Friday, August 24, 2007

Debunking debunkers.

Science claims to have proved that out-of-body experiences are an illusion.

I fail to see how this experiment proves anything of the kind.

Using virtual reality goggles, volunteers get a view of their own body, or of a mannequin made to look like them. They are, in effect, looking at themselves from 'outside' their bodies. Just as described by out-of-body experiencers.

Are these scientists claiming that all out-of-body experiences are due to some sneaky housebreaker slipping virtual reality goggles on sleeping householders? Do surgeons place these goggles on anaesthetised patients in case they wake up, then have a good laugh about it afterwards? Somehow I doubt it.

I haven't had an out-of-body experience myself so I can only speak from the reports of others. Yet what I see in this experiment is a replication, using technology, of the experiences reported by 10% of the population without that technology.

This is a rather poor and desperate attempt at debunking a common and still unexplained phenomenon. It no more disproves the out-of-body experience than Caspar disproves the existence of ghosts.

All it proves is that the effect can be replicated using technology. Just like Caspar.

6 comments:

tom sheepandgoats said...

I agree completely with your take on this, Rom. The experiment debunks nothing.

Seems to me that science is very good at what it is good at and very bad at what it is bad at. If a subject is amenable to the scientific method, science works pretty well. But not all things are, including most things paranormal. So they ignore it, or else claim it's all fraud & nonsense.

A favorite quote of mine from the book Let Like Cure Like regarding homeopathy, something I have seen work and believe in strongly:

"These philosophies, both thousands of years old, have yet to be proved scientifically because of the limitations of science, not because they are not true.”

Science doesn't do too well with the "healing arts," when they are just that: arts, not repeatable by rote science.

Romulus Crowe said...

There are a few scientists studying homeopathic-like effects. They don't call it that because they'd never get published. They use the term 'hormesis'. Homeopathy, like mediumship, astrology and other ancient studies, has a lot of frauds competing with the genuine practitioners. It's very easy to find a fraud, study them, and use the results of that to 'debunk' the whole subject.

What many scientists forget is that the scientific method can never prove the non-existence of anything. A bacteriologist of my acquaintance commented that he never reports 'zero' for any test. He reports 'not detected'. Tests have limits and a presence that exists outside those limits won't show up on the test.

Someone once stated that at the centre of the universe is a china teacup. It sounds silly, but can you prove it's not there? No, and neither can science. That was his point - science can only prove things. Science cannot, and should not, ever state that anything is impossible. That's not its job. The nearest it could ever reach is 'unlikely, based on current knowledge'.

Just because science can't find it, doesn't mean it's not there.

Many scientists would do well to put their righteousness to one side for a moment and remember that.

heyjude said...

If this view of yours gets widely known you might be shunned out of the 'scientific' community!!! hehehe

Romulus Crowe said...

Well, my chosen subject of study pretty much takes care of any prospect of acceptance by mainstream science. My opinion of most of them clinches the deal.

I'm used to it. In fact, if ever I was invited into the clutches of that over-administrated hell that passes for science these days, I would have no hesitation in declining.

It's not likely to happen.

Southern Writer said...

Someone once stated that at the centre of the universe is a china teacup. It sounds silly, but can you prove it's not there? No, and neither can science. That was his point - science can only prove things. Science cannot, and should not, ever state that anything is impossible. That's not its job. The nearest it could ever reach is 'unlikely, based on current knowledge'.

Just because science can't find it, doesn't mean it's not there.

Many scientists would do well to put their righteousness to one side for a moment and remember that.



Can I get a big "amen!"

The first OBE I recall was when I was seven, in the hospital, and really, really not wanting a shot some sadistic nurse was going to stick in me. It took eight people to hold me down, but they only held down my body. I watched it all happen from the ceiling.

Romulus Crowe said...

I admit to jealousy. I've never had an OBE despite having a body anyone would want to get out of.

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