Posts tagged with “paranormal”

Magic and Science Through history, science and magic, like science and…

Written by Laura Brown

Magic and Science

Through history, science and magic, like science and religion, have at been at best strange bedfellows and at worst bitter enemies. The battle lines have been drawn with the twin swords of rationality and measurability. On one side of the line stand those things scientists claim we understand, like evolution and matter. On the other side lie the things that science does not want to or know how to explain, such as god and magic.

Somewhat ironically, while the majority of scientists do have religions beliefs, a large number of scientists (probably a majority, though we know of no studies on this) vehemently believe there is no such thing as magic. Some scientists (notably Carl Sagan) go so far as to castigate religion as well because of its ties to the mystical, magical, or supposedly inexplicable. This position seems in some ways more consistent, but neither one takes into account one important fact.

Science doesn't have all the answers. Almost every scientist will admit this, when you push them into the unexplored corners of their own specialty. Physicists don't know why they can't find a magnetic monopole. Biologists don't really know what happened in the evolution from apes to humans. Astrophysicists don't know whether the universe will expand forever or collapse back on itself. Psychologists haven't got a clue about how most of the things our brains do for us happen. We personally find it amazing, then, that so many scientists are happy to declare as a fact that there is no such thing as magic or god.

It's not just that everybody's a critic... suddenly everybody's an expert too, in a field that very few people have really spent any time studying. Fortunately, there are some exceptions, or we'd have nothing interesting to present on this page. Among people who consider themselves scientists (rather than philosophers, or theologists, for example), there are two particular groups who are delving into the real questions. And despite one coming from orthodox science and the other often disrespectfully being called "pseudoscience," they seem to be converging on some interesting common questions.

The two fields we're referring to here are cognitive science and parapsychology. An interesting third voice has recently come from the medical community, who often are forced to approach things from a perspective that is more pragmatic than scientific.

Cognitive science is generally interested in understanding how the human mind works, but seems to keep butting up against the question of consciousness. What makes us conscious? How does this perception of consciousness differ (or how is it similar to) our ordinary perceptive modes?

Parapsychology studies powers of the mind that seem to lie outside the normal sphere of physical influence. Telepathy, precognition, and telekinesis are the main areas of study. But lately parapsychologists have been asking questions about consciousness as well. How do states of consciousness affect parapsychological effects? How do consciousnesses interact when multiple individuals combine their efforts or oppose each other.

Medicine, in contrast, is largely interested in mechanisms for healing. Within this there is both a conventional and a mystical track. Conventional medicine accepts that the human mind has a capacity for enhancing the healing process, and even accepts that belief systems including religion and magic can offer a way to convince the mind to help heal the body. However, there is also a small group within the conventional medical community (and a much larger group outside conventional medicine) that believes that there can be direct magical effects by another individual on the healing process. Bill Moyers' book and PBS special Healing and the Mind provides a nice introduction to some of the issues. Dr. Larry Dossey has also written a number of books about the subject.

I'm not sure who originally posted this. The site it came from was among many submitted to the Wiccan Online Book of Shadows category at the Open Directory Project, now Curlie. I'm an editor there, the last standing editor in the Pagan category after all these years.

I really believe in the science of Pagan and Wiccan ideas more than the religion. I even think the religion itself is based on a science, a psychological science about people being part of a group and creating explanations for things and believing in something together. No doubt there are lots of resources for this idea, other than myself. I'm quoting the above post because I don't often find others having much to say about Wicca/ Magic and science. Thank you to whoever posted it.

Never Seen Again, in Ontario?

Written by Laura Brown

The words "never seen again" are the creepiest phrase I've ever heard. They show up in childhood fantasy tales, as well as horror stories. So any story, fiction or fact, with those words haunts me. They are creepy and fascinating and a mystery usually not solved.

I turned on Tubi and watched a few episodes of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction last night. One of the episodes, 'The Kid in the Closet', was about a boy with a monster in his closet. His older brother teased him about it and then, to prove there was no monster, he went into the closet and shut the door. They heard him making a ruckus, yelling and banging at the door, then it went quiet. The Mother came in to see what was going on. She opened the closet, no one was inside. No older brother. But, his shoes and a pile of the clothes he had been wearing were there, without him.

Police were called, inspected the closet and found no way for him to get out. At the end of the episode they said he was never seen again and claimed this story is based on a true event.

Any time someone is never seen again is creepy. The police thought the boy had run away. On the show they left that sort of hanging, but doubtful. Also, the police had not found any way he would have gotten out of the closet, other than the door. His clothes and shoes were left in the closet. Those two things seem a bit odd, even after I found out more.

It turns out, according to the source I found after a bit of a search, that the boy did run away. So, how did he get out of the closet? The police didn't notice the ceiling panel when they looked? I guess he was at least wearing his underwear, the show didn't say all his clothes were left in the closet. So, it is still a little puzzle. It is possible the whole thing really is a hoax, in spite of the show saying it was fact, not fiction.

A bit of digging turns up at least one comment on the show’s IMDB message board, posted on February 12, 2008, in which the commenter shared her correspondence with someone who had worked on Beyond Belief and knew the actual truth:

“The Beyond Belief: fact or fiction story about the monster in the kid’s closet was based on an actual event that I personally investigated,” she was told. “At the time it happened there was no explanation for the boy’s disappearance— until two weeks later when it was learned that he had climbed out of the closet through a ceiling panel and ran away from home. He stayed at a friend’s house surreptitiously until the friend’s mother discovered him hiding in the attic of their home and exposed the ruse.”

The show’s producer wouldn’t discover this very important detail until it was far too late.

Source: Stranger Dimensions - Beyond Belief: The Kid in the Closet