Friday, March 31, 2017

Paranormal in an age of science


Belief in the paranormal seems emphatically counterintuitive to a culture driven by logical scientific advancements.

A common argument against the paranormal is an unwillingness to believe what one cannot see with his or her own eyes or what science cannot prove.

But science is a study ever in motion.

Though belief in atom dates as far back as ancient Greece, it wasn’t until Albert Einstein published a paper in 1905 detailing the Brownian motion that atoms and molecules were scientifically proven.

Now, without seeing atoms most people are, I assume, accepting of the fact they exist.

As scientific breakthroughs explain more about the reality we live in, it could be assumed public support of superstitions our ancestors built to explain their world would also eventually break down.

The Nightmare, a 1781 painting by artist Henry Fuseli, portrays the terrifying scene of a demonic incubus perched on a sleeping woman’s chest while an evil horse-like apparition floats near the edge of the bed.

The scene is inspired by an 18th century explanation based on a culture of superstition believing strongly in the demonic.

With that being said, these incidents of sleep attacks by the demonic occur often today. Science simply calls it something different.

Fuseli’s Nightmare is considered “perhaps the most famous historic example of sleep paralysis in art” according to The Sleep Paralysis Project, a website studying the phenomenon that has built sleep mythos across many cultures.

In a 2013 blog post, UC Berkeley sociology professor Claude Fischer argued that our connection to the paranormal is not waning in this scientific age but rather claims “belief in ghosts has soared in recent decades, from one in 10 Americans to one in three.”

Delving deeper into paranormal statistics, Pews Research Center, an American nonpartisan fact tank, released statistics in 2015 stating 18 per cent of Americans said they’ve seen a ghost while 29 per cent said they felt they had been in touch with someone who has died.

Considering the U.S. population in 2014 was 318.9 million, those percentages translate to significant numbers of people claiming to have experienced the paranormal with their own eyes.

Scientific breakthroughs will, without a doubt, continue to push aside superstitious claims for logical explanations.

But, like confirmation of the atom’s existence in 1905, perhaps science will unknowingly discover the opposite of logic by revealing elements of the unseen supernatural to be more natural than we’d like to admit.


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