Friday, October 27, 2006

Scientists Show Arrogance On Supernatural Question

I have been fascinated with science since I was a small boy. In fact, that fascination led to my career as a science teacher and amateur scientist. I consider myself very knowledgeable in most matters of science. I can explain the different theories of science to the average person. I can also argue a point using scientific information. But one trait of science that I have not picked up is the arrogance of scientists toward the supernatural. Many scientists will say that it is obvious that things such as ghosts and vampires do not exist. I disagree. I think the jury is still out on the paranormal. But what do I know, I'm just a teacher?
This anger toward science on this point stems from articles like the one I read today on Yahoo News. In it, one scientist is interviewed who says that it is obvious ghosts, vampires and zombies do not and cannot exist. Yet, in true scientists form, gives a vague explanation as to why. The scientist in this case is physicist Costas Efthimiou. He says, "Surveys show American gullibility for the supernatural." What exactly is he talking about?
On the subject of ghosts, Efthimiou says they "violate Newton's law of action and reaction. If ghosts walk, their feet apply force to the floor, but if they go through walls they are without substance." First off, Efthimiou perception of ghosts is shortsighted. No one claims that all ghosts are visible, walk on floors, or go through walls. The professor is obviously drawing his information on ghosts from pop culture which tends to blur the actual cases. Secondly, Efthimiou invokes the "laws" of Newtonian physics. He fails to mention that some of Newton's laws have been found to have many exceptions. In his statement on ghosts, Efthimiou is showing the arrogance of science that will not allow them to have exceptions to scientific rules. Many scientific studies have been done dealing with ghosts. The findings of these studies show scientifically that we do not fully understand the things we refer to as ghosts. Just like Efthimiou does not fully understand physics. He only knows what other scientists know.
The arrogance of science that has been mentioned deals with the unwillingness of some scientists to change their ideas of nature. We must accept that we don't know everything. And that is scary to scientist because it deals in the realm of paranormal.
On vampires, Efthimiou is even more unaccepting. He states, "If a vampire sucked one person's blood each month — turning each victim into an equally hungry vampire — after a couple of years there would be no people left, just vampires." Again, he is pulling all the information he knows from pop culture. True vampire myth or story does not state that all people bitten by vampire turn into vampires afterwards. In this case, the professor is simply dismissing the possibility of vampires based on those silly movies he has seen. He has no scientific evidence to show otherwise.
And that is the main problem. To disprove supernatural beliefs, a scientist must have scientific evidence. And at this point, scientists have none. Scientist cannot disprove ghosts or vampires. They can only arrogantly point out that believing in such things is silly. They can also quote surveys that say "1 in 3 Americans believe houses can be haunted or more than 20 percent of Americans believe in witches and that people can communicate with the dead." Maybe science needs to catch up with what common people already know. Instead of trying to disprove the paranormal, why not work to support it. You may just get a surprise. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. The statement was true when Shakespeare wrote it and it is still true today.

1 comment:

Rev. Shawn said...

yeah man i hear ya, science needs to wise up. nice post, i enjoyed it! luckily for us though, there are some
scientists
who don't kid themselves about the existence of zombies.

again, awesome post!