Can science probe the paranormal?
Some people say that the paranormal represents something beyond science. It
represents a realm beyond the physical that cannot be probed by scientific methods.
However, consider the following. If a person sees a ghost then something
scientifically measurable has happened. There may be something physical to see or
hear which could be photographed or recorded. Even if there is no detectable
physical ghost, there might be a measurable stimulus (like a magnetic field) that is
inducing the experience in the witness. Even if that is not true, we are only a few
years from being able to measure and read the sensory input and its interpretation
inside human brains. So even if a ghost only appears in the brain, we will soon be
able to see where it comes from.
The point is, for an apparently paranormal event to be witnessed, it has to
interface with the physical world in some way, even if it is only in someone’s mind.
Therefore, there must be something to measure. And if there is something to measure
then science can get involved.
Science is good at working things out by measuring them. Whether the paranormal
turns out to be exotic science or just the ‘normal’ in an unfamiliar guise, science
is the best tool to tease apart the details. It’s use of logic, inference,
theorising and experiment is uniquely good at separating fact from fantasy.
A great many beliefs have grown up around paranormal phenomena but few agree with
the evidence found by serious investigators. Unless such beliefs are first
discarded, and the subject approached a neutral way, it seems unlikely any great
progress will be made.