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Which theory may explain paranormal phenomena?

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Which theory may explain paranormal phenomena?

Postby darryl » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:36 am

This may seem like a far out or heretical idea to some of you, but here goes!

To those who are open to PSI existing. Which theory do you believe may explain PSI (paranormal phenomena) such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, near-death experiences or apparitions etc?

Let me run through a few ideas:

John Beloff a well known parapsychologist concluded that PSI occurs becuase of dualism ie the mind and brain are separate. Amit Goswami however in his book “The Self-Aware Universe”, lists some studies on quantum physics that may lead to an explanation of psi that agrees with the theory of a nonphysical and conceptual world. He explains that in quantum physics, objects are not seen as definite things. Instead, objects are possibilities, viewed as something called “possibility waves”. Of course his interpretation due to his research in quantum physics has lead him to formulate idealistic monism, that only consciousness exists in the universe and everything is part of it, he argues against dualism and materialism.

Others however have disagreed and put forward physical and materialistic theories to try and explain PSI.

Michael Persinger claims that much of paranormal phenomena can be explained by low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic waves.

Brian Josephson has claimed that the explanation of PSI may be found in quantum physics. Gerald Feinberg's concept of a tachyon, a theoretical particle that travels faster than the speed of light has been advocated by some parapsychologists who claim that it could explain some PSI phenomena.

Charles Tart however believes PSI is completey non-physical and does not operate to material laws.

There are many theories which try and explain PSI. Which one do you advocate and why? If any?

Note to the reader:

Regarding myself I currently advocate the electromagnetic theory indeed it has been proven that paranormal phenomena does occur when the brain is exposed to high levels of electromagnetic activity, so some paranormal events can be explained by hallucinations. Yet I am open to some of this phenomena having an objective reality of course with another physical explanation which I am seeking.

Please share your views, if you have any. Thank you. !
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Postby AstraSequi » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:21 am

There is no such thing as a "heretical" idea in science, so long as you can support it with proper (verifiable, falsifiable, controlled) evidence.

If someone wishes to promote a particular theory, they must provide predictions that are made by that theory, and experimental tests that would determine its truth or falsehood. Without this, there is no reasonable way of distinguishing between the possibilities you have supplied. Furthermore, if they wish others to believe the theory, then the first requirement is that they have already done these tests themselves.

However, as far as I know, this standard has not been met for any sort of paranormal phenomena existing at all. So I don't think there is much use in thinking about what might cause such phenomena, and I suppose my answer is "none of the above." :)
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Postby Wallyanna » Wed May 09, 2012 2:24 pm

Hello. I am a scientist myself, in the field of human biology, and having worked after college in many areas of clinical laboratories, before going into teaching college students myself. Because my field involves working directly with humans rather than working directly with lab animals or only with microorganisms, chemicals, assays, and so on (although I have certainly worked with those also) I have not been able in a lifetime to stick to the "science bible" which says that things that cannot be studied and verified by scientific methods at this time do not exist.
I say science bible jokingly simply because some scientists show a tendency to substitute religions with science, or to develop a religious-like faith in science. This to me causes them to become rather rigid in
what they will accept as true. Some things are true that cannot be scientifically determined to be true and are likely things they already accept as true even while holding the firm opinion that only that which can be proved by scientific method is true. This is a dichotomy of thinking. For example, do you love your child? Can you prove it in a laboratory, repeatedly, using scientific method? No? Yet you fully believe that you love your child?
Anyway, I do not dismiss PSI phenomenon out of hand, as I have personally witnessed a few things that appeared to be PSI in persons
who during severe illness have little energy nor reason for tomfoolery.
Most of the scientific or rational explanations for PSI leave a lot to be desired however. There are still some things that do exist that science cannot explain. There are intangibles that one cannot submit to tangible investigation. And I am one scientist that is glad about it. The world still has some mysteries, some delightful and some not. It would be a sterile place if all that exists could be put under the scrutiny of science. And I don't believe that is the purpose of science.
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Re:

Postby AstraSequi » Wed May 09, 2012 7:17 pm

Wallyanna wrote:[Science] says that things that cannot be studied and verified by scientific methods at this time do not exist.

Based (especially) on this statement, I doubt that you are a scientist. Or at least that there are certain things that you haven't studied yet. :)

For example, do you love your child? Can you prove it in a laboratory, repeatedly, using scientific method? No?

Can you define love? Any way that you actually define it (unless you specifically design your definition to have no empirical consequences whatsoever) will be testable.

