Friday, November 06, 2009

It's nice to look at, but is it Science?

New Scientist recently had a story on out-of-body experiences. All manner of perfectly plausible and entirely possible explanations for the experience were put forward, except one. The possibility that it actually happens.

Now, any scientist who wants to keep his job will tell you that's because it's impossible for the mind to leave the body at any time, in any form. It's not possible. If it were possible, there'd be bodiless minds going about the place even after someone died. Everyone knows there are no such things as ghosts. Spooky feelings can be produced by fluctuating magnetic fields so that explains it all.

Humans have never been shown to be able to detect the effects of magnetic fields. We can't migrate over thousands of miles as birds do, with no maps to guide us. And yet this magnetic-field-detection is now an explanation for phenomena that 'the ordinary people' report as ghostly. It's all very reminiscent of those scientists who dismissed the correspondences between medium reports from widely separated parts of the world as telepathy - which they don't believe is possible either. So the inexplicable is explained by reference to the equally inexplicable and science continues to pretend it's superior to religion. Science requires an open mind. To everything. No matter how wild it might appear at first glance. If it can't be disproved, then it can't be dismissed. (For the Popper falsifiability geeks, I don't regard Popper as a prophet of a scientific religion. His methods are good but they are not Gospel. To regard them as such is not science. He might well be horrified to find that they are).

For around twenty years, the CIA tested remote viewing as a possible means of spying on enemies. Then they stopped. Because it was all hokum? Perhaps, but who really thinks it took the CIA twenty years to work that out? The results released to the public aren't very good but then if you were the CIA, would you release your good results to the public? Would it be a good idea to make public something that you'd been using to spy on other countries?

Okay, if it did work, why did they stop the program? It's not that difficult to work out. Look at Google Earth. In a lot of places you can zoom in far enough to make out individual people. Would you think that the military spy satellites are better, worse or the same as Google Earth? Since Google Earth get their images from satellites they don't own, it's a fair bet that the military images are better than the ones you or I can get hold of.

The CIA remote viewing project ended in 1995. Why? One reason might be that by 1995, satellite images were so far superior to the remote-viewer sketches that there was no need for the Stargate project any more. No need for remote viewing when you can get an exact image from a camera in the sky. The CIA's dismissal of a twenty-year project is not proof that remote viewing is impossible. It merely proves that technology superseded the need for it.

Military surveillance is now so good that a satellite can drop a bomb on the top of your head and choose which hair to incinerate first. They don't need the remote viewers any more.

Can humans detect electric, magnetic or electromagnetic fields? I don't know. Is telepathy, telekinesis, remote viewing real? I've never experienced them so I don't know. Well, that's not quite true but it could be coincidence so I still don't know for sure. Are ghosts real? Absolutely, because I've met them, but I can't produce proof so scientifically, I can't publish and that is what counts in my world. It's going to be hell to set up any kind of reproducible experiment where ghosts are concerned. They aren't lab animals and they do as they please.

I've wondered about the voices heard by schizophrenics. The voices are assumed to be unreal and they go away when treated with drugs. Is that because the voices weren't real and the drugs cured a disorder - or could it be that the voices were real and the drugs removed the patient's ability to hear them? Are you sure which it is? Why?

It doesn't matter to the patient of course, they just want the voices to stop. What if they were a medium who hadn't realised it, and the voices were in fact real? That would be frightening for the subject and they would accept drugs to shut their ability down. Much as those whose eyes are oversensitive would welcome dark glasses (I have reactolite lenses that darken when the ambient light brightens - almost perfect) and those whose hearing is unusually acute might welcome earmuffs, the medium who doesn't want the ability would be delighted to have a pill that shut it down. Actually, alcohol does much the same thing.

This is not to say that all schizophrenics are really untapped mediums. Some are undoubtedly nuts. All of them? Maybe. Maybe not. A scientist must consider the possibility. It might be wrong but until it is shown to be wrong, it remains a possibility.

Science these days is full of dogma and belief systems to rival the Catholic church. You cannot question global warming - why not? Is it science or religion? The ice caps have increased in size in recent years, the polar bears continue to increase in number, the sea is cooling, not warming, the recent propaganda about the 'first German boat ever to make the northeast passage' ignores the detail that it's Russian waters and the Russians have been using that route since 1935, and yet we are not allowed to question the Green God's Gospel? Is that science?

Quantum physics and string theory tell us that there are at least eleven dimensions and uncountable parallel universes, none of which we can see and none of which provide any evidence of their existence outside expert thought, and yet the same experts state there can be no God, no ghosts, no telepathy... Science tells us we are affected by barely detectable magnetic fields but are unaffected by the detectable influences of planetary positions... Science tells us that modern industrialisation is causing global warming although it was much warmer in the Middle Ages when there were much fewer people, no electricity and no factories, and the world didn't end.

Science must be open. Must be. It's the whole point of it. You might, as an individual scientist, dismiss something as not worth your time to study and that is perfectly reasonable. Nobody can be expected to study every aspect of everything.

To state that something is impossible based purely on your personal beliefs is not science. Science pays no heed to personal beliefs.

To state that the world must think as you do and believe what you believe without question is religion. Whether applied to global warming or any other subject, including ghosts. You don't believe it so it must be false. That is not science.

If you think that way, you are the AntiScientist.


Astrology said...

That was interesting. I'm not in the camp with you about global warming, though. I don't know. I see weather patterns changing; for instance, this past summer was the coolest, wettest summer I can ever recall in the city where I live. But I am curious about the stats that show "The ice caps have increased in size in recent years, the polar bears continue to increase in number." Where can I find those?

Romulus Crowe said...

Climate does change, all the time. There was once much higher CO2 in the atmosphere and plants grew to enormous size. There used to be a lot more oxygen, and insects grew huge. The planet was warmer in the Middle Ages than it is now and the polar bears didn't die out.

I'll hunt out the links. The polar bear info comes from someone who has been studying the bears for 30 years, but who was excluded from a conference on climate change because his info wasn't 'on message'.

Note that it's changed from 'new ice age' (seventies) to 'global warming' and now 'climate change'. It's an excuse to tax, nothing more.

Here's one on the melting glaciers on Kilimanjaro, that's so often quoted as 'proof of global warming'.

There have been huge changes in climate in the past, there'll be huge changes in the future, and no amount of taxation will affect it one bit.

They still take it, though.

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