Hey, everyone! Heather here! I’d like to introduce you to Christina, our resident scientist. She just defended her Master’s thesis and received her degree in Ecology. She’s an awesome investigator and this is her first blog post. Enjoy!
In light of Jeremy’s last blog post, I wanted to give a scientist’s view on paranormal research and my opinion on why the paranormal is considered a pseudoscience. As a scientist myself, I have worked with a number of individuals in the biologic community. I can tell you from my experiences that the majority of scientists do not believe in the paranormal what-so-ever. In more than one circumstance, I felt I needed to conceal myself from being a paranormal believer and researcher to prevent any scrutiny from my fellow colleagues.
So, why do most scientists not believe in the paranormal? One reason is that the paranormal has a religious perspective to it. The basis for most religions involves the afterlife. Religions also talk about angels, demons, exorcisms, and the list goes on. These things we currently cannot prove the existence of through the use of science. Additionally, it turns out that about 80 to 90 percent of scientists are not religious or have no belief in the afterlife. I am not saying you need to be religious to believe in the paranormal, I am only inferring the causality of why scientists have a hard time accepting the paranormal.
Another reason is scientists’ view of paranormal research and how that research is carried out. Most paranormal research involves a group of people running around in the dark, maybe with some recorders or cameras. In most cases, research is not carried out properly if at all. So, no science is actually being conducted. This, to me, is the main reason why scientists view it as a pseudoscience.
To properly carry out paranormal research, researchers need to properly follow scientific protocols. First and foremost researchers need to do extensive research on the question that is being studied. This involves primarily looking at primary sources from journals. The researcher will then become an expert on that topic. For example if I were going to do a study on the effects of the Moon on paranormal activity, I would do as much research as possible on what effects the Moon has on the Earth. Researchers also primarily need to create well-structured experiments that have a minimum of two different groups, their test group and control group. There should be a number of samples taken from each group. Also, a number of different parameters should be recorded such as temperature, electromagnetic field, etc. to be statistically analyzed later. This data that is collected is to be used to determine whether the data support or rejects the hypothesis or hypotheses that are being studied. At the very least if paranormal researchers do not want to analyze their data, they can always allow other researchers to do that for them, just as long as the data is adequately collected and recorded. This whole process can be very difficult for paranormal researchers especially since most are non-scientists.
In addition to the very well made points Jeremy brought up, what I have just mentioned are a few reasons why the paranormal field has been stagnant in past decades. If the paranormal community can work together and change how research is being conducted now, we can help move the paranormal field forward. By making these necessary changes, I believe we can change the paranormal field from a pseudoscience to a science. In turn this would change scientists from nonbelievers to believers and paranormal researchers would gain the acceptance of the scientific community.
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