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Not mainstream scientists, as this article documents.

Contrary to what the “paranormal community” loves to insist (especially the ancient astronaut theorists, whose thinking is anything but clear), there is actually a good deal of peer-reviewed material devoted to testing both paranormal claims and the sorts of subjects with which the paranormal deals.  Humanities scholars and nuts and bolts scientists have devoted a good bit of time to studying claims about parapsychology, Bigfoot, UFOs, PSI, NDEs, etc.  They don’t fear it. Anyone with access to a good journal database could show that paranormal claims do get addressed in just a few minutes.

The problem, though, as I see it, is that very little of that peer-reviewed material ever filters down to the lay person or non-specialist — the person the most likely to be imbibing the wackier claims in all these areas. Scholars and scientists (and I’ll grant there is some merit to the statement, though it becomes an excuse) consider such an exercise as a waste of their time (they could be publishing real research for their peers — and in some case, tenure requirements). And given my own experience with things like the Fantasy Channel (er, History Channel), the media types who pimp the paranormal for DVD purchases and advertising dollars aren’t interested in true rebuttal or confrontational engagement. The Ancient Aliens series is Exhibit A here. They want to produce *a show* (it’s entertainment, people!) and so the producers of these programs *want* to titillate the audience with that sort of nonsense. It sells.

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9 Responses to “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Paranormal Researcher?”

  • RJT, M.Ed says:

    Can UFOs and Alien Life Really Exist?

    The UFO Phenomenon has been an enigma since Kenneth Arnold first reported his sighting in Washington state in 1947. So, are all those people who report unidentified objects in the sky just crazy? Surely, there are those who tend to let their imaginations run wild and the vast majority of sightings are just misidentifications of common items and natural events. And, it’s true some people just live in a world of fantasy.

    At the same time, I am amused by all the supposedly educated people and “journalists” whose comments are thinly veiled ridicule of any person who might entertain the possibility of alien life let alone suggest one might have observed something truly unusual in the sky. With the current estimate of about 10 billion earth-like planets within our galaxy alone, that type of thinking is arrogant if not ignorant. It is also out-of-date in that a majority of the population and people of science now believe in the possibility of alien life.

    Then we hear the same old tired arguments; “Even if aliens do exist how could they possibly find us in the vastness of space and then travel the great distances required?” Well, maybe they would do the same we do – send probes out into space and hope to get lucky. As far as the science of space travel is concerned, one must realize that mankind has been flying for just over 100 years and we have already visited the moon. What will we be able to accomplish in 200 years? A more advanced civilization may have discovered the secrets of space travel. It is not unreasonable to think mankind has a long way to go before we truly understand the physics of the universe. After all, until not long ago it was accepted that all life required photosynthesis, then we learned about life forms that thrive in our oceans through chemosynthesis. In case you may have missed it, that last statement was a thinly disguised indictment of our knowledge of our own planet. So, how is it possible our science can definitively say what can or can not exist in the universe? The old academic thinking, “it can’t be; therefore it isn’t” is an anachronism.

    To be fair I am not criticizing the scientific community. I know many distinguished scientists who readily accept the possibility of alien life given what we are now learning about the universe and the shortcomings of our own science. Like most of us they still seek that irrefutable proof and diligently strive to understand the complexity of the universe. And, the more we learn about our own history raises legitimate questions about the civilizations that came before us and the cosmic connections of our existence.

    I can believe alien life exists elsewhere in the universe. Until I or anyone else can prove they know all there is to know about this vast universe, to say otherwise is ignorant. While I can’t prove definitively if such life has visited earth, based on our limited scientific knowledge I ask, “Why not?” And to those who respond incredulously to the ridiculousness of my question I ask , “Based on current knowledge of aerodynamics, please explain to me how a Bumblebee can fly?” Surely they do, but according to our science it’s not possible.

