I’m excited to announce the recent release of New Dawn Special Issue Vol. 7 No. 2, which deals with the theme of “paranormal realities and the unexplained.” In addition to helping edit the Special Issue, I also contributed an article, titled “Street Lamp Interference: A Modern-day Paranormal Mystery.” David Jones, the editor of New Dawn, kindly invited me to write the editorial. In the hope that all of you reading this will purchase a copy of the Special Issue, and help support a brilliant magazine, here’s my editorial:
It makes no sense to me that someone could be familiar with the vast body of evidence in support of the paranormal – ESP, hauntings, mediumship, etc. – and yet consider it all a load of rubbish. Sure, there is an elusive quality to the paranormal, in the sense that ghosts and telepathy don’t lend themselves to scientific study as easily as igneous rocks and mud crabs. But then neither do photons, those minute energy packets of electromagnetic radiation which, to the total bafflement of physicists, display characteristics of both waves and particles, manifesting as either one or the other depending on whether or not they’re being observed.
I’ve always respected scientists and the scientific method, and I’m grateful for the knowledge that science has given us. What worries me, however, is the fact that for many people science has taken on the form of a religion. Followers of “scientism,” as it is called, have “an uncritical belief in science as an absolute authority or as a panacea for all human ills.” These days it’s common for people to say “I believe only in science,” seemingly ignorant of the fact that science, in its purest form, has nothing to do with belief, but is wholly concerned with unbiased observation and experimentation.
Scientism and narrow-mindedness go hand in hand; thus, often the most devoted adherents to scientism are sceptical of the paranormal to the point of derision and outright hostility. To them, anything that challenges scientific orthodoxy is without question bogus and must be whacked immediately with the trusty debunking hammer. Some followers of scientism dedicate their lives to debunking the paranormal, their commitment to the cause reminiscent of a Bible-bashing missionary travelling from village to village in remotest Africa.
Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, England, and a member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), does a fine job of upholding the dogma of scientism. Recently, at a local bookshop, I came across by chance a copy of his book Paranormality: Why We See What Isn’t There. My attention was immediately drawn to a Richard Dawkins’s endorsement on the back cover, the venomous nature of which almost knocked me off my feet: “Wiseman shows us a higher joy as he deftly skewers the paranormal charlatans, blows away the psychic fog and lets in the clear light of reason.”
Of course, Wiseman and Dawkins are entitled to their opinion. That they feel the need to skewer “paranormal charlatans” and blow away “psychic fog” is fine by me. I hope they have a blast while doing so. At times, though, I feel a great deal of pity for them and their kind, because they clearly haven’t found the rabbit hole, let alone entered it. Rather than seeing “what isn’t there,” they fail to see what is. Like horses fitted with blinkers, their reality consists only of the dusty road in front of them.