The idea of the paranormal has spurned on seekers for centuries. For some, it is a means to seek the truth of life after death. For others, paranormal research is proof of the existence of a particular religious belief, and for others, the investigation of the paranormal is a promise that hard science will win out. Although paranormal research is often overlooked and hotly contested in the scientific world, there is no question that it is still making waves with today’s public.
You can’t turn on the television today without finding some kind of paranormal show. Be it Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, Ghost Adventure or a simple retelling of ghost stories and legends, there is no denying that public interest in the paranormal is expanding.
Is It Science
The Beginning of Paranormal Research
The Society for Psychical Research was the first formal academic investigative group; although, we may infer from the Greek study of apriori knowledge, that the idea of cognizant thought had been around for thousands of years. The intention of the society was to investigate the topics of telepathy, haunts and materialism. They also undertook the study of many other currently investigated phenomena.
Paranormal research continued throughout the 20Th century and continues today, but many believe it reached it’s peak in the 1970’s. Although parapsychology is taught by various universities, many see it as little more than wishful thinking devoid of proper scientific methodology.
But 1957 paranormal investigative science had found a major home with the establishment of the Psychological Association at Duke University in Durham, N.C. The founder, Rhine, would gain access and support from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, with the intention of promoting the paranormal as a valid form of scientific investigation.
Critics of Parapsychology and Research
The scientific research world has been highly critical of paranormal investigations from the onset. Many of the reasons have to do with human reporting which can be highly unreliable and that many of those reporting such phenomena have miscalculated for normal physical occurrences or have an ulterior, even if not intentional, motive.
Others problems and criticisms include
1. No clearly defined technique: Paranormal investigation has little clearly defined methodology for its investigations.
2. No major evidence: Many critics believe that for their to be otherworldly occurrences, there needs to be evidence that stems from the physical world we know. Statistic deviations reported in data have been referred to as anomalies and pose no real evidence.
3. Human Tampering: Fraud has been a part of paranormal investigation since the beginning. Although major research institutes do their best to prevent it, it does and can occur. Former stage magician, James Randi has been leading the charge of exposing fraudulent claims for over thirty years with his biggest break coming with Project Alpha.
So, Is it a Real Science:
It’s hard to define whether or not paranormal investigation can be classified as a true scientific pursuit. The overall studies are too large in scope. However, that there is real science going on is unquestionable, even including the U.S. Government and C.I.A. with the closing of the Stargate Program in 1995.
There will certainly continue to be interest in the field of study, and with modern technology advancing rapidly, the human element is being eliminated, meaning that more empirical data can be collected to ensure that research is conducted with evidence and not emotion in mind.
There is certainly a lot of research going on, although, today, even with laboratories at the university of Virginia studying near death phenomena, it remains to be seen whether or not Paranormal Psychological studies will continue to hold up in the scientific world common to most. However, it can not be denied that there is still strong interest in investigating the paranormal, and that as such, if one deduces that science is physical investigations stemming from rational thought, then yes, paranormal studies are science, when performed with strict rules and under proper supervision.