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Critical thinking: My thought on Parapsychology

Updated on October 25, 2014

What is parapsychology?

Parapsychology is a controversial topic that about paranormal psychological phenomenon including telepath, reincarnation, procession, precognition, near death experience and other spiritual phenomenon.

These phenomenons often have a scientific explanation, like hallucinations for near death experience, multi personality disorder for procession, or schizophrenia for the sixth sense. People always use the existed theory to explain the phenomenon that mainstream scientists classify as supernatural.

Why parapsychology is controversial?

Parapsychology is considered as a delusional and non-scientific topic, theory like reincarnation or procession can be only explained religiously, but impossible to be explained scientifically, because there has not enough evidence to convince others and lack of study in these subject.

Parapsychology is underrepresented

Imagine that, if your child claims he/ she have an out of body experience, what would you think? Assuming it is just a kid talk? Telling your child soul doesn’t exist? Or assume your child is joking and play along with him? These are most people would do, instead of gather a bunch of psychologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists and neuroscientists to examine a weird claim of a child, to see if there has any unusual activity in the child’s brain. Not many people are willing to do these kinds of studies that may not have result, and not many people are willing to pay for that.

Another example for parapsychology is underrepresented is when someone claims they have supernatural ability, they are often invited to the TV show, to entertain the audiences instead of being invited to the lab and analysed by the scientists.

Unconscious fear of unknown

Developmental perspective

When we talk about parapsychology, we immediately associate this topic to ghost, spirit, evil and many other things that we learned to be fear since we were a child. And referring to the developmental theories, our emotions and personality are always influenced by our childhood memory, therefore when the children stories become reality; we unconsciously, emotionally reject the uncomfortable topic, without taking a close look of it.

Biological behavioural perspective

Fear is one of the emotions that contained within human and animal, this emotion helps us to survive, to help us to avoid dangerous. Being scared for failing the exam, so we will study hard, being fear of death, so we will protect ourselves well, and being fear of the known, it will minimise our chances of taking risk. I don’t think people really scared of parapsychology; I think they just fear of unknown, that’s why they reject it with their natural survival instinct.

Topic is too broad

Parapsychology included telepath, reincarnation, procession, precognition, near death experience and many other phenomenons that science today is not able to explain, the name ‘Parapsychology’ covered too many subject, not specific enough, some people might accept certain thing inside, just because someone accept the idea of telepath, doesn’t mean they accept procession, just like I personally believe marijuana should be legalised, but doesn’t mean the other drugs like heroin should be legalised.

Parapsychology is not a religion

People often associate parapsychology with religion, but it is not true. Religions require people to believe anything they believe unconditionally, they do not accept another theory to challenges their authority; anything has an ultimate answer in religious. But parapsychology is base on science, and there has no end for science; there has new discovery every day, in every Research Centre, in every hospital, and in every university. The unexplainable today might become explainable tomorrow, or the theory we are using today might be taken over by the new theory tomorrow. The difference between science and religion is science never has limit, and never certain.

There has no end for science

Just because some phenomenon can be explained by the existed theory that in science, does not mean there has no another explanation. There has so much for us human to discover, so much to explore, and parapsychology can become one of the ‘’still discovering’’ category in psychology instead of deny it before take a close look of it, and neither believe it without any evident.

Common sense: parapsychology is a non sense

Parapsychology is non sense, it is a common sense, but who are we to judge? Common sense is combination of the wisdoms of life experience, years of scientific results, and superstition beliefs. Common sense is a survival guide for average people like us, who are using it every day, never ask why and how does it work, never have enough curiously to find out the secrete inside of the wisdom, and never have passion/ dream to change the world.

But for those scientists who are willing to think outside of the box, who are not afraid of criticism, they might willing to study something that average people consider as ridiculous, they change the world, and they change common sense.

Referring to Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) theory, there has six stages of learning:

Remembering> understanding> applying> analysing> evaluating> creating,

For us average people who use only common sense, we only receive information and try to understand it, and then apply it in the right time in the right place, everyone can do that, as long as you have enough practical intelligence.

But for a professional/ researcher, they have to analysis and evaluate the information that have received, differentiate the sources, and gaining experience during the process.

For a scientist/ professor, they should be able to conduct their own experience from the past, and develop his/ her own theory; it could be an extension of the old theory or against the old theory, to correct the false believe in common sense, change the context of the textbooks, and eventually chance the believes of the whole world, and they are in creating stage. I believe the responsibility of the official judgement of parapsychology should be judged by these scientists and professors, instead of those (including professional) who have blindly faith in common sense.


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