WINN is interested in a wide range of phenomena that you may want to learn more about from other sources. Although ordinarily Wikipedia is an extraordinary source of information, you won’t find it a good source for anything that touches on psi, parapsychology, or subtle energies.
Patricia Pearson says it well, “Don’t look these up on Wikipedia, because there’s an interesting cultural subplot going on at the moment in which paranormal topics are edited by activist skeptics in a manner that presents them as having been officially debunked.” (from her book, OPENING HEAVEN’S DOORS, 2014 )
Under the heading “Parapsychology” Wikipedia says that it is “…a field of study concerned with the investigation of paranormal and psychic phenomena which include telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, near-death experiences, reincarnation, apparitional experiences, and other paranormal claims. It is often identified as pseudoscience. … Most papers about parapsychology are published in a small number of niche journals. Parapsychology has been criticized for continuing investigation despite being unable to provide convincing evidence for the existence of any psychic phenomena after more than a century of research.”
These statements simply aren’t true – paranormal phenomena have not been dismissively debunked except by the dedicated skeptics, and there is a large body of reputable, replicated research that supports the field of parapsychology. Discussions of that research will appear in future WINN posts. For now there are two other questions to explore – what is a skeptic, and how should each of us approach discovery in this field.
Elmer Green, PhD, one of the founders of clinical biofeedback, is both a scientist and a mystic and a very tough-minded researcher in both areas. He encountered rigid skepticism himself when he invited a colleague to join the team testing Swami Rama’s claim of extraordinary abilities as part of the voluntary controls program at the Menninger Foundation in 1970. The colleague said he did not want to be involved in such a foolish experiment. Elmer pointed out that the experiment could only succeed or fail, and if it succeeded they would continue with further experiments. His colleague still refused, saying that the test of Swami Rama was bound to fail, “because it breaks all the laws of the universe.” Elmer then challenged him by asking whether he knew all the laws of the universe. Later Elmer said this reminded him of the medieval Cardinal who would not look through Galileo’s telescope because he already knew that the moons of Jupiter could not be there. (Read BEYOND BIOFEEDBACK, by Elmer and Alyce Green.)
This is the attitude of skeptics with the fixed belief that since this stuff is impossible there’s no need to get involved. Elmer says this is a strange kind of scientist – one who is completely unwilling to explore. It is true that these skeptics, like Elmer’s colleague, often refuse to look at the research that does exist.
So what do we do about this in our own lives? I think two things are called for now. We can keep our minds open to what serious researchers are studying, and we can undertake our own explorations. You could begin with examining the non-ordinary experiences you may have had yourself. Many people simply dismiss them without any investigation because they seem so improbable, or because they are bewilderingly difficult to express or explain.
With this some caution is necessary. I once had a client who firmly believed that every time the lights in my office flickered it was a message from another dimension of reality. It did no good for me to tell him that although meaningful electrical anomalies do occur, these lights always flickered when a near-by heating/air conditioning system put a drain on the power. It is necessary for us to consider what other possible explanations exist for a phenomenon, no matter how much we would like to believe it’s paranormal. Otherwise, we are merely being superstitious.
We need genuine skepticism, an open-minded questioning – “what was that?” – that goes along with a willingness to explore all possible explanations. But there is little room for what Elmer called true believers and true disbelievers. Both can be misguided and all too steadfast in assuming that something is paranormal (true believers) or that nothing even remotely paranormal exists (true disbelievers). We need the open-minded balance that can be achieved when we use the objective scientific method and carefully examine lived experiences.