I love the paranormal in fiction and in games, and in a rich fantasy life of occasional mind-wandering, but I’m not a believer in it.
I think that whatever things we find in the world, and beyond our own if we discover other universes, consist of the natural, the normal, and those many, many things we’ve yet to figure out if and when we ever do. Might there be unexplainable things? I don’t know. We’ll have to look first.
Mind you, I’ve experienced some weird things — just nothing that passes muster as being genuinely paranormal, now that I know what to look out for in my mistakes of thinking and perceptions. I’m less inclined to see ghosts when it’s really just my cats in the dark of my bedroom closet.
Does the paranormal evaporate in a puff of smoke when looked at too closely? Is it shy, or shatter to pieces in the mere presence of doubt?
If skepticism has that kind of power over the forces and entities of the paranormal, then it seems to me that their usefulness is limited indeed.
Bending keys with mind power? Talking to dead people? Reading minds using techniques any decent stage magician can perform? Aliens that travel billions of light years to Earth, expending enormous amounts of energy to do so, only to infuriate farmers by vandalizing their wheat fields and dissecting their cows?
From these analyses, and reading the arguments of proponents as well as critics of psi, I’ve come to think that psi-research has failed to convincingly make its case. But let it keep trying. We still might learn something anyway.
Might there be psi? If there is, then it would become known as part of the natural, as part of the normal — either it can be examined by science or it can’t. If it can’t, then paranormal research so far appears fruitless.
You cannot have it both ways. You don’t get to have the confection-frosted pastry and eat it too. You don’t get to claim the credentials of science while rejecting it in principle and value as well.
Science has limits. This much is obvious. But that does not validate credulity in mysterious forces and beings believed outside its reach.
Science is not just empirical; it is rationally empirical, reason and experience working as a whole. This is needed, for data without reason is nonsensical, and reason without data is empty.
Science is a set of methods, methods needed to sidestep our inherent flaws and biases to get a little bit closer to the truth than before. It’s far from perfect, but nothing we have works any better or even quite as well. Or global civilization depends on it to sustain itself, to feed and support the teeming billions it does.
When convincing evidence of something makes itself known — and it doesn’t have to be concrete, absolute, or necessarily physical in the ordinary sense — then I’ll be convinced.
As someone who was once a creationist, a paranormal believer, and even in doubt about climate change for a time, I can tell you now it’s happened before. It’ll with little doubt happen again.