Do I spend time caring for my child? How much? Do the "affection centers" of my brain light up with I look at my child? How much? Is oxytocin released into my bloodstream? How much? Whatever metric or combination thereof you would like to use - and of course, the measurements are repeatable. If you try to define love to specifically exclude these suggestions, then you will be able to think of others.

The only problem is that whatever definition you use will not be agreed on by everybody. That is a problem with language, not with science. Like most such concepts, "love" is an ambiguous word which elicits different thoughts in different people depending on their background.

Anyway, I do not dismiss PSI phenomenon out of hand, as I have personally witnessed...

Please refer to my previous post. The first sentence, for example, points out that no idea is ever dismissed "out of hand." Also, if you are a scientist, you should know that anecdotes (or "personal experiences") are essentially useless when trying to prove things.

It would be a sterile place if all that exists could be put under the scrutiny of science. And I don't believe that is the purpose of science.

I guess that understanding things is bad then. :)
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Postby Wallyanna » Wed May 09, 2012 9:07 pm

Hello astrasequi,
Well you are wrong for sure on one count:I am a scientist. Click on my profile for more on that. Of course, I could be just saying that. But I'm not, as further posts will likely demonstrate well enough.

You misquoted me a bit. I didn't say science says things that cannot be studied do not exist. I said the mythical "science bible" says so. Then I attempted to clarify that joking remark by saying that some scientists think that way, and have a dichotomy of thinking. Reread.

With a definition of love, I would certainly define it in such a way as to have no empirical consequences whatsoever. It's one of those intangible things that cannot be examined in a tangible way. If you are thinking psychology or psychiatry...no need to bother. They can't prove it either. But it exists nonetheless. That love is a word that may mean slightly different things to different persons, I haven't a doubt that any English speaking person has a similar concept. Also the word "science" seems to have a slightly different meaning to you than to me. Of course I have been a
scientist for many years, so my definition would be a bit more refined and also a bit more
skeptical, lol. How long have you worked as a professional scientist?

You are absolutely correct as regards proving PSI through a personal experience of witnessing it. However there was no attempt to prove it.

And of course understanding things is not bad. It's good! in fact it's great! Science can help us understand so many many very important things! Science is a real wonder. I never get tired of it, never lose interest in it.

But it just can't explain everything. There are, like I said, intangibles.

Things you cannot touch, smell, see, hear, and certainly cannot examine in a provable scientific way. Things like love and hope.

They really do exist, and perhaps the brain lights up from the love rather than the brain creates the love. Can you show me proof that love does not light up the brain?

I am certainly cognizant of the effects of oxytocin, and hormones, brain synapses and chemicals. These are body. These only assist spirit, they do not create it. Can you prove me wrong?

Do you really believe there is no spirit? Have you lost a dear friend or child or parent to death yet? Well you certainly would not be the only scientist or science student that believes that. I am far from the only scientist that believes there is, although I may be the first you've "met."

I guess on that question we will just have to wait and find out later, though. Another intangible.
Meanwhile, let's just agree to disagree on that one sticking point for a bit and see how things go here, okay?







scientist that believes there is more to existence than biochemistry or biology.
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Postby AstraSequi » Thu May 10, 2012 4:21 am

Well you are wrong for sure on one count:I am a scientist. Click on my profile for more on that. Of course, I could be just saying that. But I'm not, as further posts will likely demonstrate well enough.

Actually, this post increased my confidence in my original evaluation. Either you are not a scientist, or you have never been taught certain basics of science (like the scientific method) at more than a cursory level.

You misquoted me a bit. I didn't say science says things that cannot be studied do not exist. I said the mythical "science bible" says so. Then I attempted to clarify that joking remark by saying that some scientists think that way, and have a dichotomy of thinking. Reread.

You suggested, using a religious allusion, that there is some significant source within science that tells scientists to think this way. There is no such source, and if there were scientists would generally ignore it.

With a definition of love, I would certainly define it in such a way as to have no empirical consequences whatsoever.

Then define it.

Furthermore, do you realize what is meant by the phrase “empirical consequences”? It means that your definition cannot be responsible for anything that any observer can see. If it is what causes people to (for example) care for their children, then that is an empirical consequence. If it changes the patterns of neurons firing in your brain, that is also an empirical consequence.

In other words: if something has no empirical consequences, then the world would look exactly the same way whether that thing existed or not. You would have to define it such that removing it would change absolutely nothing, down to the smallest detail.


