example in the well-known "double slit experiment," physicists discovered that light particles respond differently when they are observed. How weird is that? Even more incredibly, researchers later found the particles acted as if they knew they were going to be observed in the future, even though it hadn't happened yet.
Scientists are baffled and even shaken to the bone, by such discoveries. This is because the results seem to defy basic assumptions about time and space, causality and certainty. Nevertheless, faced by repeated experimental evidence, they do accept the reality of the findings.
Non-acceptance of weird parapsychological findings
Parapsychological research findings are also weird. Those few scientists working in this field say they have clearly shown the reality of mind-to mind connections (telepathy), perceiving distant objects or events (clairvoyance), perceiving future events (pre-cognition) and even mind-matter interactions (psychokenesis) .
For example numerous studies demonstrate a consistent – albeit small – effect of mental influence on dice throwing. In his book Entangled Minds , Dean Radin academic parapsychologist, demonstrates how skeptical debunkers – who he says mistakenly claim the weird results are due to either chance, sloppy work, selective reporting or fraud – cannot actually explain away these results.
The results of quantum mechanics are just as counterintuitive and even more outside everyday experience than the results of research into parapsychology, yet science does not accept psi.
"Within the scientific orthodoxy psi has been regarded as either a genuine hot potato or a Mr Potato Head toy." (Dean Radin)
What is the cause of this resistance to findings in parapsychology?
Culture of superstition regarding the weird supernatural?
Have most scientists thought of psychical phenomena as not being amenable to understanding because of the association of psi with the word 'spiritual'? This is the notion that natural science cannot conceive of anything 'supernatural'. If so, it can hold out no hope of explaining such weird beings as spirits and a spiritual afterlife, in terms of a physical theory.
However, even though they don't claim to remotely understand the perplexing findings of quantum mechanics, this objection doesn't seem to have stopped physicists in general accepting them.
Natural-minded orientation of science
We can surely assume individual scientists have different philosophical beliefs regarding the nature of reality. Some may be dualists and consider that science and religion are concerned with different spheres of reality – the empirical and the spiritual. However many are probably monists believing that a variety of existing things can only be explained in terms of a single material reality – the one that can possibly be studied by science.
Emanuel Swedenborg scientist and spiritual philosopher, describes three discrete planes of the human mind. According to this view, when a person's higher planes of perception are open, he or she sees things in terms of spiritual perception such as the eternal purpose of the divine. His theory continues, when only the lower plane is open, then the individual will just perceive life in terms of what is material and natural.
Such naturally-minded people will not believe in anything more because they cannot think beyond that which is natural. They would say they are unable to believe anything without sensory evidence or through factual knowledge.
Having a negative attitude due to knowledge
I would suggest that less educated people have a common-sense way of discerning what is true. This applies to such weird psychic experiences as intuitive hunches, distant healing and the sense of being stared at. On the other hand, the well-educated debate whether psychic phenomena are even possible.
"It is a common and well-known fact that the learned have less belief than the simple in a life after death, and that in general they see Divine Truths less clearly than the simple do. The reason is that they consult facts, of which They possess a greater abundance than others, with a negative attitude, and by this destroy in themselves any insight gained from a higher or more interior position. Once this has been destroyed they no longer see anything in the light of heaven but in the light of the world; for facts exist in the light of the world, and if they are not lit up by the light of heaven they bring darkness, however different it may seem to be to them. ” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Heavenly Secrets )
In other words trying to fathom the mysteries of the universe without being open to the deeper side of life, is doomed to failure. As long as people are locked in controversy about whether parapsychological phenomena are real, then they cannot possibly make any headway in understanding what is really going on in our weird universe.
Copyright 2014 Stephen Russell-Lacy