  • You’re right! People want so desperately to believe in the supernatural that all reason goes right out the window. I have a website/group dedicated to helping people who fall prey to all kinds of postulating and follies in regards to the paranormal. From what I’ve observed the past 30+ years I’ve been looking into the paranormal a lot of people are intensely passionate about their beliefs to the point of frenzy sometimes. Even I’ve been in that category of fanaticism myself when I was younger and my “research” (if you can call it that LOL) consisted of 10% reading real info and 90% hearsay/barstool philosophy :) . So many are fierce when it comes to science vs. common mans experience. The attitude of “it’s real because I feel very strongly about it, that makes my feelings facts. If you don’t agree with me you’re my adversary too.” It’s very similar to cult thinking, “If they don’t see things as you do they are outsiders and not true believers!”
    The paranormal community is essentially founded on postulation. So many people just don’t have good research skills, don’t know how to gain access to real information, and unfortunately folks tend to only want to read things that support their own ideals or beliefs. Plus real study takes years of work, a lot of people just don’t want to work that hard when it comes to a lot of things. It causes a lot of problems, and really leads people astray.
    I dunno, hopefully as science progresses and multi dimensional phenomena becomes more commonplace, the world of the scholars will be made more available to your everyday paranormal hobbyist. BUT probably not. People just don’t like to read that much anymore, much less dig for real information, not just words that support their opinions.
    As far as “the His/story Channel”, OMG! Don’t get me started. That thing is a joke! Anyone can do more thorough research on their own in a matter of minutes. I don’t know how many times on this channel a show has been produced with a clear bias to twist the facts and FORM opinions, rather than INFORM opinions. And of course, You guessed it, it’s always derision towards God. Insert Charlie Brown slapping head “GOOD GRIEF!”

  • Jack Brewer says:

    Good points. There is indeed plenty of qualified review on topics ranging all the way from psychic phenomena to alien abduction – a lot of people just don’t like it, and it doesn’t ‘sell’.

  • MSH says:

    It’s a fair statement to say that it seems likely aliens exist (though the Drake equation is dignified quackery). But it is also fair to say we have no hard evidence for it.

  • terry the censor says:

    > there is actually a good deal of peer-reviewed material devoted to testing both paranormal claims and the sorts of subjects with which the paranormal deals

    So true.

    Abduction buffs whine that scientists ignore their cases, but there are thousands of journal articles and books on memory, amnesia, hypnosis, confabulation, etc., that could be readily applied. The abduction proponents are not the least interested in testing or disconfirming their evidence, so they don’t look at the literature. At best, they cite Stuart Appelle as cover and leave it at that.

    And, of course, Stanton Friedman refuses to discuss the fact that the Hipparcos star catalogue invalidates the identification of Zeta Reticuli in the Hill-Fish map. He has the answer he likes and will not look at new data. You’d think a true scientist would agitate to see the new data applied and would want that analysis published in a peer-reviewed journal. Nope: he dances around the subject, refusing to even discuss the possibility.

    It’s just silly.

  • terry the censor says:

    @RJT

    You completely ignored Dr. Heiser’s argument and defaulted into a recitation of every tired rhetorical cliché that fringe proponents use to insulate themselves from having to address facts.

    Your attitude is part of the reason ufology hasn’t produced any findings of value in its entire existence.

  • MSH says:

    good points; the longer I’ve been into this stuff, the worse its credibility has become. When I had the Majestic documents tested by a forensic linguist all Friedman (and Ryan Wood) had to say was that I was a religious nut. No refutation of the linguistic work. Now, on their site they want to undermine the linguist (by name), but what the public doesn’t know is that she had previously been asked by the Woods to do some testing for them, but they never followed through (we can guess why now!). That was all before I had ever talked to her (Carol Chaski). I then went on Coast to Coast AM to raise money for a new round of testing that would be even more thorough. Twenty dollars was contributed. So much for people (and researchers) wanting the truth. Absolutely hypocritical.

  • terry the censor says:

    > all Friedman (and Ryan Wood) had to say was that I was a religious nut

    I am unaware of your work on verifying MJ-12. I’ll make a note to myself for future reference.

    I’ve tried not to venture down the rabbit hole of the weirder UFO conspiracies, but Friedman brings up MJ-12 in Captured! so as to smear Menzel’s assessment of the Hill case, so I suppose I’ll have to look into it eventually. (Friedman never tells his sycophants that Menzel took Marjorie Fish’s work seriously and even gave her some praise. Scientists doing science contradicts Friedman’s demonology, so of course he will not acknowledge this fact, retreating into conspiracy instead.)

  • MSH says:

    The link to the study is at the bottom of this page:

    http://www.michaelsheiser.com/UFO.html

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