It's one of those intangible things that cannot be examined in a tangible way. If you are thinking psychology or psychiatry...no need to bother.

No, I’m thinking of neuroscience, which is far more powerful. It is quite simple to measure large-scale changes (like emotional state) in the brain - and in certain circumstances, very small-scale changes as well.

That love is a word that may mean slightly different things to different persons, I haven't a doubt that any English speaking person has a similar concept.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love
“In English, love refers to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from pleasure ("I loved that meal") to interpersonal attraction ("I love my partner"). "Love" may refer specifically to the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love, to the sexual love of eros, to the emotional closeness of familial love, to the platonic love that defines friendship, or to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love. This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.”

(My emphasis.) The article also describes love in terms of compassion, affection, altruism, survival instinct, etc.

You are absolutely correct as regards proving PSI through a personal experience of witnessing it. However there was no attempt to prove it.

Certain pseudoscientists are trying all the time. :)

And of course understanding things is not bad. It's good! in fact it's great! Science can help us understand so many many very important things! Science is a real wonder. I never get tired of it, never lose interest in it.

Sounds great. :) I suggest you learn as much science as you can in your spare time (reading textbooks, etc).

But it just can't explain everything. There are, like I said, intangibles.

You have not yet given me any reason to believe this. It would also require you to give a definition of “intangible” (and probably "tangible" as well) - also, these are philosophical terms and not scientific ones.

They really do exist, and perhaps the brain lights up from the love rather than the brain creates the love. Can you show me proof that love does not light up the brain?

This is another basic error in scientific reasoning (and, I might add, one that is frequently promoted by creationists and others who wish to cast doubt on the process of science). Can you tell me what it is?

Counter-question, to help: can you show me proof that the spirit of Winston Churchill is not currently standing on its head at the bottom of the ocean at the North Pole and will not remain there until the sun burns out?

I am certainly cognizant of the effects of oxytocin, and hormones, brain synapses and chemicals. These are body. These only assist spirit, they do not create it. Can you prove me wrong?

Error in reasoning repeated.

Do you really believe there is no spirit?

I have no idea what statement in my previous post can be interpreted in that way. I also do not know why it would be relevant.
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Postby Wallyanna » Thu May 10, 2012 1:46 pm

Astrasequi, your defensive posturing and your demands that I prove myself to you are both comical and irrelevant to the original discussion.

Especially my "errors in reasoning" from your perspective. If you cannot defend your position, you attack the semantics, the sentences, even the person instead of refuting ideas.

You seem very bright. Do you know that some people have met online before they meet in person, and were able to recognize one another from online conversations? Of course you must realize that some persons are extremely good at getting information online too, and that personnel offices use information gleaned online to screen potential employees and current employees for promotion? You are too intelligent to continue belligerence. I would encourage you to tone it down a bit for your own sake.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, I am exactly what I say I am. That you say you do not believe it does not bother me, as I do not need to prove myself professionally to you. I already did to those who have mattered to me in my career.
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Re: Which theory may explain paranormal phenomena?

Postby AstraSequi » Fri May 11, 2012 8:33 am

If I have said anything that could be construed as a “demand that you prove yourself” (other than the implied requirement that you either stand by your ideas or concede them), then I apologize. I attempt to evaluate all statements on their merits, and I suppose I should not have mentioned your original claimed credentials to start with. (However, imagine someone telling you that they are a mathematician, and then not knowing what a cosine is. :) )

You may, of course, decide to construe this as “attacking the person” (or as "defensive posturing"). You may also construe asking for clarification of imprecisely defined statements as “attacking semantics.” And so forth (like the assumption that I am not computer literate, etc). Of course, I am asking that you answer questions that you should be able to answer if your ideas are correct. If you want to claim that you have not made errors, you should support that claim directly. Of course, you are not obliged to answer, and I have no authority over you or anyone else here, so this is not a “demand.”

I will close by pointing out that you did not actually address any actual point that I made in my last post. (I do not wish to reply again unless you do so.)
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Postby JorgeLobo » Mon May 21, 2012 5:12 pm

Think Astrasequi is correct. Suggest "wallyanna" is a medtech - not a scientist but rather a (very pompous) technician.
Really enjoyed the novel concept of "brain tightening." That original?
The challenge to prove "spirit" doesn't exist betrays the technician. Science does not challenge others to "disprove" - scientists are challenged to generate data supporting their own hypotheses. There are efectively no "proofs" in biology.
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