By Bruce King, D.C.
“What is man that his welfare be considered? An ape who chatters of kinship with archangels while he very filthily digs for groundnuts. And yet I perceive that this same man is a maimed God. He is condemned under penalty to measure eternity with an hourglass and infinity with a yardstick and what is more, he very nearly does it.” – James Branch Cabell
The snide laughter could be heard over the din of the restaurant. “That’s wrong,” the voice said. I turned around, “Excuse me?” A man with an arrogant smile looked at me. “What you just said is wrong. There is no evidence that paranormal abilities exist. James Randi has been offering a million dollar prize for years to anyone that can demonstrate a paranormal ability, and he still has his million dollars.”
I had just been discussing some of the scientific validation of paranormal abilities with my friend when I got this correction from a complete stranger. I couldn’t resist. “Okay, so your evidence that paranormal phenomenon does not exist is James Randi’s unclaimed million dollar prize?” The arrogant smile hesitated, sensing a trap, “Well, there’s lots of other evidence, but that’s a pretty good one since a lot of people would like a million dollars.” I smiled back at my impromptu deposer, “Let’s just talk about James Randi’s million dollar prize. Did you know that James Randi brags that no one has passed the preliminary test to accept the challenge for his million-dollar prize?” “Doesn’t surprise me,” the man said. “Ahhh, but someone did pass his preliminary test,” I replied. “It was a member of the Yellow Bamboo group that can knock people over with just a shout. This martial arts guy actually succeeded in pushing one of Randi’s volunteer testers over with just a shout, but Randi never invited him to the million dollar challenge.” “Maybe he cheated,” my rival challenged. “Yeah, that’s exactly what James Randi said, except he never did prove how the guy cheated. He just said he must have cheated so he automatically disqualified him from the million-dollar challenge. I would say that is not very scientific.” I went on, “So, to use the James Randi million-dollar challenge as proof that paranormal phenomenon is bogus is pretty sketchy — based on how he treated the yellow bamboo guy.”
My new debate friend was unthwarted. “How do you know this guy from Yellow PooPoo even existed, that could just be a made up story?” “Bamboo” I corrected, “And the reason I know it really happened is because James Randi himself acknowledges it. Of course, you are going to get Randi’s version of events if you read about it on his website.”
The arrogant smile seemed uncomfortable at this point, “Just because James Randi can’t prove the guy cheated doesn’t mean he didn’t cheat.” I nodded in agreement, “True, the guy could have cheated, but we’ll never know because Randi refused to allow him to take the million dollar challenge.” I added, “You gotta understand, Randi is not about getting to the truth, he has an agenda of disproving all paranormal claims. Oddly enough, in a way, I actually appreciate what James Randi is trying to do because there are some frauds out there that should be debunked. Unfortunately, to Randi, everyone is a fraud.” My friend just shook his head.
# # #
The previous story is a fictionalized example of my real life encounters with so-called skeptics. The presupposition that all paranormal events are false is ingrained in the minds of these folks. Of course, the ego would rather be right than learn the truth so the scientific evidence usually falls on deaf ears.
This illustrates the main problem with conventional science’s ability to accept data that conflicts with previous data. Careers have been built on certain “scientific facts” that have been debunked years ago. For example, many pseudo-skeptics like to stand behind the idea that anything scientific is based on classical physics, which has no room for the paranormal. When I tell the naysayers that classical physics was debunked about a hundred years ago with the discovery of quantum physics, they get a quizzical look on their face and ask how classical physics was debunked by quantum physics. All I have to do is point to the nearest fluorescent light or neon sign. Classical physics cannot explain why light emission in gaseous discharges occurs only at certain frequencies.
The next question is inevitable. “What does quantum physics have to do with the paranormal?” My simple answer is this: Quantum physics opens the door to paranormal abilities being possible. In fact, many quantum physicists believe in the paranormal. Nobel prize winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli claimed to have psychokinetic abilities and wholeheartedly believed in the paranormal.
Here is a quote from Dean Radin that helps explain the dilemma that many scientist and the general public have in understanding the facts about the paranormal.
“Most of the fundamental assumptions underlying classical science have been severely challenged in recent years. As the old assumptions dissolve because of advancements in many disciplines, new assumptions are carrying us toward a conception of the world that is entirely compatible with psi. Few scientists have paid attention to this dramatic shift in scientific fundamentals, and the general public has heard almost nothing about it. . . . Thus, the persistent controversy over psi can be traced back to the founding assumptions of modern science.” – Dean Radin, THE CONSCIOUS UNIVERSE
It all boils down to “assumptions”. What the pseudo-skeptic believes to be true and what true scientific inquiry tells us about the paranormal are two different things. The great barrier to this truth is the ego, which hates to be wrong. Therefore, “science” continues to “…measure eternity with an hourglass and infinity with a yardstick…“
But take heart, there is plenty of evidence that the paranormal is real. Here are a few facts to present next time you encounter a pseudo-skeptic.
1) Telepathy – Thousands of Zener card experiments prove telepathy is real. And, Rupert Sheldrake’s “Telephone Telepathy” experiments showed that people could correctly identify who was calling 42% of the time (from a choice of four people) when random chance says it should only be 25%.
2) Psychokinesis – Dr. Gary Schwartz at the University of Arizona did an experiment to see if water with the intention of “grow” placed on it would make seeds germinate and grow faster and better. The results of this experiment showed that the seeds watered with the intention water all germinated (100%) as opposed to only 90% of those watered with plain water; a 10% difference that is well outside of the margin of error.