On the Existence of Paranormal Phenomena

There exist numerous reports of paranormal phenomena. These reports vary highly in quality and reliability, as well as in content. Materialists dismiss these reports as false, whereas non-materialists often accept them.

Why do materialists deny paranormal phenomena? The stated reason is usually that the reports are not sufficiently reliable; they are hearsay. But this cannot be the whole reason, because materialists accept reports of other types of events which have the level of reliability that reports of paranormal phenomena have. For instance, if I read an article in the news, or hear a story from a friend, I will most often believe it, even though the evidence I have been given that the event occurred does not measure up to scientific standards of rigor. So this is not the whole reason that materialists reject reports of paranormal phenomena.

I identify two other reasons that materialists reject paranormal phenomena:

1. The existence of these phenomena is inconsistent with materialism. Paranormal phenomena violate the laws of physics as we understand them, and so if paranormal phenomena exist, this means that materialism (as currently understood) is false.

2. Paranormal phenomena are usually not reliably reproducible. Thus one has reports of the events, but usually one does not have the ability to make the events recur at will. If paranormal phenomena were reliably reproducible, then it would be very difficult to say that they did not exist.

Nonetheless, the sheer quantity of reports of paranormal phenomena constitutes a problem for people who reject them. There are reports of paranormal phenomena which had thousands of witnesses; there are reports which are extremely well-documented; and there are reports which come from very reliable sources.

To reject paranormal phenomena is to say that every single person who has reported a paranormal phenomenon was mistaken or lying. This requires, in some particular instances, denying the credibility of thousands of people. It requires, on the whole, denying the credibility of a much larger number of people. This is a very bold step to take, but there is no other way to justify the non-existence of these phenomena.

The chief reason to reject paranormal phenomena is that they are inconsistent with materialism. If one believes that materialism is false, then there is little reason to reject paranormal phenomena, and the evidence is in favor of believing in them. If one believes that materialism is true, on the other hand, then one must reject paranormal phenomena.

From the perspective of the non-materialist who believes in paranormal phenomena, it appears that the scientific community is collectively in denial about paranormal phenomena. They reject overwhelming evidence for paranormal phenomena using the shaky rationalization that it is from unreliable sources. There is an obvious reason that this is the case, but it is nonetheless surprising to see this instance of irrationality in a community which is the very symbol of rationality.

  1. #1 by Jocelyn on March 14, 2013 - 9:36 pm

    Awesome. This was incredibly intriguing. Great job. (:

  1. An Explanation of Supernatural Phenomena « antitheology
  2. Reductionism II « antitheology

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