reply to seeker

Sun, 23 Jan 1994 10:00:57 EDT

Seeker1 reports a dilemma:

So the sticking point here (at least for D. Read) is the
existence of the paranormal. Sigh. This leaves me in the
unfortunate position of arguing on its behalf. Now people will
not leave me alone with their Elvis sightings and miracle


Such is not necessarily the case, Seeker1 is not left in such an
unfortunate position as he believes. Suppose Seeker1 were to
take exception to the term "paranormal"? Whence come the term
"paranormal"? is it not an historical term applied to that which
is currently considered beyond the normal, beyond the expected
way of perceiving information or beyond the expected way of
making associations between behavior and events. As a term
whose historicity is dependent on what is according to current
history considered to be beyond the normal might it not be
possible to argue that at some point, past or future, such events
now considered "paranormal" might be considered "normal" or
expected? This argument most especially applies to what we
bahvaiorally refer to as science, or the doing of science, which
may in time, in the future, come to the capacity to predict, or
to include as normal, events that are now considered


I take it that a lot of what is produced in the field of
parapsychology is B.S., just as much of what is written by "PoMo"
writers often is, too. Nonetheless, I (and the AAAS) seem to feel
that there is something to this cultural construction called "the
paranormal" that is worthwhile of "scientific" investigation,


The AAAS and you seem to expect that events now considered
"paranormal" may at some time in the future become predictable as
in normal. The only way that such events can achieve this status
is through the behavior we now call science as in events now
considered "paranormal" can be predicted with statistical
validity such they can be replicated in demonstrations for those
with expectations at variance with the expectations of the
predictability of the historically "paranormal"


It seems to me that one of the sticking points for
Western science in dealing with the "paranormal" is that it
treats it as "extraordinary," "supernatural," or "mystical." I
note that in other cultures (such as the Maya) certain things
that in our society are thought to be "paranormal" (the
precognitive value of dreams) are accepted as matters-of-fact. Of
course, it took a bloody biologist (Lyall Watson) to notice that
perhaps in societies where the paranormal was not treated as
"paranormal," (e.g. out of the ordinary), perhaps it might be a
more frequent occurence.


The "paranormal" is as yet not predictable under what we know as
science (i.e. the behavior of doing science) in a laboratory with
controlled conditions,nor has it shown its predictability as a
reliable weapon in the domination of other cultures. if either
of these is demonstrated by the "paranormal" it will no longer be
considered "paranormal."

Just think, once upon a time the reading of lips might have been
considered a "paranormal" way of understanding the speech of
people not hearng impaired until Mr. Bush advocated its use in
political prounouncements.